Introducing Playbook: By Teachers, For Teachers

Today, we’re launching Playbook, a new professional learning community and resource site built by teachers, for teachers. With Playbook, Panorama connects feedback data with strategies teachers can use in their classrooms. Brian Rainville, Educator Engagement Director at Panorama, writes about the simple idea behind Playbook: the best strategies and resources to help teachers develop and grow come from other successful teachers.

During my years of teaching in the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS), the best professional learning that I experienced — the kind that created real and productive changes in my practice — happened when I learned with my peers. My fellow teachers understood the realities of teaching, showed me strategies that were working for them, and helped me use those strategies with my students. Frustratingly, I had to work incredibly hard to find the time and space to make this learning happen. If I wanted to see what other teachers were doing, it usually meant eating my lunch in the corner of a colleague’s classroom or giving up one of my treasured planning periods. Much of the time, it was just impossible because I was teaching at the same time.

A few years later, I joined Panorama, where I am surrounded by a team of folks who are passionate about supporting teachers and students, and excited to invest in their success. Together, we set out to help teachers tackle the challenge of peer-driven professional learning.

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Explore Playbook’s resources created for teachers, by teachers on topics like Student Engagement

Today, we are thrilled to announce Playbook, built by teachers, for teachers. The ideas behind Playbook are simple: nobody knows what works better in practice than teachers, and teachers learn best from each other. There is a massive amount of expertise sitting in the classrooms of our teachers, and it should be easy for teachers to learn with and from each other. We built Playbook to make this collaboration a reality. This is the professional learning tool that I wish I had during my years in the classroom.

The ideas behind Playbook are simple: nobody knows what works better in practice than teachers, and teachers learn best from each other.

– Brian Rainville, Educator Engagement Director at Panorama

With Panorama’s survey platform, teachers get feedback from their students and can discover strengths and areas for growth in the classroom. Now, with Playbook, teachers can get more than data: Playbook provides each teacher with recommended resources and ideas that they can use immediately. Playbook’s recommendations are personalized, because we know from experience that successful teaching looks different in different classrooms. For example, for an eighth grade math teacher who identifies student engagement as an area in which they want to improve, Playbook will recommend successful strategies from teachers of similar grade levels and subject areas at similar schools. Then, teachers can close the loop by assessing their improvement in the areas they target for improvement again with student feedback with Panorama.

It is not a secret that teachers don’t find typical PD all that valuable. And administrators rightly worry that their teachers aren’t getting the growth opportunities they need. Panorama is trying to change that. With Playbook, we are creating a community of practice where teachers can share their best classroom moves on a smart platform that saves teachers time by delivering targeted, personalized strategies. Rather than “sit and get” PD, or PD provided by folks far-removed from the classroom, Playbook empowers teachers to contribute, collaborate, and validate what works in different classroom contexts.   

“As a teacher, there have been times when mounds of data or stacks of observation notes have left me feeling unsure about what next steps to take. As a contributor to Playbook, it is exciting to provide ‘moves’ to help my fellow teachers bridge the gap from overwhelming feedback to feasible enhancements to help teachers create the solid classroom culture and stellar academic progress they desire.”

– Samantha Santos Thomas, Playbook contributor and teacher at Cornerstone Academy Preparatory School, San Jose, CA

So far, 7,000 teachers and 300 schools have used Playbook. We’re just at the beginning. More educators are bringing Playbook to their schools and districts, and more teachers are contributing classroom strategies that have proven successful for them. Over the coming months, we will add more opportunities for learning and collaboration. With more usage, the Playbook platform will get smarter about delivering personalized recommendations to teachers and helping them identify what is working. We think we are onto something exciting, and we hope you will join us to build this vibrant community of practice, by teachers, for teachers.

To learn more about how 7,000 teachers are already using Playbook to develop their classroom practice, watch our webinar, “Peer-Driven Professional Learning”.


Brian Rainville, Ed.L.D., is 2010 Baltimore City Teacher of the Year and Educator Engagement Director at Panorama Education.

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