Professional Growth Plan
Educator’s Name: Kyla Coulman-Absher
Number of Years’ Experience: 4.5
School District: Pembina Hills School Division School: Alberta Distance Learning Centre
Description of School and Teaching Services Situation
Pembina Hills School Division delivers educational services to the municipalities of Swan Hills, Woodlands County, County of Barrhead, Town of Barrhead, Westlock County, Town of Westlock, Village of Clyde, the south eastern portion of M.D. of Big Lakes and the southern portion of the M.D. of Lesser Slave River. In June 1997, Pembina Hills assumed operating responsibility for the Alberta Distance Learning Centre, a distance education school that serves all Alberta school districts and divisions. Public school services are provided through twenty schools. An Outreach and Virtual School program were established in September 1996. In addition to the public school services, the geographic area of Pembina Hills also contains a separate school; St. Mary’s in Westlock and one private Christian school north of Barrhead. The public school system provides transportation services for students to the separate and private schools. The mission of PHRD reads, “Our mission, together with our community, is to provide students with the means and opportunity to gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens in a changing society.” This statement reflects the need to introduce course content that will meet the skill-set required for an uncertain technological future. (www.phrd.ab.ca/About.php).
ADLC provides effective, successful, and specialized distance learning opportunities and is a world leader in the delivery of distance learning programs to students in Grades 1 to 12. Distance education is offered in print, online, and blended formats. ADLC is a provincially-funded school serving students and schools throughout Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, as well as students around the globe who wish to pursue their education using the Alberta Program of Studies.
Our Mission: “Alberta Distance Learning Centre is an innovative learning community, supporting students, teachers, parents, and partners by providing high-quality teaching and learning at a distance.” Our Vision: “Alberta Distance Learning Centre is a flexible, student-centered school where students realize potential, achieve success, and develop skills for life-long learning.” (www.adlc.ca/ content/view/17/59/)[i].
I am currently doing course development for English 20-2, though I regularly instruct for English 20-2 online and print, as well as manage one-half of the class list for the contracted services English 30-2 at ADLC. This is unfixed for the moment. I have been in this position for 4.5 years, though I initially taught English 20-2 and 10-1, only having taught the 30-2’s for one and a half years. My course development started in October of 2011 and will ideally result in a course roll out of February 2013. Along with doing course development, I have also taken some initiative in regards to on-site Professional Development opportunities being started and implemented for ADLC staff (as a whole).
Description of the Goal(s) to be Addressed
1. Leadership in a 21st Century Learning Environment:
My goal as a teacher is to build and enhance my individual leadership skills for a 21st century learning environment. I would like to achieve this through providing instruction or instructional supplements for colleagues through PD efforts, as well as by sharing skills, resources, and the discoveries I make along the way. Our school has some significant challenges ahead, and I feel my involvement in PD efforts could help make these goals approachable and non-threatening for colleagues.
2. Implementation of UDL principles in design
Now, in 2012, the second “phase” of this growth goal is to take what I’ve learned and already done with UDL specifically and enrich it in my content via links, resources and tutorials accompanying the English 20-2 course. This will be a lot of work, but in the long run, it will be worth the effort, as the hope will be to make a very engaging course that will encourage completions. Key components of this growth goal focus more around making videos and other supplements for the course through various modes of media. Videos are the big one, and this will take time, but I am looking forward to it.
Rationale for the Goal and Link to Self-Reflection, Educational Situation and Program of Studies
1. Leadership in a 21st Century Learning Environment:
While there is a lot of focus on the definition of a 21st Century Learner in our time as instructors, there is not a lot of emphasis on how we as instructors get to the place where we enable 21st Century learners in a way unique to our particular environment. One contradiction needing amendment while identifying the 21st Century Learner as differentiated from a leader in 21st Century learning, is that the idea that modeled learning is a key component for both. One cannot occur without the other, and vice-versa. It is intuitive for most educators to further their own growth, but what is being thrust at them currently is quite nebulous. Furthermore, it can be daunting to discern that this is not a trend, but a reality. Realities don’t come along as often as trends do, but steps required are great.
Last year, I began forming a cohesive idea and plan for ADLC site specific professional development. This was to be a concrete and established plan of action that would make our PD definitive and present for ADLC staff. I was able to at least start something in conjunction with AISI V efforts that, while still in its beginning stages of sustainability, has proven manageable in the school and beneficial so far. The goal is still present that we could obtain a regulated source of PD for Teaching staff and support staff desiring PD opportunities, but I have had to hand over the reins until I am done course development.
2. Implementation of UDL principles in design
Last year, I began course development for the English 20-2 course. In doing so, I created a number of hurdles for myself. I would use UbD principles for the first time (Understanding by Design Instructional Design principles) through self-guidance and minor coaching from a colleague. I would also begin to integrate UDL (Universal Design for Learning) principles into my work. My growth plan last year ordained that I would gain a good understanding of both sets of thinking and combine the two with a look at 21st Century Learning characteristics as set out by Pembina Hills and consequently, ADLC. Over the year, I have discovered immense satisfaction with this approach, but it has been challenging to quickly “learn and DO”, admittedly. The first stage of this growth goal was to gain understanding and apply this to my planning and writing.
- Plan for Assessing and Documenting Achievement of the Goal
Upon completion and roll-out of my course in February of 2013, I would like to immediately commence with putting together in-depth instructional materials for teachers to access at ADLC for purposes of PD. I will also be re-vamping our PD blog to be a dynamic platform for staff to use as a resource and go-to place for PD and their own personal PD development. I will have the dynamic blog completed by the beginning of November 2012, and it will be updated bi-weekly to weekly for staff. This will also be an access point for personal wikis for staff (they can choose to share or privatize their content) and their own PD goals. Training, PD opportunities and instructional resources will also be housed on the blog as much as possible as well as PD news updates and articles relating to PD.
Collaboration will involve my colleagues on the PD committee as well as seeking out external special experts via other social media for their perspective on PD in our unique setting and possibly arranging webinars with interested parties for ADLC staff. Dream big, I know, but I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility at all.
This progress will also be noted and reflected upon on my personal progress blog at www.kjcadlc.wordpress.com. This blog also is where I keep most of my daily planning notes and professional reflection.
- Plan to Meet my Goal: Objectives, Activities, Timeline and Collaboration
Objectives: Instructional sessions in web tools (a broad overview and specific instruction off-shoots), feeds, social media, wikis, and current teaching trends (flipped classrooms, gamification, etc.).
Activities: Composing sessions that can be viewed at a teacher’s leisure, creating webinars or podcasts, videos, articles, re-vamping the current PD blog, engaging staff, etc.
Timeline: Have teachers on the right track for all the PHRD PD days remaining, as well as help to foster and plan ADLC PD day opportunities (where ADLC staff or PHRD staff could attend sessions).
Collaboration: With administrators, with PD Committee colleagues, and with overall staff.
Objectives: Create tutorials and supplements via video or other web tools that appeal to a UDL approach with content in the English 20-2 course, focusing on areas of challenge first, but moving towards supplementing all activities with as much alternative and choice possible, esp. in online and print.
Activities: Moving pieces of content or supplementing existing content with varying access points for students. Specifically, this means including as much video, podcasts and text to speech alternatives as possible for all aspects of the online course. Really, the sky is the limit.
Collaboration: With tech department to see about embedding options, as well as the text to speech components that will mesh with D2L, as well as involving the English department and resources we create collectively.
- F. Review and Reflection- Let’s see how it goes!
[i]A fellow English teacher in our department, wrote this very thorough description of PHRD and ADLC, and I have her permission to use this here as well as use this template for my own purposes.