Digital Age Teaching and Learning

How to Communicate with Administration When Starting PBL

How to Communicate with Administration When Starting PBL

If your school is geared towards exams and testing, Project Based Learning (PBL) can seem radical.  However, the switch can be done.  Follow this basic guide and you should find success with your administration.

Bring the Research

“So, I am getting rid of exams and starting Project Based Learning this unit.”

This isn’t the best way to go about introducing the topic with your administrators.  While Project Based Learning may be big in education, not everyone is receptive to it.  If you know your administration is going to meet you with resistance, start by bringing in your research.

And if you haven’t done any research, now is the time to do it.  Start with this research review and work your way out from there.  Look for hard statistics as well as case studies that you can use to back up your decision.  Will they read all of this?  Maybe, maybe not, but you still need it.

Be Prepared to Compromise

In my own experience,  administration wasn’t ready to allow me to switch strictly to Project Based Learning.  They really wanted the kids to keep taking exams as their final, so I made that compromise.  The kids still learned through Project Based Learning, but they demonstrated their knowledge in two ways: via a final project and via a final exam.

What might your compromise be?  That will depend on the concerns of your admin.  Just make sure you aren’t compromising the core of Project Based Learning, otherwise there isn’t much of a purpose in implementing it.

Treat it as a Case Study

This is also part of how I got my administration to agree.  They kept insisting they just didn’t know if it could work, but I pointed out that the one way they could find out was by trying.  With the promise that I would track progress carefully and that I would compare it to results prior to implementing Project Based Learning, I was allowed to begin.

And that brings me to my next point.

Track Your Own Data

Should you be questioned about what you are doing at any point, anecdotal evidence isn’t going to cut it.  You need data and work samples that you can use to show them exactly what progress is being made and what patterns you are seeing.  And while this is great for defending your choice, it is also vital in terms of your own insight.

Be Honest

Show them the real numbers and encompassing work samples.  This means that they need to see what your A+ student did, but they also need to see what the child who failed did.  Project Based Learning isn’t all sunshine and roses and it isn’t a Band-Aid that will fix all problems.  Even when your administration believes in Project Based Learning, they will know this.

Invite and Include Them

Finally, give them the chance to see your Project Based Learning in action.  Invite them to come in for special lessons, to gallery walk, and even to just sit at the work stations with the kids to see how they are doing.  Sure, your administration has the right to walk in at any moment, but these invitations still matter.

Have you had to work to get your administration to accept Project Based Learning?  Tell us what you did.