We have heard the term, right? Esteemed Harvard Professor Dr. Howard Gardner has written extensively about entry points as related the area of multiple intelligences and how students and adults, for that matter, all learn differently. EL Education has identified five different entry points important for building understanding and student knowledge. I would like to address entry points from a different context and that is – thinking about entry points for professional practice.
- Have you recently spent time in a video activity that was completely unrelated to your needs, persevering through a presenter who was lacking knowledge of the attendees’ needs?
- How many sessions have you “sat through” during conference trying to multi-task doing meaningful work privately because the content was low level, irrelevant or just plain off-base?
- How about those five hour video calls with no engagement activities and “canned presentations” which have no relevance?
If the answer is yes, you are probably involved in professional development, minus entry points!
First Step…Change Nomenclature.
Professional Development – no, archaic. What does it connote? Do any of us want to be “developed?” I know that term has been used widely; think about the perceptual component. To me, it assumes that there is something missing, so we better go get “developed.” At PLC Associates, we do not “develop” people. We learn together and engage, as colleagues in – professional learning. The language changes mindset – it connects to continuous improvement, continuous learning, and as Stephen Covey discusses, the habit of “sharpening the saw.” Let’s elevate, in our district and schools, professional learning, as the meaningful, necessary, dynamic, and powerful practice that allows us to facilitate relevant activities wherein adult learning results in student success.
The PLC Associates Approach…Find Accurate Entry Points For Professional Learning…
Let the madness stop – take the time to find entry points. It is different for every group. At PLC, we have a number of tools and metrics, whether it is canvassing culture from the point of staff, students, and families, working with the instructional staff in the major areas of student ownership of learning, student engagement, complex questions, student feedback and differentiated practice, or it could be assessing our understanding of the interface between best instructional practices and technology – before we start professional learning. Why? Impactful professional learning meets learners where they are. In order to do that, it is not just “asking, guessing or supposing” – that is back to “one size fits all.” Bad idea. At PLC Associates, we collect metrics which lets everyone know exactly where we are and then, together with staff, plan out and facilitate the professional learning. Without entry point data, it is guessing. We must have and use the tools to successfully operationalize entry points.
Success…Start Using Entry Points!
As a result, the district/school is no longer spending inordinate amounts of resources (time and financial) on low impact “development.” The ultimate benefit – having our amazing teachers and leaders leave our sessions saying… “That is just what I needed!” With all of our amazing PLC clients, that is the approach – finding the entry points and meeting you right where you are. To us, that is what really supports the magic that happens in the classroom.
As always, I appreciate you. Penny