Professional Learning in Canada

The Learning Professional, February 2017 | Go to article overview

Professional Learning in Canada


Learning Forward recently released findings from a new study that fills a long-standing gap in existing Pan-Canadian research, identifying key components of effective professional learning based on findings from educators' experiences in Canada. Accompanying the study is a call to action by Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves making the case for a culture of collaborative professionalism for educators.

The study, The State of Educators' Professional Learning in Canada, is the work of a research team led by Carol Campbell, associate professor of leadership and educational change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. The report examines the professional learning that educators experience in the provinces and territories of Canada - recognized internationally as a high-performing education system. The study's purpose is to advance a priority focus on the elements of and conditions for effective professional learning in Canada and across the world.

"Our intent in doing the study was not to argue for a uniform approach to professional learning across Canada; rather, it is the opposite," Campbell says. "The purpose was to understand, value, appreciate, and respect the rich mosaic of educational experiences and diversity of approaches and outcomes from professional learning within and across Canada's provinces and territories."

Here are highlights of each paper, as well as links to download PDF copies.

THE STATE OF EDUCATORS' PROFESSIONAL LEARNING IN CANADA:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

By Carol Campbell, Pamela Osmond-Johnson, Brenton Faubert, Kenneth Zeichner, and Audrey Hobbs-Johnson, with Sherri Brown, Paula DaCosta, Anne Hales, Larry Kuehn, Jacqueline Sohn, and Karen Steffensen

Several key findings emerged from the study, which includes a review of research literature and existing data, case studies, surveys, focus groups, and collaboration with a national advisory group. The study outlines features of effective professional learning based on a review of the research literature and finds that practices in Canada are broadly consistent with those features. At the same time, the study identifies variations in the conception and implementation of those practices, offering opportunities for further exploration into local application of professional learning to advance next actions.

Findings include:

• Evidence, inquiry, and professional judgment are informing professional learning policies and practices.

• The priority area identified by teachers for developing their knowledge and practices is how to support diverse learners' needs.

• A focus on a broad range of students' and professionals' learning outcomes is important.

• The appropriate balance of system-directed and self-directed professional development for teachers is complex and contested. …

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