When leading change, the leadership team first needs to bring the community participating in that change together to define what the change is, and why. Otherwise people will go off in different directions. This strategy is intended to provide you with the initial steps and resources, to create the school community's shared vision around shifting to an new instructional model or achieving a new goal.
Prepare yourself (individually or as the team leading this initiative) by reading all of the resources found below.
Review the district/school mission and vision to consider how the instructional model or shift that you are proposing aligns to it.
Think about why your proposed instructional model is a good choice for the district.
Create a shared understanding of the desired outcome of the initiatives your team is proposing.
Set goal posts for implementation. Keep in mind it is better to go slow than to go too fast. It is critical to success to give the entire school community, including parents, time to assimilate the information and build an understanding that you already hold.
Rather than imposing your definition of the instructional model, accumulate a few clear, highly respected resources and task the learning community who will be implementing the vision to learn about it, and define it in their context. This works far better if it is done on "your" time, during an established meeting time.
State the purpose and urgency for the change. An inclusive way to create purpose and urgency is to survey the community prior to beginning the conversation about making the instructional shift. See coach tips for survey question suggestions for shifting to a PBL model.
Create a shared learning experience about the proposed instructional shift, rather than telling about or explaining it. A good way is to do a shared reading in a jigsaw with small groups reading different articles, and then sharing what they've learned with one another.
Following the jigsaw share out, break the readers into new small groups, or in a whole group, to create a shared definition for the implementation of the new learning model.
Be prepared to hear many concerns throughout this introductory meeting, and be sure to hear those concerns and meet the community where they are. It is important that the change matters to the community and that they understand the purpose for it.
Remind the community that this is just step one - defining the instructional shift in the context of this school. However, it is important to listen and note their concerns. See more on this in coach tips.
Use any resistance that you encounter as a way to explore more deeply into why the resistance exists and how it can be ameliorated.
Once a shared understanding of the learning model has been achieved, it is appropriate to begin the planning and vision setting. To set a vision statement, consider the following:
Make sure your vision statement is based on the future (what you would like your school community to be or include) and is your "guiding star". It should be concise; no more than a sentence or two.
Consider asking your team to respond to the following question: What ultimate impact do I want this instructional shift to have on our school community?
Determine who will play a role in achieving the vision and what those roles will be.
The vision statement should be seen as a "living document" that can be adapted as the team builds their knowledge about the instructional model and the shifts needed to achieve it.
This strategy is intended to provide you with the initial step, and resources, to create the school community's shared understanding of Project Based Learning (PBL) - what it is and what effective PBL looks like in the classroom. It also includes a resource for PBL leadership. Later strategies will explore how to organize a school for PBL implementation, and provide the instructional and teacher resources.
Follow steps 1-3 of the Implementation steps above.
Create a shared learning experience about PBL, rather than telling about or explaining PBL. A good way is to do a shared reading in a jigsaw with small groups reading different articles, and then sharing what they've learned with one another. Some resources for the reading are included below. You might want to also consider using some of the lessons that are included in the MTP lessons, as these serve as concrete examples of PBL.
Supply the guiding questions (see PBL Implementation Planning Document in resources) to help the readers focus and align their reporting out within their group. See the "Jigsaw Discussions" strategy for details.
Remind the community that this is just step one - defining PBL in the context of this school. However, it is important to listen and note their concerns. See more on this in coach tips.
Following the jigsaw share out, break the readers into new small groups, or in a whole group, to create a shared PBL definition.
Now that a shared understanding of PBL has been achieved, it is appropriate to begin the planning. See the strategy "PBL: Organizing for Action".
In further strategies these steps are more fully covered. If the objective is to succeed in this initiative it is important to listen to everyone's voice.
Be prepared to hear many concerns as you begin to define PBL. Your role will be to listen, and list the concerns (this demonstrates that you take them seriously), with the promise that as the community takes this PBL implementation journey together, this list will be kept as a reminder of what needs to be covered. Remember, this is just step one - defining PBL for this school. Here are the common concerns to expect:
Possible Y/N or likert scale content for a school-wide survey:
Students know what they are learning.
Students know why they are learning.
Students are engaged in learning.
Students ask probing questions.
Students ask to learn more about the content.
Students have choices in their learning.
The pace of learning is student-driven.
The learning experience includes opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways.
Student Goal Setting
Students know what mastery is.
Students know where they are in their learning.
Students goal set.
Explore the "Introduction of PBL: Is It the End of Humanity?" lesson by 8th grade Science teacher Lori Knasiak included in the resources below to see how the start of a PBL lesson in action.
Explore the "Smart Phone Literature Project Day One" lesson by 12th grade ELA teacher Elizabeth Watts Bromery to see an example of a creative culminating project.
Explore the "Evolution - A Ten Day Project" lesson by 7th grade Science teacher Mariana Garcia included in the resources below to see why she chose to offer a PBL, and how she introduces the project and guides students in their choices.
Explore the "Introduction to the Roller Coaster Problem Based Learning Unit" lesson by 11th grade Physics teacher Anna Meyer to learn about Question Formulation Technique in a PBL.