Developing knowledge of practice through professional learning
Professional development has typically been understood as the more traditional approach to in-service that teachers often experience when they are asked to implement a new curriculum or some other policy initiative. In many cases, the waves of change that regularly flow over the profession generally involve some form of up-skilling in relation to the new things that we are expected to do or to deliver. Therefore, traditional professional development is often linked to the implementation of some form of educational change by doing something to teachers, that is, telling us about the change and expecting it to then be carried out. In this way, mandated changes are presented, we are trained in those changes in terms of technical requirements (sometimes as simple as re-labelling existing curriculum and practice) and then we are expected to implement those changes. It is a top-down approach and it functions in a similar way throughout the education system whether it be in the form of policy initiatives from the central education bureaucracy or at local school level from the
principal’s office. Professional development in that sense is then about making changes that have been formed elsewhere but henceforth need to be implemented in classrooms.