Blended Professional Learning Transforms Classrooms, Schools, and Districts

How It Can Up Your Game

How is professional learning changing?

We’ve long thought quality professional learning means pulling educators out of class—where they’re needed most. How do we minimize that? With blended professional learning, we maximize fewer face-to-face seminars and implement more robust job-embedded and online coaching.

Also, the power of video-based reflection is real, but I imagine more high school football players have watched themselves play football than teachers have watched themselves teach. Are we worried about the wrong things instead of focusing on the way we teach? We need to develop a learning culture that values video.

What’s one thing that excites you about blended and online coaching?

Microteaching, which is underutilized. Not many educators know about it, but with an effect size of .88, it should be a focus.

“Microteaching is organized practice teaching. The goal is to give instructors confidence, support, and feedback by letting them try out among friends and colleagues a short slice of what they plan to do with their students. Ideally, microteaching sessions . . . are videotaped for review individually with an experienced teaching consultant.”

–Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard

What are the advantages of online coaching collaboration tools?

Online coaching can have huge benefits, especially when combined with in-person coaching. It supports sustained learning, acting as the glue between in-person engagements. It also promotes collaborative learning and provides a place to share and reflect with peers. There are also cost benefits.

“If I had a question, I could address it right away through the [online] coaching studio.”

— Claire Cadwell, Third-Grade Teacher

What are some ways to start implementing blended coaching?

Video! Begin with self-reflection. Ask teachers to film themselves and reflect on how their practices are aligned to their learning goals. Where was I successful? Where can I improve? Also, build professional learning networks. Extend the walls of your school and district to connect with other educators. Social media is a powerful way to make that happen.

How do you scale a blended professional learning model?

Start by finding a balance. Every district, school, and teacher is different. What mix of in-person seminars, job-embedding coaching, online coaching, and asynchronous learning is right? Finding that balance will ensure that the goals are met in a meaningful and efficient manner. This doesn’t happen overnight—it takes time to create change.

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