Managing Professional Learning and Development

In his always readable learning blog, Derek Wenmoth this weeks shared a NZ report on Managing Professional Learning and Development in Secondary Schools which I think is worth reading.  Maybe I think that because I agree with most of the findings and recommendations, some of which are summarised below. One-off external speakers and reliance on external seminars are out, in-house teacher teams focusing on pedagogy is in.

Research on teacher professional learning and development In January 2008, the Ministry of Education released its Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES) report. This document details the nature of effective professional development for schools. PLD can vary considerably and depends on each school’s context. Despite this complexity, certain themes or principles can be summarised concerning the nature of high quality PLD. Helen Timperley, lead author for Teacher Professional Learning and Development, has synthesised 10 principles in a monograph for the International Academy of Education (IAE).6
PLD needs to:
• be focused on student outcomes, with links between classroom activity and the desired outcomes;
• be based on worthwhile content, such as the findings of established educational research, and related to the particular context of the teacher;
• integrate theoretical ideas about teaching with teaching practice;
• use assessment information about the performance of teachers and students to make a difference in the classroom;
• provide many different sorts of activities for teachers to learn and apply newly acquired knowledge;
• work with and challenge teacher assumptions about learning;
• allow teachers to work with others to explore and develop their new knowledge about teaching;
• draw on experts (including subject teaching experts) who can also facilitate teachers to develop their own understandings of new ideas;
• have active school leaders who can create a vision for professional learning as well as lead and organise staff learning;
• sustain momentum where theoretical understandings continue to develop teacher practice.

Research on teacher professional learning and development In January 2008, the Ministry of Education released its Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES) report. This document details the nature of effective professional development for schools. PLD can vary considerably and depends on each school’s context. Despite this complexity, certain themes or principles can be summarised concerning the nature of high quality PLD. Helen Timperley, lead author for Teacher Professional Learning and Development, has synthesised 10 principles in a monograph for the International Academy of Education (IAE).6

PLD needs to:

• be focused on student outcomes, with links between classroom activity and the desired outcomes;

• be based on worthwhile content, such as the findings of established educational research, and related to the particular context of the teacher;

• integrate theoretical ideas about teaching with teaching practice;

• use assessment information about the performance of teachers and students to make a difference in the classroom;

• provide many different sorts of activities for teachers to learn and apply newly acquired knowledge;

• work with and challenge teacher assumptions about learning;

• allow teachers to work with others to explore and develop their new knowledge about teaching;

• draw on experts (including subject teaching experts) who can also facilitate teachers to develop their own understandings of new ideas;

• have active school leaders who can create a vision for professional learning as well as lead and organise staff learning;

• sustain momentum where theoretical understandings continue to develop teacher practice.

A direct link to a PDF of the report is HERE (350kb)

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