Personal Dimension

Research – practice interactive session Topic 1: Professional learning communities and the multiplier concept

Moderator: Prof Dr Birgit Pepin (University of Technology Eindhoven)

Input from: Geoff Wake (University of Nottingham), Ragnhild Lyngved Staberg (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Eirik Lyngvær (multiplier, Flatåsen skole Trondheim, Norway), Lucy Hughes (multiplier, Toot Hill School Bingham, UK).

One of the major conclusions of the first Educating the educators conference was that one of the ways to move forward in scaling-up STEM teacher professional development is to better (conceptually and in practice) combine the best aspects of PD that have proven effectiveness. Two particularly effective methods are the pyramid model of training multipliers or facilitators, who then work with teachers in PD courses, and the professional learning community model that results in groups of teachers researching their professional practice. Although we often seem to rely on one of the two concepts, uniting the benefits of each may lead to a larger scaling-up effect.

The session will present two different models of PD: From the UK, an example of developed professional learning communities working across schools; and from Norway, an example that has developed a hybrid model of training teachers as multipliers who then work with communities of teachers at their own school or neighbouring schools. In the two countries, as part of the project mascil, innovative approaches in maths and science education (inquiry-based learning) have been implemented using internationally developed materials. Researchers from the UK and Norway will present the different PD concepts and backgrounds, as well as implementation principles. Practitioners (teachers, multipliers) from each country will share reflections on their experiences in their roles as facilitators/multipliers and/or teachers in PD courses or professional learning communities. These presentations will stimulate a group workshop discussion followed by plenary discussion. These will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of different conceptualisations of, and approaches to, PD that can be scaled-up with the aim of identifying what is potentially most effective.

Questions for the group and plenary discussion:

  • Which PD concept is mainly used in your country? Why?
  • What appear to be the advantages of different PD concepts?
  • What can we learn from practical experience of implementation of different PD models in order to provide effective PD support?
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The project mascil has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement n°320693