According to Hirsch, these collaborative teams were inspired by some of the same characteristics found in the educational systems of higher-performing countries. For example, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), high-performing countries provide ample time for teacher professional development that is structured into teachers’ work lives. Also, beginning teachers receive extensive mentoring and induction supports, teachers are widely encouraged to participate in school decision-making, and governments provide significant levels of support for additional PD.
These methods are also supported by numerous studies, which can be found here.
Before schools can adopt these new 21st-century standards for teacher professional development, Hirsch said there are some prerequisites: (1) Educators must commit to ensuring that all students succeed. (2) Educators must be ready to learn continually. (3) School district leaders must understand that professional learning involves collaborative inquiry and learning. (4) School district leaders must understand that educators learn in different ways and at different rates.
Learning Forward’s seven standards for professional learning that increase teacher effectiveness and results for all students are:
- Learning Communities: Groups of teachers who are committed to continuous improvement, shared responsibility, and collective goal alignment.
- Leadership: Skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning.
- Resources: Prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for professional learning.
- Data: Using a variety of sources and types of student, educator, and school system data to plan, assess, and evaluate professional learning.
- Learning Designs: Integrating theories, research, and models of human learning to achieve intended outcomes.
- Implementation: Applying research and sustained support for implementation of professional learning to foster long-term change.
- Outcomes: Aligning outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards.
To illustrate how these standards should be implemented, Hirsch showed a video of the math department of Ford Middle School in Allen, Texas, where the teachers meet to share their expertise. (To watch the video, click here, then scroll down the page to “Ford Middle School: PD in Action” on the right-hand side.)
In the video, Teacher A tells the group that she’s noticed students are having difficulty relating word problems to their equations. Teacher A then takes an example of student work and shows the group, explaining where in the problem trouble occurs. Teacher A then tells the group what she’s been doing to try to solve this problem.
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