Committing to Change

 “True professional development begins not with learning, but with a commitment to transform learning into doing.” 

Let’s delve into the realm of learning (PL) for educators. I'm fully onboard with shaking things up a bit through what I like to term “Commitment-driven Professional Learning.” You know the outside consultant drill; some experts come in do their thing and leave without any real impact. In this model, I say that outside consultants tend to, “Blow in. Blow off. Blow out.” Not a lot changes. If we're not going to apply what we've learned to make improvements, why spend the time and money?

It's essential to reframe PL not as an exercise in learning, but as a system for effecting change. Whether it involves altering perspectives, behaviors, or teaching methods the key is to commit to that change. Then see it through.

In my professional development (PL) sessions, I champion a three-step cycle for learners: 1) Learn and Experience, 2) Implement and Practice, and 3) Return and Report. This method ensures that learning doesn't just happen in a vacuum; it's a living process that grows and evolves. 

Let me describe each step:

  1. Learn and Experience: Educators need opportunities to experience new things. Professional Learning should be relevant and engaging to the participants and should provide them new experiences to help them see the benefits of change. 
  2. Implement and Practice: Educators need time to “play around” with the change. They need to practice it with the students and modify it so that it the most meaningful for their kids. Understand, in the beginning, students may struggle with implementation of the change in the classroom. Stick to it, though. Don’t let the unfamiliarity bog you or your students down; this will disallow you to truly visualize effectiveness. 
  3. Return and Report: Grade level teams should commit to new changes and commit to discussing the progress/effectiveness of the change in weekly PLCs. Leaders need to be familiar with the commitments and hold fluid conversations with teachers during implementation. Finally, have the teachers review how the change was implemented and how it positively supports increased engagement and learning at the next Professional Learning session. 

These steps not only reinforce the new changes but also cultivate an environment where continuous improvement is the norm. That’s our goal!

Bottom line, in PL, we want teachers to learn AND do. Change is an action word and requires a commitment to do things differently. 

Learn, Do & Report

Reflect on your prior learning experiences. Did these experiences cause a change in practice? Make a commitment today to support implementation of something new at your school. Ask participants to commit to a change. Engage in follow-up discussions and have repeated conversations about the committed change. 


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