“Teachers are professionals. Teachers grow, evolve, and emerge as professionals through the long-term and day-to-day work they do, and that is why job-embedded learning opportunities need to be the focal point of professional development efforts” (Zepeda, 2012, p.1). As professionals, teachers are expected to strengthen their skills, learn and apply new strategies, assess and modify instruction, and collaborate with parents, colleagues, and administration. Our role as professional includes multiple responsibilities and expectations in order to support our students and increase academic achievement. It is vital that teachers are provided with the support they need to grow in an environment that provides feedback, builds community, and encourages communication. Dr. Henrikson (2013) states, “Changes in student learning requires changes in how educators learn.” I think it’s important that we view teachers as we do our students. Just like our students, teachers also need differentiation, a learning community that demonstrates respect and provides opportunities for communication, learning goals that are clearly defined, and feedback that helps them make progress towards their goals.
My discussion post this week focused on Professional Learning Communities. I think Professional Learning Communities provide a culture to support professional learning described in Professional Development: What Works (Zepeda, 2012). This includes: professional development based on data that frames goals, an opportunity to learn from their actual work, and a learning community of trust (Zepeda, 2012, p. 6). What I value about the PLC process is that it offers teachers an opportunity to learn through teaching. They are applying teaching strategies, monitoring student progress, and analyzing student data to determine next steps for instruction. Rather than learning in a large workshop without support for implementing and receiving feedback, teachers are learning from the work they do, the work students do, and the work teachers do with other teachers (Zepeda, 2012, p. 6). PLCs have also provided one way to evaluate professional development. Zepeda (2012) states, “The success of professional development is based on the extent to which change occurs” (p.18). One way our professional development is being evaluated with the new evaluation system is through student achievement. Goals are focused on change in student achievement and the success of our development is measured by student growth.
Henrikson, R. (Producer). (2013). Module 2 Screencast Presentation: Advocacy for Student Learning [Audio Screencast]. Retrieved from http://www.screencast.com/t/9EI2TA1sm
Zepeda, S. (2012). Professional development: What works (2nd ED). Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education (pp. 1-45).