The Missing Link in Teacher Professional Development: Student Presence

January, 2017

Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 43, No. 1, 23–35, 2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article addresses a growing need to attend to the way teacher professional development (TPD) is enacted in today’s schools.
The authors argue that that the physical presence of students is the missing variable in the majority of TPD efforts.
In this article, they present a framework for administrators, teacher leaders, and teachers to either evaluate or initiate TPD in relation to levels of physical student presence.

The authors introduce a tool that highlights how student presence impacts the association between theory and learning event. The model presents seven levels of TPD are each associated with theories of teacher learning that closely define the approach and related practical examples. The model also highlights the level of student presence for each level of TPD.

This study argues that changes in TPD structures and culture must occur simultaneously – and physical student presence is a potential organizing link between the two.
The authors argue how their model illustrates how TPD structures which involve student presence tend to bring more complex and complementary theories of teacher learning into play.
The authors argue that from a more critical viewpoint, TPD with student presence is more unpredictable and variable in part because of its authentic nature, and therefore may be difficult to control.
The authors also recommend empirical testing of the model, which will examine the relationship between various levels of student-presence-based TPD and changes in teachers’ instructional beliefs and practices.
Furthermore, it will examine how the same TPD content, delivered through differing TPD structures, differently impacts teacher learning;
how different teachers respond to varying levels of student-presence-based TPD in relation to individual learning styles and prior teaching experiences; and
how technology-enhanced TPD can integrate student presence into teacher learning platforms and how does this alleviate or aggravate logistical issues in student-presence-based TPD.
For TPD practice, the authors recommend that the practitioners involved with teacher development should explore what cultural shifts would need to occur along with structural changes to enhance the impact of new forms of TPD.

Updated: Jul. 08, 2018