Teachers agree that professional learning is a top priority for school leaders and that administrators rely on student achievement data to plan professional development opportunities, according to The State of Teacher Professional Learning, a survey of more than 6,300 teachers released Monday by the National Education Association, Learning Forward and Corwin, a publisher of professional learning materials.
The respondents, however, said that leaders don’t consider teachers’ level of experience or individual needs when designing professional learning plans — and on a scale ranging from one (meaning never) to five (meaning always, teachers gave an average rating of 2.5 to a question about whether their school has had a professional learning plan in place for three to five years. Teachers also reported the majority of their learning takes place on in-service days instead of during the regular school day.
The survey questions were partly developed by researchers and partly drawn from the Standards Assessment Inventory, a tool developed by Learning Forward to measure how much teachers think their own learning experiences align with the seven Standards for Professional Learning, released in 2011.
Across the country, school districts have been trying to find a balance between giving teachers more input into professional development and keeping learning opportunities tied to overall district and school goals. Learning Forward’s Redesign Professional Development Community of Practice, for example, includes 22 large and medium-sized school districts in 10 states that have been creating new professional learning systems that include online courses as well as face-to-face workshops.
The survey report recommends that schools provide teachers with more opportunities for professional learning that is part of their daily classroom practice, such as coaching and collaboration with peers. This resource from the Northwest Evaluation Association highlights elements of job-embedded professional development.
Meanwhile, many teachers have become active in creating and leading their own professional learning opportunities through movements such as EdCamp and Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching — or ECET2, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.