Information that will support my school's growth as a professional learning community.
The purpose of professional development programs is to increase the teaching capacity of educators with the intended result of enhancing student learning (Garmston, & Wellman, 2013). Professional development is most expeditiously formulated when it is has a compelling purpose, is job-embedded, evidence-based, and results-oriented (Garmston, & Wellman, 2013). Moreover, it must be collaborative and systematic and align its activities with district goals and state learning standards (Garmston, & Wellman, 2013). Finally, there should be a sense of shared authority where each member of staff is empowered to lead when called upon. Importantly, PD teams must be afforded the time, place, and resources to actualize their efforts.
Three key questions should guide the professional learning community. These are: “What is the current reality at our school?” “What do we know about best practices?” “How are we applying these to solve the current problem?” (Laureate Education, 2012).
In order to address these prompts we must be familiar not only with the school-wide practices of our particular domain but we must also be cognizant of Learning Forward’s seven professional learning standards. This set of valuable resources contains a list of best practices that are at once comprehensive, quantifiable, and qualitative. Accordingly, staff should share and discuss their dictates in a collaborative manner when applying them to specific academic circumstances.
More specifically, addressing the needs of students is the central concern of any PD program. Consequently, at each appropriate meeting the collaborative team should share a common vision, state a specific goal, and used their communal expertise to scrutinize student-based evidence. Finally, they need to assess their efforts periodically and render constructive feedback for continual improvement.
Garmston, R. J., & Wellman, B. M. (2013). The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing
collaborative groups (Rev. 2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Qualities of effective professional
development: Introduction to professional learning communities. Baltimore, MD: Author.