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Professional Development
part of the Education Reform Network
Professional Development logo

Learning Communities

Staff development that improves the learning of all students organizes adults into learning communities whose goals are aligned with those of the school and district.


Staff development that has as its goal high levels of learning for all students, teachers, and administrators requires a form of professional learning that is quite different from the workshop-driven approach. The links below support this standard:

  • What is collaborative planning?
    Overview of the concept of collaboration, how to get started and links to other resources.
  • Building a Learning Community
    Provides articles with discussion/reflection tools. Good for use with study groups.
  • Building Leadership Capacity
    Provides articles with discussion/reflection tools. Good for use with study groups.
  • Challenging role: Playing the part of principal stretches one�s talent
    What is the role of the school principal in a professional learning community? How does a principal deal with the many conflicting messages about what this role should be in today�s school? How can a principal be a strong leader while also empowering teachers to become leaders themselves? Rick DuFour says empowered teachers and strong principals are not mutually exclusive and suggests that effective school leaders follow similar guidelines to ensure that schools have both.
  • Classroom Action Research
    Describes the action research process used in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
  • Critical Friends Groups
    Critical Friends Groups bring teachers together over at least 2 years to help each other look seriously at their classroom practice in order to improve it.
  • Edutopia: Ongoing Professional Development
    Through a combination of articles, video clips and links to other resources, this site offers an overview of ongoing professional development. Lucas Foundation Site.
  • Enlist Colleagues in Reflection and Planning
    Newsletter (Summer 2000) describing the value of collaboration and links to examples.
  • Is this school a learning organization? 10 ways to tell
    We know how to address individual learning, but what are the characteristics of organizational learning? How can you tell if your organization is adaptable and changing? Ten characteristics describe organizations that are learning.
  • League of Professional Schools
    Provides an overview of the League of Professional Schools. Action research is a primary component of this school reform model.
  • Learning Teams: When Teachers Work Together, Knowledge and Rapport Grow
    Learning teams enable teachers to gain knowledge and to support each other in changing their practice to improve student learning. This article provides tools to assist teachers in working effectively as they focus on student learning: learning plan, learning team journal, learning team survey, and learning team survey.
  • Listening to Student Voices
    A self-study tool kit to use student input for school planning.
  • National Awards Program For Model Professional Development
    Description of award program and criteria for selection.
  • National Writing Project
    Official site for the National Writing Project. Provides links to resources.
  • Notes & Reflections, Winter 2002
    Gives directions for the following tools:Tools and Facilitator NotesConsensogramA statistical survey that measures a group's perception of effort, commitment, and understanding.Five WhysDetect the root cause of a problem or situationThink, Pair, ShareKeep your audience engaged and check their understanding.Interview Design ProcessEspecially useful for collecting baseline information about that group.
  • Peer Coaching
    Offers tools and articles on peer coaching.
  • Professional Development Through Learning Communities
    Article by Fulton & Riel about professional learning communities. Provides links to other resources on this topic.
  • Questions for Self-Study: Assessing Our School's Professional Learning Community
    Series of questions to assess school as a professional learning community. Links to selected readings about professional learning communities.
  • School Improvement: Focusing on Student Performance
    Describes the school improvement model advocated by the Regional School Accreditation Commissions .
  • Study Groups: What is a study group?
    Overview of the concept of study group, how to get started and links to other resources.
  • Teacher Change
    Focused on the TIMSS, this set of resources provides leaders with tools to help teachers understand the purpose for school change.
  • Teacher Research
    Focuses on an action research model, Instructional Improvement through Inquiry and Collaboration (IITIC). Provides model research questions and rationale for teacher research.
  • Teacher-Researcher Network
    Demonstrates how one school system supports action research. The system supports action researchers, produces a newsletter and organizes an annual conference for presentation of teacher research.
  • Team Learning
    One of Senge�s five components of a learning organization is team learning. One attribute of a school that supports such learning is teachers meeting in teams multiple times during the school day each week to learn how to address challenging issues.
  • What is Reflection?
    Describes the rationale for professional reflection.