Category Archives: PLC

Developing a Virtual Learning Community – #T3Learns session

How might we stay connected, offer additional ideas, and share experiences with others? What if we leverage social media tools? How might we continue to lead learning without stretching ourselves too thin? How might we continue to contribute to our learning community when we are apart? How might we be more intentional in PD sessions to foster continued learning? What if we explore effective use of tools to develop and maintain connectedness and build learning communities? Will we learn and share?

Jeff McCalla, @jmccalla1 and Confessions of a Wannabe Super Teacher, and I facilitated a session for T3 instructors on building and maintaining learning communites to learn, share, and support learning.  Our lesson design, strategies, and resources are shared on the Developing a Virtual Learning Community Google doc.  We were charged with the responsibility to lead a session for T³ instructors to  brainstorm and share useful strategies to connect and learn from and with others. At the end of this session, our community should be able to say:

    • I can contribute to learning communities both face-to-face and virtually.
    • I can use social media to connect with fellow T3 instructors before , during, and after PD.
    • I can use social media to connect with participants before, during, and after our PD.

We ran 4 sessions today – all very different.  Jeff is a master of the art of questioning. He guided the discussion and connected to the learning plan while accommodating the learners in the room.  At each session we answered questions concerning the how and why of Twitter and blogging. His blog post What Super-power do you want? offered a grounding story for our discussion.  (Read comments by Bo and Jill to learn more.)

Here are snippets of our conversations, learning, and questions.

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The Most Important 21st Century Skill #MCHunter

Who are you?
Why are you here?
What do you hope to leave with?

I wonder how my learners would answer these questions on the first day of school.  How would I process this information and engage with my learners so that they feel heard and valued?

Here are my answers when challenged to “dig deeper” than name, school, family, and education:

I am a collaborative learner, confused – in a good way – by my experiences and my questions.  Labeled a “math” teacher, I feel that I am a teacher of children (and adults) and need to know, lead, and learn so much more.  As a mother, I see how much my child can and wants to do.  Have I been limiting my learners because of history and assumptions? … and fears?? Why do I stay in the safety of what I know?  How do I model learning and risk taking?

I am here to learn.  I believe that we underestimate our learners, their ability, interests, and motivation.  It is easy to teach what I deem essential, but how many times have I missed opportunities because I did not ask questions and listen – really listen – to their answers?

I hope to leave with more than I have right now: more relationships, more curiosity, more willingness to experiment and do, and more courage to “do different”.

The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence and Trinity School contributed to my personal learning growth by providing me an opportunity to participate in a Master Class with John Hunter (follow the conversations on Twitter: #MCHunter).  John Hunter (@worldpeacemovie), and Jamie Baker (@JamieReverb) facilitated the two days of professional development renewal experiences.

How often do I rush to “teach” content – the stuff they need to know?  How many times have I said “I just don’t have time to…” because I’m so focused on trying to cram in one more thing?

John and Jamie spoke of and modeled creating space, empty space…hmm….

What if my learners simply need space and time to process, question, think, share, and learn? Shouldn’t the human-ness of learners be the first focus? If the foundation is a solid relationship between and among learners, how much can be built? How sturdy? How beautiful? How long-lasting?

Spend time to gain time…Think how much more can be accomplished if learners know that it is safe to reveal their needs, concerns, strengths and weaknesses because they are in a supportive learning community focused on growth.

Today’s big take-a-way is the power of building relationships – the MOST IMPORTANT 21st Century skill.

Who are you?
Why are you here?
What do you hope to leave with?

PLCs, Westminster JH, Randolph, and Learning Together

On Friday, February 17, Jill Gough and Bo Adams worked with The Randolph School faculty to share the story of PLC (Professional Learning Community) development at The Westminster Schools’ Junior High, as well as to facilitate a small piece of Randolph’s continuing, multi-year efforts to transform their school with the PLC ethos. Below, Bo and Jill have embedded the slide deck that they used during the Friday morning keynote. As usual, though, a slide deck cannot capture the rich conversations and invaluable discussions that surround and permeate professional work based on shared experience.

Randolph has been piloting PLCs for two years, and they are making formidable steps to enhance their teacher teaming and learner strategizing. Westminster and Randolph are imagining different ways to stretch time and embed regular teaming. There is no one-size-fits-all structural approach to PLCs, but there are universal ideas and questions that must guide our work:

3 Big Ideas:

  1. Learning is the focus.
  2. Collaboration is the culture.
  3. Results guide our decisions.

4 Key Questions:

  1. What should be learned?
  2. How will we know if “they” have learned?
  3. What will we do if “they” already know it?
  4. What will we do if “they” aren’t learning?

What a privilege and bright spot it is to collaborate among schools and learn with and from each other. Could our institutions and organizations actually stretch the PLC ethos to include more such collaboration among our schools? Could we model being PLCs among schools, like we model forming PLCs among our adult learners?

PLC Randolph Slidedeck 2-2012.

[Cross-posted at It’s About Learning]