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CTQ-Global teachers tackle professional learning systems

HEALTH ADVISORY: Some parts of CTQ’s newest TeacherSolutions report may be downright painful to read, due to documented inefficiencies, lost opportunities, and disconnectedness.

Consider yourself warned.

It’s no huge secret that student learning demands teachers’ ongoing learning. International student achievement data—and esteemed researchers like Marc Tucker and Ben Jensen—have told us so for decades.

We now have an even clearer picture of how professional learning policies play out for individual practitioners in six cities across the world: Denver, Lexington (KY), Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore, and Toronto. Our new CTQ-Global TeacherSolutions report, A Global Network of Teachers and Their Professional Learning Systems, shares seven teachers’ experiences with professional learning.

Sneak peeks from the report

SPOILER ALERT: Shanghai and Singapore have the most sophisticated professional learning systems and American cities have the least.

Expert teachers Paul Charles (Toronto), Xu Jianlan (Shanghai), Cynthia Seto and Irene Tan (Singapore), Karen Wagner (Denver), Alison Wright (Lexington), and Noah Zeichner (Seattle) studied and discussed professional learning in CTQ’s Collaboratory (and our new CTQ-Global lab). They deliberated with system leaders on webinars and at the Asia Society’s Global Cities Education Network (GCEN) convening in Singapore.

The teachers reveal stark differences in how their professional learning systems do—and don’t—effectively support student learning. They document discrepancies in how professional learning is structured and scheduled. And—in this age of rigorous accountability—teachers also speak to the degree to which their professional learning (and isn’t) integrated with evaluation.

Solutions for systems worldwide

But the report is anything but a catalogue of complaints. Instead, the seven teachers offer sound recommendations:

  • Connect teacher evaluations with professional learning systems.
  • Value opportunities for teachers to learn from another.
  • Establish career pathways for teachers to lead without leaving the classroom.
  • Expand professional learning opportunities and access points.

You know, crazy, off-the-wall stuff like that.

One of the strengths of the report is how the teachers explain these points—with concrete examples of how systems could work differently. What if preservice programs included the systematic development of teachers’ research skills? What if teachers’ schedules allowed more time (and less fragmented time) for learning? What if teachers were rewarded for spreading their expertise to one another? Such policies are already in place—and working beautifully—in some global cities, but not others.

Read this report. Share it. Spread good ideas for improving professional learning. Do so for the good of the 3.2 million teachers in the United States, the 52.3 million in other countries, and most of all, for the true beneficiaries: our world’s young learners. 

2 Comments

Bruce William Smith commented on May 30, 2014 at 10:56am:

A Proposal for a School with Such Policies Here Already Exists

I have already studied the professional learning system of Shanghai (detailed in a Grattan Institute report by Ben Jensen), and have used the teacher appraisal system of Singapore as one of the sources in our proposal for One World Lyceum. My trustees and I presented a charter for such a school to Los Angeles and other school districts in California, but the charter office people there were incapable of comprehending sources from outside the United States (they were unfamiliar with the International Baccalaureate, for example), and so, while we try to open One World as a private, pilot school whose model could eventually be used in a state system, the children in poorly served communities in California continue to be poorly served due to an ignorance of international practices that is rife throughout America's adult population, and to a desire by established school districts to keep local educational markets rigged, regardless of the consequences for the next generation.

Barnett Berry Barnett Berry commented on June 1, 2014 at 10:04am:

Brilliant

I typically report, Bruce, that everything that needs to be done is being done -- even in the U.S. It would be great to see your proposal for transforimg teacher eval for the One World Lyceum. I am fascinated that the "charter office people there were incapable of comprehending sources from outside the United States."

 

BB

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