Over the course of the next five weeks, I am going to be focusing exclusively on professional learning facilitators. Whether those individuals plan staff meetings, trainings, workshops, professional learning communities, or so many of the other ways in which we engage with new content and develop new skills, I want to ensure that you have the capacity and the skills necessary to design the most powerful learning experiences for your participants.
So the first step in that process that I want us to think about together is the idea of priming the experience. I want it to be an experience - not just a single session or an event that individuals attend and then forget about shortly thereafter. Instead, we want to take steps before learners even come into the space and engage together to ensure not only do we have the right people in the room, but that they're connecting in the right ways and feel accountable to each other before the experience even begins.
So when we talk about "priming the experience," we want to focus on two specific components: First, "inviting learners" and second, "investing learners."
When we "invite learners," we've got a responsibility to get the guest list right. Not every single learner needs to come to every single session just because they are part of the team or we want the entire staff to attend. We can be more thoughtful and more intentional than that. It's okay at times to exclude in our invitation process, as long as we do it well.
In that invitation, we want to ensure that we are "investing learners" along the way. That we are very clear about how we expect them to show up in our learning spaces for one another. When possible, I would encourage you to give learners some type of nudge or a little push or a way for them to connect and take action, prior to the synchronous engagement, so that they don't show up empty-handed. Instead, much like a party or some of our favorite gatherings, we know what it's like to be a part of the celebration. We might bring a dish or a drink or some other gift to share with participants. That's not to say that all of our professional learning experiences are now going to be full of food and drink. Not at all! But, we want to show up with something for each other to show a commitment, not just to the space and to the facilitator, but to the community that we're looking to create.
So this week, as you begin developing professional learning sessions to close out the school year, look ahead to the summer, or perhaps even begin planning for next year, I want you to focus on how you're going to "prime the experience."
How are you going to 'invest' your learners and 'invite' them in a way that's going to make them feel a part of the community even before they step foot into the classroom, the board room, or the Zoom room?
I would love to hear about the ways that you are priming those experiences for the learners in your spaces. Please share with me @thelearningloop on social media so that we can continue to learn and grow together.