Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Opinion

Let Teachers Take Charge of Their Learning

By Learning Forward — June 12, 2012 2 min read

Much has been made lately of the perceived lack of respect amongst the public and the media for those in the teaching profession. In our book, Reclaiming Our Teaching Profession: The Power of Educators Learning in Community, Ed Tobia and I set out to explore possible solutions and processes that could change this situation.

Reviewing our work on implementing professional learning communities that enhance the quality of classroom teaching, we began to notice how, when principals create opportunities and conditions for collaboration, teachers begin to take charge of their own learning. As they move out of their individual classrooms and become more trusting of one another, a new sense of professionalism becomes the norm. Teachers in authentic professional learning communities begin to share not only their best thinking but also the questions they have about their own teaching. Their reflections about how their teaching influenced students’ learning go well beyond others holding them accountable for their work. They begin to hold one another accountable and they feel a responsibility for improving themselves and each other.

As one example, a principal we know supported teachers as they began to work in PLCs. He attended most PLCs, provided teachers with appropriate professional development based on needs that teachers identified from their work in PLCs, and created a culture in which deliberate, collaborative learning time was “sacred.” Teachers no longer had to be told what to do by administrators or state policy mandates since, as true professionals committed to their clients (students), they made sure that they accessed the appropriate knowledge and skills they required, supported one another, and kept their focus on how to improve practice in order to address the learning needs of all students.

If all teachers in all schools had those opportunities and assumed that level of professionalism, there would be less need for laws that force teachers to improve learning outcomes defined by people outside the profession. The role of the principal would become that of someone who creates the conditions and provides the resources for teachers to be able to do the work of true professionals. If the role of management in education shifts, then the role of unions would be less focused on labor/management relations and more on expanding the current communities of practice that are beginning to emerge among teacher groups, so that PLCs within schools could begin to learn and gain increased expertise from one another, to the end that students gain -- the goal of the true professional.

Shirley M. Hord
Scholar Laureate, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read