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Voices from the field: The professional learning communities & experiences educators need

Over the last several months I have had the pleasure of working with eleven graduate students at the University of Kansas. Together we explored how to develop and sustain high quality professional learning communities. It has been a rewarding experience that has included rich dialogue, research, writing, and virtual collaboration. We focused on understanding what it takes to improve opportunities for all educators -- teachers and administrators -- to learn effectively in both K-12 and postsecondary settings.  

Here are two takeaways from my time with my KU colleagues:

First, there is no shortage of educators who want to improve teaching and learning opportunities for their students. Second, too many educators hungry for change, remain siloed from each other in their quest to transform the professional learning systems in which they work.  

As part of our work together, they have developed a number of blog posts, three which will be featured as guest posts in this space over the next several weeks. These posts are designed to inform their administrators, colleagues, policy leaders, and the field about what they have learned, and what they believe needs to be accomplished to improve professional learning and collaboration in education.

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s coming:

  • In his post, Why can’t professional learning be more like pizza? Jeff Manning, a high school marketing and business education teacher, explores the need for greater access to personalized professional learning. He addresses concerns and offers solutions for common systems-level barriers, including time constraints and the tension between professional autonomy and accountability.
  • Data scientist J.J. De Simone, whose research interests include teacher affect and data driven decision-making, writes about the importance of and conditions needed to promote self-efficacy in early career educators in his post Three ways to take novice teachers from tentative to tenacious.
  • Lori Voss-Schoonover addresses the importance of collaboration and offers three practical steps educators can take to promote, enhance, and increase collaborative efforts in any school setting. Her strategies include writing about your practice, seeking input from colleagues, and fostering a culture of collaboration over time to increase job satisfaction.

We hope you will join the conversation over the next several weeks and share your own experiences related to these topics in the comment section and on social media using #CTQCollab.

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