Amplify Change With Professional Capital


By Michael Fullan
February 2016
In our recent work on professional capital, Andy Hargreaves and I (2013) have been explicit about the conditions at the school level that are essential for continuous professional learning. We see professional capital as the key to scaling up change efforts from individuals to groups to schools and districts. Professional capital is a function of the interaction of three components: human capital, social capital, and decisional capital. For a principal, human capital refers to the human resource or personnel dimension of the quality of teachers in the school — their basic teaching talents. Recruiting and cultivating the skills of individual teachers are one dimension of the principal’s role. Social capital concerns the level of quality and quantity of interactions and relationships among people. Social capital

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Michael Fullan

Michael Fullan is special advisor on education to the premier and the minister of education of Ontario and a consultant on major education reform initiatives. He bases his work on research and practice in both the public and private sectors, finding an increasing convergence in this literature.

Michael Fullan’s insights on what it takes to make professional learning stick — in other words, Learning Forward’s Implementation standard — have long helped leaders at the school and system level create change in ways that lead to better outcomes for students. In his full thought leader essay in Reach the Highest Standard in Professional Learning: Implementation, Fullan begins by considering the failure of professional development and then explores promising models and offers recommendations for succeeding at implementation.

In this excerpt, learn about the role of human, social, and decisional capital in building educator capacity, and more importantly, a culture of learning within schools.

Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students applies research on change and sustains support for implementation of professional learning for long-term change.

About the Book

amplify-change-with-professional-capitalFullan, M., Hord, S.M., & von Frank, V. (2015). Reach the highest standard in professional learning: Implementation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Excerpted with permission.


Bryk, A., Sebring, P., Allensworth, E., Luppescu, S., & Easton, J. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Cole, P. (2004). Professional development: A great way to avoid change (Seminar Series 140). Melbourne, Australia: Centre for Strategic Education.

Cole, P. (2012). Aligning professional learning, performance management and effective teaching (Seminar Series 217). Melbourne, Australia: Centre for Strategic Education.

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York, NY: Little, Brown.

Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (2013). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning. London, UK: Routledge.

Leana, C. (2011). The missing link in school reform. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9(4), 30-35.

Leithwood, K. (2011). Characteristics of high performing school districts in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: OISE/University of  Toronto.

Liker, J. & Meier, D. (2007). Toyota talent. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013). Teachers for the 21st Century: Using evaluation to improve teaching. Paris, France: Author.

Weatherby, K. (2013). A class act: Giving teachers feedback [Blog post]. Available at

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