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A Look at Bite-Sized Learning for Teachers

empowering teachers professional development restart recharge podcast Feb 09, 2024
Picture of a hand selecting one of four apples from a line. Text reading,

Written by Brooke Conklin

Mark was frustrated. As an instructional coach at Roosevelt High School, he had been working hard to provide quality PD for teachers. But attendance at their traditional after-school workshops was dwindling. Teachers claimed they were too burned out to engage in more learning after teaching all day.

Mark decided to try a new approach - bite-sized learning. He met with a small group of teacher volunteers to brainstorm what this could look like. The teachers requested short modules focused on practical strategies they could apply in their classrooms right away. They also wanted the flexibility to complete PD at their convenience outside of workshops.

Thinking about his teachers' busy schedules, Mark chunked topics into 30-minute online lessons teachers could view anytime. He focused the first modules on student engagement - hooking learners, classroom management techniques, and making content relevant. Mark included videos of Roosevelt teachers modeling best practices so the PD was relevant and relationship-based.

The bite-sized PD was a hit! Teachers appreciated the ability to direct their own learning journey and the practical application. One math teacher told Mark, “The engagement hook ideas have transformed my class. Students come in excited and ready to learn.” After completing five micro-credentials, a science teacher earned two continuing education credits.

Mark was encouraged by the positive feedback and impact. He surveyed staff to guide future module development and incorporated new technologies for interactive online elements. Bite-sized PD had become a source of meaningful growth for staff. By meeting teachers’ needs, it was rebuilding their passion for learning and teaching at Roosevelt High.

What is Bite-Sized Learning?

Bite-sized learning refers to short, focused learning experiences that allow teachers to build skills and knowledge over time in small chunks. Examples include online modules, micro-credentials, or short workshop sessions. The bite-sized format provides flexibility, allows for skill-building at the teacher's own pace, and gives teachers more control over their learning.

Benefits for Teachers:

  • On-demand access meets teachers' busy schedules and availability

  • Ability to direct their own learning and choose skills relevant to them

  • Short time commitment (most bite-sized learning takes ~15 min - 30min)

  • Builds skills incrementally at their own pace

  • Earns incentive credits or micro-credentials for pursuing new skills

Benefits for Schools:

  • Flexible access increases teacher engagement in professional learning
  • Teachers implement new skills directly into instruction, impacting students
  • Allows coaches to provide personalized and timely support
  • Builds capacity for innovation and new teaching strategies
  • Culture of continuous learning and growth mindset

Implementing Bite-Sized Learning

To implement bite-sized learning, Tom Burton, recent guest on the Restart Recharge Podcast and former Superintendent of Princeton City Schools, recommends:

  • Survey teachers first to identify relevant skills and needs
  • Start small with a pilot group to work out any issues
  • Market it as flexible, on-demand learning for teachers
  • Highlight benefits for students and teaching practices
  • Reflect on what's working and make changes as needed
  • Don't be afraid to replace less effective PD models

The future of teacher professional development lies in creating more personalized, teacher-driven learning. Bite-sized learning allows for continuous growth anchored in each teacher's unique needs and schedule. What bite-sized learning strategies do you use or want to try?

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