Vision for Professional Learning

Today’s teachers are expected to be highly trained, highly motivated, and therefore highly effective as they meet the challenges associated with increasingly diverse student populations. Students need refined literacy, learning and innovation, and life and career skills which will enable them to successfully navigate their world. Having the ability to help students develop these skills requires that teachers develop their own knowledge, skills and instructional practices to meet their own, and students’ evolving needs. Research indicates that professional learning should focus on student achievement and subsequently what teachers identify as areas for their own learning, including tasks associated with teaching and learning, assessment and evaluation, and reflection.

Teacher professional learning in Newfoundland and Labrador has moved from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model, to one where teacher learning is guided by three principles which state that professional learning:

  • occurs in collaborative, reflective communities where:
    • a shared vision, mission, and goals create high expectations for all
    • collective responsibility is developed through collaboration, feedback and support
    • individual responsibility is developed through data analysis, inquiry, and reflection
  • is guided by student and teacher learning needs where:
    • data is examined to determine areas of need for students and teachers
    • authentic learning experiences are designed to address needs
    • new strategies are used and reflected upon to determine impact on student learning
  • is designed to foster change in practice where:
    • a differentiated learning experience is available to teachers through application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation
    • a variety of settings offer authentic opportunities for active engagement and collaborative learning
    • sustained learning and reflection is the norm

These guiding principles describe essential elements of effective professional learning for all teachers as they successfully implement new teaching strategies and behaviours. Whether they are building on the quality of instruction in a current curriculum area or they are preparing to implement a new initiative, teachers need high quality professional learning that will lead to positive change.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development follows a Professional Learning Model which is guided by these principles. The model supports a focused, yet self-directed route towards professional learning that is ongoing and collaborative, embedded in daily practice, and tailored to meet specific student and teacher learning needs. It is a flexible approach to professional learning, which includes three modules: Orientation, Exploration, and Investigation. The modules are connected and build on each other.  As teachers participate in this process, the content of successive modules is tailored to meet individual needs.