Concepts to be addressed in this conference seminar may include: professional learning versus professional development, mentoring versus enculturation, teacher induction, principal induction, and more.
We concluded that we need to refer to “professional learning opportunities” as this highlights the opportunities, benefits, and outcomes of Professional Development. Professional Development programs/courses/activities can take any number of forms and may be provided, selected or directed, but the professional learning is what occurs in relation to the individual’s or group’s learning.
This led to another key element of our discussion regarding how “professional learning” needs to meet a global expectation and at the same time address the needs of a specific local experience or community. For this reason, we knew we needed a general definition, one that would resonate for all professionals and, at the same time, we wanted to bring this definition to an educational context.
These two guiding elements of our discussion led to the definition below which will be the foundation for our group’s seminar. Please see the video presentations for this seminar and then use the discussion board to respond.
Professional Learning is active learning sustained over time as individuals/groups choose to engage in activities of a continual, contextual, collaborative, and community-based nature.
Ideally, Professional Learning opportunities:
1. Support an individual’s or group’s authentic learning through study and experience,
2. Involve ongoing engagement in identified activities that are essential and embedded in the individual’s or group’s work,
3. Support an individual’s specific context and simultaneously reflect a global context of different realities,
4. Provide ongoing support and follow-up from appropriate individuals and/or groups, and
5. Support the individuals and/or groups to be successful in reaching their goals.
In the recording that introduces the definition and conditions of Professional Learning, Dr. Joan Conway explained the progressive work of the group in preparation for this seminar.
See video: Dr. Joan Conway
When have you realised your most effective professional learning experiences? And what has been the outcome for you?
Professional Learning from a Principal and Assistant Principal Perspective
Timperley (2011) challenges us to examine our assumptions regarding traditional approaches to professional learning and to consider “…alternatives that actively involve [educators] in their learning, are demanding of their professionalism, and have demonstrated improvement in outcomes for students that are valued by the communities in which students learn and live (p. 2).
See video: Dr. Dianne Yee
How are we able to sponsor meaningful professional learning opportunities across the various roles that exist in our school districts and educational systems?
In the video about Professional Learning for a School Superintendent, Dr. Andra McGinn talked about the valuable role each of these play in Professional Learning:
- Local and Global Expert Speakers
- Structured and Informal opportunities to come together with colleagues and others to collaborate, discuss and share ideas.
See video: Dr. Andra McGinn
What has been the most effective element of your professional learning?
The discussion in Seminar 1 on Professional Learning greatly reflected the need to understand that any structure of professional learning must meet the context of the individual and/or the group of individuals.
Another common theme in the postings was the need for collaboration if professional learning is to be effective. This included collaboration within a group and beyond. There was also particular reference to the need for schools to collaborate with universities if professional learning is to be effective.
Much discussion also referred to the need to understand cultural influences, integrate current realities as well as long-term vision, and know what the intended result is.
By the end of Seminar 1, I believe all postings had a very cohesive approach to the understanding that professional learning has to be an essential element of our work life as educators. However, the postings also clearly indicated that for professional learning to be effective – it is more than the academic learning – it is about relationships, commitment and working together to improve our practice.
Indeed, this online series of Seminars very much reflects the value of professional learning as identified in Seminar 1 posts:
- Support of a professional learning community
- Opportunity to expand knowledge and understanding
- Increased effectiveness in meeting goals
- Ability to meet current and future needs
- Improves relationships and satisfaction in what we do
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank those who posted in Seminar 1 and kept the conversation so vital and vibrant.