“Teaching can be isolating work, and classroom learning labs help connect educators and ideas through the shared experience of observing students as they learn. For us, we have focused most labs on math, an area of learning that has changed dramatically over the past few years. Being able to inquire about approaches while instructing and observing students at work helps make adult learning more relevant and immediate. Classroom Learning Labs are just that: Places to develop a hypothesis about what works, and to gather people together who are willing and ready to inquire, observe, and discuss the findings–in order to begin the cycle of inquiry again” Carol Lautenbach of Godfrey Lee Public Schools wrote.
Kent county is changing the culture of professional learning through collaboration. Little (1982) and Rosenholtz (1989) discovered key behaviors in schools with strong collegial orientations. In these schools, teachers value professional relationships, share ideas, and readily exchange new techniques. Furthermore, Rosenholtz and Smylie identified that teachers with a high sense of efficacy are more likely to adopt new classroom behaviors and have higher student achievement.
The goal of the Classroom Learning Lab experience is to develop in practitioners the habit of reflection while further developing their craft of teaching. The whole process is about unlocking the potential in each participant. Traditional forms of professional development have been based on the expert imparting knowledge onto a “novice” as one time event. Providing teachers with a more collaborative professional learning experience that is authentic, relevant, job embedded, and tied to instructional best practices is the foundation for this change.
Teachers who believe that they can affect their students’ learning are more likely to ask for and receive technical assistance from colleagues (Little, 1982; Rosenholtz, 1989; Smylie, 1988). Educators are empowered by the Classroom Learning Lab process. Participants repeatedly state they feel affirmed and invigorated in their practices. The CLL is about collegiality, efficacy, and the craft of teaching.
Kent ISD has a few offerings of Classroom Learning Labs coming up soon. If you would like to learn more or attend, click the links below:
- 15CUR1012 – Facilitator Training for Pre-K-12 Classroom Learning Labs
- 15CUR1207 – Classroom Learning Lab Focus Group – Learning and Networking
- 15CUR1214 – Facilitator Training for Pre-K-12 Classroom Learning Labs
- 16CUR0418 – Classroom Learning Lab Focus Group – Learning and Networking
This post was written by Teresa McDougall, Grandville Public Schools and edited by Amanda Walma Professional Learning Coordinator at Kent ISD.