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Learning Teams

I’ve mentioned a group that I do lesson planning with.

It’s not ad hoc – it’s deliberate. It’s a paid program. There is a lot of garbage out there, but this seems to be the real deal.

The project is Pearson’s Learning Teams (additional link).

In a lot of ways, it follows the generic product development cycle:

This pattern appears in a lot of places. This one is from the software world, but that came from the business world. I have a friend who is a spy who says they use the same process to gather intelligence. So, it should be no surprise that this would work in education, as well.

The Pearson version is actually recursive – the implementation step is replaced with another cycle.

It works something like this:

  • Examine data to determine student needs1.
  • Formulate goals for student learning
    1. Identify instructional strategies
    2. Develop lesson in detail
    3. Deliver lesson and collect evidence of learning.
    1. Evaluate effectiveness of strategies
  • Analyze process effectiveness

The indented steps form their own loop that may be repeated multiple times.

There are a couple of things that make this different from other development programs:

  1. It doesn’t promise to be a quick fix. It seems to be aimed at developing a cultural change at the school.
  2. It isn’t one size fits all. The process is a very general framework. During the training sessions, we meet with different schools, and their implementations are vastly different from ours.
  3. It provides just enough outside influence to keep things moving positively, without dictating how things should be done. In fact, during our process, they allowed us to make a lot of “mistakes”, things they knew we would change our mind on later, because they wanted those decisions to come from our personal experience.
  4. Even our different departments are doing things differently. We get to meet a couple of times a year, and share what worked effectively for us.
  5. Everyone involved is actually interested in the meetings – everyone is always on task and participating. No one (as far as I have seen) is ever grading papers or just putting in time.
  1. Teachers walk out of these meetings energized and excited to go try something. That in itself is different from 95% of the rest of the “development” I’ve participated in.

1 The first time through the cycle for us, this was something about graphing inequalities. The second time around, it became less standards based and more general: being able to represent problems in multiple fashions.