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

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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Nearly two decades ago, business thinkers coined the phrase the “knowing-doing gap.” The main idea being that despite all the things we know to be true, there is an inability (or unwillingness) to implement. Surveying the education landscape, there are any number of arenas where this holds true. We know what works, we know what research says, and we know what kids need, but somewhere along the way there is a breakdown. It could be due to bad policy, a failure to communicate clearly, or a lack of funding for quality implementation, but we end up in a professional purgatory between where we should be and where we currently are. more

High quality PD begins with listening.  That’s the first step that Lisa Highfill, Instructional Technology Coach at Pleasanton Unified School District took when she planned PD for her teachers.  Lisa captured critical information about her teachers’ needs and interests to help inform the structure and content of her training sessions.  Teachers chose how to spend their time as they developed new skills and applied their knowledge alongside their peers.  Listen to Lisa discuss how as a PD facilitator, she must not stand in the front of the room and impart knowledge, but rather work collaboratively with her teachers, support them as they actively engage with new content, and continue to listen.  Tune in here or read the transcript below: more