Getting the most from collaboration tools

Communication and collaboration are not the same thing. There are many tools that allow educators and administrators to talk to each other, but to take advantage of edtech’s promise, they should also be able to use collaboration tools to work together on the same projects.

In her presentation, “Collaboration Near and Far in Digital Professional Learning Communities,” Geri Gillespy, administrator of digital integration at West Ada School District in ID, talked about how to get the most out of online collaboration tools.

Related content: 7 collaboration tools for the modern classroom…Read More

10 findings about K-12 digital learning

Digital learning itself is expanding in schools, but access to classroom and home technology still remains a major obstacle, according to a new study from Schoology.

The State of Digital Learning report is based on responses from more than 9,200 education professionals and covers challenges, priorities, and student achievement as they relate to digital learning and edtech tools.

The study yields significant findings regarding challenges and priorities, the role and impact of technology, digital citizenship and emerging edtech trends, and professional development and learning communities.…Read More

Using technology to embrace the “un-faculty” meeting

I’m not sure if teachers dreaded faculty meetings more than I did, but while standing in an auditorium filled with tired-looking faculty after a long day of teaching, I sometimes had this thought: If I did a dance or paused unsuspectingly, would that gain their attention, even if only for a moment?

We ask teachers to sit and focus at their lowest energy cycle of the day. It’s no wonder—as with kids—we see distractibility, disinterest, and frustration. Absenteeism rose by 10 percent on faculty meeting Mondays. That’s 12 faculty members absent, more than double the average absentee rate.

Something had to be done to change faculty meetings. Otherwise, students lose: Absent teachers make learning harder and kids are in greater need of a positive and present adult influence in school more than ever.…Read More

3 tips for maximizing your PLC participation during the new school year

For educators across the country, it’s time to get back at it. Summer is over, and if we are not yet back in school teaching, we are sorting through class rosters, getting our first week planned, and tying up the hundreds of loose ends that need to be addressed before we welcome our students back to school.

However, for many of educators, the end of summer signals not a return to work, but rather a continuation of our efforts to support the success of all students. While school was out over the summer, we attended workshops, participated in conferences, and stayed connected to our fellow educators through our involvement in various professional learning communities (PLCs).

While educators seem predisposed to worrying about the needs of others before they address their own needs, now is the time to be selfish about personal growth. As a new school year begins and your responsibilities again increase, I encourage you to continue learning, sharing and connecting with your PLC, or if you are not yet participating in a PLC, I urge you to join a learning community that will enrich not only your professional practice, but all facets of your life.…Read More

Are you using your school’s PLC to its fullest?

When professional learning communities (PLCs) meet frequently to examine and analyze student work and data, higher levels of teacher morale emerge, according to a new report from the Learning Sciences International (LSI) research team.

The report, Did You Know? Your School’s PLCs Have a Major Impact, expands on existing research about the role that human and social capital, collaboration, and knowledge sharing all play in education. Researchers looked at teacher morale and student achievement as they relate to PLCs.

Looking specifically at the impact of PLCs on teacher morale, the research team, led by LSI senior research analyst Lindsey Devers Basileo, Ph.D., asked educators about the amount of time their PLCs spent discussing various practices, as well as their feelings about how PLC meetings impacted their own morale.…Read More

How peer video coaching is completely changing how our teachers teach

Peer-to-peer video comments are changing how one district’s teachers think about their practice

A new era of professional development is sweeping into districts across the country, and just in time. For many districts, the days of after-school PowerPoint-driven lectures not differentiated by content, expertise, grade-level or delivery, not to mention daylong workshops on an obsolete topic, have recently given way to face-to-face coaching programs and professional learning communities. And in St. Vrain Valley School District, where we serve 32,000 students in seven towns northwest of Denver, we’ve gone one step further.

We’ve augmented our professional development program with an online video coaching platform for classroom observation through one-on-one coaching and collaborative study teams. As one of nine exemplar districts designated by the U.S. Department of Education to be “Future Ready,” the integration of video coaching is an extension of our pledge to empower educators through personalized learning. But our decision also created some cognitive dissonance as we migrated to video coaching.

Hard questions lead to the right answer…Read More

Embrace the power of learning communities

Professional learning communities have limitless potential for today’s educators

learning-communitiesDuring my second year of teaching, I learned an invaluable lesson: learning communities have the power to enrich our professional and personal lives. I learned this lesson firsthand when I participated in a “critical friends” workshop sponsored by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

Initially, I was excited for this opportunity. I was also intimidated, and that intimidation grew when, during one of the sessions, I had to share a “sample of work.”

My sample, a 20-question science quiz, could be described as lousy when compared to the work of veteran teachers. My anxiety grew as my turn to share approached. I wanted to go hide in the corner.…Read More