Last month Learning Forward released the third edition of its Standards for Professional Learning. These standards outline “the characteristics of professional learning that lead to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results.” The standards are not simply platitudes, however. It is stated clearly that the standards are not a prescription for how teachers, administrators, and policymakers should address the challenges of reform. Rather, the emphasis is on what professional learning is and what it is for: to help teachers and administrators develop the skills, knowledge, practices and dispositions that will help their students achieve more.
The seven new standards encompass professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students and…
1) Occurs within learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment.
2) Requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning.
3) Requires prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for educator learning.
4) Uses a variety of sources and types of student, educator, and system data to plan, assess, and evaluate professional learning.
5) Integrates theories, research, and models of human learning to achieve its intended outcomes.
6) Applies research on change and sustains support for implementation of professional learning for long-term change.
7) Aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards.
Learning Forward believes these aspects of professional learning are important because of the relationship between them and student results. The graphic above demonstrates this cyclical relationship, which can be boiled down to this: a reflective educator dedicated to professional learning will always be moving through a cycle of evaluation, reflection, education, and implementation.
When asked about the new standards, elementary school principal and blogger Lyn Hilt was full of praise. In Education Week’s “Teaching Now” blog, she observes:
“Teachers are not to be treated as vehicles through which schools deliver programs and policies. This, in my opinion, has been the focus of traditional professional development frameworks for way too long. … Teachers, like students, are first and foremost individuals who have passions, interests, and an inherent desire to learn. The goal for administrators should then become how to foster the learning spirit in each and every one of our teachers through a system of learning opportunities that cater to their individual needs. This, in turn, will ignite a true excitement for learning in our teachers, which will transfer into their practice. The result? Students who spend their days with teachers who exhibit a true desire to grow professionally and who model that learning matters.”
For more information, visit http://www.learningforward.org/standards/index.cfm