Editor's Note: This article was originally written by Vanessa Vega, with subsequent updates made by the Edutopia staff.
Research has shown that teaching quality is the strongest school-related factor that can improve student learning and achievement. In order to cultivate high-quality teaching, support for ongoing professional learning in schools is essential. Edutopia's teacher development and leadership research review takes a look at the state of research on this topic and helps make sense of the findings. In this series of five articles, learn how effective leadership supports professional learning, discover key components for productive professional-development programs and professional learning communities, get our recommendations for evidence-based programs and practices, find tips for avoiding pitfalls, and dig in to a comprehensive annotated bibliography with links to all the studies and reports cited in these pages.
Developing systems that support teachers in sustained professional learning and refinement of teaching practice is perhaps the single most important way to promote student learning and educational opportunity in schools or districts. Across the research reviewed here, systems that effectively support teacher development include collaborative, job-embedded feedback cycles that enable teachers to reflect critically on teaching practices in order to identify those that best promote students’ learning and engagement. In addition, administrator support for professional learning and teachers playing an active role in their own learning are critical for these systems to work. You will find much greater detail on the features that make these systems effective, along with research citations to support their efficacy, in the next section.
Continue to the next section of the Teacher Development Research Review, Keys to Educator Success.