Ever lead a staff meeting where you outlined your vision for the school – your philosophy, the teaching methods you would like teachers to use, and the values you would like teachers to instill in students, but the changes you are asking for don’t transpire the way you had hoped? Part of the reason may be that your staff isn’t entirely clear on what your vision is because they don’t understand the jargon you used. How to avoid this common pitfall? By following a few simple tips.
Chances are that when presenting your outlined vision to your staff, you did so in the form of a mind map or bullet points, which is fine. However, instead of stopping there, it’s a good idea to go through your vision and highlight terms that could be confusing for staff or interpreted in different ways. Things like “student-centered”, “innovative”, “life-long learning”, etc. Once the terms have been identified, take the time to define them as you see them. What does student-centered learning mean? What does it look like? By sharing the defined terminology with your staff alongside your condensed version, you will be helping to ensure that staff understand what you mean.
In addition to defining the jargon, you can take things one step further and write them out in actionable terms – meaning how a staff member would go about implementing it in their classroom. For example, if you would like student-centered learning to take place at your school, what should classrooms look like? How should lessons be delivered? Providing your staff with concrete examples and steps to follow it eliminates the chances of misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
Finally, when planning professional development sessions for the year, ensure that the ones your staff attend are in line with your interpretation of how you would like to see things done at your school so as to not confuse your team.
One of the best and easiest ways to ensure a cohesive teaching and learning culture at your school is to simply define and outline in detail what your expectations are. While the above are a few good starting points when it comes to the implementation of your ideas, creating an educational framework and individualized teacher planners can be great assets as well. To learn more about how these tools can help, see the following articles:
What is an Educational Framework?
Designing an Educational Framework
The Power of Planners
Tips for Personalizing Planners at Your School
How to Use Planners as a Tool for Mentoring Teachers
In a prior article I highlighted the importance of providing individualized planning tools to those educators attending your professional development sessions. At the time of writing, I didn’t go into much detail about how to accomplish this since to my knowledge there was no easy way of doing so. Fast forward a few years and now there is a way with our upcoming software, ESBPlanners! Below are a few ways our program can help ensure that all those attending your session can walk away with the tools they need to implement your ideas.
1. Teachers bringing in their own planners:
A common problem when offering professional development is that teachers arrive to your sessions with different planning templates, mostly designed using programs that don’t allow changes to be made very easily. Because of ESBPlanners’ draggable cells and being able to rearrange information within each cell, those teachers attending your session who have designed templates using our program will be able to adjust their planning templates to incorporate your teachings based on your guidance.
2. Creating new templates for teachers to use:
Another approach that can be taken using ESBPlanners is to create premade templates and share them with those in attendance. As you are presenting, you can demonstrate how the planners are to be used and different modifications that can be made to accommodate various teacher positions and class compositions. In doing so, teachers will leave your PD confident in their ability to implement the teaching methods you are sharing with them.
3. Following up:
Teachers often leave PD sessions confident they have understood everything, but when it comes time to implementation they realize there are a few more questions they should have asked, which is why being able to easily follow up with them and offer additional guidance is key to ensuring your success. In using ESBPlanners “Shared Planners” feature, teachers will be able to share their work with you and receive instant feedback using our “Comments” feature that allows you to engage in a dialogue with them.
In providing a concrete way forward for implementation after educators attend your session, you will ensure that your ideas and methodologies aren’t being tossed to the wayside in frustration; they will be used to the benefit of both staff and students at schools. While the above addresses ways ESBPlanners can assist in achieving your goals as a presenter, the software offers many others – check them out in the following articles:
ESBPlanners - Planning Tools for Educators
Teacher Organizational Tools
Team Planning Tools for Your School - ESBPlanners
Collaborative Teaching Planning Tools - ESBPlanners
Creating Rubrics Using ESBPlanners