In the Recipe for Effectiveness, Professional Learning Is the Key Ingredient

By Diaz, Mark | Journal of Staff Development, December 2011 | Go to article overview

In the Recipe for Effectiveness, Professional Learning Is the Key Ingredient


Diaz, Mark, Journal of Staff Development


on board

Whisk one-quarter cup mayonnaise with two tablespoons of lemon juice. Add to it 12 ounces of drained tuna packed in olive oil, one-half cup chopped drained roasted red peppers, 10 chopped, pitted Kalamata black olives, one chopped celery rib, and two tablespoons chopped red onion. Season with salt and pepper. Assemble on a lightly toasted baguette brushed with olive oil and topped with fresh lettuce.

I love this grown-up tuna salad sandwich, and I enjoy it best with a significant other and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

This isn't the tuna salad sandwich I always made. But experience, curiosity, and some knowledge about food helped me get to this point. And it made me think about some formulas I've heard about making sure teachers become effective. Do the ingredients all add up?

There is no argument that quality teaching makes a difference in student learning. Strategies (Jaquith, Mindich, Wei, & Darling-Hammond, (2010), the third report in Learning Forward's study on the state of professional learning in the United States, notes that in the last decade, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners have come to the same conclusion: Teacher effectiveness is a key factor in improving academic outcomes for students.

Teachers have often told me they know which students come from a particular teacher's class because they are so well-prepared. They also whisper to me that I should check out another teacher's class scores because year after year his students are falling behind.

Many readers agree that professional learning is the single most important strategy for extending and refining their knowledge, skills, dispositions, and practices. It is troubling that in many ongoing discussions, professional learning is viewed as remediation.

Denver Public Schools seems to understand that educator effectiveness is more than a recipe. …

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