This issue of Voice is about the changing nature of professional learning. Effective professional learning is about you and your needs, and the needs of your students. It is learning you choose and direct for yourself, and it occurs every day in the course of your work.
We live in an information age, a time of rapid technological change and continual transformation of what we think we know to be true. Like everyone else in today’s society, schools and teachers struggle to keep pace. Education must not only provide students with a body of facts; it must also give them the tools to solve problems creatively and to communicate their thinking. Students must learn how to ﬁnd the information they need, and to synthesize, analyze, and critique it.
The changing expectations of and increasing demands on students fall squarely on the shoulders of teachers. Improvement in education depends on teachers, and change will not occur without changes in teacher practice. Like their students, teachers need to be lifelong learners. They need to enhance their practice to increase their ability to meet students’ needs.
WHAT KIND OF LEARNING IS MOST EFFECTIVE?
There are several different types of professional learning. Some training responds speciﬁcally to the priorities of principals, school boards, and the Ministry of Education. ETFO believes that to be effective, professional learning must also take into account teachers’ priorities and must be directed by teachers. Demanding that teachers change their practice or expecting them to copy and adopt new methods uncritically works only if the teachers have determined that the new practices are more effective and will improve their students’ learning.
When teachers engage in professional learning that is voluntary and speciﬁc to their needs and those of their students, educational change and systemwide improvement will occur. Change also comes about when teachers take what they have learned into the classroom and put it into context, into daily practice.
Professional learning as deﬁned, supported, and encouraged by ETFO has you the teacher at its core. It is learning you choose based on your needs in the classroom. It is learning that motivates you to do something differently. At its very best, it changes you: your values, belief system, attitudes, and behaviours combine with new knowledge and skills to change your teaching.
WHAT MAKES EFFECTIVE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING?
In this issue of Voice,