I have recently read Blended Learning in Action, A Practical Guide toward sustainable change. This in an incredible book, and I highly recommend it for the modern virtual teacher. While the Pandemic of 2020 was never anticipated, the move to blended or virtual instruction has been on the horizon for years. Now, mostly due to the Pandemic and the requirement to teach virtually, teachers are taking a more active stance in their need to be “developed” in virtual instruction techniques and best practices.
Authors Caitlin Tucker, Tiffany Wycoff, and Jason Green describe an incredibly simple, yet brilliant professional development approach. They call this experience the CHOMP framework: Collaboration, Hands-on Learning, Ongoing Experiences, Mindset Shifts, and Personalization.
Collaboration is all about the relationship and making meaningful connections! Developing fellowships or professional learning circles are great ways to begin learning new skills and strategies. Find yourself like-minded people, and get busy asking questions.
Hands-on learning brings much relief from the standard sit-and-get professional development. Not only is this a painful way for teachers to learn, it’s also cost-prohibitive. In addition, use of gamification is extremely helpful in leading folks to new understanding. Teachers typically love to play games and compete (in a healthy way of course!). I personally have used alludo as a great platform to provide gamified learning to educational professionals. Check it out: alludolearning.com
Ongoing professional learning is beneficial as it allows for time to digest, apply and reflect on the application of learning. By incrementally providing awareness of skills or strategies, and then promptly providing time for a teacher to implement the newly learned content, a teacher is able to “chunk” their learning into bite size pieces. (There sure is a lot eating metaphors going on here. Am I hungry?)
Mindset Shifts are sometimes more difficult. Many times educators are asked to implement an initiative or top-down mandate without ever understanding the “why” behind it. When there is clear understanding of why the new learning is important and relative, we will go a lot further and a lot quicker.
Finally, personalization is key! Especially in the year 2020, we are understanding more than ever that “different strokes for different folks” also apply to our learners, young and old. With technological advances, we are able to offer choice, differentiation, pace, and modality in multiple ways to reach the exact same learning target. Teachers deserve the flexibility to have their preferred learning styles as much as our students do!
So, when you are thinking of launching your next professional development, just remember that teachers are CHOMPING at the bit to learn in a better way.
Tucker, C. R., Wycoff, T., & Green, J. T. (2017). Blended learning in action: A practical guide toward sustainable change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, a SAGE company.