How do we most effectively promote the professional growth of our teachers so that it has a high impact on student learning?

While significant efforts are made in so many schools to improve teacher professional growth and learning, I continue to question how can we do this better?

Essentially, how can we ensure greater application of our own learning to ensure that it benefits our schools, teachers and students?

Having recently attended a The EARCOS Leadership Conference in Bangkok, I was introduced to the 70/20/10 rule by Chris Jansen who is part of New Zealand’s Leadership Lab.

The 70/20/10 learning concept was developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo from the Center for Creative Leadership. What struck me from the concept model is the low impact of formal training in terms of how we learn to to our jobs better.

McCall, Eichinger and Lombardo claim that in our professional expertise comes from the following experiences:

New 70 20 10.001

  • 70% from real life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving. This is the most important aspect of any learning and development plan.
  • 20% from feedback and from observing and working with role models.
  • 10% from formal training.

While there are questions and criticisms of the rule, I believe it gets us to at least think about the effectiveness of the training, feedback, support and guidance that school leaders give teachers, so that there is a positive impact on student learning.

As a starting point, how effective is the training that schools provide for teachers? How do we measure effectiveness? How much of the training gets implemented by teachers and do we give teachers the necessary time to make the desired changes as a result of their learning?

In terms of role models and feedback from leaders in our schools, how is this feedback followed-up with the teacher? Do teachers act upon it and what are the results? How frequently do teachers in our schools get the opportunity to watch or work alongside expert practitioners?

Finally and, probably, most important of all, what leadership do we provide teachers in terms of being reflective practitioners? How do we develop true professional learning communities based on solving problems that are informed by evidence and responded to through an inquiry approach to improving professional practice? As leaders in schools we need to be developing reflective educators who are genuinely collaborative in a quest to improve student learning.

The 70/20/10 rule may not be perfect but it sure is a great conversation starter about how we promote teacher growth in our schools for the benefit of our students. Is our investment is actually paying dividends, do we need to make changes or do we need to do more?