Teacher Professional Development: Getting Teachers Re-Engaged In the Classroom

Teacher Professional Development:  Getting Teachers Re-Engaged In the Classroom

A recent Gallup poll, highlighted at Education Week, revealed that teacher engagement starts low and gets worse over time. And while teachers may be considered more engaged than some other professions, research suggests that teachers are less engaged than their students.

Perhaps more so than any other profession, it seems to me that teachers need to be engaged; they need to inspire their students to learn, to reach for knowledge that may be out of their grasp, and to foster their interests along with their own. It will be challenging for a disengaged teacher to accomplish these tasks. Many teachers may say that it’s the students who create this disenfranchised environment with their lack of commitment or interest in the lessons laid out, and to that I’d suggest that a new lesson plan or approach is needed and formative assessment may be one answer.

Our Keeping Learning on Track™ (KLT™) teacher professional development is built on the principles of formative assessment that Dylan Wiliam has laid forth in previous blogs:

1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning targets and success criteria– getting students to really understand what their classroom experience will be and how their success will be measured.

2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning – developing effective classroom instructional strategies that allow for the measurement of success.

3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward – working with students to provide them the information they need to better understand problems and solutions.

4. Activating learners as owners of their own learning – We wrote a recent blog on this topic: self-regulation of learning leads to student performance improvement.

5. Activating learners as instructional resources for one another – getting students involved with each other in discussions and working groups can help improve student learning.

Using these strategies in formal teacher professional development can help teachers build active classrooms, where students want to learn, helping re-engage teachers. Here’s what some teachers who have used the KLT are saying:

KLT has been a hugely positive experience for the staff involved with it. There is a lot of excitement as teachers start to get a better understanding of what KLT [formative assessment] is and enthusiasm to incorporate new techniques along with working to make techniques already in place better and more purposeful. I am fortunate that the members at my school all volunteered for this project and want to be there.

There is a lot of talk about moving toward Common Core. The feeling we have based on KLT [teacher learning communities] discussions is that KLT [formative assessment] will be a useful tool to help us deliver better instruction and gather evidence to help inform our instruction as we move towards Common Core and I am re-energized and love teaching again. We see Common Core as “what” we need to teach and the KLT techniques and formative assessment pieces as the “vehicle” to help us get there.

You can also check out the blog series we did on the implementation of KLT by the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake school district.

Using formative assessment can help engage students in their learning, creating classroom environments that are energized and active. It provides opportunity for every member of the classroom learning team to be engaged and contributing. Any teacher will tell you that an energized classroom is one where both the student and teacher are having fun!

Photo Credit to Dell, Inc.