I have been thinking a lot these past several weeks about Learning Forward’s vision. Our shorthand for our vision is E6: Every educator engages in effective professional learning every day so every student achieves. Educators face demanding expectations to implement new Common Core and science standards. New assessments are following on the heels of new standards, and teachers are preparing for all of this under the pressure of new personnel evaluation systems. How can educators be expected to accomplish all of it?
Every educator I know is deeply committed to student success. At the same time, many admit to me the challenges they face in trying to meet their commitments to their students. Many teachers tell me they need support, time, and organized collaboration with colleagues so that they may grow, learn, improve, and better serve students. In my view, we must redouble our efforts to achieve Learning Forward’s vision. That statement has tremendous power. Take a moment to reflect on the power of the six E words.
E#1: Every. This vision is focused on every educator, not just some. Every means each person whose work on a daily basis influences the learning experiences of students. Every is key, because every guarantees every student will have access to excellent teaching that results from the vision. Every is our promise to equality; if learning isn’t possible for every educator and every student, then we fail to achieve our vision.
E#2: Educator. Educator includes everyone who has a direct or indirect responsibility for the success of students. Educators are classroom teachers, instructional coaches, principals, and district office staff. Educators include paraprofessionals, counselors, librarians, and more. All of these educators require professional learning so they can work at the most effective and efficient levels possible.
E#3: Engages. Professional learning that impacts an educator’s knowledge, attitudes, disposition, and skills is engaging. Educators are not passive recipients; rather, they are involved in the types of learning they are expected to use in their day-to-day practice with students. They are challenged, observed, offered feedback, and held accountable. Their learning experiences are shaped to recognize that they have unique learning needs. They are the center of professional learning and engaging describes their experience.
E#4: Effective.We have all heard too many stories about poorly conceived and carelessly implemented professional learning. Those who work as educators should never have to tolerate ineffective professional learning. We have Standards for Professional Learning that define the context, conditions, and attributes of effective professional learning, ensuring results for both educators and students. If professional learning doesn’t meet those standards, it isn’t effective, and it has no place in schools.
E#5: Every day. Just-in-time professional learning helps educators solve their immediate problems of practice. Our students don’t have time to wait for their teachers to learn how to help them address their challenges. When students have a problem, they want help immediately to overcome it. Their teachers need to be able to count on the same level of support. Every day means that educators can rely on their colleagues and count on their participation in a learning team cycle of continuous improvement to help them gain the knowledge and skills to help all students succeed. Every day means we reexamine school structures, changing school schedules rather then negotiating to add a day here or there in the calendar. Every day means students experience great teaching every day as their teachers grow every day.
E#6: Every student. It isn’t enough to reach every educator -- every educator needs to commit to their growth so they can in turn reach every student. Every educator needs the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach all the students in front of them, but that still isn’t enough. Every educator must join with their colleagues in the school to make a promise that every student in the building has equal opportunity for a great education. When all educators acknowledge the impact their expertise has on the teachers and the students who share their zip code, their principal, and their superintendent, they form a collective compact focused on high outcomes for all.
Learning Forward’s vision — the E6 statement — must become reality, defining the education practice in every school system. I know it’s happening in some places, proof it can be done. How do we make it reality in all places?
Executive Director, 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.