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May 2014 | Volume 71 | Number 8
Professional Learning: Reimagined
The best teachers never stop learning. They know there's always room for improvement, and they're eager to find new ways to guide their students' learning. But the sit-and-get model of professional development in which teachers listen to an expert expound on best practice has not served all these teachers well. Today, teachers are finding new ways to learn together by observing one another in the classroom or discussing their practice in professional learning communities in person or online. This May 2014 issue of Educational Leadership looks at the ways educators are reimagining professional learning.
In "Planning Professional Learning," Thomas R. Guskey points out that education leaders too often plan learning activities without giving sufficient thought to the goals of those activities—they choose the route for the journey, before deciding on the destination. In such cases, the learning activities may be good ones, but their purpose is unclear. He encourages educators to decide on the student learning outcomes they want to achieve and then develop a learning plan with those goals in mind.
Several authors in this issue discuss the value of having teachers take charge of their own learning by visiting one another's classrooms and discussing what they see. In "Rethinking Classroom Observation," Emily Dolci Grimm, Trent Kaufman, and Dave Doty describe a teacher-driven observation mold in which observed teachers seek help answering a specific question about their instruction. In "The Trouble with Top-Down," Rebecca Van Tassell shares how she and her colleagues created a club centered on visiting one another's classrooms and discussing what they observed.
Education conferences are more than opportunities for educators to attend workshops led by big-name presenters. In fact, new models have cropped up that require educators to become active in planning and participating in the learning. Edcamps ("Edcamp: Teachers Take Back Professional Development" by Kristen Swanson) and the Crossroads model ("The Crossroads Model," by John Settlage and Adam Johnston) offer two new ways to conduct a professional conference.
Technology now makes it possible for teachers to learn at a time and place that fits their schedule. Teachers can take free online courses to build pedagogical knowledge ("Grab a MOOC by the Horns" by Anissa Lokey-Vega). Administrators can flip their professional development, asking teachers to use online resources to learn the material on their own and use face-to-face sessions to build on their independent study ("Flipping the Flip" by Patricia Gioffre Scott).
Copyright © 2014 by ASCD
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