4. Opportunities to share and collaborate
It’s imperative for schools to showcase how they are moving forward and using technology to better prepare students for college and career readiness. To increase collaboration among our teachers, we hold short meetings at the end of each PD day for staff to discuss what they are working on, as well as video staff updates—shared via discussions in Schoology—where an individual or group of teachers can share successes they are having in their classrooms. As part of the learning experience and to shine a spotlight on our educators, teachers are encouraged to share pictures that we post on social media and through other district communications. This allows our community to see the great things happening inside of our schools and see us as learners, too. Through the resources we provide, teachers have a chance to see what others have done, think about their own situations, and use that information to continue the process of changing their instruction. It is crucial that we reflect, both formally and informally, to see where adjustments can be made to continue improving together.

5. Learning through modeling
We believe having a truly functional LMS with a wide range of capabilities is an important layer to providing teachers and students with a new learning experience. Through Schoology, I am able to show teachers—inside the context of their own learning—what it’s like to use Schoology as a learner, and how course design can either help or hinder the learning process. This course can serve as a template for teachers as they design their courses in Schoology. Teachers are also receptive to completing work in the LMS because they are familiar with the platform via their daily use. In addition, I use this opportunity to intentionally design the learning experience and incorporate elements within the LMS that our teachers may not be using; it’s a chance for us to show teachers what it’s like when the learner controls pace, place, and path. The entire structure of the course, and the premise behind it, can serve as a model for instructional changes within their classrooms.

6. Added support
Prior to these changes, teachers would have to sit through a presentation and then independently figure out how to implement what they learned. Using our new format, we have been able to embed one-on-one, in-person coaching with the administrator and instructional coach. As the instructional coach, I am available to have conversations with teachers, help them plan and find resources, observe lessons, co-teach in the classroom, and reflect with them on how the changes are impacting their students.

Ultimately, blending our PD has been successful. Our teachers are thrilled with the changes and see the value it brings to this next iteration of professional learning. Beth Morse, an eighth-grade English teacher and member of our building leadership team, says, “I can’t wait to get started. I love that what we are learning is tied to our own goals and our students. These are things I can actually use in my classroom with my students. It’s different this time.”

When it comes to professional learning, we have to provide our teachers with a new experience. This is our attempt to take another step forward and provide them with better opportunities that are more relevant to them, and for the students they teach.

About the Author:

David Wallace is the 6-12 instructional coach at Fairbanks Local Schools outside of Columbus, Ohio.