Magazine article The Learning Professional

Our Work Is about Ensuring That Professional Learning Results in Moving Theories of Action to Theories in Action

Magazine article The Learning Professional

Our Work Is about Ensuring That Professional Learning Results in Moving Theories of Action to Theories in Action

Article excerpt

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"Leaders of companies that experience smaller gaps between what they know and what they do understand that their most important task is not necessarily to make strategic decisions or, for that matter, many decisions at all. Their task is to help build systems of practice that produce a more reliable transformation of knowledge into action" (Pfeffer & Sutton, 1999).

Educators across the globe regularly engage in learning. This learning is usually grounded in espoused theories of action, with a hope that changes in professional practice and improved student learning will result. Yet, far too often a gap exists between what people have learned and what they do day-to-day.

Why are schools and organizations so consistently experiencing this knowing-doing gap? Alan Webber said: "Doing something actually requires doing something! It means tackling the hard work of making something happen. It's much easier and much safer to sit around and have intellectual conversations ... and never actually implement anything" (Webber, 2000).

Gervase Bushe, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, asserts that we can't even call an experience learning without change. He describes learning as "the outcome of an inquiry that produces knowledge and leads to change." He adds that organizational learning requires two or more people learning together and changing how they work together (Bushe, 2010).

What does this mean for us as educational leaders - superintendents, principals, professional developers, teacher leaders? I believe it means that our work is about more than creating well-designed learning. Our work is about ensuring that professional learning results in moving our theories of action to theories in action.

I am not advocating for more teacher evaluation or standardized tests. I am calling for school leaders to work with staffto identify expectations for implementation, then get out of the office and talk with those who are implementing their learning. …

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