4 Types of Professional Learning Critical to Effective Personalized Learning Programs

April 03, 2017

For digital curriculum to make a significant impact — to improve student outcomes through personalized learning — teachers need more than instruction in using digital tools. That’s why it’s important that school leaders dedicate time throughout the year for teachers to collaborate and share best practices for using digital curriculum to meet student learning needs.

Educational leaders are often diligent about providing staff with initial functionality training. But too often, this is where professional learning opportunities end. This is a problem, since teacher buy-in is essential to the success of programs supported by digital curriculum. When teachers don’t see the value in digital curriculum or become frustrated with policies and procedures, they are more likely to avoid integrating it with their instruction or use it incorrectly, which can compromise academic integrity.

To maximize learning outcomes, school leaders must create a culture where innovative programs can thrive. An important part of this work involves creating space for ongoing professional learning to equip teachers with best practices for using digital curriculum in their specific contexts.

Recommended Professional Learning

Session 1: Implementation Awareness

Frequency: Once, before staff and students begin using digital curriculum.

Description: The primary goal of this session is to get teachers acquainted with the school or district vision for the educational program the digital curriculum supports. In this session, educators receive an overview of the digital curriculum — why they are implementing the program and how the digital curriculum tool supports the vision. Other important points to cover:

  • Vision and goals for the program
  • Metrics for evaluation
  • Students served and participation criterion
  • Expectations for instructional use


Session 2: Functionality and Best Practices

Frequency: Once, before the staff and students begin using digital curriculum.  

Description: This is the time for teachers to dig deeper into the digital curriculum — not only its features, but also how it can be used to improve student outcomes.

Introduce educators to the digital curriculum and explain how it will support the educational challenges your school is facing. Every teacher should have the opportunity to demo the digital curriculum not just from their own perspective, but also from the perspective of their students. Encourage staff to explore entire units of instruction, and advise them to carefully consider how the digital curriculum meets the expectations of the standards, the quality of the formative and summative assessments, and the level of and engagement of each lesson. Help staff navigate the curriculum and locate teacher tools and helpful resources such as online support, student progress and performance reports, assessment data, LMS tools, grade books, and more.

Once they’ve had the opportunity to experience the digital curriculum first-hand, have teachers discuss strategies for effective instruction and classroom management using digital curriculum tools. Review best practices for building student relationships, promoting academic integrity, monitoring student progress, and providing differentiated instruction.


Session 3: Coaching and Mentoring

Frequency: At least once and up to four times throughout the year.  

Description: After the initial implementation of the program is underway, implementation success managers observe how teachers are using the digital curriculum in their classrooms. During this observation time, success managers, or other instructional coaches, look for the adoption of key best practices and may model and coach teachers to more effectively use the digital curriculum, evaluate progress and performance data, manage the blended classroom, and develop instruction and early intervention practices.  


Session 4: Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and User Groups

Frequency: One to four times throughout the year. 

Description: Give teachers the opportunity to come together during common planning or staff development time to discuss their experiences using the digital curriculum to drive learning. This also is a great opportunity to announce enhanced features and functionality, new course offerings or changes to district policies and procedures that impact teachers and students.

Most importantly, this is a time for teachers to learn from one another. Plan to prompt discussion around specific topics, and then allow teachers to break into subject or grade-level groups to share. These prompts can revolve around how teachers are using digital curriculum to:

  • Reinforce and review concepts taught in class
  • Assess concept and skill mastery
  • Help students work toward mastery of concepts and skills through guided practice
  • Make data-based decisions
  • Differentiate instruction
  • Use actionable data to ensure effective use of teacher-led review time


Professional Services and Support

Apex Learning understands the challenges of implementing programs powered by digital curriculum and is well-versed in effective change management. We provide personalized support to meet your district’s needs.

Our customized services not only include product training and professional development, but also strategic implementation planning, instructional best practices, data analysis, and coaching and mentoring, all of which are available on-site and online. Apex Learning will partner with your district staff to assist in strategies designed to support each and every stakeholder, from centralized workshops for familiarizing staff with the application of Apex Learning digital curriculum, to on-site coaching and mentoring that models and reinforces pedagogical concepts necessary for personalized learning. Learn more about our Success Management services.


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