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We have all sat through professional development and thought, “What is the point of this session?” or “How does this connect to what I do every day in the classroom?” or “Does this presenter even know how to teach?”

As teachers, we know that any lesson we deliver must be about the learning. We offer strategies to our students so that they can learn at a higher level. We know that students are motivated if they clearly know what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how well they are learning. We know that teaching is about supporting our students to take ownership of their own learning. It is about fostering learnership.

So why don’t we get this same focus on learnership when we are the students? The aim of professional development is to give us an opportunity to learn new ways to support our students. In any professional development session, we are the learners. But when was the last time you attended a session that was as well planned as the lessons you deliver to your students? As adult learners, do we receive the same support?

A Learning Model That Supports Learnership

Elevated Achievement’s Learning Model is driven by the learner and answers the question—What does a learner need to know in order to better own their learning? The Learning Model is made up of five learner-centered phases: setting the Learning Context, stating the Learning Outcome, engaging in the Learning Process, producing the Learning Demonstration, and implementing the Learning Application.

These five phases help answer the following questions: Why is the learning important? What will my students learn? How will my students learn it? How will my students show that they have learned it? How will my students continue to use this learning?

This Learning Model can be used to build learning opportunities that engage all learners, whether they are children in a classroom or educators in a professional development session.

Let’s use it to reflect on your latest professional development. Did you receive the support you needed to take ownership of your own learning? This reflection will not only remind you of the critical attributes of excellent professional development but also help you self-direct, self-evaluate, self-reflect, and self-control your own learning. In other words, it will help you build your learnership.

Learning Context: Why am I learning this?

This is the phase of the learning during which the session is introduced to the teachers and placed within a context. The Learning Context includes informing teachers about what they will learn, why this learning is important, and how it connects to the learning expectations of the students and the overall expectations of the school or district.

Think about your most recent professional development as you reflect on these questions:

  • What was I learning and why was it important that I learned it?
  • How did the learning connect to the learning expectations of my students and overall expectations of the school or district?

Learning Outcome: What will I learn?

This is the phase of the learning during which the facilitator clearly states to the teachers the objective of the session, that is, what teachers will learn and how teachers will show ability or apply what they have learned with their students.

While stating the Learning Outcome, the learning can be written in a variety of ways—as a learning intention with success criteria, as a learning goal, as an objective, or as one part of a larger unit. The learning outcome should be stated, written, discussed, or addressed as determined by teacher needs.

Think about your most recent professional development as you reflect on these questions:

  • Was I provided with a clear objective for the session?
  • What did I learn?
  • How did I show ability or apply what I learned with my students? 

Learning Process: How will I learn this?

This is the phase of the learning where teachers are actively engaged in learning the content or skills stated in the Learning Outcome. At the end of this phase teachers will be able to successfully complete the Learning Demonstration. The facilitator determines which instructional strategy or methodology will most effectively and efficiently engage adult learners in mastering the outcomes of the session. Teachers must understand these choices if they are to build metacognition and answer the question, “How will I learn this?”

Think about your most recent professional development as you reflect on these questions:

  • How was I actively engaged in the Learning Process?
  • Was it clear that the Learning Process was designed with the Learning Outcome in mind and delivered in such a manner to reflect that Learning Outcome and Learning Demonstration?
  • Did the facilitator check for understanding throughout and adjust accordingly?

Learning Demonstration: How will I show that I have learned it?

This is the phase of the learning where teachers show mastery of the outcomes of the session. Teachers will need to understand what successful learning looks like and sounds like if they are to answer the question, “How will I show that I have learned it?”

Think about your most recent professional development as you reflect on these questions:

  • Was there a clear expectation of demonstrating learning, beyond a session evaluation?
  • What was I specifically accountable for and how was it measured? 

Learning Application: How will I continue to use what I learned?

This is the phase of the learning during which connections are made from the current learning to how teachers will implement today’s learning to produce more effective and efficient learning opportunities for their students. Clarity of future application is crucial for teachers to retain the skill or content, apply the skill or content in a variety of ways, and transfer the skill or content to other situations. This phase helps teachers answer the question, “How will I continue to use what I have learned?”

Think about your most recent professional development as you reflect on these questions:

  • How was I able to use the learning with my students?
  • How was the skill or content connected to other learning opportunities for my students?
  • How did I transfer the skill or content to other situations?

Reflect on Your Learnership

Photo of light bulbs with shining fibers in ABILITY, SKILL, KNOWLEDGE shape on black background

© Shutterstock/EtiAmmos

Learnership is the ability to recognize when and why you need to learn a new skill, explain your strategy for learning it, demonstrate that you are learning it, and continually look for other ways to use it. Learnership is the process of being self-motivated to learn and keep learning. It’s why you participate in professional development, why you are reading this article, and why you are reflecting now.

So, think about this: As you delved into the five phases of the Learning Model and reflected on the questions above were there any answers that felt insufficient? Why is that? Why is best practice is not being utilized in the delivery of professional development as it is expected to be in every classroom lesson?

You are provided with only a few rare opportunities for professional growth. Just like your students, you deserve that each one be the best it can be. The days of Ice-Breaker activities, “Sit and Get PD,” and evaluation form fill-out before departing must be a thing of the past.

We know better and must insist on better. We must build our learnership.

The Learning Brief

In this article you learned…
  • Elevated Achievement’s Learning Model is driven by the learner and answers the question—What does a learner need to know in order to better own their learning?
  • The Learning Model is made up of five learner-centered phases: setting the Learning Context, stating the Learning Outcome, engaging in the Learning Process, producing the Learning Demonstration, and implementing the Learning Application.
  • Teachers deserve the same well-planned opportunities for professional development as they give their own students.
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