This #coachbetter features episode Allison Rodman, founder of The Learning Loop and author of Personalized Professional Learning: A Job-Embedded Pathway for Elevating Teacher Voice. Allison has extensive experience in personalizing professional learning, and shares her key recommendations including for group PD settings. If you facilitate professional learning in any context, this episode is for you!

Featured Guest

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Show Notes

Allison Rodman is the founder of The Learning Loop, an education consulting organization that provides professional learning design, facilitation, and leadership coaching services to districts, schools, and educational nonprofit organizations internationally. Allison is deeply committed to connecting educators with one another and sharing resources to personalize the learning process for both students and the educators who support them. The goal of her work is to help the whole child and whole educator view learning as a process and not an endpoint. This process includes learner voice, co-creation, social construction, and self-discovery.

Her book: Personalized Professional Learning: A Job-Embedded Pathway for Elevating Teacher Voice: Learn how to transform existing professional development programs into innovative, empowering learning experiences that meet staff’s real needs and align with school and district priorities.

What is something you’re excited about in terms of learning / learning innovation – as a warm up / intro to you as an education professional

One of the things that frustrated me the most as the teacher, is we were designing one size fits all, sit and get PD, while at the same time asking teachers to differentiate learning for students. What are teachers and leaders asking for? New book: a job-embedded pathway to help elevate teacher voice. 

One of the things I was finding was that they were committed to personalizing learning, but they just didn’t know how. It was overwhleming. A guide book for school and district leaders to invite them into the co-creation process of teacher learning.

What are you relentlessly pursuing as a learner?

Design & Facilitation. What are some of the core principals I need to consider as a designer and a faciltator. When we bring people together how do we establish the purpose for that work, inviting them into that space, so it feels like a real experience.

Priya Parker: The Art of Gathering. How do we do a better job of understanding the dynamics of human relationships. 3 core concepts: priming (how do we get people ready to come into the space), ushering (how do we treat that first moment as truly magjical), the launch (how do we make sure that when we’re starting it’s not with logistics, inspiration).

The two ideas that seem to be resonating:

“Excluding well” – we think everyone should be in every space. Sometimes those spaces get cluttered. Sometimes we have individuals in seats who don’t want to or need to be there. Be thoughtful about who you’re inviting to those spaces, why they’re there, and what we hope to gain

“Hosting well”: put the burden on facilitators to deal with logistics, this means they’re not able to tend to the people in the room. The more that leaders can do to host well, the better space we will be in to host. 

How do we create spaces where learners aren’t showing up empty handed. There’s not a sense of collective accountability. When they come through the door, they are already thinking about and applying those concepts

Try this one strategy and video tape yourself. Do this one short peer observation so that by the time you get here, we’re ready to troubleshoot & go deeper. What are the ways that we can bend time and space to maximize our time together.

Estabilshing the purpose: a cateogry of professional learning is not the same as the purpose. “We do PLCs every Wed” – that’s a category, it’s not really the purpose. Why are you getting them together. What do you hope to gain from the experience? What do you hope the impact is from this?

You don’t have to do it by yourself, make sure you’re bringing your teacher leaders and learners with you in defining this. Finding ways to facilitate those conversations. Not just the leader in the office figuring it out on their own. 

The science of learning vs the art of learning: We can plan lessons and set an agenda like nobody’s business, but that art of really considering what we’re doing and why we’re doing.

 What is your ‘manifesto for professional learning,’ let’s explore your vision, rules, and values when it comes to creating learning opportunities? 

Alisson Zamuda: personalized learning for students

4 categories with andragogy: voice: how do we from the beginning of the process invite the learners into the process

Co-creation: how do we invite the learner in as someone who’s truly designing (not just a passive receiver)

Social construction: so much of our knowledge is socially constructed, how are we in our facilitator and design at all levesl of the system to socially construct

Self-discovery: where do you want to go next

How do you make it feel more authentic

Diagnose participants before they come to a session. Needs assessment, self-selection, how are you helping them better understand their needs. How do they like to learn, collaborate, implement between sessions. We overlook those opportunities for learning – how do we get more voice into those sessions. How do we invite learners to define what those opportunities look like in a way that’s meaningful for them.

I have a diagnostic that I work on with leaders and facilitators, start with the broader needs assessment & then let people self-select. Then in each smaller group, there’s a tool to diagnose. Road map or facilitation guide, when you start seeing y or x, start doing this.

Be more vulnerable myself, spending more time working directly with facilitators and pulling the curtain back on my own practice. If something bombs, or I know I’ve made a really strategic move, pull the curtain back and explain why I just did that.

Let’s problem solve. We need to more of that in profesional learning space

What are your current goals? How is coaching going to help you get there?

Publishing a book, with a second in the works. Next book is the goal: learning cultures. How can we support the schools that are not in that space yet to personalize learning? I can’t have enough mentors in my life right now. I’m finding so many different ways to connect with them. In-person and on Voxxer. Accountability partners in different boxes that I depend on to connect with on different topics & ideas.

I like Voxxer because I can hit play and listen to a whole stream of messages without being constantly typing or reading. Allows me to get into a deeper reflection space by pressing the record button, I tend to sensor more when I’m typing. Pushes me into a more vulnerable space. It doesn’t allow me to go back and make the perfect sentence. This is really important to me if I’m thinking about growth. I like the ability to connect with multiple people or individuals at different times.

Some fell into my lap serendipity. I had lots of people in my PLN. In some cases, it was being in the right place at the right time. One of the things we need to commit to as learners is always ensuring that we’re not the smartest person in the room. One of the things I always push myself to do, time & time again, is to really stretch outside my comfort zone, who are you going to get in the room with today? What conversation are you going to be part of?

Not making the assumption that mentors don’t always need to be older than you. 

Whether you’re in the classroom or admin, education as a whole is very isolating, esp compared to other professions. In some cases it is you and you do have to be making those decisions. In that reality, one of the mistakes we make is feeling like we have to bear that burden ourselves, and we can’t reach out for support. Ironically we have a mantra “3 before me” and there’s a shift that happens when we become adult learners, that we feel like we have to figure it out on our own. We’re never going to grow and reach our full potential (like we want our students to do) unless we’re willing to grow and be vulnerable ourselves.

It’s ok to not know something.

Where can we find you online


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