I have now come to the half-way mark in my master’s degree. After this course, this means that many of us will have six courses completed en route to graduation. When I look at all of these past courses, I can see big progress that was made in my degree. But, for now, I would like for us to have a final conversation about professional learning at HOBY. In this instance, I decided to create a new acronym for the HOBY organization. It is HOPE, or HOBY Organization Professional Engagement. In this blog post, I would like us to take a look at the past, present, and future about where HOBY’s professional learning is going. If you recall, our course began with a plea for alternatives to traditional professional learning. In our case, the most prominent professional learning initiative that we have embarked on is the Volunteer Training Institute.
HOBY uses the Active Collab program to allow different seminar sites to communicate with the national office about where they are in relation to their seminar planning. The Training Institute is a convention held every summer in a different city where volunteers can come for training on Active Collab and other programs that would benefit their seminar site. The Training Institute is a great way to foster collaboration between volunteers, but the training ends after the seminar. In my professional learning plan, I want us to continue this training by making the students (volunteers) more engaged in what they are doing. The first part of this professional learning plan is a plea to the administrators of HOBY on the need for alternatives for their professional learning. Please click the link here to see where we are now.
The present and future parts of this professional learning program involves extending the training received at the Training Institute into a full course of study. The course could begin at the seminar, then meetings could take place by conference call and virtually by distance. To begin, we have to first take a look at the five principles of professional learning. In a brief description, these principles can be defined as duration, support, engagement, modeling, and being specific. In the instance of HOBY, we might want to look at these ideas in the instance of providing a framework for the lesson being taught as an extension of the Training Institute. Here they are:
- Duration-We will have a professional learning program that will begin at the Training Institute and will continue with monthly meetings for one seminar year
- Support– Our staff will have a chance to collaborate and communicate with each other through the question and answer period at the Training Institute and through discussion boards and conference calls with monthly meetings
- Engage– The training institute will provide the new framework as to how our staff training will be different; this is our chance to “set the tone” for the course after the training
- Modeling– HOBY seminar staff will serve as students as the instructor gives an “example lesson” at the training institute
- Being Specific– This professional learning will be specific for HOBY administrative staff at all of our local seminar sites
The next question that we will have to answer as an organization is: who is our audience? Our main audience is our seminar administrators from all of our sites, Active Collab coordinators, and the senior officials from each seminar site, such as facilitators, that may want to be cross-trained on Active Collab. With respect to the student’s needs, we must realize that all HOBY staff will need support for their roles, regardless of how big or small they are. It will be critically important the we encourage our staff and keep them centered on their goals with a “growth mindset” that allows them to engage in the professional learning process. By allowing them to “keep their head in the game,” we can eliminate the possibility of our staff becoming overwhelmed in the training process.
From here, we will need to address the question of fostering collaboration between all of our staff. How can we do it? I have thought of a few ideas and suggestions, and they are listed below:
- All meetings will have a “go and show” model that will follow an engaging sequence
- Use “active engagement” to guide our staff through our course strategies, such as “walk and talk,” open discussions, “mixer brainstorming,” “standing-up-to-share-ideas,” and reflection
- All seminar sites will be given the responsibility of delegating tasks to key seminar staff so that no one becomes overwhelmed with responsibilities
- Monthly meetings either virtually or on campus will have “mixer brainstorming” sessions where two instructors will be appointed from each seminar site to share ideas about how their seminar site has used Active Collab effectively and how it could be put into practice immediately
- At each meeting, the students will be asked by their instructors to listen to the meeting or see the meeting and work through the assignments in collaboration with someone they do not know from a separate seminar site — hence, “mixer brainstorming”
- Blackboard and Active Collab will be used to tie all of the assignments together with discussion boards and tasks for completion
- Voxer, Twitter, and Facebook chats will be used as an easy way to foster collaboration through a communication and media format
To see the next phase of this plan, please click here, as this blog continues.