Professional Learning with You at the Centre

Ruth Dawson, Anne Rodrigue, Johanna Brand

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.



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.



In this issue of   Voice, you will read stories by teachers who took part in a variety of  professional learning  activities that inspired, excited, and changed them. The activities and programs they write about  are examples  of  the kind of


Teacher standing with students providing an explenation

The grade 6 students settle down as the lesson begins.

ETFO member ice skating

Like  learning  to  skate,  becoming  a  successful teacher is easier with a helping hand, according to Annamari Pouti-Fletcher.