Why is so little teacher professional learning classroom based?

Last week Kath Murdoch tweeted out something that got me thinking.

Why is so little teacher professional learning classroom based?

I met Kath in a seminar room. Kath was brilliant and her workshops were illustrated with examples of her teaching. Nevertheless I still walked away thinking to myself.

I really would have liked to see Kath teach. I would like to have her observe me teach.

A lot of forms of professional learning, often involves taking teachers out of the classroom and into a seminar room well away from their every day context. It’s something we generally do after school, when the kids have left.

Why do we do that?

I suspect busyness of schools is partly to blame. We only make time for professional learning by putting it in everyone’s calendar. Yet when I look back on my own professional learning, the experiences I have enjoyed the most have been school-based and teacher-led. The in-school observations from my twitter tour, educamps where the participants drive the learning.

At my last PYP workshop, the best parts were the bits in between the sessions. The conversations with participants and having a look through the school but there was one small problem.

The kids weren’t there.

If teachers can access content online surely a richer workshop would involve coming together to see these ideas in action with real kids for at least part of the time?

If we want to make learning authentic and real for our students are we holding our own learning to the same high standard?

3 thoughts on “Why is so little teacher professional learning classroom based?

Add yours

  1. HI Stephanie! Glad the tweet prompted some reflection – thanks for your post. I agree that we probably need a better mix of approaches to professional learning and that the mix should include a focus on ‘how we teach’ in the context of the classroom itself. It can be a problematic exercise of course….some people are still not comfortable with others coming into their classroom for an extended session, some people don’t understand what they are seeing as they observe – so the time is not well spent and classroom based sessions whether they are observations, coaching, team teaching or walk throughs need to have decent time before and after to prepare and unpack the experience. Having said all that – it is a great way to add to the repertoire of learning contexts for teachers and the more we do it, the more comfortable we get with sharing our practice ‘on the ground’.


  2. Was just in Singapore leading WS with 9 others. Although Kids not there, I was impressed with other WSL getting out of their room – doing a walk through audit of EY learning spaces which I thought was a great use of time for teachers in their own learning contexts.
    also one group roamed the school looking for authentic connections to their learning, and another group went on ‘inquiry walk’ and ‘ field trip’ to show T (and give them experience) of how their own environment can be extended for learning.
    Although the kids were not there – there was a concerted effort to use the authentic learning context and environment that could be immediately transferred to classroom practice.

    Liked by 1 person

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