Exploring the Nature of Teachers’ Professional Learning
In recent times, the distinction between traditional Professional Development (PD) and Professional Learning (PL) is becoming increasingly apparent. The shift associated with the intent and the language between PD and PL is evident in the report by Wei et al. (2009). The distinction between PD and PL is also captured by Mockler (2005) who characterized PD as something delivered in a ‘spray-on’ manner in which teachers attend a ‘PD day’ then return to their schools with the expectation that they will implement the workshop ideas in their own practice. What is clear is that the professional learning of teachers has become increasingly recognised as important in enhancing not only the quality of teaching in schools but also for developing the teaching profession more generally (Berry, Clemans, & Kostogriz, 2007). PL approaches tend to emphasize practices that are: sustained over time; responsive to the specifics of school and classroom contexts; underpinned by research and practice-based evidence; and, supported by professional learning communities and collaboration (Hayes, Mills, Christie, & Lingard, 2006; Hoban, 2002). In short, PD could be viewed as doing things to teachers so that they apply them in their practice while PL is about working with teachers to help them develop their skills, knowledge and abilities in ways that are responsive to their (pedagogical) needs, issues and concerns.
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