Three months. That’s a long time to distribute building a professional learning experience. However, I am proud of it for several reasons. I am also sad that this is unique, that I do not get to replicate this distribution of learning with other colleagues.
I have been walking alongside a colleague developing an online book study, which she is bookending with face-to-face meetings. We have been able to dedicate four small 1-2 hour meetings throughout this time, spacing the learning out for her. Between those meetings we each have clear expectations of what we would do and what the other would accomplish and we stuck to those goals. After three months, my colleague has an exemplar course within our district learning management system (LMS) to deliver in a blended learning format to fellow educators. Many within my department have worked with this person with data or programs with less productive results. I believe I can offer a few reasons my endeavor resulted in a greater success.
Unlike other technologies which were for centered around compliance reporting and personal productivity, this venture into educational technology was to educate others on a topic about which she was passionate. That alone could have made the single-most difference. My colleague was faced with removing the technology, the communication method from obscuring her message. Since she was passionate about this, she cared very much to do so.
That investment in sharing her passion, sharing it in a way free of interpretation, was the big driver. I used that to my advantage!
I was able to accommodate good chunks of time to sit with my colleague. I think prior attempts included too short, too infrequent help episodes based on how I observed her learning style. My colleague was a note taker; I had to help her focus her notes on the key points and I had to be willing to listen to her review her notes out loud. I am a teacher, this is what I do. But that may have also been a difference in how others in my department, who are not educators, were able to teach her something. That is a good lesson in adapting to the learner, not asking the learner to adapt to you.
I also was accepting of the fact that she needed to ask one question in a couple of ways. I could tell she did not come with the scaffolding to understand some of the basics features of building online content experiences. This was another educator advantage, it was exciting and meaningful for me as well to listen to her analogies and try to create new ones of my own.
All of these took a flexibility of time. And each nuance was meaningful for her. It is possible an non-educator might not see the value.
The features of the learning management system (LMS) and the instructional design were the easy parts. My colleague is an excellent teacher, so she already had all the background knowledge needed to understand benefits of features and structuring a learning environment.
She quickly incorporated text features and pattern to the content in her modules, worth your time to review in Creating Online Content, Mistakes to Avoid.
And she and I were able to identify the big ideas of what we covered at the conclusion of each meeting and what our actions items were before we met again.
An equal partner in learning is invaluable! How many colleagues though do not invest in their own long-term solution? Often they are interested in me providing them with the one solution for their one current situation – with much less investment from them, and all on me.
Here is to the joy of a teacher teaching a teacher!