Professional Learning Units

School-based Professional Learning for Implementing the Common Core

These resources were created to help principals and teacher leaders develop their capacity to facilitate school-based collaborative professional learning focused on teaching and learning. The four units below cover key topics in leading professional learning tied to implementing content standards.

Learning Forward's Transforming Professional Learning to Prepare College- and Career-Ready Students: Implementing the Common Core is a multidimensional initiative focused on developing a comprehensive system of professional learning that spans the distance from the statehouse to the classroom. With an immediate focus on implementing Common Core State Standards and new assessments, the initiative provides resources and tools to assist states, districts, and schools in providing effective professional learning for current and future education reforms.

Overview of units
Read an overview of the purposes, audiences, and uses of this set of professional learning units.

Unit 1: Managing change
This unit focuses on how and why individuals change their practice. By understanding the concept and process of change and helping others understand, facilitators can better support adult learners in reaching the goal of improving their own instruction to improve student achievement.

Learners will be able to …

1. Describe the three phases of the change process as defined by Michael Fullan.
2. Discuss six strategies for managing change.
3. Understand how the Stages of Concern can provide differentiated support.
4. Identify and explain strategies for addressing resistance to change.

Unit 2: Facilitating learning teams
This unit focuses on the structures and supports teams need to accomplish their goals. By learning more about the stages of team development and team roles, members can contribute more meaningfully to the team's success. Participants will gain facilitation skills to support the group's work.

Learners will be able to …

1. Recognize team facilitators' responsibilities and other roles that contribute to a team's success.
2. Understand how groups develop to be able to address members' needs at each stage of group development.
3. Acquire skills and strategies for facilitating learning teams, such as forming agreements, using purpose and nonpurpose, managing challenging situations, and assessing team effectiveness and efficiency.
4. Develop strategies for assessing learning team members' contributions, the team's effectiveness, and the results of the team's work.

Unit 3: Learning designs
No single method of professional development will help all teachers develop the knowledge and skills they need to reach every student. This unit focuses on helping educators recognize the array of learning designs that can lead to improved teaching and learning.

Learners will be able to …

1. Provide a rationale for using multiple learning designs.
2. Identify at least five to seven learning designs appropriate for one of their professional learning goals.
3. Draft a professional learning plan using a variety of learning designs.

Unit 4: Standards for Professional Learning
Understanding Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning is essential to creating the learning experiences teachers need to be able to improve instruction. By delving into the rationales behind the standards, educators see the elements of quality learning and can better ensure that the steps they take to support teachers will actually yield improved student results.

Learners will be able to …

1. Explain the purpose of the Standards for Professional Learning.
2. Identify the implications of the prerequisites for professional learning.
3. Understand the purpose and key components of the learning standards.
4. Identify the alignment between the cycle of continuous improvement and the professional learning standards.
5. Identify actions to take to improve professional learning within their own settings.


Supported by
Sandler Foundation
MetLife Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation