A few weeks ago I had the honor of presenting to many leaders at the U. S. Department of Education who agreed with us that professional learning can and must be improved. They also agreed that it is essential to promote, support, and sustain the changes we need to see made in schools. But what are those changes? Just as we identify shifts for student learning called for by the Common Core, what are the required shifts that need to accompany them for professional learning?
In planning professional learning that leads to changed educator practices and improved student results, there are five shifts that must occur. These changes in practices will occur in schools and school systems that align planning, implementation, and evaluation with Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning.
|Less of this||More of that|
Driven by educator preference
Driven by student, educator, and system data
Collaborative team-based learning engaged in defined cycles of continuous learning to build deeper expertise, powerful lessons, and authentic and meaningful assessments
Large-group, formal, one-size-fits-all activities to build awareness and deliver content
Transformative learning experiences that replicate expectations for classroom practice
Occasional, episodic “adult pull-out” learning opportunities
Regularly scheduled learning opportunities as part of the work day and week
Low expectations or support for application of learning
High expectations for application of learning coupled with coaching and other forms of workplace support for implementation
To see how your state, system, school, or learning team measures up on these five shifts, use this number system to score yourself in each of the five categories:
5 - The More category defines how we work all the time.
4 - The More category defines how we work most of the time.
3 - We operate sometimes in the Less and other times in the More category.
2 - The Less category defines how we work most of the time.
1 - The Less category is most characteristic of how we work.
If you scored 21-25 - Give yourselves a hand. More importantly, give some others a hand; they can benefit from your support.
If you scored 17-20 - Feel good about being on the right track and recognizing what is essential for professional learning to achieve better outcomes.
If you scored 13-16 - Write an action plan on what steps you will take in the next few months to move yourselves more quickly along the continuum of effectiveness.
If you scored 9-12 - Seek some views of others on what you can do to improve your professional learning and the strategies you are currently employing.
If you scored 5-8 - It’s time to redesign professional learning! Share this post with others on your team and start a discussion about effective professional learning that impacts educator practice and student achievement.
For my next post, I’ll write about five shifts we should expect of our policy makers and leaders!
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.