“Be the leader you wish you had.” —Simon Sinek

Professional learning in many districts must undergo radical reform, from a model that’s outdated and ineffective to one that’s personal, empowering, and owned by the learner. How can we create such a culture of ownership and empowerment?

1. Clearly define and articulate the vision.
Do all stakeholders understand the district’s direction? How should instruction improve with the time that’s invested? How will students benefit? Can all staff members articulate the vision? Do staff members help formulate that vision? Is the vision only one year or more long term?

10 steps to developing a powerful professional-learning culture

2. Model: Practice what you preach.
How school leaders run faculty meetings and in-service time should be a direct reflection of the type of instruction they seek in the classroom. Anything else is hypocritical. Learn alongside your staff members and model expectations for them. Invest time in professional learning—not managerial tasks. Model and share your learning throughout the process.

3. Learning should be anytime, anywhere.
Today’s Netflix generation of students expects content to be available on demand: anytime, anywhere. As such, and to mirror today’s instructional expectations, today’s school leaders must work to provide and empower anytime, anywhere learning opportunities for teachers. From professional-learning modules to social media, opportunities for learning through high-quality digital content must be available for both kids and teachers.

(Next page: More steps to creating a professional-learning community)

About the Author:

Thomas C. Murray serves as the director of innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education, located in Washington, D.C. Connect with him at @thomascmurray and at thomascmurray.com.


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