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.
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”.