In this episode of The Best of Us, we talk with Dr. Magdalena Ganias of Worcester Public Schools about concrete strategies to set up PD efforts for success.
As Worcester’s Manager of Curriculum & Professional Learning, Magdalena is no stranger to the challenge of balancing multiple support structures like PLCs, coaching, and workshops without overwhelming teachers. She takes us through Worcester’s system for building specific short-term PLC goals, creating and analyzing common assessments to assess student progress, and reflecting on instructional practices.
The conversation also covers different roles within PLCs beyond the facilitator, how teachers can use journey mapping to reflect on their own practice, and much more.
Establishing a Structure for Professional Learning [00:02:15] Magdalena discusses the establishment of a structure for professional learning workshops and PLC meetings in the district.
The Active Learner Cycle in PLC Meetings [00:03:16] The importance of pre and post meeting tasks and the teaching and learning cycle in PLC meetings.
Establishing Norms and Roles in PLCs [00:05:14] Establishing norms such as trust and respect, and different roles within PLCs beyond the facilitator.
Establishing short-term goals for PLCs [00:08:55] Discussion on the importance of having both long-term and short-term goals for professional learning communities (PLCs) and how they relate to the overall goal of the team.
Creating and analyzing common assessments [00:09:44] Exploration of a specific short-term goal of a PLC in Worcester, which involves creating and analyzing common assessments to assess student progress and reflect on instructional practices.
Understanding Universal Design for Learning (UDL) [00:10:59] Explanation of UDL as a concept and its application in classrooms, with a focus on engagement, representation, and action and expression to support all learners.
The goal-setting conversation [00:16:43] The importance of having a detailed conversation with the principal or instructional leadership team to establish clear goals for the professional learning workshop.
Journey mapping workshop [00:18:08] An example of a workshop where teachers engage in journey mapping to reflect on their own lessons and discuss barriers and strategies for improvement.
Planning and preparation [00:20:32] The facilitator's role in carefully planning and preparing a targeted and engaging professional learning session, including seeking feedback from the administrator and participants.
Principals as Active Learners in Workshops [00:23:08] Encouraging principals to actively participate and learn alongside their staff in workshops, providing a clear picture for implementation.
Follow-Up Process and Feedback Loop [00:24:21] Exploring the process of follow-up after workshops, including how principals observe classrooms and provide feedback to support implementation.
Balancing Support and Avoiding Overwhelm [00:27:29] Addressing the challenge of balancing multiple support structures (PLCs, coaching, workshops) to ensure targeted and focused support without overwhelming teachers.
Establishing a Structure for Professional Learning [00:30:12] Coaches ask to use the agenda and slide structure, signaling success and a desire for structure in professional learning meetings.
Continued Use of Structure in PLCs [00:30:38] Coaches continue to use the structure and format for their professional learning communities (PLCs), leading to rewarding outcomes.
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