THE BEST OF THE MARSHALL MEMO

How to energize leadership, teaching, and learning in 22 key areas

Professional Learning:

Selected Memo Summaries

If we listen to front-line educators, it appears that formal PD sessions rarely have much impact on teaching and learning, especially “sit and git” workshops that don’t speak to teachers’ real concerns. This selection of Marshall Memo summaries examines what has gone wrong with professional development, what actually works, and some cautionary notes. 

Questions to consider:
  • Why does “professional development” have such a bad reputation in schools?
  • How can we bridge the gulf between educational theory and classroom practice?
  • Which professional experiences actually improve teaching?

Here's the table of contents:

Professional Learning


Past and Present PD Shortcomings

  1. Opening classroom doors
  2. The dubious impact of professional development
  3. A troubling report on professional development

Characteristics of Effective Professional Learning

  1. What education can learn from athletic training
  2. Planning professional learning with the end in mind
  3. How to get traction with professional development
  4. Three keys to effective professional learning

Practical Applications

  1. Thirty-five ideas for improving professional development
  2. Four ways to use a school’s internal expertise
  3. Weekly before-school professional learning in North Dakota

Innovative Practices and Cautionary Notes

  1. Lesson study thrives in a California elementary school
  2. Using a voicemail app to run cross-district book discussions
  3. Online versus in-person professional learning experiences
  4. Using blogs and Twitter to improve teaching and learning

Professional Learning Suggestions