Professional Development Opinion

2 Resolutions To Demand Better Professional Learning For All

By Learning Forward — January 05, 2017 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print
Stephanie Hirsh

The way I think about the concept of smart demand is informed by my years as a high school economics teacher. Smart demand is simply about supply and demand. Markets respond to high demand by increasing supply.

So, after reading yet another report that begins with the phrase, “Sadly, it is true that the vast majority of educators do not experience the quality of professional learning they deserve,” I have to ask: What is it about the education market that has signaled that we will tolerate ineffective professional learning?

As a result, my New Year’s resolutions this year are focused on smart demand -- helping all educators ask for what they deserve and helping districts and states increase the supply of high-quality professional learning.

Learning Forward has a Redesign PD Partnership study team focused on increasing smart demand. This team will test ideas for how to support teachers in increasing their own expectations for learning as well as how to support systems in responding to educator needs. I am excited to see what the team learns. And I’m determined to advance these two resolutions to see what progress we can make in 2017.

1. Amplify the Standards for Professional Learning.

The Standards for Professional Learning, adopted by more than 35 states, describe job-embedded, just-in-time, personalized professional learning that is aligned with a smart demand culture for professional learning. As a field, we need to elevate these standards and support states in implementing the standards with fidelity.

While educators at the state, district, and school levels have heard about the standards, they don’t necessarily understand them or have the skills to transfer that learning into practice. As we inform more educators about the standards and what they mean for them individually and collectively, we will also give them the tools and support to demand the quality professional learning the standards describe.

We will provide practical information for teachers, principals, superintendents, state education associations, professional associations, and policymaking bodies and help them explore their responsibilities for creating systems of professional learning that support all educators at every turn in their careers. This deeper and broader grasp of the standards will help increase smart demand so that supply follows.

2. Leverage ESSA’s definition of professional development to improve professional learning systems for all.

For more than seven years, we have worked diligently to see a stronger definition of professional development in federal legislation. The term “professional development” is embedded dozens of times in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We view this as an indication that Congress recognizes its importance in achieving the law’s goals of equity and excellence.

The new definition calls for professional learning that is “sustained, intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, date-driven, [and] classroom-focused.” More than $2.5 billion will soon be allocated to states and districts for professional development. States have a myriad of priorities that need attention and most view professional development as part of the solution in addressing them.

We must insist that states and districts invest in professional learning that is consistent with the standards and new definition and, in so doing, transform their systems of professional learning to achieve results for students. We will then see communities of practice, network improvement communities, and high-functioning professional learning communities that tap internal and external experts to create context-specific solutions to data- and needs-driven problems.

During 2017, we will elevate more of the success stories that such professional learning makes possible and, at the same time, give educators the resources they tell us they need to push for the kind of support Learning Forward and Congress envision for them.

I have long held the view that it only takes one savvy consumer to change the course of professional learning for many. I know that countless individuals already do this every day. Please share your story.

And for others who are waiting for the right moment -- let us help you find it. By the end of this year, we’ll be able to celebrate the many moments when smart demand propelled the professional learning educators deserve. I hope you will join me and add these resolutions to your list.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

Related Tags:

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.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
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.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Opinion Developing Success Criteria With PD Participants to Engage in Deeper Learning
Success criteria show educators how we believe they will be successful at the end of a lesson. Let's involve them in the process.
5 min read
Professional Development Opinion 4 Essential Elements Needed Right Now to Engage in Leadership Coaching
Leadership coaching is growing, but there are some important elements to consider before anyone engages in a coaching relationship.
6 min read
shutterstock 1586195833
Professional Development Return of the In-Person Edu-Conference: Elementary Principals' Group to Meet in Chicago
Registration for the organization's first in-person conference since the pandemic started is keeping apace with that of previous years.
4 min read
Abstract blurred image of attendees in seminar room or conference hall and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. new normal life concept.
Pratchaya/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Professional Development Some Kids Had a 'Choppy' K-12 Experience This Year. ISTE Will Explore Solutions
Big themes at this year's online-only ed-tech conference will include acceleration and finding K-12's way in a new, more virtual world.
2 min read
Image of a student working on a computer from home.