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Professional Learning Resolutions for the New Year

On the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog Jan. 5, guest blogger Mike Rose posted a dozen education "resolutions" for 2011. Rose, author of Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us, included among his resolutions, "To assure that teacher professional development gets increased and thoughtful support. For this to happen, we will need at the least: a) A major shift from the last decade's punitive accountability system toward a program of growth and development. b) A rejection of typical development fare: a consultant jets in, lays down a scheme, a grid, a handful of techniques and aphorisms, then jets out. c) A replacement of said fare with ongoing, comprehensive, intellectually rich programs of the kind offered by the National Writing Project and the National Science Foundation."

We at Learning Forward wholeheartedly agree with the resolution to ensure that more teachers experience the kind of professional development that advances their knowledge and skills and helps all students achieve. And we offer our own list of 10 resolutions for this year:

1. In 2011, more educators will engage in professional learning that transforms their practice and turns them into advocates for effective professional learning for everyone.

2. Learning Forward's definition for professional learning will become the framework for strengthening professional learning in school systems across the country.

3. Policymakers will move their attention from debating the connection between professional development and student learning to demanding that substantial investments in professional development are awarded based on measurable goals and benchmarks for assessing progress.

4. The focus of ESEA reauthorization will shift from the laundry list of acceptable uses of professional development funds to investments in school-based and on-the-job focused professional learning.

5. District and union leaders will craft agreements that ensure every educator has substantive time on a weekly basis for collaborative professional learning, joint lesson planning, assessment analysis, and problem solving.

6. Comprehensive and thoughtful professional development plans to assist all educators with the transition to new standards and assessments will be adopted in all states.

7. Key leaders from all sectors will understand that investing time and resources into professional development as the most important and effective turnaround strategy.

8. Teachers and principals will be offered attractive career paths and opportunities based on their commitment to continuous improvement and the applications of their learning to their work.

9. All schools will aspire to become learning schools--places where teachers and students apply standards of professional development in a professional learning community setting to advance performance for both staff and students.

10. Everyone will understand that the phrase professional development addresses individual development, school improvement, and organization/program implementation; and that all three are necessary if schools are to achieve the intended results for all students.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

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The opinions expressed in Learning Forward's PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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