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Trailblazer Teacher Personalized Professional Learning

Personalizing educator professional learning

Overview

Professional learning has been a significant contributor to Trailblazer’s implementation of blended learning. One of the largest shifts in instructional approaches has created many opportunities to improve professional learning, including the use of data in Professional Learning Communities and the implementation of Genius Hour and Opportunity Hour. As they rolled out new professional learning opportunities, Trailblazer made sure to focus the learning on the skills needed to be successful instead of the initiatives themselves. For example, Genius Hour requires a teacher to shift from being content driven to prompting research and exploration through questions.

Trailblazer employs a personalized professional development approach for its educators. Each teacher has to develop a professional growth plan and Trailblazer has two coaches to support their growth. Professional growth plans help identify individual teacher needs and coaches will either self-select based on that need, or teachers will choose their coach based on their preference. Both coaches are former teachers at the school. While their main focus is to support professional learning among the staff, in order to make it work within existing resources, they have additional responsibilities as well. For example, one of the coaches is also in charge of maintaining the library and technology within it. 

Like most schools, Trailblazer hosts routine professional development opportunities for their staff, and the coaches are often in charge of ensuring these PD opportunities are beneficial to the blended learning work. Coaches lead Professional Learning Communities each Friday, which help them identify system-wide needs. The coaches are also responsible for planning staff development every Wednesday, which often offers three options to educators. A teacher attending a staff development session, for example, may choose from 1) writing intervention plans, 2) building blended Learner Pathways, and 3) preparing for upcoming content delivery. Depending on the topic, each session may be led by a coach, educator, staff member, or outside professional. Educators also pursue professional growth by progressing through online pathways and receiving one-on-one coaching support.