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Maine's Learning Results, calling for improved learning for all Maine students, signal the end of "education as usual." The 1996 law compels educators to help all students achieve a common set of standards, a public policy goal that will require teachers to think in new ways about the work they do. No wonder, then, that experts see professional training and development - to support Maine's educators as they rise to the challenges before us - as essential to the success of the Learning Results initiative.
Traditionally, training and development has meant three or four inservice days a year during which teachers receive instruction on miscellaneous topics. Sessions are often unrelated, with little follow-up. In some school systems, training and development has included graduate study related (more or less) to an educator's professional role.
Today, effective training and development looks very different. Far from attacking perceived inadequacies, it is, instead, a way to introduce new types of expertise and classroom practices required as a result of new information about teaching and learning. This new approach to training and development regards teachers as learners and supports collegiality and collaboration rather than separation.
Research tells us that training and development must:
For all the insight research provides, there remains a gap between what we know about effective training and development and what we've been able to do, both locally and at the state level. When all is said and done, what are the essential characteristics of effective training and development? And how can we bring those characteristics to bear in our own schools and school districts?
Maine's Quality Standards for Training and Development provide a starting point for discussion of these questions. The Standards call for a system of training and development that features:
The accompanying Standards in Action show how the Quality Standards, distinct in theory but inevitably overlapping in practice, are already at work in schools and school administrative units across Maine.
In addition to the Quality Standards there is a wealth of information, including well-developed strategies and related materials available through a variety of sources. A brief listing of References and Resources appears at the end of this publication.
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