You’ve read the project-based learning (PBL) success stories, researched the studies showing student performance gains, and now you’re ready for your district to dive into PBL. Your next step is finding teacher leaders. This is a critical task because these educators will add value in a few different ways:
- They will serve as touchstones for other teachers who may be unsure about PBL and what the implementation process will look like;
- help guide the implementation process, including developing standards-based PBL topics and projects as well as mapping out professional development (PD) and support; and
- help evaluate the implementation process and provide feedback, both on student progress and on PD.
So, who are your teacher leaders?
Maybe there are teachers in your district who have implemented PBL in their classrooms. If you have experienced PBL facilitators to turn to, that’s a great option. But prior PBL experience is not a requirement! Great candidates for your team are teachers who have experimented with innovative instruction methods and are probably at least somewhat familiar with how PBL works.
Make sure to look to teachers who are comfortable and adept with using technology in their classrooms. You don’t have to focus exclusively on STEM subject teachers; feel free to cast a wide net.
Assemble a group of teacher leaders that represents different grade levels and areas of specialization. Elementary, middle school, high school, special education, and elective teachers are all important to ensure balance and avoid skewing plans too heavily in any one direction.
Think of your teacher leaders as the earliest of the early adopters in your planning. Since you know they have an interest in innovative instruction methods, they’ll offer motivation and reassurance for other educators in their schools. Building confidence among leadership is essential before moving forward fully with your implementation plan.
Once your teacher leaders are identified, it’s time to work on the next steps and plan a PD strategy. Read the Roadmap to Project-Based Learning Success for strategies on developing a PBL program with Workbench in your school district.