BetterLesson February 15, 2016

This Time, It’s Personal.


BetterLesson Launches Personalized Professional Development Platform to Transform Teacher Learning

Our current economic and social challenges require nothing less than exceptional thinkers and creators. We need our students to be truly lit-up, ready to tackle evolving sets of novel challenges. Nothing less will do.

At BetterLesson, we believe that teachers can (and must) be this transformational force, enabling greatness for their students by modeling how to quickly and bravely Learn by Doing.

So with Personalized Professional Development, we’re working hard to tackle the enormously worthwhile challenge of lighting up our teachers by bringing continuous, active learning within reach. And thanks to a $6 million raise from an amazing group of investors and partners (Reach CapitalNewMarkets Venture PartnersThe Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Scott Cook and Signe Ostby), we’re incredibly well-positioned to build the first repeatable, scalable platform that empowers teachers to transform their learning.

Unsurprisingly, the key to our model is personalization.

Without true personalization, there’s no way to bring genuine, active learning within reach for every teacher.

I feel incredibly supported and also that I will be able to make some major strides in how I teach, trying strategies that help me to be a more effective teacher.

High School ELA Teacher, Arizona

With this in mind, Personalized PD delivers just the right support for every teacher:

  1. Personal Learning Map: We work with teachers to develop fully individualized learning paths based on their needs and the needs of their students. We consider everything from the teachers’ experiences to their student demographics; from their self-assessed areas for growth to their school’s technology infrastructure.
  2. Just the Right Coach: We then deliberately match each teacher with a highly skilled coach who has the experience and content expertise to provide exactly the right support to help teachers achieve their goals. We’re like the eHarmony of teacher development (but without the awkward coffee dates).
  3. Continuous Support – On-Demand: Through the wonder of online video conferencing, teachers and coaches spend the entire school year meeting biweekly. In these meetings, coaches serve as thought partners and sounding boards, cheerleaders and counselors – providing whatever the teacher may need in the moment. Here’s an inside look at some coaching sessions.
  4. Simple Process for Learning by Doing: Together, they use our simple TeachCycle (Teach, Measure, Learn) method of structured experimentation to determine what works for students as quickly as possible.  Each meeting, teachers walk away energized and with specific actions to implement immediately in their classroom. The flexible nature of Personalized PD means that the focus of the work is always relevant
  5. Handpicked Strategies: We’ve developed easy-to-use online tools that support teachers to access thousands of awesome strategies from Master Teachers across the country, measure the efficacy of these strategies in their own classrooms, and collect artifacts of student work.
  6. A Rich, Useful Portfolio: By the end of the year, teachers have a snazzy portfolio detailing their amazing work and the effect each strategy had on student outcomes. What’s more, because each teacher’s Personalized PD work is tailored to meet that teacher’s individual needs and can be aligned to school initiatives, their portfolio directly supports their end-of-year evaluation and recertification needs.
Map of BetterLesson's district partners as of February 2016

Pins show partner districts for the 2015-16 school year

Currently, our BetterLesson Coaches are delighting teachers with Personalized Professional Development in more than 24 districts across the country. We’ve also partnered with National Education Association to bring individualized coaching to early career teachers in an additional 78 districts across eight regions (Hawaii, Missouri, Maine, Arizona, Alaska, Columbus, and Milwaukee). Teachers love the individualized support they get from coaches and are seeing positive results from their students.

And we’re just getting started! Our growing team knows that the stakes are too high for the status quo – our students deserve more. That’s why we’re fired up to continue iterating on our model, making improvements that will enable teachers to more effectively light up their students.

It feels refreshing to be a part of a project as thoughtful and inspired as PersonalizedPD feels. My conversations with my coach feel authentic and challenging yet supportive. Her responses and the resources she gives me show a depth of understanding and attention to detail that make me feel excited to keep trying to make progress with my students.

Middle School Science Teacher, Colorado