Professional Learning Systems  

June 04, 2014

As ESU 10 works continually to provide high quality, effective professional learning opportunities, we often reference the Seven Standards for Professional Learning as promoted by Learning Forward. Learning Forward, in partnership with more than twenty national educational associations and with the support of the MetLife Foundation, developed the standards utilized world-wide by educational entities. Representatives from these twenty plus organizations reviewed research and best practice literature to contribute to the standards development in consideration of teachers, principals, superintendents, and local and state school board members. The following seven standards serve as the foundation for creating professional learning experiences that improve educator practices and increase student learning:

Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students….

   …occurs within learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment. (Learning Communities)

   …requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning. (Leadership)

   …requires prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for educator learning. (Resources)

   …uses a variety of sources and types of student, educator, and system data to plan, assess, and evaluate professional learning. (Data)

   …integrates theories, research, and models of human learning to achieve its intended outcome. (Learning Designs)

   …applies research on change and sustains support for implementation of professional learning for long-term change. (Implementation)

   …aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards. (Outcomes)

This foundation is part of a Learning System that is continuous and works two ways to inform change within an organization or school district. As described by Learning Forward, the system is cyclical and based on four components:

1. When professional learning is standards-based, it has greater potential to change what educators know, are able to do, and believe.
2. When educators’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions change, they have a broader repertoire of effective strategies to use to adapt their practices to meet performance expectations and student learning needs.
3. When educator practice improves, students have a greater likelihood of achieving results.
4. When student results improve, the cycle repeats for continuous improvement.

The power of this system of learning is that it works both ways. As depicted in the illustration above, if educators are not achieving the student results they desire, they reflect on what practices need to change and then what knowledge, skills, and dispositions are needed to make the wanted changes.

As you consider the Seven Standards for Professional Learning and this Learning Systems model, please take a moment to reflect on how your district plans for and provides professional learning. ESU 10 stands ready to answer any questions you may have about professional learning and how we can help you create an effective learning system in your school or district.

Standards for Professional Learning: Quick Reference Guide. Learning Forward Publication

-Kelly Clapp, Professional Development Coordinator