Educators are pushed to take advantage of as many professional development (PD) opportunities as possible. Teachers or coaches may attend a conference or a workshop to address a specific issue or to fulfill a PD requirement. While encouraging teachers, coaches, and other leaders to seek out PD opportunities is a great way to support educators’ growth, focusing on professional learning (PL) could be even more helpful to educators.
- Professional development: An activity, event, or other experience with the purpose of experts sharing ideas with those hoping to grow in some capacity or understanding. (ex: webinars, workshops, books, or even a coaching cycle)
- Professional learning: Integrating the ideas presented during PD into one’s everyday work and behavior. Not just acquiring knowledge, but applying it in real life. (ex: after a workshop on feedback, a teacher’s professional learning is how they now give and receive feedback differently)
Effective PD leads to PL, so all of ICG’s work is grounded in a partnership approach – whether through our annual TLC Conference, through our workshops and institutes, or through partnerships with school districts. This empowers our partners to guide the focus of their work with us, instead of dictating any one-size-fits-all solutions to them. The likelihood of real PL is much greater with this approach because it honors the autonomy, agency, and expertise of the teacher, which usually results in ownership of the entire process and confidence in their ability to implement the necessary changes.
In the context of instructional coaching, PD opportunities can simply open the door for profoundly impactful PL. A coach up against strong teacher resistance may seek PD to address their challenges, but PD alone will not solve the issue. PD provides tools and knowledge, but ultimately, the coach will need to successfully modify and apply the content of the PD to fit their needs. After the PD, they may ask questions differently, listen differently, describe strategies differently, etc. In the hands of teachers, coaches, and other educational leaders, PL is what can truly make a difference in the lives of students.
There is an infinite amount of PL to be gained through many kinds of PD available to educators today. Here are three ways to use ICG’s professional development to experience professional learning:
- Learn skills and habits in a course like Instructional Coaching: An Introduction to truly partner with teachers and develop your own coaching way-of-being in all of your interactions.
- Experience the Instructional Coaching Institute’s intensive study of the 7 Success Factors to find a new perspective of your own coaching program.
- Learn strategies to create positive learning communities in Coaching for Positive Classrooms to see new potential in your classroom.