Professional LearningProvides opportunities for educators to enhance their understanding of how they can help students learn and thrive.
Professional learning allows educators to explore how their teaching and management strategies help students learn and thrive. Professional learning includes workshops and other more traditional types of professional development. But it goes further, engaging educators in ongoing self reflection, peer support, experimentation, and modification of instruction and management practices based on student performance data, student work, and both learning and social behaviors. Through an intensive process of collaborative and job-embedded learning, educators can gain more than content knowledge or technical strategies—they can gain an improved understanding of their own teaching and learning and of the various ways by which students learn. Through this effort, educators also come together as a community of self-developing practitioners.
- From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts Are Retooling Professional Development
A collection of exemplary practices and tools used in districts with successful personalized professional learning, such as tweeting questions, video sharing of practice, community conversations via pages such as edWeb and Voxer.
- Raising the Bar on Instruction
Provides free, high-quality, research-based multimedia resources from nationally recognized content and pedagogy experts, tools for planning and delivering highly effective professional development and consultation to support standards implementation, and opportunities to collaborate, share ideas, and interact with peers and other content and teaching specialists.
- Micro-credentialing and Educational Technology: A Proposed Ethical Taxonomy
Micro-credentialing is a way to acknowledge educators’ completion of professional learning, such as noncredit courses, seminars, and professional portfolios. This collection of resources explores the ways various credentials, including digital badges, are rapidly gaining recognition by institutions of higher education.
- The Instructional Practice Guide for the Common Core State Standards
A collection of coaching and lesson planning tools to help teachers and those who support teachers make the key shifts in instructional practice required by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy. (Achieve the Core )
- Supporting High Quality-Common Core Mathematics Instruction Chapter (PDF)
It is evident that substantial professional learning for teachers is needed to successfully implement the California CCSS for Mathematics. This chapter of the 2013 Mathematics Framework describes the support required to plan and implement effective and efficient mathematics instruction that meets the needs of every student.
- California Subject Matter Project
This network of nine discipline-based statewide projects supports ongoing quality professional development. Activities and programs are designed by university faculty, teacher leaders, and teacher practitioners to share current evidence-based instructional practices and strategies leading to increased achievement for all students.
- Implementing High-Quality ELA/Literacy and English Language Development Instruction: Professional Learning, Leadership, and Program Supports(PDF)
Chapter 11 of the 2014 ELA/English Language Development (ELD) Framework addresses the question, “How can educators best implement the California CCSS?” It provides techniques, tools, and examples of schools as learning communities in which all adults are engaged in the ongoing cycle of learning, reflecting on, and improving their own practice.
- Banking on Our Future
Financial literacy program for students in grades four through twelve. Parents, teachers, or mentors can set up online accounts for students to learn the basics of banking, credit unions, checking and savings accounts, insurance, credit, and investments to become financially responsible.
- Teaching Solutions: Many Ways Up, No Reason to Move Out
Teachers do not need to move out of the classroom to develop their expertise to solve our schools' most pressing problems, suggests this new model that encourages effective teachers.
- Center on Great Teachers and Leaders
The Center supports state education leaders in their efforts to grow, respect, and retain great teachers and leaders for all students. Based at American Institutes for Research, it provides various types of evaluation models of teachers and leaders.
- Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training
The goal of the online resource is to provide free training available for mandated child abuse reporters so they may carry out their responsibilities properly.
- A Close Encounter, Through the Writers' Eyes
Part of the New ELA/ELD Framework. This webinar provides insights to the California Department of Education (CDE) ELA/ELD Framework for California Public Schools from the primary authors.
- Reviewing the Evidence on How Teacher Professional Development Affects Student Achievement
This is the seminal research report on the importance of professional learning. Its findings indicate that when teachers receive substantial professional development, an average of 49 hours, they can boost their students’ achievement by about 21 percentile points.
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“Developing is not enough. Educators must be knowledgeable and wise. They must know enough in order to change. They must change in order to get different results. They must become learners, and they must be self-developing.” (1)
Well-prepared teachers and leaders are essential for providing effective, high-quality instruction so that students learn and thrive. Traditionally, professional development has been offered through a combination of one-size-fits-all teacher and administrator education programs and periodic in-service sessions. While this traditional approach to professional development allows educators to build basic competency in content knowledge or new instructional strategies, it is generally perceived as insufficient to transform teaching practices or to improve the supervisory and coaching practices of school leaders.
The Educator Excellence Task Force, appointed in 2012 by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson (2), has recommended shifting California’s focus from professional development to professional learning. Professional learning—as opposed to traditional professional development—focuses on a wider range of formal and informal learning opportunities, emphasizes self reflection and peer support, and requires on-the-job practice and experimentation. Learning Forward explains that professional growth for teachers can result from both formal professional development and opportunities for professional learning—such as common planning time, shared opportunities to examine student work, or tools for self-reflection—that may occur outside the bounds of formal professional development events. . . . Professional learning [is] a product of both externally provided and job-embedded activities that increase teachers’ knowledge and change their instructional practice in ways that support student learning. Thus, formal professional development represents a subset of the range of experiences that may result in professional learning. (3)
Gaining new instructional techniques or an enhanced understanding of content is an important step in ensuring that students learn and thrive. Educators then implement these techniques and investigate and study how their teaching and management strategies impact their students’ learning. As the characteristics and needs of students change, educators find it is essential to better understand the unique cultural and linguistic learning needs of their students. (1) Teachers also examine how various instructional strategies and techniques are likely to advance their students’ learning. This process of development (content knowledge and instructional practices) and learning (how these skills impact student learning over time) can become a positive spiral so that new knowledge and experiences continue to inform and enhance classroom interactions. (2)
Some studies have quantitatively demonstrated the relationship between professional learning and student achievement. One encouraging finding is that student learning increases in schools where there are educator communities that are reflective, collaborative, and focused on issues of teaching and learning. (3) Also, an analysis of a large body of professional development research found that the average student would see a significant achievement increase if his or her teacher had received approximately 50 or more hours of professional learning. (4)
Professional learning requires effective communication, leadership, and collaboration, but it is ultimately about improved outcomes for students. (1) Preparation for professional educators is most effective when it is structured as a continuum of ongoing experiences designed to support effective student learning.
For example, at the beginning of their career, teachers receive Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment induction cosponsored by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). This provides a foundation for beginning teachers as one part of a larger professional learning continuum.
Then, as teachers seek to expand or improve their professional skills and experience, they may participate in opportunities like professional learning communities (PLCs). Research has found that high-quality PLCs maintain an intensive and sustained focus on student learning and student-learning data. Teachers in high-quality PLCs are afforded opportunities for active learning. They are able to apply and reflect on their learning, and their learning process and content is based on evidence-based practices. Ultimately, PLC members become expert at dealing with change as a routine part of their work—not just in relation to the latest policy, but as a way of life. (2)School administrators should also be actively engaged in the professional learning process and have a thorough understanding of instruction, curriculum, and assessment to enable them to support and foster a culture of learning in their schools. Like teachers, administrators need more than a one-size-fits-all approach to professional development—they need an ongoing professional learning process grounded in their everyday work to support student success.
CDE released seven Quality Professional Learning Standards (QPLS) that represent the expectations and criteria for quality professional learning. (3) The QPLS were developed by a broad group of stakeholders and based on comprehensive, current research about effective professional learning strategies and systems. The QPLS should be considered as an integrated set of standards that collectively help educators develop, implement, and assess professional learning.
According to the QPLS, quality professional learning is composed of the following seven standards:
Quality prof fess ion al learning uses varied sources and kinds of information to guide priorities, design, and assessments.
- Content and Pedagogy
Quality professional learning enhances educators’ expertise to increase students’ capacity to learn and thrive.
Quality professional learning focuses on equitable access, opportunities, and outcomes for all students, with an emphasis on addressing achievement and opportunity disparities between student groups.
- Design and Structure
Quality professional learning reflects research and best practices and recognizes that focused, long-term learning enables educators with a variety of experiences and needs to acquire, practice, and assess new learning.
- Collaboration and Shared Accountability
Quality professional learning facilitates the development of a shared purpose for student learning and collective responsibility for achieving it.
Quality professional learning dedicates resources that are adequate, accessible, and allocated appropriately toward established priorities and outcomes.
- Alignment and Coherence
Quality professional learning contributes to a coherent system of educator learning and support that connects district, school, and individual priorities and needs with state and federal requirements and resources.
Standards and Frameworks
- National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
The California Department of Education (CDE) actively supports teachers in their efforts to achieve advanced National Board Certification as clarified and modeled by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
- World Language: English Language Development Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Subject Matter Programs A Handbook for Teacher Educators and Program Reviewers
This handbook contains the Commission on Teacher Credentialing-approved standards and program requirements for universities and colleges to develop the professional credentialing programs for the new English Language Development single subject teaching credential. It can serve as a blueprint to identify gaps in training when developing professional development programs for school districts.
- California’s Quality Professional Learning Standards
California’s Quality Professional Learning Standards lay the foundation for creating a coherent set of professional learning policies and activities that span the career continuum of an educator, which leads to improved educator knowledge, skills, and dispositions and, ultimately, increased student learning results. The standards describe the criteria for quality professional learning and point educators and stakeholders toward evidence-based elements and indicators to use when they make decisions about how to create and/or improve professional learning in their own systems.