Purposeful PD: Timing is Everything

Because of the pandemic and all of the virtual learning experiences, I feel that one of the most important questions I've asked this year is "What's the best use of our synchronous time?" This question is one that I will keep at the forefront of my brain post-pandemic, too.

I don't often share specific tools here, but one of my favorite finds during the pandemic is the Chrome extension called Slides Timer. This extension creates a minimal count down, count up, or current time on Google Slides. I can change the fonts, sizes, and locations, so the timer matches my presentation, and it's very unobtrusive. 

So that extension sounds fine, and using timers is a good productivity tip, but after reflecting and chatting with friends, those simple timers are a whole lot more. 

Generous Authority

I've written multiple times about the book The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, and one of the chapters that really stretched my thinking was "Don't be a Chill Host." Previously, I wanted my sessions to be conversational, more informal, and laid back. (oops!) Rather than chill, Priya uses the phrase generous authority to describe the hosting goal. What I've learned during the pandemic (and after participating in many webinars) is that timers help me achieve a bit more generous authority.

"Purposeful PD, Timing is everything" and a yellow circle with an hour glass icon in the center; right side, top: icon of person pointing at screen "for the presenter," underneath are 5 icons to represent an audience, "for the audience"
Timers keep us all on track!

Timers keep me on track.

Because I constantly remind myself "What's the best use of synchronous time?" and because the professional learning sessions I facilitate are now typically 1-hour or less, rather than a 3- or 6-hour session, every single minute counts. I admit I can talk a bit too long, especially when chatting about a topic I love, so if I add a timer to one of my "teach-piece" slides, it is a prominent reminder for me to not ramble on about my subject.

My friend Laura and I co-facilitated a particular session, and we had one bit of input where we provided exactly 5-minutes of teaching, so we used Slides Timer. We each shared for about 2.5 minutes and moved on. The timer definitely kept me on track, and in a 50-minute webinar, sticking to that tight timing allowed us to accomplish all of our session goals. 

Timers keep participants on track.

Another component of generous authority is to protect and equalize your guests, or in my case, session participants. If I want to call on three participants from the group discussion, and each person has 1-minute to speak, a timer is important. (Has anyone else been in a webinar where 1-2 people dominate the conversation?) For this example, I would create 3 separate slides, each with a 1-minute timer. The timers help protect the "guests" from overly-chatty participants.

If I want each person to give a 30-second introduction, I would create a Slide with a 30-second timer and duplicate it for all participants. Now, all participants are equalized and have that 30-seconds timer and a visible cue when their time is up.

If I want participants to spend 3-minutes reflecting and planning next steps, I add a timer to the slides. If we're taking a 5-minute stretch break, I add a timer to the slides. The participants can check their own work and progress, and a visible timer on the screen really helps in a fast-paced session.

Reducing Cognitive Load

My friend Dede recently shared the brilliant insight that using Slides Timer reduces the cognitive load for both her and her session participants. 🤯 For one of her highly interactive, 2-day, face-to-face session, Dede had Slides Timers throughout her presentation, and she always had them in the same place on her Slides. Her session had many group activities, each with a different length of time. So instead of looking for her phone each time, remembering to set the timer, and setting a new time length, the timers were built into the slides, so that was one less thing she, as the facilitator, had to worry about!

She said she saw the participants looking up at the screen throughout the activities, checking how much time they had left for their tasks. They didn't have to assign a time-keeper role, they didn't need to check the times on the phone; they just looked at the presentation screen. It was one less thing for the participants to worry about, too! In addition, I'm sure it was a way to build in trust because if Dede said the participants had 10 minutes to work on a task, they knew she would give them precisely 10 minutes.

Other Tips for the Slides Timer

Laura, Dede, and I have a few pro tips about using Slides Timer:
  • Laura and I duplicate our Slides and add the actual timer, <<7:00->> for example, on the second slide. The timer begins as soon as I advance to that timer Slide, so I set up the activity on the first slide, and as the activity begins, I advance to the next Slide with the actual timer. Participants can still see all of the directions and info, and I add the timer to any spare space on the Slide.
  • Dede's tip, especially if there are a lot of activities, all with different time lengths, is to add a tiny reminder on the first slide of the upcoming activity length to reduce cognitive load. "For the next activity, you'll have [checks the bottom of the slide] 7 minutes to complete the tasks listed..."
Slide 1: tiny reminder at the bottom of the slide

Slide 2: timer in edit mode 


Slide 2: timer in present mode
  • The Slides Timer count up/down begins as soon as I advance the Slide. To reset the timer, I have to escape the presentation, and then present again.
  • As far as I can tell, the Slides Timer extension does not work in Slides preview mode or "Publish to the web" mode.  
  • Because of the << >> symbols and other formatting, it's a challenge to get the timer perfectly aligned. I've only used the timer in a text box, but I recently read that adding the timer to a shape works, so that might help with the formatting. 
  • The timer does not include sound; it's just a visual reminder.

There are many ways to include and embed timers, but the Slides Timer extension is my current favorite since I use Google Slides for my presentations. In what other ways can we use Slides Timer to make the best use of our synchronous time, host with generous authority, and reduce cognitive load? It's a true win for designing professional learning when a small Chrome extension, like Slides Timer, can truly enhance my purposeful PD!

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Purposeful PD: Knowing Me, Knowing You

Over the past few years, I've been reflecting on my own learning preferences, which leads me to consider how I design professional learning for others.

(Yes, the ABBA song "Knowing Me Knowing You" inspired the title of this post, but these reflections aren't too much about a breakup! Feel free to listen to the song as you read along. 😄)

I first shared the Elements of Powerful Learning Design in this post in 2019, and because of the pandemic, I changed my views about using video and YouTube for learning. In this post, I reflected on what I learned during 2020 related to designing professional learning.

Bottom line: preferences change. I'm writing this post in August, which means the beginning of a new school year, so I think it's a good time to think again about my own learning preferences and how I might use these understandings to design purposeful professional development for others.

In The New Pillars of Modern Teaching (mentioned many times in this blog) Gayle created these categories as the Elements of Powerful Learning Design: time, place, medium, and socialness.

Elements of Powerful Learning Design from The New Pillars of Modern Teaching. Icons indicate time, place, medium, and socialness

Knowing me: reflecting on my own learning preferences 

As you read, I encourage you to grab a sticky note and reflect on your own learning preferences because, like me, your preferences may have changed during the pandemic. 

Here are a few questions to reflect on your own preferences. (Answer on your sticky note!)
  1. How much time do you like to spend learning? Do you like short bursts of time, like TikTok videos, quick blog posts, or fast-paced Twitter chats? Or do you prefer extended conferences or courses or long-form reads? What is your ideal time of day to learn? Are you an owl (evening person) or a lark (morning person)? My time preferences remain the same as pre-pandemic; I look for longer stretches of learning held early in the day.
  2. In what place do you want to learn? The place could mean online or face-to-face. It could also mean in a classroom, coffee shop, or on a couch. This area is one that really changed for me during 2020-'21. I used to prefer a more "formal" setting, but now I want to learn at home, on my couch. 
  3. What is your preferred learning medium? I feel this category is the one we think about first (text, audio, video, images) but it's not the only category. I still rate myself as a text-first kind of person, and I'm now consuming a lot more books than in recent years. I still love to find small learning nuggets from listening to podcasts. But because of the pandemic, I also have a new appreciation for videos, especially when I can change the video speed.
  4. What level of socialness do you need in your learning experiences? My preference has always been to work with one or two thinking partners, and this category was the one that was sometimes absent during the pandemic. I knew (from my love for the online course #ClassyGraphics) that virtual, asynchronous collaboration worked for me. And from 2020-'21, I learned that I can collaborate via Zoom just as well (or almost as well) as face-to-face. I noticed the lack of socialness during multi-day, online events. I hopped from one virtual session to the next, participated somewhat in the chats, but I missed session debriefs, hallway conversations, or other types of post-event sharing. (Note to self: embed socialness into future online events!)
If you understood your own learning preferences prior to 2020, did anything change this year? Which one of the preferences is your priority when you design your own learning? For me (and maybe that's because of pandemic times) I'm willing to choose a social learning event, even if the time and medium do not meet my preferences. 

Knowing you: designing purposeful professional learning for others

As I wrote in the previous learning preferences posts, I know that when I created professional learning for others, I sometimes leaned into designing for my own preferences. I think that strategy is OK-ish because I want to develop PD that I would want to attend. 

What makes understanding the four elements of learning design (time, place, medium, and socialness) powerful is when I design PD with these categories in mind, I create opportunities for choice and voice

One of the "wins" for our organization in 2020-'21 was that the consultants created many sessions in a variety of formats. During the past summer, our participants could learn by attending 1-hour webinars, 3- or 6- hour live sessions; short asynchronous sessions, long self-paced online classes, and collaborative book studies. Our participants had so much choice with the time of day and length of time of their sessions. They could attend in virtual or "real" places. In all sessions, the socialness varied, from collaborating in the Zoom chat or breakout rooms to working in small groups when face-to-face. For medium, our sessions across the organization included (original and found) content from videos, podcasts, books, blogs, and tweets. Participants also had options in their output, i.e. how they demonstrated their learning. 

If my sessions did not meet others' preferences, I was not too worried because there were so many other formats and choices available. But designing professional learning to meet the needs of my audience is an area of growth for me, and by capturing these reflections, I hope I'm more cognizant of when my own preferences overtake the PD sessions I create.

One solution comes from my friend Julianna, who is an Instructional Designer on my team. She (mostly) creates online courses, and before she begins designing a new course, she develops a "character" for the class, i.e. a typical course participant, and keeps that educator in mind as she designs the work. 

Another adjustment I've made is to be more transparent in the session description about the purpose, expectations, and format of the session. (This idea comes from concepts in the book The Art of Gathering.) At the beginning of the pandemic, I know participants left the session as soon as I opened Zoom breakout rooms because they were not feeling social...and that's OK! As Priya Parker discusses in her book, the event begins "at the moment of discovery," which for me means when someone reads the session description. I now include phrases like "collaborate in breakout rooms," or "independently reflect on resources" to give potential participants a better idea of what's in store for the session. 

And that type of information helps others take ownership of their own learning, too!

Informed to Transform

During the start of the pandemic in 2020, my colleague Laura and I created a podcast series called From Triage to Transformation, and we considered how learning might be transformed post-pandemic. Here's one episode where the focus was learning design for educators.


We analyze our own favorite learning experiences based on time, place, medium, and socialness, and in this episode, Laura asks,
How do we take our best learning experiences to inform and transform the design of what we're building?
When I understand my own preferences (knowing me) I am able to broaden my scope of how I design for others (knowing you).

Always learning.


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Purposeful PD: How can I extend the learning experience?

Several years ago, I became part of a committee that developed a new framework for how our service center "does" professional learning. (By the way, my director Craig gave me the book The New Pillars of Modern Teaching to help prepare for this committee work, and that book completely changed how I think about teaching and learning. nbd 😉 Many of my recent blog posts include some connection to Pillars.)

From that committee work, we developed our organization's Professional Learning Model (PLM). At the core of our PLM are seven "Design Essentials," and these elements should be part of every one of our professional learning experiences (or meetings): application, choice, collaboration, critical thinking, curation, extension, and feedback. Choice (design), curation, and feedback are also from The New Pillars.

My teammates and I embraced utilizing our PLM, but it has not completely caught on center-wide YET. We're now working on the updated version of our PLM, named the PLM+ (a la Disney+). Because of the pandemic, we're also including what the elements now look like in both face-to-face and virtual learning experiences.

One of our Design Essentials that I've focused on this year is extension. We know that "drive-by PD," and "one-and-done PD" does not work, so extension helps address the question:

How might we increase the amount of time participants are engaging with content?

This year, in Zoom and webinar-worlds, my addendum to this question is "What's the best use of our synchronous time?" This question led me to ask what learning can happen prior to or post the face-to-face PD session? Pre-pandemic, I typically had some ideas for pre- and post- PD, but this year provided the opportunity to be more intentional about my strategies and ways to extend the learning.

When we first started Zoom-ing, I created a little video to show how to use the chat, join breakout rooms, and rename yourself in Zoom, and I sent that in a pre-email. After sessions, I typically sent a follow-up email that includes the link to the slide deck, just in case someone missed it or didn't bookmark it during the webinar. As we became more familiar with Zoom, and as my pre- and post-work became more intentional, I realized the tasks fell into one of these four categories: logistics, community building, content, and information gathering.

Pre-and Post-[Purposeful] PD: logistics, community building, content, information gathering
Pre- and Post- work might fall into these categories

Pre-PD

Depending on the complexity of pre-work tasks, I send emails 1 - 3 days prior to my professional learning sessions. Because my webinar sessions are rarely over 1-hour, I want our face-to-face time to be as meaningful as possible. I also understand the demand of educators' lives, especially now, so the pre-work tasks typically consist of small activities such as post an idea on a Jamboard, download an app, watch this video (<5 minutes). For a recent session about curation, I asked participants to watch a little video that described our definition and details about curation. During our face-to-face session, we didn't need to reiterate that definition in much detail; instead, we spent time collaborating and sharing ideas. 

Here are a few ideas for each of the four categories for Pre-PD:

  • logistics: schedule, location; how to navigate technology; clarify the agenda and audience
  • community building: presenter's welcome (video or text); participants' welcomes (collaborative slides, Flipgrid, Twitter hashtag)
  • content: watch a video or read an article; reflect on a teaching practice; bring a lesson or assessment
  • information gathering: needs assessment; readiness assessment; "inclusify-ing," such as asking for name pronunciation, pronouns, and a favorite song
Here's an example of a recent pre-email. Which of the categories above did I include?

Pre-email example

Post-PD

After the professional learning experience, I hope participants keep thinking about the session, and I want to ensure they have access to session materials. Possible ideas for what I send in post emails:

  • logistics: link to slides/recording, certificate, subsequent sessions
  • community building: a platform to continue networking (hashtag, discussion board)
  • content: share evidence of implementation or reflections (possibly for additional "credit")
  • information gathering: provide additional curated resources or allow participants to share more resources; feedback surveys
Here's a post-email. Is this too much information for after a session? (I'm still working on "How do I know this practice is effective?")
Post-email example

Extending the learning doesn't completely alleviate the one-and-done PD problem, and in a future post, I'll address ideas to help the learning transfer. Taking care of a tiny bit of work prior to and after the session allows me to focus on the best use of synchronous time. 

Are there more effective ways to extend the learning beyond face-to-face time? Will any of these practices transfer to classrooms? (These ideas really remind me of the original flipped classroom methods.) What else can professional learning designers do to ensure the learning is not an example of drive-by PD?

Always learning about extending (and transforming) professional learning... 🤔

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Purposeful PD: Begin with a Bang

I recently reflected on my journey as a professional learning facilitator, so after one full year of remote learning, 

I can now admit that I am completely obsessed with improving how I design professional learning experiences.

In previous posts, I shared reflections on my learning preferences and developing my PD session's purpose in the form of -INGs, and now I'm working to strengthen how I begin my professional learning sessions. 

I have a lot of experience planning professional learning, but hearing Gayle Allen's Curious Minds podcast interview with Priya Parker made me realize I had a lot of growing to do. This episode was released in 2018, so I've been working on these upgrades for almost three years! I'm now completely obsessed with Priya's book, The Art of Gathering. The examples in her book range from dinner parties, to corporate boardrooms, to city-wide events, and I feel I can apply most of her ideas to educational settings, specifically PD sessions, whether they're virtual or face-to-face events. (By the way, Priya says a gathering occurs any time three or more people come together with a purpose. A gathering is time-bound and has a beginning, middle, and end. So a PD session definitely qualifies as a gathering.)

A story from Gayle's interview that really struck me was about Priya's chapter, Never Start a Funeral with Logistics. Here's that clip of the interview: 

As soon as I heard that story, I thought YIKES. How many times have I started my session with a list of norms and logistics? Once I knew better, I could easily do better, and now I start my meetings with purpose. The "How to Start" ideas tend to fall into one of these categories.

Purposeful PD: begin with a bang (icon for a map and starting point) goals (target icon), recognitions (award ribbon icon) SEL check in (emoji icons), community building (people together icon)
How I want to begin my PD sessions

Instead of logistics, I want to begin a professional learning session (or meeting) with one or more of the following ideas:

Goals:

  • Share an essential question, session goals, or -INGs.
  • Provide learning outcomes.
  • Offer a connected standard/objective. (A favorite co-planner, Laura, and I frequently frame our sessions around a standard from the ISTE Standard for Educators.)

Recognitions:

  • Toast the group (raise a coffee mug!) for the occasion. Shout out to my friend Erika who started our #CoffeeEDU this way.
  • Recognize the participants for their time, engagement, and willingness to learn and grow.
  • Acknowledge a significant date, work, or state of mind of the group.

SEL Check-Ins:

  • Provide an opportunity for an emotional check-in.
    • Ideas might be something simple, like a fist-to-five ranking, or silly, like "Choose your Vibe" according to the GIFs shown on this slide.
    • Use a tool like the Courageous Conversations Compass, which my colleague Chris expertly used during our DEI team meeting on January 6, 2021, after the riots at the Capitol. 
  • Breathe, meditate, or facilitate another mindfulness activity.
    • After the summer protests, my fabulous colleague Nancy started her Monday morning PD session with a gratitude mindfulness activity, and it was the perfect way to begin the week after the tumultuous weekend throughout the country.

Community Building:

  • Allow participants to try a quick collaborative activity. Gary Hirsch shared this idea for the virtual world: ask participants to share something in the chat and then "steal each other's ideas."
  • Complete a tiny icebreaker (in the chat or breakout room, if virtual).
  • Create a virtual space for attendees to connect prior to the session. Use tools like collaborative Slides, Flipgrid, or Padlet; start a discussion prompt in an LMS; or share using a session hashtag.
  • Play music. I've had several facilitators ask in a pre-survey to share a favorite walk-up song. They created playlists of all participants' favorites and used this music for session breaks and transitions. 
    • Two side-notes: I've always enjoyed listening to music when I'm in face-to-face sessions, and I have many playlists for my own PD workshops, but I really don't enjoy music during webinars. I wonder why? Also, I'm always wondering about copyright issues with playing music...
I've learned my lesson about how to start a PD session or meeting, but I always know there is room for growth! What are your examples of the best ways to begin a PD session? What makes you feel connected to the content, the community, and the presenter? How else can I begin PD sessions with a bang?

Always learning about professional learning...

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Purposeful PD: What are the -INGs of your PD session (or classroom)?

Because of the one-year "milestone" of the pandemic, and now with a bit more hope around the corner, I've been reflecting a lot about what happens moving forward. I don't want to have the TTWWADI (that's the way we've always done it) mindset. I feel like I've learned so much this past year, and I want to continue moving forward with my work, especially in the way I design professional learning experiences. "I used to think there were only a few ways to deliver PD, but now I think the sky is the limit!" I've also said many times this year that even though it's my 31st year as an educator, I've felt like a new teacher during most of 2020 - 2021. 😬

One practice that worked both pre-pandemic and during remote learning experiences is the idea of determining the verbs or the -INGs (gerunds, i.e. verbals for my grammar nerd friends 🤓) of each PD session, conference, or even meeting. I wonder if I can make this idea even stronger or more impactful? 

I originally discovered the idea of learning space verbs from Dr. Robert Dillon, co-author of the book The  Space. A couple of years ago, our ESC buildings underwent huge renovations, and we now have a beautiful conference center, presentation rooms, flexible seating, and advanced technology. Some employees wondered what happened if they designed PD sessions that utilized these new spaces and tools, but then they presented their work in a different building that was not equipped with such updates?

Here's why the session verbs are so useful: if I determine what I want my participants to do, such as collaborate, reflect, and explore [digital tools], then I design activities so those actions occur regardless of the space.

Dr. Dillon's notions were floating in my mind, but this design idea really struck a chord after listening to this podcast interview with Kat Holmes and her work on the power of inclusive design. Kat's work is all about accessibility, inclusivity, and UDL. One of her ideas is to "provide diversity in ways to participate." In the podcast episode, she shares ideas about designing with -INGs in mind, and she provides an example of designing a playground. What are the most important -INGs that might happen on a playground? Maybe connecting, exploring, and even climbing...and then how can you design experiences around these -INGs?

I took her idea of designing with -INGs in mind, and now it's a regular part of my PD session design process.  

Creating PD Session -INGs

Marker board with a lot of text just to demonstrate lists of items
Brainstorming our session -INGs
In 2019, two other consultants and I collaborated on a Sketchnoting Across the Curriculum session. Here's part of the marker board from our initial brainstorming meeting, and we jotted down possible -INGs that we wanted for our participants. (green list) From the long list, we narrowed our -INGs to six.

Once we established our -INGs, we used these actions as a lens for every part of our session design. When we created an activity, it had to address at least one of our -INGs. As we continued to design the session, we also noticed subtleties like, "One of our -INGs is 'modeling,' but we used clip art for this slide. If we want to model our sketchnoting, we need to replace that clip art with our own sketches."

Here's the finished view of our slide, and our -INGs became our session goals.

Today's Goals and 6 icons that represent Modeling, Drawing, Risk-taking, Collaborating, Synthesizing, Sense-Making
Modeling, Drawing, Risk-taking, Synthesizing, Collaborating, Sense-Making

The beauty of well-crafted -INGs is that these goals and activities seem to work both face-to-face and remotely! My friends and I held our original sketchnoting sessions as 6-hour face-to-face sessions, but we were able to use the same -INGs in our revamped asynchronous online session this summer. We had to modify some of the activities, of course, but we created ways to design with these actions in mind.

For my 1-hour webinars, I typically design with three -INGs in mind. I've written quite a bit about my love for curation, and for a recent curation session, I kept struggling to land on the -INGs. My brilliant colleague Nancy said, "They should be the same as curation goals: scanning, sense-making, and sharing!" Duh! 

Today's goals and icons for scanning, sense-making, and sharing
Scanning, Sense-Making, Sharing

For PD sessions, I regularly use The Noun Project to find icons for my words and share a quick slide to explain these -INGs as session goals. (I pay for a Noun Project subscription because I like the ability to customize the colors of the icons.) I use these words to critically evaluate my session activities, such as "An important session -ING is 'collaborating,' but I didn't leave space in my agenda for breakout rooms or other types of collaboration." Oops, time to change the agenda! When we return to face-to-face sessions, an -ING of collaborating might mean moving tables to be able to work in small groups, AND creating digital collaborative spaces, such as a backchannel.

And for the classroom?

I've now been out of the classroom for 5 years 😢, but I imagine this idea of -INGs would be powerful for both face-to-face and remote experiences. I would also want my students to choose their words. For my Student Council leadership class, I hope the words might have been collaborating, serving, leading, reflecting, and organizing. For my math classes, I think discovering, evaluating, connecting, sharing, and reflecting might be excellent choices.

My practice of determining -INGs has served me well during the pandemic (and prior to COVID), and I will continue this process and will continue sharing it with others. But is there a way to make the -ING ideas even stronger? I wonder what -INGs might have more of an impact on my session design and activities? Are these -INGs improving inclusivity in my sessions?

Always learning and reflecting on professional learning...



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I used to think _____________, but now I think ________.

I can't believe it's been a whole year since the world changed. 

Many of my favorite podcasts and PLN friends recently shared reflections, questions, and prompts to reminisce on this past year, and since I'm doing a #safeathomespringbreak, I thought it would be worthwhile to spend time reflecting, too. In addition, I received my first vaccine dose on Saturday (3/13/21) so I'm feeling especially grateful and reflective today.

I must acknowledge how fortunate I am with my health and my family's health and well-being. I know it's a privilege that I have been able to work safely at home, that I can have groceries delivered, and that I have the technology to stay connected to friends and family. 


My Pre-Pandemic Timeline:

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to journal at least three times a week, so I have quite an accurate record of my feelings leading up to the pandemic declaration. I want to put all of this information in one place so I'll have a record of what happened.
  • February 29, 2020: Attended an #edcamp, and one of my friends told the story of her son trying to get out of Rome and his study-abroad program. Italy was shutting down because of COVID-19.
  • March 6: Helped run our whole Staff Learning Day, and we started our spring break at the end of the day. I remember my shock when South by Southwest canceled that evening. 
  • March 7: Flew to Portland, Oregon with my work friend, Arynn. We talked a little about "the virus," and we packed extra hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes for the flight. We saw a few masks at the airport.
  • March 8: Met #botjoy artist Gary Hirsch! We all hugged hello. (When we saw him before we left on 3/10, we elbow-bumped goodbye.)
  • March 9 - 11: Enjoyed an amazing time on our mural tour and loved being in PDX. We continued to use a lot of hand sanitizer, but it was not a fearful time.
  • March 11: Flight home, and we definitely saw more masks at the airport. Started hearing about closings: schools, districts, events. The NBA suspended its season.
  • March 12: Some of our first districts started closing and extending their spring breaks. Kristin called and asked me to start a website (or something) to begin curating resources for educators. Twitter exploded with resources.
  • March 13: the US declared a national state of emergency, which was fitting for a Friday the 13th. I remember my "COVID-dreams," started that weekend. I kept waking up thinking I was feverish or with a sore throat, believing I caught something on the trip to Portland.
  • March 16: Returned to work, and what a fearful place it was. Districts were closing all over, and we didn't know what to do, so we kept working on a website of resources. Many of us were in a large open space, sharing details about how to get the work on the remote learning website when the government declared to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • March 17: Worked from home and started curating resources. Our director told us mid-afternoon that we HAD to start presenting Zoom webinars tomorrow. We had no presentations, no materials, and little knowledge of Zoom. The team of six of us figured out what to present, and then we went to work. I was so thankful that I helped facilitate #EdChangeGlobal in 2018, and I knew something about Zoom, but I had never facilitated a webinar on my own. We weren't able to advertise until about 4:00 PM that day, and we shared via social media. 
  • March 18: 10 AM, I kicked off our entire "Emergency Remote Learning" webinar series with a brand new session, Mindsets of Remote Learning. And it's been the webinar/Zoom life for me ever since that day. 
Thinking back to those days still makes me agitated and makes my heart race! I seriously can't believe it's been a year. Somewhere within that week, we first canceled our #CoffeeEDU and then re-vamped it to be an online meetup, so this Saturday's event will be a one-year celebration of resilience and gratitude.


I used to think...

One of my favorite Visible Thinking routines is to respond to the prompt "I used to think ... but now I think ..." (My students even tried something similar, and I documented one example on my old class blog in 2012!) That sentence starter has been useful as I've worked on my personal reflections for the year.

For our team book study this semester, our Director chose A Beautiful Constraint, which is apropos for the year, right? 😳 My first "reflection" activity today was to create a "year in numbers" graphic to highlight the work I've accomplished despite the year of constraints. This year, I've "reached" more educators and created more content than in my combined past 5 years at R10! 

I used to think there were only a few ways to deliver PD, but now I think the sky is the limit! 

Our teams at the ESC have been so creative with their professional learning sessions, innovative solutions to reach educators, inventive formats, structures, and delivery methods, and I'm so impressed with what my colleagues designed and facilitated this year! Our team's first two weeks of the emergency remote webinars was an incredible achievement, and I'm still so proud of our work. We reached thousands of educators in a few days' time, and I think (hope!) we helped alleviate some of the enormous stress.

With synchronous and asynchronous learning, nano-courses to lengthy online courses, facilitated learning to independent explorations, I hope we continue to design and deliver a multitude of session types and formats. As I mentioned in my last post, I also learned so much about my own preferences and the types of learning experiences that I want to participate in, and it's wonderful to have so many choices available.

Understanding the many ways to "do" PD has been a highlight and a huge area of growth for me this year. In addition, I'm on a committee at work to help design a professional learning model for our service center, so PD has been at the forefront of my mind all year. My next goal, however, is to find ways to really help that learning transfer and stick.

This week, I plan to continue to reflect on the past year. It certainly has been a time of learning for me, and I want to continue developing my ideas about PD and growing into a better designer and facilitator. 

Always learning about professional learning.

PS: My 2020 spring break trip to Portland was one of the best trips. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my last pre-pandemic days. Here are a few photos of the #botjoy mural tour.





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