ESU 16's EDventurous PLC brings hundreds of educators together for collaborative discovery

ESU 16's EDventurous PLC brings hundreds of educators together for collaborative discovery

"What would we do without our ESUs?!"

NCSA Ambassador Dr. Cinde Wendell, herself a retired school superintendent, posed the question on Twitter after taking in the EDventurous Regional Professional Learning Community (PLC) day-long event in Hershey on October 14, the second of three sessions offered by ESU 16 throughout the school year.

Professional learning, especially for educators, paraeducators and administrators in the western part of the state, is an essential practice, and the model put together by ESU 16 is top of the line. EDventurous has been growing steadily since its inception in 2017-18, when an advisory team composed of four superintendents, three principals, four classroom educators and two ESU Teaching and Learning team members established intended outcomes, a format and scope/sequence models for the PLC work.

After an entire year of developing the professional development project, nearly 400 educators from 12 districts in ESU 16's coverage area assembled on three occassions throughout the 2018-19 school year, training extensively in the Marzano Framework/Solution Tree and implementing protocols which would shape future work done in EDventurous gatherings. Along the way, countless relationships were formed.

First-grade teachers from one of the now 13 districts in attendance get the opportunity to collaborate and network with first-grade teachers from other districts. Art teachers who may serve an entire district get the chance to work and team with other art teachers. Math teachers work with math teachers, and PE teachers tackle a problem of practice specifically identified by their group of other PE teachers. EDventurous shrinks the (sometimes vast) distance between school districts. And everyone benefits, from teachers in attendance to the students in their classrooms back at home.

"The key to the successful implementation of each PLC group are the Teacher Leaders," said ESU 16 Administrator Deb Paulman. "It was established in year one that the advisory group wanted this professional development opportunity to be teacher-driven. Teachers know best what their needs are in terms of professional learning and supports."

Over 50 Teacher Leaders in each elementary grade level and each content area were identified from across the ESU 16 map. The Teacher Leaders have all taken part in two summers worth of what Paulman calls intense leadership training.

"They are absolutely the heart of the PLC work."

The first EDventurous event took place on August 12, 2019 and featured Kevin Honeycutt as the opening session keynote speaker. The productive day of collaboration ended in the afternoon on October 14th, and the hundreds of Western Nebraska educators said good-bye and headed back to their home-districts. They'll meet again in Hershey on February 17.

Watch the video below from the first EDventurous PLC of 2018-19 to get a first-hand glimpse at some of the highlights from this awesome on-going event!