What’s in it for you: Why optimized learning?
Significant learning results in change.-D.L. Fink
Are you a school leader who must provide high-quality staff development for increased teacher or student outcomes?
Has your supervisor asked you to develop training on a specialized topic?
Are you an instructor who wants to maximize participant learning?
Do you have to provide staff development for a lot of people with a limited amount of time?
Do budget constraints impact the type of staff development provided?
Are you tempted to quickly create a slide show, hoping the learning sticks?
There is a faster, powerful, results-driven way!
Convert your expertise, or the knowledge of those you lead, into engaging, effective, inspirational learning sessions using the Active Learning method. Active Learning techniques provide you with the skills you need to go beyond “Sit and Get” to create and launch high-quality training, provide compelling educational opportunities, and leverage the expertise in the organization. When I first started teaching and attending professional development workshops, I soon began to dread the boring, laborious, “important” sessions. I heard a plethora of theory and data-driven research that was often confusing, and the training was delivered in a monotonous fashion. We were required to differentiate or provide personalized learning in our classrooms, yet these very “strategies” were not modeled in our training. Did the presenters not notice that the attendees’ eyes were glazed over? After I had become a campus-based staff developer, I realized that developing and presenting professional learning was a bit more challenging than it appeared. Could I make it entertaining, yet substantive? Could I make it relevant and meaningful? Would I hold the audience's attention? Would the participants learn and apply the concepts? Would my training impact their job performance?
Why does this matter?
Staff development or professional learning should be interactive and immersive. Acton (2017) asserts that student failure plummeted by 35% when Active Learning was used compared to traditional lectures. So why is lecture-based staff development that primary way that teachers receive training.?
With a significant emphasis on standards-based education and accountability, teacher practice has been under a microscope (Jones, Stall, & Yarbrough, 2013). According to Varela (2012), teachers have reported that professional development opportunities are usually isolated, passive, and provide limited engagement for participants. Eddie B, the hilarious comedian often jokes that he is "professionally developed." It is funny and sad at the same time. As educators, we should strive to engage in continuous learning. The issue is usually not the content, but the delivery style. We have to do better when it comes to providing active learning opportunities for teachers and staff. The new form of staff development that has emerged is one that is job-embedded, standards-driven, and results-based (Hirsh & Killion, 2007).
It is vital that schools and districts become learning organizations to ensure that every student achieves. In order for this to happen, school and organizational leaders must lead the learning for effective professional learning. Professional development has been used as a school improvement option to change teacher practices and increase student outcomes.
What is optimized learning?
Optimized learning is significant learning that results in individual and organizational change. When people change, their practices change, and when practice changes, results are obtained. Optimized learning is predicated by shifts in mindset, skill, application, and evaluation.
Acton, A. (2017, June 15). Innovator's Challenge: Punch Up Your Presentations And Get Off PowerPoint. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/annabelacton/2017/06/15/innovators-challenge-punch-up-your-presentations-and-get-off-powerpoint/#60593ce14770
DuFour, R. (2004). Whatever it takes: How professional learning communities respond when kids don't learn. Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service.
Hirsh, S., & Killion, J. (2007). The learning educator: A new era for professional learning. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.
Jones, L., Stall, G., & Yarbrough, D. (2013). The importance of professional learning communities for school improvement. Creative Education, 4(5), 357–361.
Varela, A. M. (2012). Three major sins of professional development: How can we make it better? Education Digest, 78(4), 17–20. Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 1197642568)
Dr. Shera Carter Sackey also referred to as the "Presentation Success Doctor" helps individuals, organizations, and school districts leverage learning through effective presentations and communication for increased success. She would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.