Welcome to Learning Lab VT

Welcome to Learning Lab VT

Ever wonder whether you’re really up to the task of meeting your learners’ needs? We have.

Our learners — Vermont middle and high school educators — are in the midst of a monumental transition that, done well, will ensure that Vermont’s public schools deliver on their mission of excellence and equity for all our learners. (No pressure.)

The change is complex; the climb steep. The realization a few years ago that we might be stumbling at our jobs — making sure educators have the support they need to meet the challenges they face — made us wonder. What kind of professional learning experience could prepare educators to meet the expectations of Vermont’s Act 77 and  the Education Quality Standards? What would it look like, and how would it work?

The Dream

Right away we knew the experience would have to model the very principles and practices Vermont educators are being expected to apply with their learners. With that in mind:

We wanted Learning Lab VT to be:

  • Personalized. To meet the specific needs of each and every educator.
  • Proficiency-based. To ensure all educators practice and develop the fundamental skills and mindsets expected of them.
  • A trusting learning community. Inspiring educators to open their classrooms, minds, and hearts to each other.
  • Blended. With just the right mix of in-person and asynchronous learning opportunities so teachers can work at times and places of their choosing.
  • Student-centered. Placing our educators’ students’ learning at the center of the experience, inviting them to take on a vital part of the experience.
  • Contributing. To systemic capacity building underway in our schools and across all of Vermont.

A few years later (and a few hairs grayer), Learning Lab VT is our very best attempt to design and implement the opportunity we imagined. The results? Have exceeded our wildest dreams.

The Design

Learning Lab VT is a year-long experience that provides a cohort of educators support to partner with their students and each other. Together, they conduct and share action research answering the questions: What is personalization? What, exactly, are teachers and students doing in settings that are becoming increasingly personalized? What are the best ways to develop systemic capacity to get personalization right?

Learning Lab VT is:

  • Personalized to meet the specific needs of each and every educator. Educators identify and pursue their own inquiry questions.
  • Proficiency-based to ensure all educators practice and develop the fundamental mindsets and skills of student-centered learning. Educators use our learning scales to guide and track their learning.
  • Committed to a creating a trusting learning community so educators are game for opening their classrooms, minds, and hearts to each other and their students. Educators use a variety of technology (Flipgrid, Slack, Google Hangouts, website, blogs) to get to know each other and publish their inquiry questions and request and make visits to each other’s classroomsBlended with the just-right mix of in-person and asynchronous learning opportunities so teachers can work at times and places that work for them. This scope and sequence gives a good sense of the rhythm of the year and how we work when we’re together and apart.
  • Involve our educators’ students so they have a seat at the table. Each educator establishes a site-based Learning Lab team of students who play a range of roles.
  • Connected with and contributing to the systemic capacity building underway across all our schools and the state of Vermont. All of our learners make Bright Spots & Belly Flops blogposts to formatively tell the story of their findings, and all of our learners choose contribute to systemic capacity from our Choice Board

Learning Lab VT educators are:

  • Noah Hurlburt, Rutland Town School. Exploring digital badges!
  • Melissa Rice, Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union. How can personalizing teacher PD help teachers personalize learning for students?
  • Charlie Herzog, Flood Brook School. Studying how students talk about their experiences with project-based learning.
  • Jon Brown, Lamoille Union Middle School. “Can project-based math yield the results we we want to see on testing?”
  • Jen Roth, Charlotte Central School. Exploring the power of principals to effect personalized learning at the school level.
  • And many others!

 

 

Deirdre Beaupre, Heidi Ringer, Kyle Chadburn & Andrea Gratton
(l to r): Deirdre Beaupre, Heidi Ringer, and Kyle Chadburn & Andrea Gratton. All are current Learning Lab hosts, with visits to their classrooms available.

The Now

Now, it’s about YOU. We want you to become part of Learning Lab VT. And here’s how.

Right now, we have 19 educators at 12 schools around Vermont who’ve spent the year working on personalization with their students.

And those educators want to show you what they’re up to. Face-to-face, and in person. We invite you to spend some time getting to know these remarkable Vermont educators, through their inquiry questions. Through their reflection videos and blogposts. Look at the places their work overlaps with — or inspires — yours. Then book a visit to their classroom.

For real. We want you to get up, leave your classroom and your school, and treat yourself to a glimpse beyond your school walls. GO. Go see how other educators are tackling personalization. 12 different schools, 19 educators to choose from. 

The Future

We’re super excited for the work ahead. We’re finding our stride — though we’ve been reminded just how hard it is to teach well. We’re inspired by the courageous educators with whom we work. Educators who graciously open their classrooms to the world and, along with their students, who continue to share their stories in ways that remind us that all of us do better in places that where we belong and contribute.

If you’d like to learn more about Learning Lab VT, the hands-down best way forward is to go visit some Learning Lab sites.

So. Where do you want to visit first?

 

Susan Hennessey, Bill Rich

Susan Hennessey is a reformed librarian and current professional development coordinator with a particular interest in digital credentials and scavenger hunts. She's addicted to flavored almonds, salty, crunchy snacks, and Google Hangouts.

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