Are you and your colleagues on the look out for new ideas and practices?
Do you refresh your knowledge regularly?
High performing systems throughout the world invest in teacher research/share, educator preparation, collaborative time/structure, lifelong learning and career ladders. These common policies which are collegial, sustained and ongoing are evident in strong systems:
- School improvement organized around effective professional learning. Where do you obtain effective professional learning to develop your practice?
- Professional learning is built into daily practice? Does your system support adequate time and resources for regular professional learning?
- Recognition for the development of teacher expertise--and use of that expertise to support learning for others. Does your system employ a distributive leadership model that extends teacher leadership opportunity to many rather than a hierarchical model led by a few? In successful systems, teachers collaboratively conduct research using the scientific process to develop collective craft/practice. Teacher-led professional learning is fostered in successful systems, and in China they even have teaching competitions.
- District or state strategies that lead to professional learning throughout the system. What networks, communication and effort support quality professional learning at the district and state levels? A focus on collaboration ensures that schools have the right mix of skills and abilities to successfully serve/teach students. Ongoing evaluation and feedback serves to develop educators toward better and better teaching. Pages 132-146 specifically outline professional evaluations across these successful systems, and since our school system is re-looking at this process I'll save this discussion for that work.
- Common curriculum which offers a common foundation for joint work. Do you share curriculum with others in your school, system, state or nation? Deep, collaborative work in curriculum design fosters an ongoing learning/teaching context and allows students to use their knowledge, think critically, solve problems and communicate effectively. Lesson study is a successful approach which focuses on the learner and educator's rationale, delivery and result of a single lesson.
Learning embedded in day-to-day work leads to school improvement. Some foci that support this include promoting equity, flexible learning paths, trying innovative professional learning models, quality professional learning networking and collaboration and mainstream of successful practices. These systems establish a continuum of professional learning similar to the NBPTS continuum demonstrated below.