what is professional learning

What Is Professional Learning? (Why It's Good for Teacher Retention)

From student teaching techniques to classroom observation, new teachers must undergo extensive training before they ever sit behind the desk. Undergraduate education and alternative certification programs prepare future educators for the classroom through courses on pedagogy and teaching methods and hands-on practice in real-world settings, where they can put what they've learned into practice.

However, learning shouldn't end once new teachers have their degrees in hand. Ongoing professional education is needed to ensure that educators have the tools and knowledge to make an impact throughout their careers. Districts across the nation know the answer to the question: What is professional learning?

The problem is that many districts implement professional learning as distinct, one-time events. Instead, they should strive to make it a continuous process that becomes part of a teacher's daily routine. This ongoing learning journey, which may include attending seminars or completing training modules, supports educators in their professional growth, leading to increased job satisfaction and a stronger commitment to their students and schools.

Here, we explore the unique benefits of professional learning in improving teacher retention and supporting educators throughout their careers.

The Importance of Professional Learning for Educators

Education is a rapidly changing field, with emerging technologies, new research on learning methodologies, and innovative approaches to curriculum development. Expecting even the most motivated teachers to keep up with these developments is a tall order, especially when coupled with the daily pressures of classroom management, administrative duties, and student needs.

With modern professional learning, educators are in charge of their learning experience. This approach enables them to control their learning while being introduced to new, innovative strategies and research-based teaching methods. Most importantly, they can learn at their own pace, whenever it's convenient for them.

The Link Between Professional Learning and Teacher Retention

With districts across the country facing increased teacher attrition, many have begun looking for solutions to help them retain new and experienced educators. Many don't realize that the solution—professional learning—may be more accessible than previously thought. While professional learning may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think of keeping teachers in the classroom, research has shown that it can effectively boost retention rates.

As districts face educator shortages and high turnover rates, they should define professional learning and consider how it can help retain teachers. One reason that it works so well is that it gives teachers much-needed support instead of leaving them to go at it alone in the classroom. This is vital in low-income districts, which often face greater challenges in this area. Given its importance, districts should prioritize implementing high-quality professional learning programs when recruiting, preparing, and retaining educators.

Effective Strategies in Professional Learning

While PD is a requirement for teachers in almost all states, these programs are often disjointed and take a cookie-cutter approach to learning, failing to address individual teachers' unique challenges, interests, and instructional contexts. Simply implementing a PD program is rarely enough to significantly impact retention. Instead, districts must focus on using all the tools at their disposal to design effective PD programs that will keep their educators engaged.

Embracing Technology in Learning

Districts must leverage technology to create professional learning programs that support teachers throughout their careers. Professional learning hubs like MobileMind have made learning more accessible and flexible than ever before. There are micro-courses, customizable learning paths, and guided learning, all of which can be tailored to individual educators’ needs.

Also, if districts need to create learning paths to meet the specific needs of educators in their district, they can use the software to do this. These methods enable teachers to learn independently and immediately apply their new knowledge.

Encouraging a Culture of Continuous Improvement

For PD to be effective, it shouldn't consist of only occasional workshops and seminars. Instead, districts must strive to make it a part of their school's culture and ensure that it's relevant and timely to keep teachers engaged.

As anyone who's sat through a lecture from an expert on any topic knows, passive learning rarely translates into lasting knowledge. That's what makes techniques like gamification, including digital badges and micro-credentials, so effective. They encourage teachers to actively participate in their learning and recognize them for their achievements while encouraging them to continue their PD journey.

Integrating Learning into Daily Practice

It may be cliché, but practice really does make perfect. It’s why districts should encourage educators to take small steps in their daily professional learning journeys. One way to do this is through job-embedded training, which enables teachers to learn in their own technology environment.

MobileMind's patent-pending guided learning technology provides educators with step-by-step instructions and hands-on challenges that are relevant to the tools that they're using. For example, if they're working with Google Slides, they can receive direct guidance on using its different features without switching between different windows to learn how to apply new skills, streamlining the learning process.

The Role of Districts in Supporting Professional Learning

Learning hubs like MobileMind facilitate the creation of lasting and effective professional learning programs. They do this by acting as end-to-end solutions for PD, enabling districts to manage this complex task effectively. MobileMind takes a modern approach to the question of professional learning, giving districts the tools that they need to consolidate training efforts, track all PD activity, and boost teacher morale.

Whether through micro-courses or guided learning, a learning hub ensures that teachers have access to the materials that they need to perform their jobs effectively.

Most professional development programs only specialize in one thing. MobileMind offers personalized, activity-based learning with reporting and tracking. Fun digital badges upon courses completed give teachers immediate takeaways to use in the classroom. Schedule a call with MobileMind or request a demo to differentiate the PD that your teachers want and need.