COLLAB Follow Up

Julie Dalke

The SEED team believes that the only way professional learning can be effective is if there is ongoing work connected to the original learning. This ongoing work can take many forms such as:

  • engaging with an instructional coach,
  • finding additional information,
  • trying something in your classroom and then reflecting on how it went then making some tweaks and trying again,
  • seeking out additional classes that complement or expand on the learning, and
  • talking with your colleagues informally or less informally in a staff or team meeting.

In recent surveys*, we asked you to let us know which SEED courses that have been offered in the past you would like to see offered again. About 560 folks responded to this question and the top three answers were “Increasing Student Ownership of Learning”, “Engaging All Students in Learning,” and “Empowering Student Thinking.”

As I write this blog post, I find myself thinking about my role as the NW BOCES Professional Learning Coordinator and my larger purpose, which is to help schools become true learning organizations**. What if we could increase teacher ownership of professional learning, engage all teachers in learning, and empower teacher thinking?

We also asked you to let us know which parts of SEED you hope will continue after the grant ends in June 2020. The top answer was to continue the SEED course offerings. The next most answered was that you don’t have enough familiarity with SEED. As a first step to becoming more familiar with SEED, click here and explore our website.

Many aspects of SEED will continue well beyond June 2020. NW BOCES will be part of a cohesive system that offers high-quality opportunities that you can choose to engage in for your professional learning. SEED is a System of Educator Effectiveness Development. It is my hope that the acronym continues beyond the grant project as well and that ALL of the professional learning we organize is based on the lessons we’ve learned and incorporated into our SEED course offerings that you value. SEED can become how we do things at NW BOCES and in our region instead of an isolated grant project that ends.

COLLAB, for example, can become a part of SEED. It can be a part of our system for educator effectiveness development. It is an amazing feat to have six of our member districts aligned in their calendars to have this shared professional learning day. The overwhelming majority of you value this day that we have now hosted for seven years in a row (this year, just over 93% of survey respondents indicated that the overall event was good or great). What are some ways that you might engage in the ongoing work after COLLAB that leads to moving from ideas to action?

  • engage with an instructional coach,

    • Try a SEED Independent Study

    • Reach out to an instructional coach in your building to help keep you accountable.

  • find additional information,

    • Use the SEED PAK (; it is full of hand-picked resources from our SEED team aligned to the teacher evaluation rubric and you can get recertification hours for completing PD Market resources.

    • Remember that many of your COLLAB session presenters posted additional resources; click here to find them.

  • try something in your classroom and then reflect on how it went- then make some tweaks and try again,

    • Work with a trusted colleague to help yourself follow through; if you both commit to trying something and then reflect together it will be more likely to happen.

    • Remember that modeling a growth mindset with your students can be powerful. You can try something new and be transparent with them about the fact that you are learning and growing too.

  • seek out additional classes that complement or expand on the learning,  

  • talk with your colleagues informally or less informally in a staff or team meeting.

    • Another lesson that I’ve learned through the SEED project is that learning is inherently social. “How can professional learning be more like happy hour?” was one of the design-thinking questions our SEED team considered with levity as we tried to seriously and innovatively think about effective professional learning. Why not talk about something you learned at COLLAB with a teacher friend over a hot cup of tea or perhaps a glass of wine?

    • Consider dedicating some time at a staff meeting or your team meeting to purposefully and intentionally revisit your learnings from COLLAB together. Use a protocol like one you’d use with your students to facilitate this group learning as a follow-up. (Click here for some protocol ideas that can be used with adults just as well as students.)

For single day opportunities like COLLAB to be effective, you have to engage as a learner and follow up. I hope that you do so, and I know that NW BOCES will support you by continuing to offer high-quality opportunities. Please take advantage.

If this blog post inspires you to follow-up on your COLLAB learning and you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear from you. Please email I’m also looking for teachers to join in the planning effort for next year’s COLLAB event; send me an email if interested (exact dates and format TBD).

*”Recent surveys” refers to our COLLAB post-event survey as well as a needs assessment survey that was administered in Moffat (since Moffat was unable to join for COLLAB this year).

**A “true learning organization” refers to Peter Senge’s work. Click here for a 5-minute video with Peter talking about what is a “learning organization.”