What is todays State of Teacher Professional Learning? | @CorwinPress

The State of Teacher Professional Learning

In this episode of the TeacherCast Podcast, we sit down with Mike Soules and Dr. Sonja-Hollins Alexander from Corwin to discuss a recent survey of more than 6300 educators on the state of professional development in schools today.

Together, we discuss the 7 standards of professional learning and how they were used to guide today's professional learning environments.

Topics discussed on the show include

  • The 7 Standards of Professional Learning
  • What is Professional Learning?
  • 4 Findings of the Survey
  • Teachers report that leaders in their schools and systems are committed to professional learning.
  • Teachers report that their schools use student achievement data to plan professional learning, but they don't use a variety of data to assess its effectiveness.
  • Teachers do not appear to be deeply involved in decisions about their own professional learning.
  • Teachers report that they are not provided adequate time during the school day to follow up on their professional learning by practicing and applying new skills in the classroom.
  • What role does social media and unconferences play in today's professional learning environment?
  • What does today’s educator need to be successful?

About Corwin

Corwin, a SAGE company, is the premier provider of professional learning products and services that equip educators to improve teaching and learning. Corwin offers print books and ebooks, digital products, and on-site consulting services for all types of educators at all stages of their careers. Corwin resources are authored by experts on the topics most relevant to education; formatted for hands-on, practical guidance; research-based and peer reviewed for quality, and designed for professional learning.

Links of Interest

About our Guests

Mike Souies

Mike Soules is President of Corwin, the leading provider of innovative professional services and publications for P-20 educators. Corwin is committed to collaborating with schools, districts and departments/ministries of education to deliver training and tools that build capacity, are evidence-based and have a positive change on instructional practice. Through long-term partnerships with authors, policy makers and associations Corwin sits at the nexus of research to practice and practice to research. Mike is most proud of the talented and dedicated all-star team that help bring Corwin’s work to life every day.

Mike has held senior leadership roles at the Channel One Network, Laureate, and Teachscape. The through the line of his career has been pioneering unique platforms to provide meaningful and impactful content that educators need and want.

He serves as Regent of California Lutheran University, President of the Conejo Schools Foundation, and former Chair of the Ventura County Workforce Development Board. Mike has a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in History from the University of California, Los Angeles – Go Bruins!

Dr. Sonja-Hollins Alexander

Dr. Sonja Hollins-Alexander has been in the field of education for 24 years with 18 of those being in educational leadership at the school, district and higher education levels. During this time, she has served as a school social worker, teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant director, director, chief of staff, adjunct professor, senior consultant and currently serves as an independent consultant and a developer/trainer of Personalized Learning Coaches in the Department of Professional Learning for a school district in Metro Atlanta, GA. Through her professional journey she has had experiences in Strategic Planning, Organizational Improvement, Policy Development, Project and Program Management, Stakeholder Communication and Engagement, Budget Planning, Grant Writing, Instructional Design, Curriculum Development and Implementation, Facilitator of Adult Learning, Leadership Coaching, Conference Facilitation and Design, Effective School Reform Planning, Quality Assurance Team Member for AdvancED and fully engaged in the development and use of Online Collaborative/Instructional Software. She is the author of Online Professional Development through Virtual Learning Communities, Corwin Press (2013).

Corwin, Learning Forward and the National Education Association Release Results of New Nationwide Survey on Successes and Shortcomings of Teacher Professional Learning

Los Angeles, CA (August 7, 2017) — Today, Corwin, Learning Forward and the National Education Association (NEA) released the results from their first-ever State of Professional Learning Survey. Teachers indicated while school leaders are committed to their professional learning, teachers are rarely part of the decision-making process. Teachers also noted they are not provided with enough opportunities for professional learning across the school day.

In October 2016, Corwin partnered with Learning Forward and NEA to survey online more than 6,300 educators nationwide from diverse backgrounds and experience levels in an effort to learn more about teachers’ experiences with professional learning and how they measure up to Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning.

“Professional development is a fundamental part of any job, and the education profession is no exception,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association. “Quality and relevant professional learning provides educators with ongoing opportunities to keep up with the rapid pace of classroom advancements and ensure they have the appropriate skills to reach and teach diverse student populations.”

“We’re happy to see an overarching commitment to professional learning among school leaders and teachers,” said Mike Soules, president of Corwin. “But to ensure teachers are receiving professional learning that is useful and meets their professional needs, they must be given more power in selecting their learning path.”

The survey featured research-developed questions and Learning Forward’s Standards Assessment Inventory items. Teachers were asked to rate their level of agreement to each of the 50 items reflecting the Standards for Professional Learning on a scale of one (“Never”) to five (“Always”). The average scale scores reflect teacher perceptions of the extent to which their professional learning aligns with the standards.

Key findings from the survey included:

  • Teachers feel their school leaders and systems are committed to professional learning when asked if school leaders prioritize professional learning for all staff and understand the relationship between student achievement and professional learning (score 3.7 out of 5).
  • Nearly 20 percent of teachers indicate that they have no input in their professional development, and 75 percent identify their school and district leaders as the primary professional learning decision-makers. Four percent of teachers say that teachers primarily made decisions regarding professional learning.
  • Nearly half of teachers report that a majority of their professional learning experiences occur on in-service days or in the summer despite expressing a strong preference for face-to-face learning during the work day. Nearly 25 percent of teachers report spending less than one hour each week on professional learning.
  • Teachers report that their schools tend to use student achievement data to plan professional learning (score 3.4 out of 5), but do not use a variety of data to assess its effectiveness (2.8) or determine how they will assess the effectiveness of professional learning before the plan is implemented (2.4).

“This survey affirms teachers don’t feel invested in their own professional learning. Evidence from all corners tells us that the job-embedded professional learning that educators value is the professional learning that makes a difference for students,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward. “Let’s use this chorus of teacher voices as an opportunity to take action in transforming professional learning systems.”

The report recommends giving teachers more “voice and choice” about their own professional learning, using a variety of data sources to plan and assess professional learning, and providing additional opportunities for continuous, on-the-job professional development.

“This survey,” said Soules, “offers us insights to better understanding what teachers are looking for in terms of professional development resources and programs. We fully intend to use this information to guide our educator offerings and advance the professional development field as a whole.”


Corwin Press, a SAGE company, was established in 1990, first as a professional book publisher, now as a full-service professional learning company, offeringprofessional development solutions on the topics that matter most and the delivery methods that work best to achieve a school or district’s objectives. Its many resources range from a library of 4,000+ books to on-site consulting to online courses and libraries. At the heart of every professional learning experience is the book content and author expertise that have made Corwin the most trusted name in professional development.

Learning Forward is a nonprofit, international membership association of learning educators committed to one vision in K-12 education: Excellent teaching and learning every day. Learning Forward pursues its mission to build the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning.www.learningforward.org.

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.

About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!