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Resource Title Professional Learning in the Learning Profession

This recent document, authored by Linda Darling-Hammond et al, describes research on professional learning and describes the availability of such opportunities in the U.S. and other countries; it is based on a more detailed technical report. The purpose of the reports is to provide policymakers, researchers, and school leaders with a teacher-development research base that can lead to powerful professional learning, instructional improvement, and student learning. This document addresses:

  • Research findings related to effective teacher development
  • Trends and strategies for professional development in other countries
  • The status of professional development in the U.S.

The authors report that much of the professional development available today focuses on educators’ academic content knowledge, and pays growing attention to mentoring support, particularly for new teachers. However, the kind of high-intensity, job-embedded collaborative learning that is most effective is not a common feature of professional development in most states, districts, and schools. A few of the key findings are described below:

  • Sustained and intensive professional development is related to student achievement gains
  • Collaborative approaches to professional learning can promote school change that extends beyond individual classrooms
  • Effective professional development is intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice; focuses on the teaching and learning of specific academic content; is connected to other school initiatives; and builds strong working relationships among teachers
  • Teachers typically need more substantial professional development to improve their skills and their students’ learning, but most opportunities are much shorter
  • Teachers say that their top priorities for further professional development are learning more about the content they teach (23 percent), classroom management (18 percent), teaching students with special needs (15 percent), and using technology in the classroom (14 percent)
  • Teachers are not getting adequate training in teaching special education or limited English proficiency students
  • The U.S. is far behind in providing public school teachers with opportunities to participate in extended learning opportunities and productive collaborative communities
  • Other nations invest heavily in professional learning and build time for ongoing, sustained teacher development and collaboration into teachers’ work hours
  • American teachers spend much more time teaching students and have significantly less time to plan and learn together, and to develop high quality curriculum and instruction than teachers in other nations

Resource Area(s)
Professional Development
Type of Resource
Research Findings
Best Practices
Format PDF document
Related Service(s)