Learning Forward – Part 5: Outcomes

Photo credit: http://www.learningforward.org/

Photo credit: http://www.learningforward.org/

Throughout my blog series on Professional Learning standards, we’ve unpacked the core elements of the following standards: Learning Communities; Leadership, Resources, and Data; and Learning Design and Implementation.  Now I would like to look at Outcomes and take this standard from paper to practice.

Outcomes – Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards.

The Outcomes standard replaces three standards previously found in the content section of the standards: family involvement, quality, and equity. Performance standards typically delineate the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions of highly effective educators. In comparison, the new Learning Forward Professional Development Standards guide preparation, assessment, licensing, induction, practice, and evaluation.

Coherence is a new concept in the standards.  It addresses how educators link and align past experiences, activating and connecting to background knowledge.  As educators grow and change, so do professional learning opportunities to address their changing needs for advancement.  Professional learning should mature with educators. In an effort to identify these needs for professional learning, we examine how standards for students and instructors intersect and are integrated with one another.  We connect the goals of educators with student goals, business goals, and district goals. Shared goals foster alignment, coherence, and seamlessness.

Professional learning models and engages educators in practices they are expected to demonstrate in the classroom – with the end result directly affecting outcomes. When student outcomes are the professional learning focus, pedagogical content knowledge deepens. 

Paper to Practice

Successful application of the Learning Forward Professional Learning Standards is a process contingent upon the level of adoption of standards into policy and the level of advocacy for the standards. Advocacy is best accomplished by building awareness.  It is important that professional learning staff understand the standards.  This can be achieved through training or presentations about the standards. Additionally, reaching out to strategic agencies that have some formal responsibilities regarding the standards helps to increase awareness. For example, the DOE or superintendent cabinets are credible agencies. Reaching out to the staff at universities and seeking out how they handle their professional learning may also prove beneficial.

What are your school’s areas of challenge with the professional learning initiatives related to the standards? What recommendations do you have for the challenges?

Mary MitchellMary Mitchell is an instructor who has held several positions at FLVS over the years. A National Board Certified Teacher, she has been recognized as a Teacher of the Year for FLVS, the United States Distance Learning Association, and Discovery Middle School in Orange County, FL. She has written articles on topics ranging from computer image processing to teacher training for the online classroom.

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