Strengthening and Enriching Your Professional Learning Community: The Art of Learning Together

Strengthening and Enriching Your Professional Learning Community: The Art of Learning Together

Strengthening and Enriching Your Professional Learning Community: The Art of Learning Together

Strengthening and Enriching Your Professional Learning Community: The Art of Learning Together

Synopsis

How can educators create a collective method of professional development that results in the genuine, sustained teacher learning essential to improving student achievement? That question is at the heart of this comprehensive and practical guide to process learning circles, a unique and powerful way to develop, strengthen, and enrich professional learning communities.

Authors Geoffrey and Renate N. Caine have dedicated more than 20 years to researching how people learn naturally. From this foundation, they describe in detail how process learning circles work, and they provide readers with a clear understanding of how powerful and successful this approach to professional learning can be. Along the way, they explore

• The three critical elements of great professional development

• How to create a field of listening

• The logistics and phases of process learning circles

• Tips for success as a process leader

• The effects of individual differences and group dynamics

• Principles for developing a process that works

Examples from schools that have implemented process learning circles provide evidence of the method's success, and the authors also include an explanation of 12 underlying brain/mind learning principles, guidelines for using online tools, and broader suggestions for how to move from teaching for memorization to teaching for understanding. Written with both teachers and administrators in mind, Strengthening and Enriching Your Professional Learning Community: The Art of Learning Together is an essential guide to professional learning and development that works.

Excerpt

One of the most underused resources available to educators is the community of colleagues with whom they work. Such communities are invaluable when they work well because a great way to learn and develop as a professional is to do so in partnership with others who are doing the same thing.

The importance of educators learning together is now so clear that the February 2009 issue of Educational Leadership was devoted to ways in which collective learning can take place. For instance, Ruth Chung Wei, Alethea Andree, and Linda Darling-Hammond, in their article “How Nations Invest in Teachers,” consider several countries that score high on international measures and report that professional development programs in those nations provide time for learning and collaboration, offer job-embedded professional development, and encourage teacher participation in decision making. And, in their article “Teacher Learning: What Matters?” DarlingHammond and Nikole Richardson argue that teacher professional development should be a sustained effort, should be integrated with school improvement, and should include professional learning communities. A similar philosophy has emerged in the corporate and nonprofit worlds, where one of the most powerful forms of professional development is a “community of practice” (Lave & Wenger, 1991).

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