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Building Blended Learning Leaders' Capacity

“You have to trust teacher expertise.” (Dr. Stepan Mekhitarian)

Overview

Challenge: How to engage teachers and develop a community of blended learning leaders.

Context: Dr. Stepan Mekhitarian, the former Blended Learning Coordinator of Los Angeles Unified School District’s Northwest local district, which includes nearly 130 schools, explained that effective blended learning implementation requires buy-in and targeted focus on building capacity. His approach was to invite educators to learn more about the philosophy and application of blended learning through sequenced professional development on pedagogy and leadership.

Action Steps: Mekhitarian reached out to teachers in the 130 schools he worked with, offering:

  • A four-part professional development series that started with an introduction to constructivist thinking and ending with practical guidance for setting up a blended classroom.
  • Visits to other classrooms to observe various blended learning models in action.
  • An online space to share resources and ask questions.

Mekhitarian explained that it was important for teachers to commit to the entire program in order to build momentum and philosophical alignment. It was also important, he explains, to give teachers time to apply what they were learning in their own classrooms so that the learning could develop organically and teachers could see their own students growing and adapting to the new approach. Mekhitarian says that by going teacher-by-teacher, you build buy-in and develop blended learning champions and ambassadors at each site.

“Schools that utilize personalized learning effectively start with a cohort of engaged teachers who share their expertise and experience,” says Dr. Mekhitarian. “Others see how personalized learning can impact student success and want to learn more.”

Other Examples: You can also find attached other great examples of teacher-focused community building by reading about the Fulton County Vanguard Teachers Program and the Fuse RI model.