Create a Define-Explore-Build Workshop

These three steps support Instructional Leaders to create more personalized and purposeful workshops for their teachers
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About This Strategy

This strategy will provide Instructional Leaders with a 3-step approach that they can use for any Professional Development (PD) workshop and that supports them to develop sessions that are teacher-centered and actionable. Every session can follow the same 3 phases:

1.  Define - Participants define a problem of practice or challenge they are trying to overcome and identify a specific practice, concept, or learning domain that can be instrumental in overcoming it. They also define goals and outcomes they would like to achieve as a result of this workshop and the experimentation that will follow.

2.  Explore - Participants explore specific strategies they can use within a given practice or learning domain.

3.  Build - Participants summarize their learning, connect what they've learned to the initial challenge, and build a plan of action.

This strategy's effectiveness resides in the simplicity and versatility of the framework (Define-Explore-Build) used to build the structure of these PD sessions. An additional tool in this strategy is the self-paced session builder, included as a resource, which can help instructional coaches or administrators streamline the creation of professional development agendas.

Implementation Steps

60 minutes
  1. Explore page one of the self-paced session builder for a "Define-Explore-Build" workshop in the resource section below. Make a copy of the document and add the title of the workshop you are building.

  2. Start by answering the key questions posed for each phase of the process in relation to the specific focus of your session.

  3. Let these answers drive the writing of your session objectives in each of the three phases of the workshop.

  4. Once your objectives are written, brainstorm activities to help participants reach each objective and identify the resources you will need to support these activities.

  5. When you are done completing the session builder on page 1, create the agenda of your session by copying and pasting the objectives, activities, and resources you wrote in the session builder into the agenda template on page 2. Add timing and your supply list for each activity.

  6. When you are done building your agenda, create a short Exit Ticket (to learn more about Exit Tickets, consult the Exit Ticket strategy in the BetterLesson lab). Your Exit Ticket questions should align to the objectives of the session. You should also identify a feedback protocol you can use to receive feedback on the session (to learn more about feedback protocols, consider consulting the Glow and Grow Feedback Protocol strategy in the BetterLesson Lab). For the feedback protocol, push participants to give you specific positive and constructive feedback that you can use to improve the follow up session.

Coach Tips

Romain Bertrand
BetterLesson Instructional Coach
  1. During the Define phase, avoid using it just to define a new concept you are planning to introduce. Use this phase as an opportunity for participants to define a challenge that connects with their reality and that they want to overcome. This will help your session feel more personalized and actionable to them.

  2. During the Explore phase, give participants some time to dive independently into something they chose to focus on. When teachers are given time and space to exercise choice, they enjoy the opportunity and feel respected as professionals. Our belief in personalized learning for students should be reflected as a key principle in the professional development of our teachers.

  3. The Build phase also serves as an accountability check point. When participants know they will be expected to present their thoughts and build a prototype for their next steps, they are more likely to feel invested and accountable throughout the session.

  4. Always try to plan for a follow up session that allows participants to share their results after testing their prototype in their classrooms. Again, if teachers know they will be responsible for reflecting on a classroom experiment with a group of peers, they will feel an extra dose of motivation to try something new and challenging in their classroom.