District Professional Learning

One of the central goals of professional development is to help teachers bridge the gap between current practice and desired practice. Learning new strategies and transferring those skills into the classroom requires time and effort. Traditional professional development sessions are built for one session for all participants, whereas personalized PD is ongoing and individually designed. Matt has the experience and strategies to support district one day or ongoing professional development.

I have worked with schools in a variety of ways including full and half day on-site professional development. These days could include:

  • workshops for staff on topics related to student voice, active learning, technology integration, or peer-to-peer collaboration.
  • one-on-one coaching and observations
  • planning with leadership to review current initiatives and plan for future initiatives, shift mentoring program, or technology integration

There are some schools and districts I visit just once to help them get started with ideas and other schools commit to a dozen or so days spread out across the school year.


Reimagining Mentorship in Education

What does it mean to be a “mentor Though Mr. Webster may define it as “an experienced and trusted adviser,” are you convinced his definition has been actualized in the field of education. Many mentors are, by definition, “experienced,” it does not necessarily mean they are experienced in the realm of mentoring. Frequently mentors have been experienced teachers or administrators but have never received the training and insight necessary to support emerging educators or leaders. Similarly, “trusted advisors” don’t appear out of thin air when they are placed on the mentor list.  Having a menu of strategies can ensure mentors are trained and have the essential skills to support another educator. Learn ways to develop mentoring programs, designed to assist teachers in becoming strong mentors and to assist new teachers or school/district leaders in getting the most out of their mentoring relationship. Mentoring is not the process of checking a box; it is the process of developing colleagues or leaders who eventually work alongside us.

Strong Teams Make Progress Happen: Skills for Effective Collaboration

Adult Team Building

This session will focus on developing a shared understanding of the critical role teams serve in improving student performance in schools. Participants will use the knowledge gained in their current professional experience to explore current practices and learn new skills to enhance contributions to team effectiveness. Additionally, participants will learn the impact effective teams can play in influencing student achievement.

The session will examine principles of building highly effective teams by analyzing the variety of interrelated practices underlying group dynamics. Participants will engage in learning through hands-on situations and contemporaneous experiences in a team-based exercise. This course addresses how teams behave, when to use a team, how to compose a team, and how to measure team performance. 

Student Team Building

During this exercise, students will work first on their own and then in their school teams to arrive at a solution to a challenge presented to them. The challenge will be highly unfamiliar and involve high levels of uncertainty. Students will need to navigate through the challenge within a specified time period and with no external facilitation. The exercise has been used in prior settings with people of all ages and roles, including superintendents, executives, and high school students.

The goals of this activity are to provide students with a hands-on learning experience that emphasizes the value of teamwork over individual-level contributions. It is a fun exercise that allows for thoughtful reflection at both the team and individual levels. During the debrief, we will discuss the opportunities and tripwires of working in teams, particularly under conditions of high uncertainty and complexity, and will share lessons learned.


Collaborative Leadership

A collaborative leadership culture is more than merely leading a scheduled meeting, sharing ideas, or sitting through meetings taking notes. Collaborative leadership requires transparency, honesty, integrity, dependability, accountability, and educators’ commitment to shared goals. A community that supports collaborative leadership must be fostered and supported by the administration for lasting success.

Innovative Leadership: Using a startup mindset in K-12

Supporting digital learning and innovation in schools is challenging. Join the presenter, a veteran building principal who recently moved into a district technology leadership role, to identify elements critical to putting innovative leadership into action.

An innovative leader should try to create new ideas, but it is more important that they develop a culture of innovation. Explore methods to empower your teachers with a shared vision and a safe and supportive environment of risk-taking, trust, and swift implementation. Innovative leaders not only “think” differently, but they “act” differently. Now is the time to act and put these innovative characteristics into action. This session will empower YOU to build a culture of innovation.

Strategies for Virtual Professional Development

Districts need to create long-term virtual professional development plans to support educators and encourage the effective use of digital tools.

With schools closed and remote learning becoming the norm, our teachers have gone from saying, “Please raise your hand” to “Click the hand-raising icon to participate and then unmute yourself.”

No professional development day or session could have prepared us for this dramatic shift. As educational leaders, we sprinted to support teachers with ideas, lessons, and support. But now, a month into remote learning, it’s no longer a sprint; it’s looking more and more like a marathon.

Technology trainers need to create a long-term plan to support educators and encourage the effective use of digital tools for instruction. Online meetings and digital communication have become the norm for providing learning opportunities to educators now. Having strategies for virtual training will make these opportunities more impactful.

Mentor from a Distance

When it comes to providing continuous learning opportunities for educators during extended closings, online meetings, and digital communication has become the norm. When we talk about mentoring, we think of two educators in a room, talking, planning, and collaborating. Unlike traditional mentoring, virtual mentoring relies heavily on digital tools that may be new to educational leaders and teachers. So what exactly does remote mentoring look like? Mentorship is a process of developing and sustaining a mentor/mentee relationship; it’s a give and takes collaboration for both parties. But how can the relationship continue to grow when neither the mentor or mentee has experience with remote learning for months at a time? A mentor may have experience in the classroom and the content, but this knowledge must be maximized remotely if the relationship is going to continue to support a growth mindset. This session focuses on strategies to make this partnership strong even in a virtual setting.

Lead with POWER 

P: Purposeful, O: Opportunity, W: Win-Win Situation, E: Everyone, Everyday, R: Risk-Taking

Learn strategies that will provide ideas and concrete examples of how collaboration supports leaders by:

  • Developing higher-level thinking skills
  • Encouraging and sharing strategies for families, students, and staff interaction and familiarity
  • Building self-confidence in being the best you
  • Increasing oral and social communication skills
  • Using a team approach to solving problems
  • Fostering an atmosphere of cooperation and accountability
  • Sustaining a collaborative community

Creating a Culture of Collaboration

When teachers work in a silo, it limits the collective thinking or brainstorming that is critical to innovative ideas that can transform teaching and learning. Change is hard, and sometimes schools are unwilling to change due to many factors. However, moving outside your comfort zone and into the learning zone is a step to breaking down school silos. With skilled educators and the digital resources of today, we have ideas and strategies available 24/7. We have the power to shift a school into a collaborative community and to have critical conversations about exciting and innovative change in schools. A collaborative culture is more than merely attending a scheduled meeting, sharing lessons as a requirement of being on a team, or sitting through common planning time sessions. It requires transparency, honesty, integrity, dependability, accountability, and educators’ commitment to shared goals. 

Explore innovative strategies to enhance and become more efficient with launching ideas, risk-taking, and creating a culture of innovation.

Educational Transformation

Changing instruction is moving from static learning to active learning. Integrating student voice in the classroom, student collaboration, presentations, and discovery learning will increase the authentic and relevant classroom learning. The more students are engaged and take an active part in their own learning; the more likely they are to perform well academically, obtain higher grades, and earn higher scores on standardized tests. Kids don’t come to school to watch teachers work. So, shifting the heavy lifting in learning from teacher to student will shift instruction to a more active and creative learning environment.

Moving From Consumption to Creation

We often talk about engagement and students having an active role in learning. However, if you look at the classroom of the 50s, you would see desks in rows, a teacher in the front of the room doing most of the talking, books out on the desks, and students consuming the lesson. Should schools in 2017 follow this same model? The answer should be a resounding, very loud NO, but that is not always the case. In today’s classroom, do we teach by telling information that students are expected to consume? One of the keys to academic achievement is active learning. Personalized, collaborative, and connected learning experiences enhance student engagement, which in turn drives student success. By integrating blended and digital learning into the classroom, educators can take learning experiences to the next level and improve student performance. Apps don’t teach, TEACHERS teach. Technology does not replace educators. Digital learning is an instructional strategy that enhancing and engages learners. It’s important to know what tools we have and what they’re capable of providing to enhance student learning. This session will focus on tools and strategies to create active thinkers and learners.

Ed Tech Coaching in Today’s Classrooms

Too often, schools launch new technology without a plan for supporting and coaching teachers through the process of using new technology effectively in their classrooms. One key to launching and supporting the marriage of ed tech and curriculum is increasing the opportunity to support teachers and help them raise student achievement. Today’s students’ needs vary as they are growing up in the digital learning age. Knowing how to integrate existing tech with today’s instructional best practices and strategies engage students to maximize learning. Supporting educators on this journey is a critical step. This workshop focuses on creating an edtech professional development roadmap for success.

Take student Voice to the next level: Vlogging

One ongoing goal of educators is to encourage engagement and student activity in the classroom. Technology has done a great deal to help facilitate interaction, and vlogs can add to your existing initiatives. Very similar to traditional blogging, video blogs allow students to add their personal touches to their work. This work can help them feel more connected to their assignments and encourage even more effort.

Vlogging gives students the ability to collaborate but also individuals around the world. Students can use a Vlog to make a portfolio to showcase their work and showcase their work over some time. Portfolios can allow students and their parents to see the progress that they have made within a specific unit or grade. A portfolio can showcase their best work or particular assignments. 

Recording videos can add spark to the classroom. Both students and teachers can enjoy the task, forging deeper relationships with peers, and even deeper relationships with the art of learning.

This session will improve your confidence and learn how to shoot and edit using your mobile device. 

Classroom examples:

  • Make a video newsletter
  • Create a portfolio of student work
  • Preview lessons before class
  • Record the experience and post it on a vlog
  • Read or act out books or events in history to share with students and parents
  • Encourage discussion, collaboration, and debates between students outside of class
  • School events: Pep rallies, guest speakers, school plays and sports are just some of the school-wide events that would make great videos for a classroom vlog.
  • Keep students connected in extracurricular activities, sports, or interests 
  • Update families on classroom events

Bring a Global Perspective in Your Classroom

How can we challenge students to think globally and embrace cultures around the world with these tips from fellow teachers? Using tech tools to open the world can be the first step. One of the most valuable lessons students can learn these days is how to understand and appreciate perspectives other than their own. Connecting students in today’s fast-paced world are essential, as students use their devices regularly, but need to find ways to do it educationally and responsibly. As educators, we need to expand our reach beyond our classroom walls. So, how do we help students apply what they have learned, either individually or in groups? How do they identify local and global issues, make a plan, and then take action and make their voices heard? This session will be a mix of digital tools for your students, along with some examples of global projects such as:

  • Bring in global stories 
  • Expand your lessons to include global perspectives
  • Get involved in a global project
  • Bring travel experiences in the classroom
  • Connect with other global educators online
  • Connect with classrooms overseas