Professional Learning for Blended Education: Michigan Teacher Case Studies

posted on December 09, 2016

Professional Learning for Blended Education shares the experiences of blended learning teachers in Michigan and is the result of interviews conducted to understand their experiences and professional learning choices. Information is organized into profiles of each teacher that describe his or her definitions and perceptions of blended learning. The profiles also share how the teachers learned about blended learning (both formally and informally) and how they perceive the impact of their learning on their students.

Using a combination of references and calls for volunteers, 11 Michigan teachers agreed to participate. Each teacher was interviewed using a variety of video conferencing tools. Prior to the interviews, participants were provided with the interview questions.

The blended teacher profiles represent a variety of teacher learning across Michigan K-12 classrooms. According to the 11 teachers interviewed, creating a personal learning network (PLN) is the most important element for supporting professional learning. The PLNs were all created in various ways and differed in membership but included fellow colleagues, administrators, parents, students, and other educators from around the world and depended greatly upon the needs of the teachers.

However, these PLNs were just the first stage for support in terms of professional learning in blended learning for Michigan teachers. As described by the teachers, the emerging mentors, coaches, and cohort programs in Michigan provide the opportunity to create professional learning communities. It is these communities that provide sustainable support in systemic ways and a differentiated and personalized learning opportunity for teachers.

The teachers’ reflection about their practice demonstrated how they were building deeper learning communities with their students because they learned from and with their students, they focused on continuous formative assessment, and there was an emphasis on learner-centered approaches to teaching. There was also strong support around the concepts of failure, perseverance, and determination, which not only supports the idea of a “growth mindset” but also suggests that the teachers are using a design thinking process in their continuous iterative instructional design.

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