Group Coaching on Helping Students ‘Self-differentiate’ with Learning Choices

Introducing an innovative professional learning model for educators

A personal message from Mike Anderson

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I’ve seen it with my son.  I’m sure you’ve seen it with your own children and students. A child who typically is not motivated in school suddenly gets fired up to do an ambitious and complex project even though he or she could have chosen a less demanding option for fulfilling an assignment.

The child has stumbled on a new interest or passion and has basically “self-differentiated” to do challenging work. Your once indifferent student is now engaged, motivated and eager to learn.

I believe that student choice is more relevant today than it ever has been before.  When students have more choice about their learning, they find ways of learning that match their personal needs and that engage them more powerfully in learning and in building the skills and work habits of lifelong learners.

The problem is student choice as a learning strategy is often misunderstood.  It involves more than giving students 10 minutes “to do whatever they want to do” but doesn’t require Herculean planning and effort on the part of the teacher.  All the demands of curriculum and assessment still leave enough opportunity to embed student choice in learning.

To help educators bring more student choice into their classrooms, I’ve teamed up with Larry Sterne and Educational Research Newsletter & Webinars to offer a unique group-coaching opportunity. I will be working with teams of educators over 8-week sessions (see info below). Please fill out this contact form or call 1-207-632-1954 if you have any questions and we will respond as quickly as we can. I can also chat with you by phone if you need to make sure this is right for you.

How It Works

  • Group-coaching sessions are for 10-20 educators.  Educators in the group can be teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals or a mix of all.  They can all be your school or district or you can choose to team up with another school or district–your choice!
  • Your team’s leader will have an introductory 30-minute phone call with Mike to discuss group’s priorities and goals. We also will survey each participant before the coaching program to explore specific needs of each participant.
  • The 8-week program features 90-minute live coaching sessions every two weeks. Each session includes a 30-minute presentation by Mike based on the specific needs of your group followed by 60 minutes of group and coach interactions.  (Structure can be changed to suit your needs)
  • During 60 minutes of interaction, participants will be able to share experiences, ask questions and get feedback from Mike and other group members.
  • A private Facebook group will be set up and facilitated by Mike.  Participants will be able to connect, share and solve problems together in an organic and ongoing way over the duration of the program. Everyone will automatically receive email notifications of new posts.
  • Each group session will be recorded so that if anyone is unable to attend live they can participate later at a time more convenient for them.
  • Mike will provide the group with resources based on the specific needs and goals. Relevant articles, planning guides and handouts will be provided. Participants will be encouraged to share other resources with the group.
  • Ongoing support from Mike. Participants can email or post questions or comments in the private Facebook group at any time during the session, and he will respond as soon as possible.

Topics to be covered  

  • The nuts and bolts of choice–how to create good choices and how to help students choose well
  • Simple and practical examples of effective learning choices
  • The three criteria for developing good choices for your students
  • A step-by-step process for implementing choice in any content area and at any grade level
  • How to help  your students make the best choices for their learning
  • Supporting them in evaluating their choices
  • Strategies that boost the effectiveness of choice
  • Boosting student ownership
  • Teaching students how to learn
  • Many more to be determined by specific needs and wants of participants
  • Lots of resources: Gain access to an online binder of resources (planning guides, videos, articles, etc.) to support your ongoing work

About Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson is an award-winning educator (National Milken Educator Award and New Hampshire Teacher of the Year finalist) and author of many books about great teaching and learning, including The First Six Weeks of School (2nd Edition);  The Well-balanced Teacher and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn, which was chosen as the ASCD book of the month for April 2016. More than 62,000 copies were sent to educators in more than 100 countries.

After 15 years as a classroom teacher and more than 6 years as a Responsive Classroom® consultant, presenter and leader-developer. Mike is now working in schools across the US and beyond as an independent consultant.