Retention / Professional learning

Why professional learning matters

Last updated: November 30, 2018

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Why professional learning matters

Teachers that deepen their professional knowledge and practice through ongoing professional learning are better and more effective teachers. They’re also more likely to feel engaged in their work, connected to their colleagues and happier overall.

Professional learning can take many different forms – from workshops and classroom coaching to video learning and mentorship.

No matter what the form, professional learning contributes to:

  • improved pedagogical skills,
  • stronger teacher engagement,
  • a community of support,
  • a school culture that models ongoing learning and
  • increased student achievement and engagement.

Improved pedagogical skills

Good professional learning will help teachers improve their pedagogical skills. However, that doesn’t happen all the time and not all in-service will support teachers to be more effective educators. That’s why it’s important to plan out professional learning activities that build over a period of time, as this allows teachers to practice what they’ve learned, reflect on what’s working and modify as needed.

Stronger teacher engagement

Enthusiasm is infectious! When teachers are engaged, students are more likely to be interested in and connected with their learning. There’s a greater likelihood of this happening if teachers are participating in a series of connected professional learning experiences where dialogue with other colleagues is built into the plan.

Becoming part of a community

Teaching can be quite a solitary activity, and there is always the option of closing the classroom door and “doing your own thing.” Yet this overlooks the incredible value that comes from collaborating with others as part of a professional learning community.

Strengthening ties with other educators in the school, district and province through professional learning offers connections that count. For early career educators, this can make a huge difference in boosting confidence and feeling connected to their jobs. The collaboration inherent in professional learning also promotes a shared accountability among teachers and a greater understanding of learning goals and expectations. In turn, this promotes a similar increased understanding among students and thus a more engaged classroom.

Models continuous learning

When teachers participate in professional learning activities, they are modelling to each other and their students that lifelong learning is a valuable and important activity. This sets a strong example for students.

Increased student achievement and engagement

Professional learning can lead to improved student engagement and achievement. However, for this to be the result, the learning needs to be carefully designed and planned, and integrated into broader learning outcomes.