Folio’s Principles for Professional Learning Excellence

By: Meredith Monk Ford

Over the past year, I have been reflecting on what matters most in our work at Folio. We have always believed that our success hinges on a school’s ability to use the myFolio platform as a tool to instill a culture of growth and learning and that our core mission is to support teachers and help them feel seen, heard, and valued. We know that schools that have a culture of professional growth and create space for ongoing, school-wide professional development attract better faculty, retain talent longer, and progressively improve student performance. 

So, how can we do this better? What can the Folio team do to further our mission and share our findings from partnering with schools across the Collaborative to support teachers? 

As I was preparing to present at the U.S. Festival of Education this fall (shout out to member school, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, and Glenn Whitman for hosting), I wanted to distill our core beliefs about professional learning and school change that drive every decision we make at Folio – from platform enhancements, to member support, to our Folio team retreat planning. I developed a set of principles to guide our work with our schools and our own team that I am excited to share with you. We’ve been presenting this and testing it with folks – and it’s resonating.

Folio’s Principles for Professional Learning Excellence

To build and sustain intentional systems & cultures of feedback and professional development:

  1. A school’s professional growth is grounded in shared language around excellent teaching.
  2. Professional learning needs to be positioned in the context of your school—your approach to diversity, equity, belonging, your adult culture, etc. *(PD should not be an island)
  3. The work that schools do FOR teachers must be done WITH teachers. Teachers must be design partners so that professional learning meets their needs.
  4. Feedback, conversation, and coaching are essential skills that will only improve with practice, support, and trust.
  5. A school must be both creative and realistic in its distribution of resources (priorities, time, skill development, roles/responsibilities).
  6. A successful professional learning plan that affects change requires a leadership team that both dedicates time in the short term and maintains a steady commitment to strategy in the long term.

These principles are the foundation for our ongoing thought leadership around adult learning, called the Folio Method. It originated from our experience working with hundreds of schools and thousands of educators to implement myFolio, and is supported by articles, books, and empathy interviews. We created the Folio Method so that our schools are equipped with the best questions, concepts, and resources to develop a clear, and scaffolded plan for their professional learning strategy and implementation of myFolio. Stay tuned for more information about the Folio Method and our supporting tools and resources that will guide your implementation of myFolio and help create the conditions for a culture of growth at your school.