Home' Teacher : May 2010 Contents PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 13
Research shows that, to be effective, professional learning needs to be sustained, focused
on content and embedded in the work of collaborative professional learning teams.
That's the conclusion of Professional Learning in the Lear ning Profession, a research
report by Stanford University's Linda Darling-Hammond and a team of researchers
from Stanford's School Redesign Network published by the National Staff Development
Council in the United States in February last year.
Episodic, fragmented and disconnected
The professional learning most US teachers receive, explained Darling-Hammond, is epi-
sodic, often fragmented and disconnected from real problems of practice. 'The research
tells us that teachers need to learn the way other professionals do -- continually, collabo-
ratively and on the job,' she said. 'The good news is that we (in the US) can learn from
what some states and most high-performing nations are doing.'
The even better news is that, from a US point of view, high-performing nations include
Australia, alongside Finland, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and Singapore -- whose students
perform well on international measures such as the Program for International Student
Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).
Of course, there are many and complex reasons why the students of those nations
do well on PISA and TIMSS, but, according to Profession al Lear ning in the Learning
Profession, one thing they have in common is that those nations invest heavily in the
professional learning of teachers.
Effective professional learning, according to Darling-Ham mond and colleagues:
is ongoing and embedded in teachers' contexts, rather than one-off workshops, and
RESEARCH SHOWS THAT PROFESSIONAL LEARNING HAS A POWERFUL
EFFECT ON THE SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE OF TEACHERS. THE TRICKY
RESEARCH QUESTION IS HOW TO MEASURE THE IMPACT OF THAT
PROFESSIONAL LEARNING ON ACTUAL CLASSROOM PRACTICE AND,
AS A RESULT, ON STUDENT LEARNING. STEVE HOLDEN REPORTS.
Professional learning that
informs classroom practice
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