Learning Bets
Chapter: Influential Factors

Why We Are Making the Choices We are Making

img_0220-copyHaving “shone a light” on some of the hidden assumption we tend to make in our training and support programs, we have revealed the central question of this provocation paper:  what factors should inform our learning bets?

In the next section, we will explore a set of questions that can help us make intentional and productive choices among all those different learning bets.

But first, it will be helpful for think about what factors are currently influencing your program’s learning theory.

Below we have created a menu of the influences that are shaping “learning bet” choices in the programs we have studied.  In many cases, the head of program we engaged with was also expressing regret about that influence, and aspiring to based his or her choices on different factors.

Which of these factors are influencing your choices of learning theories?  Which of these do you want to influence your choices?


    • AVAILABLE RESOURCES, PEOPLE, AND TIME. We look at the limiting realities of our resources, people, and time and choose forms and sequences of learning that fit within those.
    • EFFICIENCY. We choose forms and sequences of learning that minimize cost-per-unit-of-learning.
    • SCALABILITY.  We choose forms and sequences of learning that can be applied to the most people, most easily.
    • MATURITY OF ORGANIZATION. Our choices are influenced by whether we are scrapping to get started or evolving our on-going efforts.


    • PREDICTABILITY OF TEACHER PATH.  Our choices are driven by what we know and cannot know about the grade, subject, and context our teachers will be in.
    • DEMAND FOR TEACHERS.  Our “bets” are driven by the education systems that employ our teachers and what they value.
    • SYSTEMS AND CULTURE OF THE TEACHING/SCHOOL SETTING.  The degree and forms of learning support in the school setting influences our choices.
    • OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY.  Our choices are influenced by government or school mandates.


    • TECHNOLOGY.  We are making these “bets” because cutting-edge technology makes them possible.
    • EXPERIMENTATION.  We are making these “bets” because what we were doing isn’t working and we need to try something different.
    • GRAVITAS.  Our willingness to choose and try certain “bets” is influenced by our political capital.


    • MOMENTUM.  We employ this form or sequence of learning because we always have.
    • BORROWING.  We are using this form or sequence of learning because someone else did.
    • PERSONAL EXPERIENCE/INCLINATION.  Our choices of learning forms and sequence reflect how we learned.
    • PARTNERSHIP WITH OTHERS.  Our strategic learning choices are influenced by our shared responsibility with others (like a university partner).
    • CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS.  Our choice of “bets” is influenced by cultural and historical expectations about how teachers learn.


    • CONCEPT OF STUDENT LEARNING.  Our choices in how our teachers should learn flow from our conception of student learning.
    • WHOM WE START WITH.  We select for people who may respond well to one form or sequence of learning and not others.
    • ABILITY TO “DE-SELECT.”  We know that we can “exit” candidates before the classroom so we are liberated to make different choices about the form and sequence of learning.
    • PRESSURES FROM TEACHER-LEARNERS.  Our candidates often demand “concrete,” “tomorrow” resources and support in ways that influence our choices of learning bets.


    • STUDENT OUTCOMES.  When we can draw connections between how we grow teachers and actual outcomes from students, those connections influence choices of forms and sequences of teacher learning.
    • TEACHER/LEADER OUTCOMES.  When we can draw connections between our “bets” and our teachers’ mastery, fulfillment, success, those connections influence our choices of forms and sequences of teacher learning.
    • ALIGNMENT TO THE WHO, WHY, WHAT OF OUR MODEL.  The “bets” we choose must align clearly with whom we want to create, why we are growing teachers, and what we believe great teaching is.   

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