Leading Active Professional Learning

Teacher leader effectively leads professional learning by engaging teachers in active learning.
Made by Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Learning at USD
Earn Graduate Credit
Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Teacher leader designs and facilitates active-learning professional learning experiences for teachers.

Method Components

Components of engaging teachers in facilitating and designing an active learning professional development experience

  • Create a protected time and space.
    • Set norms.
    • Stick to time boundaries.
    • Prepare materials before the session.
    • Create an agenda and send it at least 48 hours ahead of time to participants.
    • Have clear learning objectives and next steps so work may continue after the session has concluded.
    • Use protocols to protect and stimulate conversation. (See resources section.)
  • Provide a variety of ways for teachers to engage with the content, such as:
    • Hands-on activities
    • Read and annotate an article (jigsaw activity)
    • Show a video clip and provide guiding questions to prompt their thinking
  • Allow everyone time to process their learning on their own first, and then exchange ideas with others, using strategies such as:
    • Think, Pair, Share
    • Digital Poll (e.g., Poll Everywhere, Kahoot!, or Socrative)
    • Round the Room: Invite each teacher to give a oneto five-word answer to a prompt
  • Seek input and use that data to inform your practice.
    • Send a pre-survey before delivering professional learning to find out what teacher needs are, ensuring that the questions being asked are rich and will provide meaningful data.
    • Throughout the session, you may find the need to check for understanding or simply get input from the teachers. Both digital (Padlet, a table in a Google doc, etc.) and nondigital tools (Post-its, large chart paper on tables, etc.) work well to capture this data.
    • To end your professional learning session, have teachers fill out a post-survey to see how the experience was for them and what people need next. Once again, make sure the questions posed are of high quality.
  • Allow time for reflection and application.
    • Offer a few minutes at the end of your session for teachers to think about their next steps and what support they are going to need. This information can be collected via an online form (such as Google Forms, MailChimp, etc.) so it’s easy to reference and share with others.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What Makes Professional Development Effective? Results From a National Sample of Teachers. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915-945.

This study examines the effects of different characteristics of professional development on teacher learning and finds that one of the three core features of effective professional development experiences is the opportunity for active learning (Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, Yoon, 2001).

A study of the review of the literature about active learning found support for all forms of active learning examined. (Prince, 2004)

  • Bonwell, C., & Eison, J. (1991). Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom AEHE-ERIC higher education report No. 1.

In a report analyzing instructional approaches where college educators used traditional methods and active learning methods, data revealed that students perceived greater learning gains after actively learning content compared to covering the same content through traditional methods. (Bonwell, Eison, 1991)


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview question

(300-word limit)

  • Please describe the active professional learning session you designed and facilitated, including the details of what considerations were made to engage teachers in their learning.

Part 2. Work examples/artifacts

Please submit several artifacts that were created while developing and facilitating active professional learning (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, or other products) including such items as:

  • Agendas of professional learning sessions
  • Exit ticket with responses from participants
  • Video clip of the session
  • Photos of the session

Part 3. Reflection

(300-word limit)

Provide a reflection on your experience, using the following questions as guidance:

  • How does active professional learning differ from that of traditional professional development?
  • Moving forward, how might your practice change as a result of what you have learned?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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