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3 Approaches to Apply in Teacher Professional Learning

In this installment of our series spotlighting strategies from leading authors, read about professional learning strategies that focus on overall knowledge and understanding. By using research-based practices, proven models, and empowerment techniques, educators become experts in leading learning. In turn, student achievement soars.

Read below as educator-authors share their insight into professional development and the impact it can have on more remarkable student outcomes:

1. Empower teachers through professional knowledge and understanding

Bruce Robertson, author of The Teaching Delusion: Why Teaching In Our Schools Isn’t Good Enough (And How We Can Make It Better)

“I think when you’re empowered, you’re in a position where you can lead improvements yourself. Teacher empowerment comes about through the development of professional knowledge and understanding. The more a teacher’s professional knowledge and experience develop, the better their skills enter the classroom.

For schools, it’s similar but with some bigger issues. For example, in terms of the school curriculum, determining the curriculum determines staff professional development approaches. [It’s about] not being dictated by local authorities or the national government but empowered in a way that is going to make the most significant difference for students.

Teacher empowerment and school empowerment is all about developing your professional knowledge and understanding of what you’re trying to do.”

Listen to the full interview with Bruce Robertson: Confronting the ‘Teaching Delusion’ to Make Schools Better

2. Break down teacher training into specific elements that can be practiced

Tom Sherrington, co-author of Teaching WalkThrus with Oliver Caviglioli

“There are a number of reasons why WalkThrus is going to help teachers. One of them is to avoid what we call ‘lethal mutation,’ which is when somebody has an idea that they read in a book on a training course, and they go back and tell their colleagues who, then tell other people who, then, pass it on. [Eventually], it stops being the original idea.

Let’s keep going back. Let’s continuously check. Do we have a shared understanding of this concept? The first thing is the shared understanding. It’s useful to avoid this idea of describing scattergun things. When you observe a teacher or evaluate yourself, you sometimes flick from a bit of this to a bit of that. A good coaching model is when you’re precise. It needs to be clear.

A sports coaching analogy can be useful. If I’m training people to be better at soccer, for instance, we can keep playing the match over and over again, but to get really good at it, you break it down to things that can be practiced. We practice specific elements, and then we bring them back together. Teaching is similar. We can break it down into something you can practice. You can practice behavior management strategies and questioning techniques. You can practice how to run a room to check students’ understanding and the retaining of their knowledge.”

Listen to the full interview with Tom Sherrington: Every Picture Tells a Story: Instructional Coaching Artfully Defined

3. Blend memory and mindset research into teacher training

Tricia Taylor, author of Connect the Dots: The Collective Power of Relationships, Memory and Mindset in the Classroom

“I was doing a lot of training with teachers and leaders in schools. My training kept coming to these three scenes: relationships, memory, and mindsets. People wanted these areas, but I was also looking at research and recognizing it was [very much] needed.

I started off working around mindset. I asked myself, ‘How do you teach children to have a level of self-efficacy? What are the things that we can do as teachers? How do we give feedback to children?’

Ultimately, when we started learning more about memory, I realized that to teach children a higher level of self-efficacy and a learning mindset, there needs to be an understanding of how the brain works. [Teachers] need to understand how learning strategies or memory strategies work, and that’s really empowering.

If we teach about memory, we actually help students have a better learning mindset. Memory and mindset [are together].”

Listen to the full interview with Tricia Taylor: Connecting the Dots of Educator-Student Relationships

Find books written by these authors and many more leading educators and experts by visiting us.johncattbookshop.com

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