Influencing Learners

When I scanned my Twitter feed this morning, as I pondered whether I really wanted to get up at 3:00AM, I realized that I had missed one of the most important twitterchats ever! Yikes!

In truth, I missed two chats last night--Michelle Moore's (@Michelle4EDU) #HCPSTEACH and #EvenTalk--that I had been invited to participate in. (And, we won't even mention OneNote twitterchat and MinecraftEDU chats!).

Still, continuing this week's focus on professional development, professional learning, I couldn't help but be drawn to the excellent conversation around the #HCPSTEACH questions. Since I couldn't participate (catching up on sleep after an arduous week driving to Austin and presenting at TASBO17 conference, the latter was a lot of fun!), I thought I might take a quick >140 character stab at responding to these questions.

The guest of the #HCPSTEACH  chat was John Bimmerle (@j_bimmerle) of East Texas fame. He did a masterful job (as far as I could see) facilitating the chat, introducing these questions:

Want to access curated Professional Development and Learning resources
centered on andragogy (adult learning strategies)?
Read this Flipboard-based MagazinePD/PL: Andragogy, on your mobile device!

Q1: What can we personally do with our own learning to be sure learning sticks and impacts students?
Ensure engagement and movement right out of the starting gate. Learning can be a race as the learner begins his/her lap around the track. On one side, learners are running out of energy, time, and the sheer willpower to continue.  My thinking on making learning stick for me is simple--I have to be emotionally engaged, able to write/talk and then reflect, then apply new learning in a situation I devise. But learning has to be more than just about student' personal motivation.

In the TCEA online book study I'm facilitating, one of the books I chose to read and share about was Influencer. In that book, the authors suggest that you haven't done your math if you expect people to change as a result of only one variable, which in the case of learning, implies personal motivation. They suggest that there are other aspects to consider, such as:

As you can see, learners need a little more than just their own personal motivation (help them love what they hate) and coaching on ability (help them do what they can't). With Pr/PBL approaches, you can get learners personally motivated and provide mini-lessons to help them learn to do what they can't. Teachers can also work with students one on one, although it becomes harder in departmentalized settings, to provide necessary encouragement and assistance (social). But it's more effective if a peer member acts in this dimension. How can educators make it easier for students take on the role of learning advocates?

Q2: When have you successfully struggled with implementing a new topic/strategy? How did the process help you grow?
It's amazing, I find that I have struggled quite a bit with a variety of topics or strategies. One challenge I faced recently included adapting a workshop designed in one way to include activities and engagement strategies that better met the needs of participants. That is, I taught it the way I was supposed to teach it, then realized it wasn't working. So, I asked myself, discussed with colleagues, and realized that my first duty was to my learners, not the curriculum. At that moment, I redesigned the day of activities to better meet the needs of learners...and the results were tremendous!

"Go through your learning activities from the learners' perspective," shared a colleague, "then make changes accordingly." Going through that process helped me become more centered on the learners rather than what I wanted them to do. I realized there needed to be more choice and movement so that learners could make meaningful learning of what was made available to them.

Love this "traditional" way of encouraging learners to pick up something new from each other.
Of course, you could do it with a Padlet, right? Or Google Draw?

Q3: Traditional "1 & DONE training lacks follow up support. What non-traditional things can you do to get/give implementation support?"
Some non-traditional things that I have done to provide implementation support involve technology. In fact, creating blended learning experiences that mix face to face and online ongoing, intensive professional learning make a big difference. That's because it's about building community among learners, relationships with individuals and making activities like coaching and peer observation possible.
Love this document from Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida!
It came to me via John Bimmerle (@j_bimmerle)
If you want a list of non-traditional things, be sure to check out this series of Professional Development blog entries:

Q4: Share examples of great trainings that you have provided/attended. What made them a strong experience?
While I've had several wonderful experiences facilitating professional learning, the defining quality for each of them remains the same--agency. That is a word defined in this way:
In social science, agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, structure is those factors of influence (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, ability, customs, etc.) that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions. (Source: Wikipedia)
The key is to structure professional learning so that it empowers individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices within the context of a learning opportunity. At the end of a series of professional learning, participants leave empowered and enthusiastic, wanting to do more to expand on what they have done in the professional learning. Invariably, problem-based learning and project-based learning have yielded these results. That says a lot about PBL for use with adult learners.

Q5: If you could structure a professional learning opportunity, what would it include or look like?
I absolutely LOVE this question. Now, structuring a session like this may often be a function of time and the facilitator, do you have enough of each to spend it as you see fit? But given time and energy, which you can marshal effectively over a long preparation time rather than "I have this session I need you to do in 10 minutes!" (as fun as those are, they don't often yield the best results unless you can quickly adapt activities).

There are at least 7 components to any successful professional learning session:
  1. Be an ongoing experience for educators that provide extended learning opportunities help them master new skills and instructional methods. These have a better chance at positively impacting student learning. (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  2. Be job embedded as much as possible so that what is learned can be applied in the classroom. (DeMonte; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  3. Provide support for teachers during the implementation stage of using a new instructional method in the classroom.  (Gulamhussein).
  4. Offer content that is specific (e.g. goal, discipline, grade level, developmental stage) instead of generic. (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  5. Be engaging and use varied approaches to support learning for both groups and individuals.(Gulamhussein). 
  6. Include modeling because it helps educators understand new instructional methods (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  7. Promote collaboration among teachers because it leads to better teaching and instruction, helping educators solve problems they are dealing with in the classroom. (DeMonte; Darling-Hammond et al.)
Let's quickly re-organize those with technology support:

  1. Technology: Creating a Virtual Space to facilitate:
    1. Making learning an ongoing experience
      • PD Models: Coaching, Peer Observation, Research/PD Model
      • A space like Google Classroom, Microsoft Classroom, MS Yammer, Slack, Voxer makes it easy to facilitate ongoing conversations and reflections, easy to capture and share success.
    2. Generating content that is specific accessible and easy
      • PD Models: Workshop, Webinars, Conferences and Unconferences (e.g. edcamps)
      • Whether a wiki, a OneNote Notebook (I don't recommend Google Drive since that can be quite confusing to organize and locate content, although I know schools that do use it in spite of that with some frustration up front), find a way to make curriculum and lesson sharing possible.
    3. Scaffolding teacher collaboration
      • PD Models: Peer observation
      • Encourage observation, modeling, implementation with support in a culture of trust and safety is key.
      • Tools like and can make video recording and sharing easy for teachers. 
      • Encourage reflections that are shared in a OneNote or blog, although writing may be too much given teacher literacy levels and/or time to compose and reflect, which is why I recommend Voxer or Flipgrid.
  2. Technology: Video repository of successful implementation strategies
    We know that teachers are more likely to adopt instructional methods after they see that strategy being successful in a classroom with students they know.
    1. Creating engaging, job-embedded, varied approaches to support learning
      1. Record short lessons and watch students work through successful activities.
      2. Incorporate student performance in available video content
      3. Ask students and teachers to annotate video (read Video Annotation)
Whew, that was a tough question! So glad I was able to share my thoughts in a blog entry rather than a Twitterchat!!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


john said…
Thanks for taking the time to engage with our chat questions. Appreciate your ideas.

Popular posts from this blog

Rough and Ready - #iPad Created Narrated Slideshow

Old Made New: Back to Bunsen Labs Linux (Updated)

The Inside Scoop: EdTech 2020 Virtual Conference #edtech #zoom