How do educators hone their craft?
The following is an excerpt from Learners First, a new resource exploring how teachers learn best, and where teachers go to learn in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.
The publication shares insights drawn from research about professional learning: why it’s important, what makes it effective, and how members of the Remake Learning network provide professional learning that educators drives engaging, relevant, equitable learning.
How teachers learn
Today, the role of teacher is changing. Gone are the days when a teacher could stand at the front of a classroom as the master of all knowledge. In a rapidly changing world, teachers now find themselves learning right alongside their students.
Teachers are constantly honing their craft through professional learning. Also known as professional development (PD) or continuing education, it is one of the most important parts of our education system. Yet professional learning is largely invisible to everyone but teachers and school leaders.
It’s here that teachers learn about cutting-edge research and the science of learning. It’s here where teachers practice new techniques to connect with their students. It’s here where they go from good teachers to great educators.
Few professions dedicate as much time as teachers do to continually improving their craft.
Professional learning (also known as professional development or continuing education) is generally defined as a wide variety of specialized training, formal education, and advanced learning intended to help teachers improve their professional knowledge, competence, skill, and effectiveness.
How teachers learn best
Nearly all teachers take part in mandatory professional learning. In Pennsylvania, teachers must complete 180 hours of professional learning every 5 years to maintain their certification. But many teachers go above and beyond. They invest their personal time and resources because they know that there is no limit to how much they can improve.
Professional learning takes many forms, but scholarly research and surveys of the teaching field show that the most effective and engaging professional learning is:
- Responsive to teacher experience and student needs
- Led by peer teachers and collaborative in nature
- Focused on deep engagement with subject matter
- Active and inquiry-based with opportunities to “try out” new techniques
- Sustained over time to help teachers implement new practices
What you’ll find inside
With so much to learn, teachers are hungry for new kinds of professional learning. This booklet showcases some of what teachers are learning when they turn to:
- Colleges & Universities for new ideas backed up by research
- School Districts to build a culture of learning
- Education Service Agencies to practice new skills
- Museums to enrich their experience
- Nonprofit Organizations to expand their vocabulary
- National Partners to broaden their horizons
- Design & Tech Companies to learn to use new tools
- Professional Learning Communities to create centers of excellence
- Peer Teachers to learn together and build the profession
Published October 23, 2018