No Quick Fixes, No Silver Bullets, and No Easy Buttons

SilverBulletHigh quality professional learning is not for those who are in a hurry. If you’re looking for the quick fix or silver bullet, you will be disappointed. For those of you too young to know about the silver bullet – this is what the Lone Ranger left behind after fixing all the problems of the town in less than 30 minutes.

Professional learning is a journey, not a sprint. It involves time, planning, and evaluation. Even knowing this, it’s still difficult to have the patience to stay the course and continue the journey.

Professional learning that is thoughtfully designed to impact the knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspiration, and behaviors (KASAB’s) of the participants is critical if lasting change is to take place. Unfortunately, this is not the type of professional learning that is typically designed or delivered. The result is little change and increased disappointment with professional learning as a vehicle to improve student outcomes.

  • Knowledge – information and awareness
  • Attitudes – changing mindsets and beliefs
  • Skills – knowing how to use the knowledge
  • Aspiration – impacting the desire to want to change
  • Behaviors – application of the knowledge and skills

See the Journal of Staff Development (JSD) October 2011 Learning Designs for more information.

Why isn’t more professional learning designed to address the KASAB’s? Because it takes a working knowledge of Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning, which will guide the design process. It also takes time and resources. Embedded in the design process is support, coaching, reflection, dialogue and evaluation. None of these are quick fixes. There is no “Easy Button” for professional learning. Designing a plan that will take 3-5 years to implement and produce results takes patience. However, the pressure to improve student outcomes demands immediacy. So, the result is that we search for “The Five Things You Can do to Improve Instruction” or a new curriculum that we hope is the silver bullet.

If you’re a parent and have ever taken a long car ride with your children, then you can repeat with me this often-asked question: “Are we there yet?” Designing high quality professional learning won’t make the journey any faster, but it will ensure that you arrive at your destination. If you want to learn more about KASAB’s and the Standards for Professional Learning, go to the Learning Forward website http://learningforward.org or contact Learning Forward Michigan http://learningforwardmichigan.org .