Facilitating Professional Learning through Model Instruction Practices
As school leaders, we spend a large portion of our time in meetings. We have staff meetings and professional development opportunities throughout the school year. Often times, we hear complaints about how meeting and professional development time is spent; it was poorly run or not worth the time. Like us, staff members are busy and have the same need to use time wisely. Having your whole team together is rare, and is the perfect opportunity to help guide instruction and learning in your building.
What is Facilitation?
In order to make the most of your valuable time with staff, thoughtful planning and facilitation is essential. Facilitation is more than “running the meeting” and disseminating information. It is carefully intertwining content and process together to allow the voices in the room to take responsibility and ownership of the learning. Facilitators carefully watch the room, gauge the learning, and control how and when activities happen. The answer is in the room, not with the person standing at the front, and facilitators bring out those answers. When busy, rather than facilitate, leaders may begin to lecture or tell staff. Although there is, at times, need to directly instruct staff, careful facilitation helps to remain focused on the goals for the meeting.
Creating effective meetings takes time, but creates rewarding results. Looking at preparing for a meeting through the lens of a facilitator helps to ensure all facets have been accounted for, and nothing is left to chance. When preparing to facilitate, many factors contribute to creating an ideal environment for decision making and learning, such as:
- Creating purposeful engagement
- Careful selection of practices and activities
- Room setup
Facilitation is Modeling for Staff
As instructional leaders, our actions speak louder than words. If administrators ask teachers to engage students, include meaningful interaction, and create a culture for learning administrators must model that work. Staff meetings, professional learning dates, small group meetings, etc., provide the perfect opportunity to model instructional practices and facilitation strategies.
This consistent focus on high-quality instruction helps in the continued improvement and growth in instructional strategies that can be transferred to the classroom. This directly leads to success in the classroom in regards to student engagement and ownership of learning and student results.
Becoming a highly effective facilitator takes time and practice. Each leader will find areas easy to implement and other areas which need more time to develop. The key is to continue to incorporate, practice, and model the above facilitation considerations to create meaningful, engaging learning opportunities for staff.
Deirdre Brady has worked in education for over 25 years. She has taught Elementary education, grades second and third. She has taught at the university level, focusing on a variety of courses with the educational leadership department. During her time here, she worked with professors on research surrounding mentorship programming at the graduate level. Dr. Brady has served as a consultant for Franklin Convey, focusing on implementing Leader in Me and school culture. Deirdre had served as Principal, Assistant Principal and Director of Elementary Education in the Huron Valley School District. Major accomplishments there were achieving Lighthouse milestone (Leader in Me), renovating the culture, K-12 alignment in curriculum, facilitating professional learning, and growing the culture of personal growth and improvement for staff and students.
Elizabeth Mosher has worked in education for over 16 years. She has taught Career Focused Education for Farmington Public Schools and has experience in both cross walking curriculums with other disciplines and the common core. She presents at both State and National conferences on topics such as curriculum, innovative lessons, facilitation practices, assessment options, student activity (DECA) integration and classroom management. Elizabeth served as the Assistant Principal for Lakeland HS in the Huron Valley School District. Major accomplishments there were renovating the culture, using staff resources efficiently and effectively, leading the school for AdvancED accreditation and continued growth and improvement in the school. Currently, she is the Director of Secondary Education for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. She has served on accreditation teams for AdvancED for the past three years.