Team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations. —Peter Senge
Professional learning and teamwork, in my view, are the primary means by which schools achieve their most important goals.
And while valued professional learning can occur in a number of ways, its primary but exclusive method is team-based learning focused on the goal of improved teaching and learning for the benefit of all students.
Here are six foundational assumptions offered in the spirit of dialogue:
1. Professional development is to professional learning as teaching is to student learning. Professional development may or my not lead to professional learning in the same way that teaching may or may not lead to student learning. Well-designed and implemented professional learning leads to professional learning just as effective teaching leads to student learning.
2. For professional learning to occur professional development must be sufficiently robust to literally physically change educators’ brains. The acquisition of empowering beliefs, deep understandings, and new professional habits requires that new neural networks be created and existing networks strengthened. Such physical changes require the brain to be actively engaged in its own alteration.
3. A core element of professional learning that is intended to alter educators’ brains is a relentless focus on a small number of clear and measurable goals for student outcomes guided by various types of evidence.
4. The vast majority of teachers’ learning takes place within school-based teams (sometimes supplemented by cross-school or cross-district subject-matter teams) guided by the assumption that the solutions to most issues of teaching and learning already reside within the school community and the team.
5. While carefully chosen consultants, courses, and workshops can enrich and support team learning, they can never replace it. Teachers are encouraged to pursue individual projects based on their unique responsibilities and challenges as well as participate in team-based learning.
6. Teachers’ learning occurs as close to classrooms as possible through instructional coaching and in team conversations focused on the core tasks of teaching—planning lessons, teaching lessons, determining the effectiveness of lessons for all students, and using that information to improve future lessons. For the most part, teachers and administrators learn while doing rather than acquiring abstract knowledge that they may someday use.
What would you add to or subtract from my list?