Tag Archives: activities

25 professional learning conversation stations

This past Thursday I created 25 professional learning ‘conversation stations’ for my principal licensure students. I printed them all out and spread them around our classroom (which is a school library). Each printed station contained a link or two – or a short reading (and a source) – and some questions to consider. The idea was to expose our preservice administrators at the University of Colorado Denver to a variety of ways to foster and facilitate adult learning beyond schools’ traditional, moribund professional development sessions.

My students traveled around the room in pairs or trios, visiting whichever stations they wanted (they had a shared notes document that listed all of the stations). Each group stayed at a station for as long or short a time as desired. Most averaged about 7 to 10 minutes per station, but some talked for nearly 30 minutes at a single station. At several points during our two hours on this activity, they got together with another group and shared what was resonating from their station visits. We learned a lot and had some awesome conversations together! At the end of the evening I gave them a link to all of the stations, so that they could later peruse whatever they hadn’t visited yet.

Here are links to both the conversation stations and the shared notes document, as well as the slide I used to introduce the activity:

Both of the main documents are editable. Feel free to modify them and make them better for others. If you use this activity in your principal licensure program or school district, let me know how it went!

We also had 3 pre-class readings and 5 beginning-of-activity provocations just to get us in the right mindset:

Pre-readings

Beginning-of-activity provocations

If you have any thoughts or questions about all of this, please get in touch. Otherwise, hope this is useful to you!

How are you introducing school leaders and teachers to alternative (better) forms of professional learning?

Visioning for desired awesomeness [ACTIVITY]

I asked 3 questions of the educators in charge of their district’s upcoming 1:1 student computing initiative. They worked in small groups and used editable Google spreadsheets to record their responses…

  1. If our 1:1 initiative is wildly successful, what will we see? We tried to create vivid, concrete images that were emotionally resonant, thus helping with meaning-making. We took our answers and lumped them into ad hoc categories on a separate Google document (e.g., student independence and self-direction, student interaction and collaboration, learning cultures and processes, digital citizenship and information literacy, management and support). We now had a basic picture of desired awesomeness.
  2. What will we need to do to ensure our envisioned successes? We focused on the success enablers that will lead to the positive outcomes and desired results that we identified in Step 1. [Not shown in results: We also put those into an effort-impact matrix to see which ones were easy wins or were more difficult but worth the hard effort (and which ones weren’t).]
  3. Why will our 1:1 initiative fail? Instead of doing a postmortem afterward, we did a premortem up front to identify reasons that the initiative will fail. We wanted to identify the success blockers that will get in the way of what we envisioned in Step 1.

We then took the responses in Steps 2 and 3 and organized them by Bolman and Deal’s leadership frames. This helped us identify main themes, see patterns, and think about necessary action steps across the spectrum. See our final results.

See the documents that we used to facilitate our work

Tips: Two to three sentences for each response – not single words or short phrases – to facilitate depth of understanding and conversation. After each step, have them look at the other groups’ responses and discuss, first in their small group and then as a large group. Have a separate notes document ready to capture thoughts that emerge from those large group discussions. Working through the three spreadsheets takes 2 to 3 hours; this doesn’t include writing up the final results.

Thoughts, reactions, questions, or comments?

Success enablers and blockers