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Teaching is a very dynamic, challenging and demanding work which requires teachers to have the advanced skills and adequate knowledge that would heavily impact on student learning. Professional learning involves continuous improvement of teachers and teaching quality as the major determinant of student’s achievement. This gives room for a proper understanding of each course content and the right methods/strategies to be adopted when teaching to enable students to learn. Professional Learning is students focused, i.e. having the students at the major center of all the processes involved in effective learning. It is directed towards providing teachers with the skills to teach and deepen student’s understanding. In other words, Professional learning is an act of ensuring that the learning outcomes regardless of diversity and educational background are put into consideration.
Educators must inquire about the learning needs of each student’s to be able to deliver relevant and more focused teaching. Effective teachers inquire into the thinking of each student in order to reveal areas where there might be little or lack of knowledge thus identifying the conditions through which such differences can be easily corrected. This can be properly explained using my personal experience during my customer representative role at a Bank. The Team Lead would always conduct a personal review meeting with me twice a week in order to ascertain areas where am having challenges and identify possible corrections so it doesn’t hinder the delivery of good customer service experience.
Motivation is also a key attribute in professional learning. Motivation can simply be defined as the level of engagement, genuine interest and tenacity poured into activities. Educators need stronger motivation to engage students, increase consistency in research for up to date knowledge, identification of strategies and changes in approach style that would be effective to learners to aid better understanding. A key example would be from my most memorable instructor during my Undergraduate study who devotes extra hours for me after lectures drilling me on how to improve my academic performance and provides feedback in areas that needs clarification. This portrays his high level of commitment and willingness to work with me to ensure that the ultimate learning outcome is achieved.
Effective professional learning requires educators to be highly resourceful with an in-depth understanding and up to date format that would require them to restructure any previous style of practice before learners are fully engaged. Educators must have adequate knowledge of the course content in order to achieve the desired outcome. A personal experience with regards to this happened during my role as an Administrative officer at an elementary school back in Nigeria. The results from a national debate revealed that our students were lacking in some areas which I discussed with the Principal. We decided to arrange a weekly training for all the teachers in order to give room for some personalized research, gain new ideas and educate the students using the newly acquired knowledge so as to help them compete favorably with national standards. This practice was successful and we made sure it resulted in an on-going exercise for the school.
Certain leadership actions can make professional learning successful when they are well incorporated into the learning system, some of which include:
The management of every institution is responsible for the high education standard and this can only happen when they are working together with the educators. Leaders must share the same view with teachers on the models that can be used to facilitate improvement student’s achievement by providing the right tools for learning as well useful materials. They must also ensure that all avenue available are fully utilized by the teachers to actively engage students so that they can be fully prepared to take on future challenges. This can be done by actively creating institutional conditions that are suitable for teaching practice improvement, personal assessment, and collaborative inquiry. A recall to the experience pointed out in the last attribute is a good example of a leadership action (where my previous Regional Manager) was fully involved to deepen learning, increase our knowledge and improve practices needed to meet the stipulated goals of the organization.
In order to facilitate effective professional learning, leaders must be seen as approachable and open to feedback. All information received can be used to shape the present learning practice. The full attention of the leaders is highly necessary in order to ensure that there is a balance in what the teachers are trying to achieve without sideline hindrances. During my administrative officer experience, there was a change in leadership at the beginning of the session which resulted in a new Principal. The Principal had an accessible personality which helped her to obtain necessary feedback from teachers, students, and Parents in areas that need improvement. This style of open communication led to a lot of adjustments which increased teachers focus and had a huge impact on the school development.
Leaders should work out an avenue where they can engage in learning with educators. This helps to develop a collaborative culture and learn from each other as a basis to improve student learning outcomes. Proper identification of some difficult tasks and the ability to solve them amongst each other reveals the kind of challenges that will be encountered when it is taken to the students. My personal experience in this area happened during my banking experience in Nigeria. A new product process-flow was introduced as a replacement to the previously used one which seems quite complex to what we have been used to. As the team leader of my group, I informed my Branch Manager (BM) of the urgent need to do a trial and identify possible areas of struggle that other colleagues might experience. The BM discussed with the Regional Head (RH) who then arranges an after-office hour meeting where we collaboratively sort out all feasible difficulties in order to have hands-on response/assistance when the need arises.
The advantages of quality professional learning cannot be overemphasized. The society especially developing economy needs professionals that are highly equipped with relevant skills in all fields applicable to the growth of their environment which is why proper foundation must be provided to the students thus equipping them with quality skills that can be applied to complex situations. The level of student’s development is largely related to the education quality obtained from their school. Teachers need the ongoing support of the leaders to attain the high-quality professional learning opportunities needed to enhance their skills and understandings. Teachers should see themselves as continuous learners whose learning as being fundamental to student’s achievement.
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