PIIC coaches, IU mentors, administrators, RMCs, and other school leaders just participated in our 3rd multi-day professional learning conference of the year in State College. It was AMAZING!! 18 breakout sessions were offered along with a whole group general session. Participants were engaged, energized, and rejuvenated as they engaged in professional talk with their colleagues from across the state. Talk about incredible karma!
One emerging theme throughout the 3 days was the profound benefit of working with colleagues. The collaboration and shared learning in a safe environment with trusted and experienced colleagues ensured that every participant had a voice, an ear (actually two), and ample opportunities to learn and talk to each other about problems of practice; gain multiple, practical solutions offered by other practitioners; and gained new ideas to add to their inventory of instructional practices.
This kind of collaborative learning illustrates Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development.” This zone is where learners learn with the help of guidance. Remember, learning is social and our professional learning conferences demonstrates the notion that interacting with other practitioners helps the learner achieve higher levels of learning and retain more of what they learned (Gokhale 1995). Coaches and mentors support and follow up this learning to ensure that what is learned is applied deeply and effectively. These kinds of opportunities for ongoing collaboration facilitated by coaches and mentors create a culture of shared learning that is transformative.
How do you engage in collaborative learning in your school?