If you've kept up with me the past few blog posts, then you've gotten a deeper look into collaborative studies! You maybe have even tried them out for yourself! Today's post is for that person that just needs a printable go-to. This one-pager holds the four steps to launching a collaborative study. Print it, screen shot it, or bookmark this page for future reference.
Psssst!!! Don't forget to check out my session preview on collaborative studies below!! And then REGISTER for the Simply Coaching Summit!! See you soon!
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And so you've made it to the end- that's all there is to it! If you've gone through the first three parts of this blog series, you know all there is to know about implementing collaborative studies!
This last post on the blog series is SUPER fun! This is where we get to think about all of the possibilities of topics and modes of delivery. The only problem is that the possibilities are actually ENDLESS!!
Have more ideas?! Share away and let us know how it goes! Together, our ideas are limitless. Any of the possibilities listed above can be combined, tweaked, stretched, and arranged in a way that makes the collaborative learning experience one that attendees LOVE and remember!
The first collaborative study is CRITICAL! It is the first impression teachers will get of this new initiative that you are attempting to get rolling. In the first meeting, what you choose to do and how you choose to do it will set the stage for future studies... No pressure... HA! Let's take a look at the what and how of the first meeting that will set you up for success in future collaborative study meetings!
Want to download the pdf and print this for your files?! Get your own free copy below!!
You're Here to learn more?!
Or perhaps you're here for the first time! If that's the case, hop on over to the first post in this blog series all about Collaborative Studies and how to introduce them to teachers. THEN, read on in this post, PART TWO, to learn about what it looks like to get teachers signed up!
Of the four parts to this blog series, this is quite possibly the easiest and least complex piece. Now, it's important to state here that following the first steps that are listed in this blog series is extremely important. Once you have done so, and have gotten the word out about collaborative studies, it's time to settle down and plan your collaborative study events! This can be done many different ways. You may decide to host collaborative studies monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly and pre-plan the topics across the year. You also may choose to host collaborative studies sporadically based on patterns noticed across the classroom. To make this decision, think about the culture and climate of your school, the initiatives of administration, and the current teacher workload. No matter the case, be sure your teachers know what to look forward to as the year goes on. *Side note: My first time implementing collaborative studies, I decided to host them monthly. It did have its benefits, but I suggest hosting them bimonthly or quarterly so that you might illicit better teacher turn out.*
How to Get Teachers Signed Up for the First Event
You now have a broad plan for the year, you know your first topic of study (more on this in a future blog post!), and now you're ready to get teachers signed up! This will require you to take a step on the bridge of vulnerability. You're essentially giving teachers power to say "yes" or "no" to what you are proposing. And, let's face it, a "NO" kind of hurts, even if you've vowed to yourself not to take it personally! This is how a carefully written sign up form can be super helpful to both you and the teachers completing the form. So let's visit the secrets to building the form and then we'll jump into the logistics of getting it out to teachers and, more importantly, completed and submitted!
Secrets to Building the Form
The easiest way to get teachers signed up is by sending out a Google Form. You can also use Sign Up Genius, but I find that Google Forms are much more user friendly and can easily be customized. And, of course, I have a great form template ready for you to download. Simply scroll down to get your copy!
You'll notice in the template that there is space for all the details of your collaborative study and topic of choice. These details are much like a session description you might find on any conference pamphlet. Make it as enticing and intriguing as possible and cater to the unique personality of your campus. This should be what teachers see first on the form. Whether they are interested or not, I request that all teachers complete the form. Therefore, they will include their name, email address, and grade level (if needed).
The next part is where you can allow them to "let you down easy" and also can give you a ton of great information about where the teachers are in relation to the content being studied. Include only positively stated options for involvement. Not only does this ease the pain of the "no's" for you as the host, but it also encourages a positive attitude toward collaborative studies, even if the teacher chooses not to participate.
Here are possible participation options to include:
Logistics of Getting Forms Completed and Submitted
Got the form done?! Ready to hit "send"?? HOLD ON!!! First and foremost, have a dear friend or colleagues proof read it. And then let your administrator know that you're going to send it out. If you're not completely comfortable with sending it out, or you believe it will have more weight coming from an administrator, you could ask them to send it on your behalf. Ideally, you'd want it to come directly from you. The best option, if you're using Google, is to email it using the option through Google Forms. This will allow you to see who has responded and who has yet to respond.
You won't simply email the form and await responses. The primary way to gain the most responses is by visiting teachers or striking conversation about it in passing: "Hey, have you seen the email about the upcoming collaborative study? Be sure to respond soon. I can't wait to find a way for us to partner and learn together!" Another way to gain responses is by including information about the collaborative study and the form you're expecting them to complete in multiple formats and outlets. If you send a weekly newsletter, include the Google Form link or QR code on the newsletter. Post a few flyers at various locations throughout the school (perhaps the bathroom- as was the case for this flyer!).
These collaborative studies are meant to be more casual than formal and are optional. Make it enticing, relevant, and professional, but never underestimate the power of FUN! As you are marketing this idea of collaborative studies, show your enthusiasm and interest in the things that are on the teachers' minds and seek out their expertise.
After all, to collaborate is to partner with others in the quest to better ourselves collectively for the sole purpose of supporting the broader audience: our students.
Until next time, when we dig into WHAT to do when teachers attend the collaborative studies, grab this free Google Form template and get your teachers signed up!
Before digging into "the one where invitations are sent", let me include a little anecdote to share how collaborative studies came about. When I began working as an instructional coach at a new district, I asked about PLCs and how they were implemented on each campus. The answer: PLCs were non-existent. My first thought in hearing this was, "Sweet! I can bring PLCs to life and implement them in the way they were originally intended." Of course, I wasn't considering that, in a year interrupted by COVID mitigations, nothing would be implemented as intended. In fact, grade levels of teachers didn't even share conference times, and even if they did, conference times were somewhat abbreviated and overridden with teachers' never-ending to-do lists. Pretty quickly I realized that PLCs would not be a happening thing for the time being. But I wasn't content with the idea of letting professional learning go by the wayside, even in a year where obstacles would be highly present. ENTER: Collaborative Studies!
Quite simply put, collaborative studies are a time for colleagues to meet, collaborate, and study a topic of particular interest. You can catch my interview with Allison Peterson in her New to Coaching group on Facebook here! These studies vary just a bit from traditional PLCs (as you'll see below). First, collaborative studies are completely optional. Yes, teachers are encouraged to attend, but are definitely not required. This is especially important if you are new to the district or new to the instructional coaching role and plan to implement collaborative studies. Second, collaborative studies are generally short in session length, but span over the course of three to four weeks. Finally, collaborative studies may or may not follow a specific framework, depending on the content being studied and the goal of the participants. Now, let's get to the nitty gritty of it all- the fun part- where invitations are created and sent!!
Get the word out!!
Setting the stage and building interest in collaborative studies is a MUST!! There is a series of steps that is crucial to follow in order to get the results you desire.
Come back soon for Part 2 of this series!!
Now that the word is out and your teachers know about and (hopefully, somewhat, kind of) understand the gist of collaborative studies, it will be time to send your first google form, as promised on the invitations!! Come back soon to see the next blogpost on getting teachers signed up for collaborative studies! Don't forget to get your free google templates before you wrap up this read and share your thoughts and comments below!!
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- teacher, mentor, leader, mother, and wife aspiring to be much more!