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Empowering Teachers through Authentic, Choice-Based PD

Jared Colley; Michelle Vaughn; Kymberly Ayodeji — The Oakridge School

At The Oakridge School, we formed a team of teachers from various disciplines and backgrounds to design a yearlong, school-wide approach to professional development that is cost-efficient, human-centered, and based on choice. Just as students need agency and voice when it comes to making their learning authentic, teachers benefit from professional learning experiences that motivate and engage the learner on similar terms. Authentic PD doesn’t demand compliance; it’s inspired by choice, a sense of purpose, and a clear commitment to equity within a community. At Oakridge, teachers designed a program where every instructor, K through 12, chooses and commits to a learning pathway, ranging from issues like emergent practices in pedagogy to topics like personal growth and wellness. Within each pathway, there are four “gameful” levels or badges (“Novice” to “Apprentice” to “Practitioner” to “Influencer”) with the idea of supporting a teacher’s journey from ignorance to empowerment. It’s not a one-and-done learning experience; it’s a layered approach that scaffolds each participant to becoming sharers of knowledge that is not only thought-provoking but actionable. We’re less interested in sharing every detail of our story and more motivated to facilitate a conversation with teachers about how we engage every colleague in an effort to continue our learning as educators for the benefit of better serving every student by being well-informed teachers that are agile and culturally-responsive with all our daily pedagogical practices.

Conversational Practice

After briefly sharing some general sketch and some resources related to what we've done at The Oakridge School. We want to provoke conversation and reflection using some selected "thought routines" as developed by Project Zero Harvard ("thought routines" like "see-think-wonder" or "compass points" or "yellow light/red light" as outlined in the book, Making Thinking Visible). We'll employ some kind of back channel (like padlet) to record take aways from these breakout conversations.

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