Professional Learning vs Professional Development
by Laska Creagh
Administrators would say that ‘if you got one good idea out of a conference or workshop to implement, then that was a good thing.” I remember some “hands-on” approaches to workshops that actually related to what I was striving for in my classroom. Those settings most often involved teacher colleagues also being in the workshop, so the “we can do this” energy was promoted. As a team, we would develop the ideas shared in our contextual setting. This type of energy created change in practice.
I think the team approach that I reference above is much closer to what I believe professional learning to be. When working with a trusted team, you can share your concerns, your problems, your wonders about instruction and learning. Together, you can determine a course of action to try and sometimes need to try again. I worked with a majority of staff that supported this type of professional learning. The result ignited passion, happy children, happy teachers and dedication to figure out a way to support student (and teacher) learning.
Educators are professionals, charged with the very serious work of building an understanding of our world with our students. To be successful, we need to be constantly learning in a setting that allows for learning together around the problems faced in our classrooms and schools. An attitude of professional learning rather than professional development opens doors for educators to learn together, feel good about the learning and develop synergistic responses to the problems they face.
Learning Forward Michigan has developed several programs that facilitate this team approach to inquiry about the problems faced in each context. I feel proud to be a part of an organization that puts professional teacher learning at the forefront of student success.
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