Time for Teachership

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96. PRACTICE: How to Start Personalized Learning Plans With Your Staff

by Lindsay Lyons
January 3rd 2023
Welcome back to the Time For Teachership Podcast! Today we have a solo episode with Lindsay sharing a practice activit... More
educational justice coach, lindsey Lyons and here on the time for Teacher ship podcast, we learn how to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice design curricula grounded in student voice and build capacity for shared leadership. I'm a former teacher leader turned instructional coach. I'm striving to live a life full of learning, running, baking, traveling and parenting because we can be rockstar educators and be full human beings. If you're a principal assistant superintendent, curriculum director, instructional coach or teacher who enjoys nursing out about co creating curriculum students, I made this show for you. Here we go. Hello and welcome to another episode of the time for Teacher ship podcast. We are an episode 96 that is bananas. In this episode, we're talking about personalized learning plans. So if you are a leader who is excited about personalized learning, not just for students but for staff, I want to figure out how to do it, how to fine tune kind of what you might already be doing. This is episode for you. Let's dive in. Alright, so in this episode we're talking about personalized learning plans.

Personalized learning of course is great for students. We already know this and more likely already making strides to do this and to do it well. However often we don't provide the same level of personalization and choice and voice in a growth plan, personally or professionally for educators, for staff for teachers, for leaders, this is what we're doing here in this episode, we're gonna talk through the, why the steps of how to do it. I'm gonna give you some tips to implement and I'm also going to give you as always a free resource. So here we go, why would we do this? Well, when we provide teachers with the opportunity to develop their own personalized professional learning plans for the year, we have a lot more what is often referred to as by in but really commitment to the shared goal. So this is huge. When we look at the research on shared leadership, this is a big piece, right? There more invested when that goal is co created, they're more invested in the commitment, they're more invested in any sort of kind of step along the way of training of learning.

Um folks in a team are more kind of committed to one another and in support of that goal when they've all kind of co created that goal. So there's a lot of kind of commitment and follow through that happens. There's also just more joy and excitement and feelings of self efficacy and collective teacher efficacy more broadly, which we know from john Hattie's research on effect sizes of what actually moves the needle for student learning, that is the biggest impact on student learning. Everything else that was studied, had less of an impact than collective teacher advocacy. So this is huge in terms of its importance in terms of its leverage for student learning in terms of just teacher joy and ultimately teacher joy, I think contributes to staff retention, which is a huge issue and has been a huge issue in the past couple of years, even more intensely than pre pandemic. So this is excellent to be able to kind of make teachers so excited that they want to stay in your school, in your district and continue to learn, they see your community as a place where they can grow and thrive and be just like students appropriately challenged and supported at the same time.

So again, I'm gonna give you a shared template and kind of figure out how exactly this logistically works. But I just want to know that you want you to know that the y is really strong here, We're supporting teacher professional development, we're sustaining kind of this culture of growth. So this is a real culture change shift refinement, you may already have a culture of growth, but this is really going to kind of 10 X that and it also, I think this is pretty cool, it builds coaching capacity, it builds capacity for kind of a self coaching model where in collaboration with a teacher, you are kind of coaching them to figure out how to fill out the plan and to implement and to reflect on it. But ultimately, on a day to day level they're coaching themselves, which is uber cool when you don't have to have the financial or staff resources to give every single teacher a coach, the next best thing is to, if you can't do like peer coaching or lead teacher or something or other.

The next best thing is to make an investment in self coaching capacity and I think this is a huge step, but honestly it's not too hard, it's really about culture building and just putting in a few parameters that logistically make it a bit easier and just part of how we do things as a community that's going to get you there, that's going to get that capacity built up very quickly with not too much effort. So those are the things we love, big wins, not a lot of time, investments and just ripple effects for a long time. So here we go, how do we actually do this thing? So what I would do and I've talked about this before is make sure as a leader, as a staff, as a community, ideally this is co created, you are clear on one or maybe two at the absolute most focused topics for the school year. So these are your areas of growth as a community. Once you have that, then you're ready for this. But that's kind of the pre step here. Once you're ready, you can go ahead and communicate the value and importance of teacher autonomy, I'm sure you won't have to do a lot of convincing with staff for this, but just kind of communicate that you recognize the importance of teacher autonomy and personalized learning for adults.

You already use this model for students. I'm a firm believer in the one learning model for all philosophy, which I got from the international network for public schools, which has amazing resources, an amazing philosophy on how to teach for all students. This is huge. We do this for students. Why don't we do this for staff? So also communicate the focus topics for the year. If staff aren't already familiar for those, you're gonna want to do some more work here. But as I said, that's usually a pre step prior to implementing this particular strategy. Once we're good on that, you are going to invite each staff member to create one or two individual goals for the year that align to the 1 to 2 staff wide focus topic. So either schoolwide District wide, whatever those 1 to 2 focus topics were that you did initially in the pre work, each individual staff goal has to align or fall under the category or the broader umbrella of one or both of those focus areas, teachers may want some time to think about this, especially if it's relatively new to them.

Hearing about these kind of overarching focus topics, they may need to think a little bit about how what they personally want to do kind of fits within that. But usually those topics are broad enough that most things will fit under there, it might just be putting kind of a spin on what they're initially going to do. And I also think it's kind of helpful to look at the rubric with which teachers are being evaluated. So there's coherence there. So it doesn't feel like we're working on these focus areas because I was told to do that, that's our school or district. But then when my administrator comes in, I'm being evaluated and this is going on my permanent file based on a rubric that actually doesn't even have alignment to our focus areas. So that's kind of a caveat to make sure when you're choosing your focus areas as a school or district, there is alignment to how teachers are being evaluated and I would emphasize we want that alignment to be present if it's not already in the rubric. If we didn't do that when we made the focus area goals, make it part of the rubric. Right, add that to the rubric. Have some flexibility there because we want coherence in terms of what we're asking teachers to do and focus on and what we're evaluating them on.

Right? So teachers may want some time to kind of play with the Danielsson framework, play with the idea of the two priorities. But when they're ready, you're gonna have them document their goals and the corresponding component of whatever rubric you're using. So that might be Danielson, that might be something else and I have a template for you for this. So just make sure you go to the blog post, I'll share that link shortly, but just make sure you check it out, download that link and then you can share that with teachers, they can just make a copy and edit right away. Once you have teachers document this, they have stated their goal, they've stated the alignment to whatever evaluation Rubert criteria you're using and the focus area or areas for your school or district, then they need to further define the success criteria of their goal. Often we skip this step, you may have a 1 to 2 sentence goal, but what does that actually look like? How do we actually know that a teacher has hit that goal? How does the teacher themselves now? So ask a question or use this template that has this question about it, what will it look sound and or feel like in your classroom or in your environment if they're a non teaching staff member when you have met this school look sound, feel like have them take a few moments think about what would it actually look like to walk into a class where this goal is being met, what would it sound like?

What are the things that I'm hearing students say, because we want to focus heavily on students and the students are acting, experiencing, talking about things during this kind of class atmosphere or during this um intervention that you you're working on or this focus area once they've named what it sounds, looks and feels like, then ask what portfolio pieces or what kind of pieces of evidence will you gather to show your progress towards the school. I like portfolio pieces because when I was a teacher, we used like these success share kind of formats where maybe once a semester at the end of each semester, we would gather with other teachers who are working on goals that were similar to ours. And as an administrator, you can kind of, you know, you'll get everyone's goals, you can kind of put people in groups in that way or use existing teaming structures departments, grade teams and have people just take, you know, an hour share out what has been successful, what was your goal? What's been successful and like share some student work or share some other evidence of success so that we're really celebrating what is working.

And of course you can get some feedback on how that's going, how you can strengthen it further what your next steps might be. And of course that's really helpful. But I think a focus on success, especially when teacher retention is slow, morale is low. Um, that mid year boost and the end of the year kind of celebratory feel can be really powerful. Also from the field of positive psychology, that idea of positive deviance, like what is going well when things may not be going well or things aren't going well in this area in other spaces, other classrooms, The rest of the school went well for you. So let's study that and learn from that and expand upon that. So after that we've set the goal, we've defined success. We've talked about the portfolio pieces that are often very student centered, what our students saying what their student work look like, how are we measuring that? We hit that success criteria. What portfolio pieces would we share out at a successor then and only then once we have to find all that stuff, then we're going to say, what actions are you going to take to help you meet the school?

At this point you might be able to step in and say hey here's what we have slated for P. D. For the year. Kind of as a school community or district community. You can pull from those or maybe you have to go to some of those so figure out how they align. But I think the important piece here is to offer suggestions beyond that. So if we're truly talking about personalized pd plans, we're talking about other formats than whole staff pd meeting for example, pure visitations which I've talked about before. I've had episodes and blog posts before about this. I've shared free resources regarding how to set up your visitations. I think this is a huge peer to peer coaching model that just invites this level of professional growth in in our culture that just isn't present without that. I think it's a beautiful way to kind of amplify teacher growth and normalize and kind of agree upon, We are committed as a staff to our own professional growth and we're going to do it in this way in a way that's non evaluative but certainly multiplies our our growth beyond what it would be if we were siloed in our classrooms and just doing our own thing and never kind of checking in to see how students are experiencing other classes.

So pure visitations is an example of a different pd format. Other P. D. Formats might include a self paced course, there's a ton of these online what's available to teachers. Maybe have teachers kind of look a little bit into this that there are not already familiar, but just kind of throw it out there. Yeah, if you come to me with a self paced course, you want to take it great. We're going to find the pD funding for you. You can go ahead and take that and then just have these checking moments with your team, with your coach, with me as an admin. That's a format engaging in inquiry cycles for the P. L. C. So to support this, you may say, okay, here's what our typical PLC agenda looks like. We have these moments of inquiry, We have these rotations where we look at a unit or an assessment that a teacher is going to be doing in an upcoming lesson. We get feedback on it, right, this is just part of how we normally do R. P. L. C. S. And then you can say right this is a great opportunity for you. This structure exists as a teacher. How are you going to leverage this structure to do some personalized P.

D. It might even just be like reading blog posts from A. S. C. D. Or teach better or a utopia like wherever. Learning for justice, reading those blogs and searching out different resource banks, listening to podcast episodes doing kind of a research deep dive into whatever area it is that they're focused on whatever is aligned to their goal. There's so many different categories of pd beyond the traditional everyone sits in a room or in a virtual zoom room experiencing the same pd especially when you have a large staff. But even if you have a small staff to be honest, that's probably not going to meet the needs of every staff member. So this personalized PD approach should be personalized in more than just what is the content or strategy or pedagogical approach that you want to focus on. So it's more than the content. It's also about the process of how teachers are best able to learn and experience kind of growth.

A cycle of kind of self coaching that should be expansive as well as the content. Again, just like we would do for students, we know that this is important for students. We also want to provide this for staff. So as I said earlier, you want to collect all the staff plans. I would just give them maybe half an hour in a staff meeting to kind of complete these. But also you know people like to take them home and think on it and and come up with some more creative solutions over time totally fine as well. I think people learn and process differently but I don't think you have to offer more than 20-30 minutes in a staff meeting for those who just want to complete it and then use those all those plans to support staff throughout the year through targeted observation where you're saying I'm coming in just to look at this piece. I know this is your focus area that's what I'm gonna do. Use it for coaching, communicate with their coach if you're not there coach. If they have a peer coach or a hired, you know it's actually the role to be their instructional coach or department team. Lead, offer opportunities for PD whenever you hear about them.

So if you're online or you're in a network leadership meeting and you hear about this opportunity that maybe is not going to be a whole staff meeting but it exists out there. Like we're not hiring this person for PD for the staff but maybe they have something that would be you know available for a teacher to attend as an individual share that stuff with them, share blog posts, share things that are aligned to their topic area. And remember the format of P. D. That they like engaging with if they like listening to podcasts. Try to listen to a few podcasts and see if that would be recommended to them recommended to them and see if they would like it. Check out twitter, check out certain hashtags about certain topics and if someone else listened to a podcast maybe you don't even have to listen to it but you can kind of forward it along if you are interested in doing this but you're like whoa that seems like a big shift from how we currently do things. You can pilot this strategy with a few teachers before starting this with the whole staff instead of a staff wide goal. Also you might want to focus a little bit narrower so each department ridge team defines a goal or focus topic for the group and then they ask each member within that team to align their individual goal to the group's focus topic.

So these are a couple of different ways that you could you know play with or adjust the strategy if it just feels too big too soon and it's kind of too much of a shift from how you're doing things you want to test it out in smaller ways that those are both ways to do that. And I think this is a really adaptable strategy. You can adapt the template that I'm sharing. You can change the degree of structure. It can be a lot more free form, it can be a lot more kind of rigid in terms of we do things this way and these are all the things that I need as components of your plan. I think what's really essential is that you have a aligned goal for the teacher and by line, I mean it's aligned to your school community focus area and to the rubric that they're being used, that you're using to assess quality teaching, right? That you have a clear view of how that teacher to find success and it's aligned to how you're defining success in that rubric. And then also that they have, you know, a couple of action steps is really important as well and if they can't think of action steps, coach them, suggest some, you know, work with them.

I do think this works well at the start of the year, but honestly at any point in the year I think teachers are going to be open to the idea of we get to do personalized learning, like we get to pick what RPG plan is. We get to pick from all these various topic areas and formats. Yes, we're in. So I think this can be honestly started at any time and finally what I want to just name is there are several examples of states who do personalized learning out there. So for example Dallas I s. D amazing personalized instruction and so there's actually a personalized learning rubric for staff which they use in their coaching and feedback cycles. And I can link to that in the blog post but super powerful to be able to do this work. I am so excited to see what you come up with and how this works for you as you implement. Please feel free to share questions to share successes with me. My email is hello at lindsey Beth Lyons dot com and I'm always really excited to hear from you. You can always leave a comment as well in our blog post.

So to get that freebie that I mentioned and to read the blog post for this episode, you're going to go to lindsey Beth Lyons dot com slash blog slash 96 that's for episode 96. So Lindsay deadlines dot com slash blog slash 96. And you will find there a personalized learning plan template for your teachers, take this share with them, you can edit it if you want to just make a copy and then they can just go ahead and fill it in. This will save you probably 30 minutes of trying to figure out how to create your own template. Just grab at it and go, all right, that's it for this week. I will hear you and you will hear me in your earbuds next week. Well if you're leaving this episode wanting more, you're going to love my live coaching intensive curriculum boot camp. I help one department or grade team create feminist anti racist curricula that challenges affirms and inspires all students. We leave current events into course content and amplify student voices, which skyrockets engagement and academic achievement.

It energizes educators feeling burns out and it's just two days plus you can reuse the same process any time you create a new unit, which saves time and money. If you can't wait to bring this to your staff, I'm inviting you to sign up for a 20 minute call with me, grab a spot on my calendar at www dot lindsey beth Lyons dot com slash contact Until next time leaders continue to think big act brave and be your best self. This podcast is a proud member of the teach, Better podcast network, Better today, Better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there, explore more podcasts at teach better dot com slash podcasts and we'll see you at the next episode

96. PRACTICE: How to Start Personalized Learning Plans With Your Staff
96. PRACTICE: How to Start Personalized Learning Plans With Your Staff
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