The AVI CHAI Foundation and BetterLesson recently hosted three two-day PD sessions focused on developing actionable implementation plans for blended and online learning. Forty-six teachers from 14 Jewish day schools across the US and Canada receive ongoing support from BetterLesson coaches to refine and implement their plans throughout the Spring semester. The partnership with BetterLesson seeks to advance the Foundation’s goal of improving “the quality of day school education by increasing individualized data-based instruction and enabling students to develop skills and ways of thinking needed in the 21st century.”
Since 2010, the Foundation has sought to place itself at the forefront of blended learning integration within the Jewish day school network, “working to help day schools get ready and to provide encouragement and assistance through a diverse set of grants.” The partnership with BetterLesson is another opportunity for teachers to receive comprehensive support in applying blended learning in their classrooms.
BetterLesson asserted itself as a leader in the blended and personalized learning space with the launch of its Blended Master Teacher Project. In 2014, the company partnered with The Learning Accelerator to showcase the blended practices of expert teachers nationwide. The free, online resource uses videos to show and explain how a strategy was developed and implemented in the classroom.
From this project, BetterLesson extended the knowledge to the field of professional development. Their team of expert Blended Coaches developed a PD offering that provides teachers with the time, space and support to develop a Blended model and then implement it over the course of the school year. BetterLesson’s PersonalizedPD involves a two-pronged approach: an in-person Design Studio where teachers work with coaches to develop their plan and ongoing coaching as they implement the plan in their classrooms.
The AVI CHAI design studios were hugely successful. Attending teachers left energized to immediately start integrating blended strategies in their classrooms. A participant wrote, “We learned, experienced, collaborated and enjoyed the atmosphere. But most importantly, I feel that I can use what I learned to enhance my students’ learning.”
Senior Program Officer Rachel Abrahams remarked on the leadership provided by BetterLesson coaches, “To a tee, they are professional, friendly and model teachers. It has been a pleasure to watch them work and to watch our teachers learn from them. Most of the attendees have found the experience extremely powerful and are looking forward to the coaching.”
While no additional Design Studios are planned for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, AVI CHAI and BetterLesson are in talks to discuss options for the coming school year.