Differentiating Instruction for English Learners: Developing Instructional Capacity

Reading List: Professional Development: Teacher Learning

**Wilson, S. M., & Berne, J. (1999). Teacher Learning and the Acquisition of Professional Knowledge: An Examination of Research on Contemporary Professional Development. Review of Research in Education, 24, 173-209. Available at http://www.jstor.org/stable/1167270


In this review, Wilson and Berne examine the learning of practicing teachers. After reviewing relevant research, the authors expand upon three main findings: 1) while teachers enjoy talking about their work, they have limited experience in creating and engaging in a critical and professional discourse about their work; 2) accepted norms of schooling and the privacy of the classroom limit teachers’ ability to create and support a culture that values a critical dialogue about practice and ideas; and 3) teachers rarely have a deep understanding of the content and knowledge upon which numerous reforms are based. The authors argue that this lack of knowledge limits the potential for teachers to change their instruction. The authors expand on the challenges in efforts to document teacher learning and knowledge growth, noting that simple, straightforward solutions are not likely to produce sufficient change.


**King, B. K, & Newmann, F. M. (2001). Building school capacity through professional development: conceptual and empirical considerations. The International Journal of Educational Management, 15(2), 86-93. Available for purchase at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=838777&show=html


In this short article, King and Newmann contend that increases in school capacity will lead to gains in student achievement. As a result, professional development should be designed to enhance three dimensions of capacity: the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of individual staff members; the organization of diverse resources to develop a professional community at the school; and a coherent, focused instructional program within schools. Professional development must address all three aspects of school-level capacity to effectively increase the quality of instruction.


Chapter 8: Teacher Learning in Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.) (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school., (pp. 190-205). Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Available at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368


This chapter of this NRC panel’s report explores the kinds of learning opportunities available to teachers and analyzes them from the perspective of what is known about strategies to help people learn. The authors analyze the quality of teachers’ learning opportunities based on the Panel’s framework for effective learning environments – namely, the degree to which they are learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered, and community centered.