Research and Professional Learning


Learning Policy Institute

Professional Learning (PL) is one of the most important investments schools can make. However, it is not effective if learning communities are not targeted to meet the individual needs of teachers. Every year funding is allotted to schools for professional development; however many times, teachers participate in one-size-fit-all, drive-by PL’s that does nothing to enhance class instruction and student outcomes. Teachers need continued education to develop and acquire knowledge and skills to improve their class environment and instruction. Additionally, teachers need time to reflect on changes in their learning practices over time. Schools should have adequate preparation and training in order to retain their good teachers.


The Learning Policy Institute conducted a 2017 study and identified seven widely shared characteristics of effective professional development. Effective Professional Development:

  1. Is content focused: Professional development that focuses on teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content supports teachers’ learning within their classroom contexts.

  2. Incorporates active learning: Active learning engages teachers directly in designing and trying out teaching strategies, providing them an opportunity to engage in the same style of learning they are designing for their students.

  3. Supports collaboration: High-quality professional development creates space for teachers to share ideas and collaborate in their learning, often in job-embedded contexts.

  4. Uses models of effective practice: Curricular models and modeling of instruction provide teachers with a clear vision of what best practices look like.

  5. Provides coaching and expert support: Coaching and expert support involve the one-on-one sharing of expertise about content and evidence-based practices, focused directly on teachers’ individual needs.

  6. Offers feedback and reflection: High-quality professional learning frequently provides built-in time for teachers to intentionally think about, receive input on, and make changes to their practice by facilitating reflection and soliciting feedback.

  7. Is of sustained duration: Effective professional development provides teachers with adequate time to learn, practice, implement, and reflect upon new strategies that facilitate changes in their practice.

    By: LindaDarling-Hammond, Maria E.Hyler, and Madelyn Gardner, with assistance from Danny Espinosza from the

iCoach Teachers Professional Development

We believe in content focused, purposeful professional development that supports teaching practices and student outcomes. We:

  • Identify the needs of teachers. This is done by conducting a needs-assessment, and/or discussing pre-identified needs from school leaders.

  • Customize the PL to address the targeted needs. We plan customized high-quality activities for direct practice through collaboration, modeling, and coaching.

  • Allow time for practice and application.
    Whether schools choose ongoing, sequenced or cumulative PLs, we want to make sure teachers are supported to improve both teaching and student outcomes.

The world of education is ever growing and changing; it is imperative that schools incorporate quality PLs that will encourage collaboration among staff, enhance instructional practices and improve student learning.