Speak Up logo

Professional Learning for Teachers New Demands Need New Approaches

Findings from the Speak Up 2017 Research Project Prepared by Project Tomorrow for Verso
May 2018


The #1 way to improve student achievement is professional learning focused on enhancing teacher effectiveness, per district administrators

Teachers' comfort levels with new instructional practices suggest more professional learning is required

K-12 Teachers' Comfort Levels with… Very Comfortable Not Very Comfortable
Facilitating student collaborations using digital tools 22% 78%
Using student data to inform instructional practice 30% 70%
Creating project based learning experiences for students 25% 75%
Personalizing learning for each student 24% 76%

Teachers’ comfort levels differ by grade level

K-12 Teachers' Comfort Levels with… Very Comfortable K-5 Teachers Very Comfortable 6-12 Teachers
Facilitating student collaborations using digital tools 17% 28%
Using student data to inform instructional practice 31% 29%
Creating project based learning experiences for students 19% 31%
Personalizing learning for each student 26% 23%

Motivating teachers to change instructional practices (46%) and staff professional development (43%) are the top two challenges administrators face in implementing innovative tools in the classroom

How do administrators evaluate the success of new teaching and learning innovations?
77% Level of student engagement
69% Classroom observations
62% Student feedback
54% Teacher buy-in for the new innovation
53% Teacher feedback

To more effectively implement new teaching and learning innovations in the classroom, teachers want...

65% Collaborative planning time with peers
53% Traditional PD training
39%  In-school coaching
32% Info on classroom management strategies
19% Virtual coaching

Teachers' PD Wish List Includes...

47% Using technology to differentiate instruction
29% Using technology tools for formative assessment
28% Implementing blended learning in my classroom

61% of district leaders say training teachers on how to use student data is imperative - even though only 25% of teachers have that same priority

Districts Face Challenges to Implementing Professional Development

66% Providing personalized professional development
58% Finding time for teacher professional development
27% Assessing teacher skills and needs
54% Empowering teachers to be self-initiated learners
26% Evaluating ways to recognize teacher proficiency

Empowered to drive their own professional learning
Teachers are increasingly self-directing their own professional learning using digital tools

Teachers self-directed PD activities 2010 2017
Watched Videos or TED Talks 40% 46%
Attended a face-to-face conference 47% 40%
Participated in webinars or online conferences 15% 34%
Used social networks to seek help from other teachers 14% 33%
Took online courses on their own 20% 23%
Used Twitter/social media to follow ed experts or other teachers 5% 23%

Online Professional Development for Teachers is Widespread but Better Outcomes Are Needed

64% of districts offer online PD for teachers
Only 39% of districts report positive results from their current online PD offerings

Verso LearningVerso Learning
Empowering teachers to deliver excellence in the classroom with evidence-based, embedded and personalized professional learning that engages every student.

SOURCE: Speak Up Research Initiative, 2017 Findings - listening to the authentic, unfiltered views of 406,779 K-12 students, parents, and educators from around the world, including 33,156 teachers. Data was collected from October 2017 through January 2018.
Speak Up is an annual research initiative of Project Tomorrow, a global nonprofit organization. Learn more about Speak Up and other research findings from Project Tomorrow at tomorrow.org.