The Cycle

Where education leaders can join a candid discussion about how schools are taking fresh approaches to providing relevant, inspiring, and effective professional learning

The expression “practice makes perfect” depends on the value of that practice. Tom Arnett, Research Fellow at the Christensen Institute, argues that good practice must be feedback-informed. In an exclusive interview, Tom dives into “purposeful practice” and gives an example of a program that’s doing it right.

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The following is a guest contribution from James Noonan, Ed.D.

BY: JAMES NOONAN

Ask teachers about professional development (PD) and you are likely to be met with a shrug or a grimace, but as Ann Webster-Wright has argued, there is a revealing gap between teachers’ rhetoric about professional development and their own experiences of authentic and meaningful learning. If pressed, most teachers have important stories to tell about powerful professional learning. My research has focused on what we can learn from these apparently outlying experiences.

Listening to teacher accounts of powerful learning, one thing is immediately clear: the tremendous variation along many dimensions, including format, duration, and content. Powerful learning takes as many shapes as there are teachers willing to share their stories.

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Improving teacher support has much to do with “overcoming some of the mindsets around PD,” explains Tom Arnett, Research Fellow at the Christensen Institute.  In an exclusive interview, Tom discusses the need to adopt an outcomes-driven mindset and measure change in teacher practice.

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Tom Arnett, Research Fellow at the Christensen Institute speaks about the evolution of professional development.  He discusses how districts are beginning to personalize professional development, moving away from the “1.0 version of PD” — PD that is one-size-fits-all and may lack relevancy to all teachers. Good PD provides teachers with the chance to “take what they learned, apply it, get feedback, make adjustments, and improve.” 

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We interviewed Tom Arnett, Research Fellow at the Christensen Institute about his perspective regarding high quality professional learning.  He explains that effective professional development has less to do with a specific practice and everything to do with being outcomes driven. Effective professional development “causes teachers to change their practices in ways that improve student outcomes”.

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