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Networks of Learning that Power Change in Georgia

Here’s how GOSA developed a network to allow schools from across the state to maximize their PL gains by sharing information and resources with other districts and schools piloting these new methodologies.

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Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA)


GOSA is the Governor’s Office for Student Achievement. This office manages the work and projects for the grant recipient schools, referred to as T3 schools. Technology Tools for Teachers (T3) grant strives to advance student achievement through personalized learning and instructional technology. As of July 2019, the grant was renamed to the Personalized Learning Grant. 

To accomplish its goals, the Personalized Learning Grant has provided support 13 elementary schools across 4 school districts – Bibb County School District, Dougherty County School System, Muscogee County School District, and Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Participating schools were chosen from the Turnaround Eligible Schools list. Over two and a half years, groups of first, second and third-grade teachers from each school will receive instructional technology and ongoing professional development provided through partnerships with  Education Elements, Apple, Lexia, and Dreambox.

The Challenge


Sustainably implementing personalized learning at scale across various districts with both similarities and to complement their distinct areas of focus. Simultaneously, GOSA wanted to build a network of personalized learning model schools to drive Georgia education to become more student-centered.

How We Helped


Education Elements helped build the capacity of grant recipient districts to support individual schools and scale personalized learning across the entire network. 

To build capacity, Education Elements worked with school and district leadership teams through a series of workshops and strategic planning sessions designed to allow teams to 1.) define a  vision for personalized learning, 2.) build knowledge of models, tactics and best practices 3.) set school-based focus areas and commitments, and 4.) develop support plans to provide professional development and coaching at each school site. 

Education Elements worked with GOSA to design sessions focused on building networks across the four districts, their schools, and the PL Grant classrooms. Three types of events were used in each phase of work: 

  1. All-Hands Councils - School and district leaders from each of the four districts met to share learnings, engage in key learning experiences, and plan for next steps as a district
  2. District Academies - School teams within each district met to learn and plan for next steps at sites.
  3. Learning Walks and Coaching - School and classroom visits with individual coaching sessions for PL Grant teachers. 

These structures and learning opportunities have allowed for the four PL Grant school districts to develop a base of personalized learning within their schools that has collectively formed a foundation for personalized learning both in their districts and across the state.

The Power of Networks


For a sustainable change in teaching and learning, networking is key. It provides a supportive set of communities and organizations to lean on through both challenges and opportunities to implement, expand, and sustain initiatives. Networks foster an exchange of ideas, help in growing capacity, and improve strategy. In this case, the network created by the district teams expanded the benefits of the PL Grant by allowing the teams to work together to strategize how to make the most of the new technology and tools they received while aligning tech usage with their personalized learning implementations. 

There are 3 types of networks the districts fostered and benefitted from:

  • Expert networks: Experts share their knowledge and expertise, and create strategies around the expertise.
    In the case of these 4 districts, they were able to partner with organizations like Education Elements to receive guidance, coaching, and resources, as well as thought partnership around the best way to use the resources.

  • Peer networks: Using the knowledge gained from experts beyond the presence of the expert. Instructors and leaders share knowledge and skills gained from experts with each other, including those who did not learn directly from the expert, or may not even be part of the same initiatives.
    Members of the district teams discuss the knowledge and skills they receive from expert partners with each other, comparing challenges, use cases, and strategies for their buildings, as well as take them back to their districts to share with other leaders and instructors.
  • Transfer network: Instructors and leaders build their own expertise and share those skills with each other. Being able to teach something to someone requires a mastery of the skill, and this transference of knowledge demonstrates that mastery.
    Building on and practicing new skills in their schools and classrooms, members of each of the district teams are able to teach their colleagues, establish mastery of the new skills, and grow the capacity of their school and district teams who are not participating in the workshops and training.

 

The Results


Encouraged by increased engagement and achievement results, Muscogee County plans to scale personalized learning to middle and high schools across the district

Survey Results

  • Since starting personalized learning,
    •  87% of teachers report students are more self-directed 
    • 90% of teachers report students are more engaged in their learning
    • 90% of teachers report they are more effective
    • 98% of leaders report teachers are more effective 
    • 94% of leaders report students are more engaged in their learning

“It has been great working with other districts. When you know that you are in this together, there is  a synergy and a camaraderie that is built, to know that I can reach out to my peers and to my network, so I can lean on you and that you lean on me, so we can all be successful in this process.”

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