|AALF's Integrated Professional Learning Support|
|Author: Karen Ward, AALF | June 17th, 2014|
As we begin supporting new partner schools, it gives me an opportunity to present a glimpse into the types of professional learning AALF provides. Designed with various educators and school settings in mind, our goal is to ensure that each has access to unlimited learning opportunities anytime and anywhere and that they have the tools to make this possible. The outcome of this support is that teachers will then empower their students to use their laptops or tablets as prime instruments of our day for exciting intellectual work that promotes critical thinking and the development of the creative process (Dr. Seymour Papert) while also empowering students and teachers to do things that had previously not been possible at levels that were not possible.
AALF coaching support enables us to create a working partnership with educators fulfilling various roles at both district and site levels. Included as part of a comprehensive 1-to-1 implementation plan over time, AALF coaches provide leaders, teachers, mentors, and teams of educators with the opportunity to learn about, plan for, implement, and reflect upon their practices while staying aligned to their overall 1-to-1 goals and objectives. In order to achieve this, AALF coaches work with district and site leaders to create a coaching plan that meets the needs of both individual and teams of educators over an identified period of time. Based on this plan, coaches provide both face-to-face as well as virtual support which routinely incorporates listening, asking questions, participating in conversations, and providing feedback, insight, models, and examples. Each type of coaching has a specific focus and is based on AALF’s Layers of 1:1 Learning and Teaching. They include:
• Leadership coaching: Based on the AALF’s 21 Steps for 21st Century Learning, as well as the Layers of 1:1 Learning and Teaching, leadership coaching focuses on establishing and sustaining systems elements mandatory for effective 1-to-1 implementation. This also includes developing a professional learning plan for teachers and mentors that targets student learning goals of 1-to-1 learning and teaching.
• Instructional mentor coaching: Focused on the characteristics of effective instructional coaches, this support helps site-based instructional mentors or coaches to develop their vision for 1-to-1 learning and teaching as well as their skills of listening and engaging teachers in ongoing conversations, collaborating in planning lessons and units of study, modeling lessons for individuals or groups of teachers, and lesson study.
• Instructional coaching: This AALF coaching is focused on the classroom and supporting teachers and their leaders as they develop their knowledge and skill in envisioning, designing, creating, and sustaining effective 1--to-1 learning spaces and experiences. This coaching work often includes concurrent professional development sessions that provide teachers with opportunities to develop their 1-to-1 pedagogy while receiving coaching support from the AALF staff so they can implement what they have learned. This is done by working alongside individual or teams of teachers to design and implement innovative lessons as well as participating in reflective conversations.
AALF coaches also help district and site leaders stay informed about the progress of their overall work by providing reports after each of their coaching sessions. These reports are presented in a way that best meets the needs of leaders (for example, face-to-face or virtual meetings, written, recorded, or ongoing blog reports).
Professional development targets those specific elements or areas emphasized by effective 1-to-1 teachers and their leaders and typically is part of a comprehensive implementation plan spanning a school-year or longer. It is always embedded within a coaching program based on the needs of the school and its educators. This support is delivered either face-to-face or virtually and is based on the AALF vision that educators should have access to unlimited learning opportunities anytime and anywhere. The content for professional development focuses on the district or school 1-to-1 goals and incorporates elements of these goals with the needs of educators. It also includes those essentials that we as an organization know must be present in order to design, create and sustain effective and innovative 1-to-1 classrooms and schools and that are included in AALF’s Layers of 1-to-1 Learning and Teaching. Examples of these essentials include constructing 1-to-1 pedagogy statements, designing effective and individualized learning spaces, classroom organization and management, and 1-to-1 Shared Beliefs. Additional resources, models and examples from schools around the world are also provided.
AALF staff work with district and site educators to develop a professional development plan that focuses on their 1-to-1 goals while also providing participants unique learning opportunities that are based on the AALF professional development model. This model involves participants in inquiry, choice, collaboration, and creativity while staying aligned to specific outcomes. For those districts or schools who contract for support over an extended period of time (example: over a school year), the professional development plan may include face-to-face site-based sessions, virtual site-based sessions, as well as district or school-based team participation in one of the AALF Courses that include educators from around the world.
AALF consulting services are initiated by district or site leaders and include such things as implementation queries, effectiveness of practices, and audit requests using the AALF 1-to-1 Audit Tool. While consulting incorporates some of the same qualities as coaching, namely, identifying current reality and listening and engaging in constructive conversations, it also focuses on short-term work that results in specific suggestions, considerations, or ideas for district or school leaders and educators. Consulting work may evolve to include additional AALF support (coaching and professional development).
While coaching, professional development, and consulting differ in the way each of these services provide support and the amount of time required, we find that a comprehensive approach offers educators the most leverage and insures the most effective outcomes. This is the AALF Approach – a fully integrated, tailored approach to deep professional learning.
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