Professional Learning News - May 2017






Look at the bigger picture for long-term improvement


Learning Forward via Education Week Teacher
What steps are you taking to look at the bigger picture? That's a question Learning Forward Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh would like educators to ponder as they consider how to better support teachers and leaders in their improvement efforts. "The more professional learning exemplars we see ... the more we see that the entire education improvement effort of a district integrates effective professional learning in all its aspects," Hirsh writes.


New study on connected professional learning


Education Resource Strategies
Igniting the learning engine: How school systems accelerate teacher effectiveness and student growth through Connected Professional Learning looks at four school systems that are redesigning professional learning for the age of high academic standards, even as they work with large populations of high-need students.


Report looks at integrating curriculum into professional learning


The Aspen Institute
Practice what you teach: Connecting curriculum & professional learning in schools, a new report from the Aspen Institute, highlights the work being done by the Louisiana Department of Education, District of Columbia Public Schools, and West Virginia Teaching Lab to integrate the use of high-quality instructional materials with professional learning. It then offers six key takeaways for how system leaders can embark on this journey.

3 key elements for high-quality professional learning


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Teachers have a wealth of expertise, but too often don't have meaningful opportunities to share it. Systems like Fulton County Schools in Georgia and District of Columbia Public Schools are making headway in providing teachers with collaborative, job-embedded learning opportunities that are anchored in a coherent instructional system. We learned about what's working in these systems.



Promoted by Teaching Channel





4 steps to better continuous professional development


Royal Society of Chemistry
Continuing professional development is often seen as an add-on to teachers' jobs. But evidence from schools and international research shows that embedding it in teachers' day-jobs leads to better results, improved morale, and a more resilient school. This requires an overhaul in the way professional development is planned and implemented, but the prize is great for schools that succeed in making it a core priority.

Building a connected professional learning system


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Igniting the Learning Engine, a new report from Education Resource Strategies, explains how four school systems across the country have built successful, connected professional learning systems. In each of these districts, the systems are driven by rigorous curricula, content-focused teacher collaboration time, and growth-oriented feedback for teachers. And in each district, the impact on student learning has been promising.





Take a moment and ask yourself...

Is there a positive correlation between investment in professional development and student growth in your district? In education, knowing where to find the answers is just as important as having the right answer. Performance Matters can help you find those answers. Learn More


Building effective professional learning communities


By building strong professional learning communities, school leaders can improve not only the quality of teaching, but also student outcomes. So, what does an effective professional learning community look like and how do you go about building one?

Customizing professional development through microcredentials


Education Week
Personalized learning is a buzzword in education, but teachers' own learning often comes in a one-size-fits-all package via a crowded room or a years-old PowerPoint. Enter microcredentials, a form of professional development in which teachers work to prove mastery of single competencies. They're designed to be tailored to what a teacher needs or wants to know, from classroom management to analyzing student data.













The power of time: How teachers in Fresno, California, are owning their professional learning


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Fresno Unified School District has taken major steps to increase time for teacher collaboration and, ultimately, deeper teacher-student connections. Now, teachers in Fresno, California, are playing a bigger role in designing their own professional development while benefiting from additional time to collaborate, give peer-to-peer feedback, and look at student work.

For maximum impact, personalize teachers' tech professional development


The Hechinger Report via Education Dive
One-size-fits-all professional development no longer meets teachers' needs. Giving them a voice in what and how they want to learn can create personalized professional learning experiences that are more likely to have an impact on their practice in the classroom. With technology, for example, some teachers are far more comfortable than others with today's tools, so it makes sense to adapt training opportunities to what teachers already know and what they want to know.


Commentary: Let's create opportunities for teachers to grow


The Huffington Post
Growth mindset is the latest buzzword in education. Students are encouraged to find the intrinsic desire to become lifelong learners. However, as teachers, we are not encouraged to think about how we grow beyond simply being "good" teachers. For us to become true examples of growth mindset in action, we must have the opportunity to model what we preach.

School districts update professional development


Education Week
School districts are moving toward a menu of professional learning options that get creative about improving teacher practice. In Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine school district, teachers can personalize their own professional learning by earning microcredentials in areas that interest them. In Florida's Lake County school district, ingenious scheduling models allow teachers to collaborate more often. And in California's Long Beach Unified district has developed new methods to collect evidence on the effectiveness of the professional development it offers teachers.


New online tool to promote collaboration


The Dunn County News
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the University of Wisconsin-Stout announced that the university is developing an online tool to increase collaboration and the sharing of resources among Wisconsin school districts with digital fabrication laboratories. The web portal will allow teachers and others to communicate with one another on topics such as curriculum development and implementation, equipment usage and troubleshooting, training, and professional development.

Survey: Wyoming teachers happy, believe PLC model is successful


The Sheridan Press
Numbers indicate the majority of Sheridan County (Wyoming) School District 2 teachers feel favorably about the district and its schools. Educators recently presented the results of a climate survey to administrators and the board of trustees. Ninety-two percent feel listened to on ideas that they have for improving education. The professional learning community model, a districtwide collaboration effort, is thought highly of among teachers at the district. Ninety-six percent of teachers believed that students can achieve success through the PLC model. Seventh-grade history teacher Ed Calkins said the PLC model increases communication within the district.



Are your improvement efforts getting the results you want?

Learning Forward supports leaders at all levels in transforming their systems into learning systems, where all educators engage in a measurable and scalable cycle of continuous improvement. Our high-impact consulting services provide you with the tools to transform professional learning, increase educator capacity, and improve student achievement.



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Pittsburgh schools unveil plan to close achievement gap, improve professional development


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Public Schools recently unveiled a wide-ranging five-year strategic plan that includes an emphasis on eliminating the racial achievement gap and improving teacher professional development. The plan outlined four long-term goals: increasing proficiency in literacy and math, eliminating the racial achievement gap, and — more generally — ensuring all students are equipped with skills to succeed in college, career, and life.





Register now for this year's Institutes!


Learning Forward

Enjoy Learning Forward's 2017 Summer Institutes in the heart of downtown Denver, surrounded by breathtaking views and local attractions.

These institutes offer intensive learning that digs deeper into the topics that matter to you:

  • Transforming Feedback for Professional Learning
  • Blended Learning & Micro Credentials
  • Instructional Coaching
  • Assessing the Impact & Coherence of Professional Learning
  • Elevating Teacher Leadership
  • Building Your Educational Leadership Skill Set
  • Becoming a Learning Team
  • Becoming a Learning Principal

Work on real problems, leave with tools, and gain strategies and skills that can be implemented the very second you get back to your school or district.

Learn more.



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