Learning from the OECD PISA international results, we can see that many of the high performing countries have something in common: They are deeply committed to ensuring teaching is a profession! This means that teachers, like doctors, lawyers, engineers, and any other professional group diagnose their classroom/school situation, determine courses of action based on that information and evidence-based practices, and have professional pride.
There are 3 ways these top performing countries support and ensure teaching is professionalized:
1. Attract the best graduates to become teachers
Education is a professional service. As such it relies heavily on the quality of the service provider – the teachers. The quality of education is tied to the quality of the teacher.
2. Train teachers to be effective instructors and don’t make teachers pay for it.
There are many training approaches that go beyond the traditional ineffective PD practices. Methods that take advantage of adult learning theory. Coaching, workplace learning, strong instructional leadership, and structured knowledge sharing meetings are all effective.
3. Incentives and support systems that encourage differentiation
This is about making sure teachers use data to evaluate learning needs and expand instructional strategies to address diverse student needs. Teachers need to understand what their students need and how to create responsive opportunities to learn.
We have the evidence from all around the globe. If you want your education system to improve, then invest in the professionals who are doing the work.