I’m nearing the end of the Larmer, Mergendollar, and Boss text. I have one more chapter left.
Chapter 6 “Leading a PBL Implementation Effort” in Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning offers great advice for campus and district leaders. My biggest takeaways – all of which deal in some way with teacher training – are listed below:
- Building Leadership: In the first few weeks after school starts, I need to collaborate with the principal at our pilot campus. She and I need to discuss campus goals, including how PBL will support their new Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and teachers who will help guide staff and student training. Herding teachers into a room to create PBL projects will not hook the faculty; we need to have patience, which means we let students and staff direct us on the training they need to make PBL successful (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 139). Leadership for PBL is shared between me, the building administration, the teachers, and the students; we are to learn from each other and, in the process, build a collaborative culture that will improve PBL’s chances of success at the pilot school and beyond in our district (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 144). I think Larmer, Mergendollar, and Boss have a good idea: Create a campus leadership task force comprised of students and teachers with a variety of strategic skill sets that can be leveraged to get PBL rolling in the school (p. 144). Above all, I need to remember . . .
- Monitor, Listen, and Adjust: I play a critical role in supporting teacher/student efforts, but, in the end, teachers will support the day-in and day-out activities in the PBL classroom (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 141). Their classrooms and their mindsets may need retooling, and everyone will not be on the same level (like a classroom). I need to sharpen my listening skills, so I can hear staff and student concerns, and I need to reinforce the fact that we will rely on the group – the faculty, the school, the students, and other stakeholders – to conquer obstacles as they arise. From what I gather after all the reading is collaboration and team effort are two major hallmarks of PBL.
- Model, Model, Model: Again, the topic of modeling surfaces in the text. I can’t forget the fact that I must model the ways I want to see students think and act (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 141). Larmer, Mergendollar, and Boss suggest I use driving questions at meetings, along with critique-and-revision protocols to improve plans and policies (p. 141). I’ll keep those ideas in mind – as they are sound.
- Professional Development – Ongoing and Real-World: Integrating PBL takes time, and professional development can not begin and end in one all-encompassing introductory workshop; PD must be ongoing throughout the year and into coming years (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 144). And, in addition to pedagogical training, our teachers may benefit from collaborating with real-world professionals and experts, who may be able to help them create authentic projects (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 144). Once teachers indicate the training they need, I’ll compile a list of outside sources I can tap for training.
The work continues . . .
Larmer, J., Mergendoller, J. R., & Boss, S. (2015). Setting the standard for project based learning: A proven approach to rigorous classroom instruction. ASCD.
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