We can (and absolutely should!) extend the learning beyond the synchronous engagements we have together.
So often when I work with facilitators, the vast majority of the design and planning time is focused around how we are going to construct the experiences when learners are with us in the room, and we overlook the opportunity that exists to design and plan for the "gray space" in between those synchronous engagements. We hope that learners will continue to connect, collaborate, and engage in between our sessions. But the reality is unless we are providing them with the structures, tools, and recommendations necessary to be successful, those connections might not happen with the same frequency or depth that we would hope.
So as you're thinking about extending that learning loop in between your synchronous engagements, there are three elements that I want you to keep in mind:
What is the opportunity for your learners to continue engaging face to face? Can we get them into one another's classrooms? Is there an opportunity for co-planning? Or, are there specific discussion prompts that we might give them to engage in or follow up on a particular reading, strategy, or topic?
What are some of the ways that we can facilitate virtual collaboration for our learners? Even if there's not a chance for them to get shoulder-to-shoulder in between our sessions, are there ways that we can leverage some of our learning management systems to enable them to keep those connections going even if they're not in the same room together?
How are we structuring opportunities for individuals to engage in solo reflection and planning? It's not enough to say, "I want you to think about how you're going to integrate this into practice." -or- "Come back and share with us what you did." As facilitators, we have a much greater responsibility to develop those prompts and provide reflection tools that push learners forward, that stretch their thinking rather than just give them something to ponder.
So, when you're planning, I don't want you just thinking about those minutes or those clock hours that you're together in the room but consider how you can structure and provide some critical tools for your learners to keep those connections and that collaboration going long after the session ends.
I would love to hear from you on social media about some of the ways that you are extending the learning loop following your professional learning engagements. Please share with me @thelearningloop so that we can continue growing together.