Future Research and Directions for Professional Learning

Future Research and Directions for Professional Learning

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4622-2.ch008

Abstract

This chapter provides direction for future learning endeavors that inform teacher practice. It provides leaders with suggestions for professional development including the understanding of layers present in collaboration, such as the development of trust and respect that leads to a collective responsibility. Teachers valued this cycle of learning resulting in time for continuous learning. This cycle, referred to as the Cycle of Continuous Improvement, will be elaborated on as it pertains to professional development. Additionally, social media as a form of professional learning is examined. Suggestions for self-directed investigation and application are provided.
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Implications For Practice

Isolation if the enemy of improvement.

-Tony Wagner

The findings of this study offer several implications for practice. First the implications for teacher continuous learning will be discussed, followed by a discussion of implications for future professional development.

One of the most significant implications from this study stems from the necessity to change the way we offer professional development for teachers. This was evident from the teacher interviews as they reflected on their experience with JLS. Teachers were overwhelmingly in favor of professional development that moved away from the typical sit and get sessions and instead emphasized a need to connect learning to their practice. A cycle of continuous learning if utilized could inform the development of teacher learning sessions by offering suggestions for the work within a learning community. A learning community could be structured so as to sustain learning over time while empowering teachers as they learn in the context of their classrooms. The Pennsylvania Teacher Effectiveness System for teachers asks that teachers have opportunities to collaborate with and observe each other; such as those found in JLS. Situated Learning Theory informs this notion of support for communities of collaborators who partake in richer conversations through teamwork. The action research study described in previous chapters, contributes to a body of evidence upon which staff developers may use to develop their professional learning community structures in order to better understand how to weave Common Core State Standards, educator performance standards, and standards for professional learning into a cycle of continuous learning to increase the effectiveness of teacher and student learning.

Professional learning, according to this study, began with a balance of power through the establishment of roles. This was essential to the process of teacher empowerment. The designation of roles assigned teachers to areas of work that they felt most comfortable performing. As a group, teachers were empowered by the time allotted to them to develop lessons as part of their own professional development plans. The process was teacher led and driven by their needs. Teacher comfort levels increased when their voices were heard; as they were able to contribute what they felt was most essential. This led to a support system that encouraged teacher learning through the utilization of student data, curriculum, and evaluation of teacher lesson planning. Peers learned in context as they critiqued teacher and student performance. This process of learning lead to deepened understanding of effective lessons where teachers were allotted time for practice that caused shifts in their knowledge. There were layers in this collaboration including the development of trust and respect that led to a collective responsibility. In the end, teachers valued this cycle of learning resulting in time for continuous learning. I will refer to this Cycle of Continuous Improvement in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Cycle of continuous improvement

978-1-7998-4622-2.ch008.f01

This study yields another implication for consideration regarding the professional development of teachers. Teachers in this study perceived professional development to be effective if it involved conversation with other educators. Specifically, they valued having these conversations if they centered on lessons that they had the opportunity to observe. Teachers feel comfortable in the classroom setting and value continued learning that takes place in this environment with discussions on how to improve instruction in order to boost student achievement. Looking at instruction through the lens of a researcher encouraged teachers to watch specific student reactions. This led to deepened reflection on how to best instruct learners and on the types of lessons that yielded the most results. Teachers felt motivated to create better lessons as a result of this continued dialogue and shared leadership.

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