Utilizing Webinars to Guide Your Professional Learning Community

Professional learning is critical to honing our skills, considering the ideas of others, and cultivating a growth mindset among school staff. Despite all the positive outcomes that stem from professional learning, it can be challenging to carve out time to grow professionally. When we heard how Stephanie Evans, the Literacy Coach at Osceola Elementary in St. Augustine, Florida, utilized our Being a Writer webinar to lead a professional learning session with the teachers at her school, we thought it was an inspired idea worth sharing with our community. If you’ve ever considered attending a CCC webinar to learn about our programs and pedagogy, I encourage you to read on and learn how Stephanie utilized our webinar to facilitate a professional learning session with the teachers at her school.

As the Instructional Literacy Coach at Osceola Elementary, I was determined to make best use of the Being a Writer webinars offered throughout the 2015-16 school year. I decided to invite my teachers to come to my room so we could all watch them together. I felt this would encourage participation and collaboration. As a school, our principal made this an approved flex time activity, since the teachers were engaging in professional learning after contract hours on their own time.

After reading the description of the first webinar, I knew it was mostly geared for teachers who were new to the Being a Writer program. Therefore, I went to all our new teachers and our teachers with the least amount of professional development in the program to personally invite them. I did, however, want to have a few of our more experienced teachers as part of the group to add to the discussion and possibly answer questions that may come up.

As we participated in the webinar, there were times when I turned down the volume so teachers could discuss how their implementations were going. They have all started to form their classroom communities and establish routines and procedures. I felt it was very beneficial to have both experienced and new teachers there. The experienced teachers were able to talk about their experience this year compared to last year. They knew how important the first unit is for setting up the classroom for the rest of the year. They discussed the difference in their students this year as compared to last year. Our returning students have had a year of experience with the program, and are ready to go!

Bringing teams of teachers together to participate in the Being a Writer webinar presented a great opportunity for conversation, collaboration, and reflection. As of now, we plan to watch more of the webinars live, but in the future I may decide to watch the archive of the webinar so we can pause the recording to facilitate more collaboration and discussion. After this first experience I am better able to prepare for this kind of learning. For example, I didn’t have access to a phone in my classroom so I used my cell phone, which made it difficult for all to hear. I have also let our more experienced teachers know about future topics of the webinars and will make sure to invite them again to support their ongoing professional learning.

Stephanie Evans, Literacy Coach, Osceola Elementary, Florida

To view a list of upcoming professional learning opportunities from the Center for the Collaborative Classroom, please visit our events and webinars page.