Engaging in Effective Professional Learning

Today’s students are no longer served well by the old model where the teacher is the sole repository and administrator of knowledge following a school curriculum that heavily focuses primarily on content. This once predominant model and pedagogy are woefully inadequate in the face of the 21st century demands.  To better prepare students to meet the demand of upcoming decades, it is imperative to expand the role of the educator to scholar and activator. To make this shift, effective professional learning opportunities are essential.

In order to transform learning for our children, districts and schools must commit resources to provide a variety of quality options for deep, sustained, multi-faceted professional learning for educators because professional learning done well makes a difference in learning for all. In a synthesis of professional development research, Darling-Hammond and Richardson (2009) note that “studies of professional development lasting 14 or fewer hours showed no effects on student learning…The largest effects were found for programs offering between 30 and 100 hours [of professional learning] spread out over 6-12 months”(p. 49). In other research, Yoon and associates (2007) found that student achievement improved significantly (21 percentile points) with an average of 49 hours of intensive professional learning.

The length of time spent on professional learning for educators is only one consideration, however. It is the learning experiences that occur during an extended period of time that change practice. For an impact on student learning to occur, teachers’ transfer of knowledge from training into deep implementation in the classroom is essential. Each of the Kamm Solutions programs are accompanied by multiple avenues for professional learning: seminars, workshops, online assistance, coaching, teacher forums, lesson studies, observation and feedback dialogues, train-the-trainer programs, and customized webpages.

Professional Learning

In the preface to Professional Learning in the Learning Profession, Stephanie Hirsh (2009), the executive director of Learning Forward shares the following insight:

“Several national studies on what distinguishes high-performing, high-poverty schools from their lower- performing counterparts consistently identify effective school-wide collaborative professional learning as critical to the school’s success. And yet as a nation we have failed to leverage this support and these examples to ensure that every educator and every student benefits from highly effective professional learning” (p. ii).

Downloadable Digital Resources

Our team has put together resources to provide you with suggestions to consider as you plan rich learning experiences to support the professionals in your organization.

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