Our Current Best Thinking About… Professional Learning
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Our Current Best Thinking About… Professional Learning. Cathy Bruce cathybruce@trentu.ca www.tmerc.ca Shelley Yearley shelley.yearley@tldsb.on.ca. 1. Let ’ s look again…. 6 green:4 yellow. How can you name this?. Part-Part (set). 6 green:10 shapes. Part-Whole (set).

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Our Current Best Thinking About… Professional Learning

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Our current best thinking about professional learning

Our Current Best Thinking About… Professional Learning

Cathy Bruce cathybruce@trentu.cawww.tmerc.ca

Shelley Yearleyshelley.yearley@tldsb.on.ca


Let s look again

Let’s look again…

6 green:4 yellow

How can you name this?

Part-Part (set)

6 green:10 shapes

Part-Whole (set)

One fifth of the total area is green

Part-Whole (area)

Powerful professional learning

Think about… a professional learning experience that has been particularly important in supporting improved practice for you.

Make a quick note about what it was and why it was so powerful.

Keep this in mind through the session

Powerful Professional Learning

The compelling why

The Compelling Why

Most reforms stop short at the classroom door; all available evidence suggests that classroom practice has changed little in the past 100 years.

Lewis, Perry & Hurd, 2004

A Deeper Look at Lesson Study

Educational Leadership

The compelling why1

The Compelling Why

  • Webster-Wright’s 2009 review of over 200 studies on PD and PL found that “professionals learn from experience and that learning is ongoing through active engagement in practice” (p. 723).

  • However, the vast majority of educational PD programs have separated the learning opportunities from natural contexts and from practice.



1. Teachers need fixing up

2. Learning out of context will be translated to classroom with ease

3. Others know best what teachers need

Five characteristics of effective professional learning

Five Characteristics of Effective Professional Learning

The following five characteristics should be considered by anyone charged with, or seeking to provide professional learning experiences for Ontario’s teachers

i) Coherence

ii) Attention to Adult Learning Styles

iii) Goal-orientation

iv) Sustainable

v) Evidence-informed

Recommendations to the Partnership Table on Teacher Professional Learning (2007)

Characteristics of effective professional learning

Characteristics of Effective Professional Learning

Across multiple studies, there is clear evidence that sustained, iterative, teacher-directed and collaborative models of professional learning support significant gains in teacher efficacy.

Dr. Cathy Bruce,

Science & Technology Education Group (2012)

Bruce, Esmonde, Ross, Gookey, Beatty (2010)

Our current best thinking about professional learning

Explanatory Diagram: The W Effect













So let s analyse math camppp

So Let’s Analyse Math CAMPPP

Consider the key characteristics of professional learning:

  • Where is Camppp stronger?

  • Where is Campppweaker?

  • Collaborative

  • Teacher-directed

  • Research/evidence-


    - Sustained

    - Classroom embedded

    - Goal alignment

    - Content rich

So let s analyse math camppp1

So Let’s Analyse Math CAMPPP

What has Math CAMPPP done to try to overcome some of the challenges of a week-long PD experience in summer months?





Classroom embedded

Goal alignment

Content rich

Rate on a scale of 1 to 5

(1 not really

5 absolutely)

Math knowledge for teaching

Math Knowledge for Teaching

Mark Hoover Thames and Deborah Lowenberg Ball

PCK – knowing the most useful ways of representing and formulating the subject in order to make it comprehensible to others

CCK – knowing if an answer is correct, knowledge of definitions and procedures

Horizon Knowledge – ‘mathematical peripheral vision’

SCK – knowing more math than CCK but distinct from PCK

Look back at your pl notes

Look back at your PL notes

  • What aspects of Math Knowledge for Teaching were strong in your professional learning experience?

Video story from digital paper

Video Story from Digital Paper

Think about aspects of Math Knowledge for Teaching in this example of Collaborative Action Research

Characteristics of teacher inquiry

Characteristics of Teacher Inquiry

Should we consider adding:

  • Teacher directed (teacher as agent and decision maker)

  • Activist oriented

    (practice implications)

  • Any other key characteristics? (to think about)

  • Relevant

  • Collaborative

  • Reflective

  • Iterative

  • Reasoned

  • Adaptive

  • Reciprocal

    (Capacity building series, 2010)

Inquiry research or both

Inquiry? Research? Or Both?

The Broad Context of Education


(origins as old as humankind)



(origins in social activism


Teacher and classroom


Educational Research

(since University of Chicago Laboratory School, around 1900)




(past 20 yrs)

Co-planning &


Book study/

Video study

Giant bird’s nest on drugs

Examples of high quality mathematics teacher inquiry

Examples of high quality mathematics teacher inquiry

  • Collaborative inquiry (CILM, MYCI, GAINS)

    Often involves co-planning, co-teaching, debriefing, with sustained focus on ‘difficult’ mathematics with the intention of enhancing practice and understandings

Examples of high quality teacher inquiry that are also research

  • Collaborative action research (CAR-TLT, KNAER)

  • Lesson Study (M4YC)

  • CLIPS (design research)

Myths of professional learning

Myths Of Professional Learning

  • No budget for release time = no pd

  • No planning needed just show up

  • Drop in-between meeting/session activity

  • PLC, CIL-M, Inquiry, SIPSA are all different

  • Growing quickly is a good idea

  • Any one with facilitation skills can support math professional learning

  • A coach is a coach (no special training, and don’t need support themselves)

Collaborative action research

Collaborative Action Research


Why high quality math pl is important

Why High Quality Math PL Is Important?

  • Agency (empowerment, ownership and constructive urgency)

  • Content learning (close attention to student work, listening and noticing)

  • Sustainability (will and capacity to continue)

  • Teacher efficacy (high efficacy leads to student increases in efficacy and achievement)

What opportunities might you have for

What opportunities might you have for…

  • slowing it down?

  • sustaining focus on a precise content piece?

  • building purposeful professional learning networks with researchers?

  • supporting collaborative teacher learning?

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