Human Resources, Professional Development

3 Reasons Why Professional Learning Matters

By: Amy Vracar, Partnerships Manager

Learning Forward is an association dedicated to advancing professional learning and believes that educators should have the opportunity to engage in effective professional learning every day to promote student success. Therefore, Learning Forward’s 2014 Annual Conference in Nashville, TN makes us remember that professional learning is essential for all teachers.

3 Reasons Why Professional Learning Matters

1. A teacher’s professional learning journey is an ongoing process throughout their teaching career.Professional Development for Teachers

Why is professional learning an ongoing process? Professional learning is the link between teachers’ individual skills and knowledge and the contribution they make to a school district and students. According to Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association President,“To promote and nurture effective teaching, the profession should offer quality-training, well designed career paths, time to work together on the best ways to help students, quality evaluations that help teachers in their development, professional development based on identified needs, and fair accountability processes.

Therefore, the process of professional learning should provide teachers the opportunity to expand their skills, develop new teaching strategies, and deepen their understanding of subject content. For instance, for experienced teachers, it is vital to find time to participate in professional learning, because technology is continuously changing and subject knowledge is updated. More specifically, when subject knowledge is updated, experienced teachers need access to professional learning opportunities to be refreshed on these subject areas, because what teachers know is a major influence on how students learn.

2. The classroom is continuously changing, and teachers must be prepared to meet needs of their students.

In Learning Forward’s publication Meet the Promise of Content Standards: Professional Learning Required by Joellin Killion, we learn about a 20-year experienced social studies teacher, Mr. Schultz. Over the course of Mr. Schultz’s teaching career, the students in his classroom became more diverse. Therefore, for his professional learning, Mr. Schultz participated in a curriculum-remodeling course and chose to work with a team of teachers that focused on meeting the needs of English language learner (ELL) students.

Through his professional learning course, Mr. Schultz gained the skills to create units and learning plans, as well as screen resources that met various levels of English language proficiency. Ultimately, Mr. Schultz was given the professional learning opportunities to be ready for his changing classroom from day one, and is a great example on how professional learning prepares teachers for the unique changes that are occurring in classrooms across the U.S.

teacher professional development3. It is important for school districts to adopt rich professional learning opportunities for its teachers.

According to Stephanie Hirsh, Executive Director of Learning Forward, “The most powerful strategy school systems have at their disposal to improve teacher effectiveness is professional development.

While the majority of school districts are aware of what professional development is, many have not established effective professional learning programs. Effective professional learning begins with the commitment from administrators to provide opportunities for all teachers to grow in their careers, and customizing professional learning to teacher needs. Therefore, when evaluating your school district professional learning plan, as yourself, is our school district structuring professional learning because it allows us to say we provide professional learning to teachers, or does our current approach develop teachers to positively impact student achievement?

For example, Elmbrook Schools, located in Brookfield, WI, utilizes TeacherMatch’s Professional Development Profile (PDP) when new teachers are hired. TeacherMatch’s PDP highlights teachers’ individual strengths and addresses areas for improvement that can be used opportunities for professional growth. Utilizing this information, Elmbrook Schools develops data-driven, meaningful evaluation goals for teachers’ first year in their district.

Ultimately, professional learning matters, because it is an ongoing process throughout a teacher’s career, prepares teachers for the changing classroom, and provides rich opportunities for teachers to continue to develop their teaching skills and subject matter knowledge. The result progresses the quality of teaching, enhances student learning, and ensures effective, high quality teachers are placed in all classrooms.
Attending Learning Forward?

Visit TeacherMatch at booth #100 to find out more about TeacherMatch’s revolutionary software portfolio powered by cutting edge research, predictive analytics, and the latest technology advancements . . . Designed to give students the best chance to succeed by placing highly effective teachers in every classroom and created professional development profiles for continuous growth.

Download our Professional Development Poster to learn how to create an optimized professional development ecosystem, starting steps to begin a high-quality teacher preparation and PD program in district, and how to create a strong linkage between professional development and student achievement.

Free Professional Development Poster

Amy Vracar
With a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University in Media Communications and English, Amy Vracar began her career in Illinois public libraries and colleges and held positions as a Marketing Assistant at Harper College and Marketing and Public Relations Associate at the Algonquin Area Public Library (APPL). At APPL, Amy successfully developed a three-year marketing plan based on board initiatives and constructed the library’s first style and branding guide. After almost ten years in public libraries, Amy joined Sikich, LLP as a Vertical Marketing Specialist. Amy drove the creation, execution and delivery of integrated marketing campaigns for the firm’s Enterprise Resource Planning Technology Services Division. She oversaw content development for the firm’s key technology markets and collaborated with partners and C-level executives. One of her content pieces was featured nation-wide and received approximately 120 million unique views per month.   Amy joined TeacherMatch in July 2014 to merge her love for education and technology environments, and brings her skills in marketing strategy, as well as developing first class relationships, to the TeacherMatch team.
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