For learning how to teach all learners, it is crucial that professional development is organised in a way that it has a maximal chance to reach a high impact on inclusive competencies.
Research shows that nine criteria for effective professional development are important within professional learning for inclusion (Merchie et al, 2018; Wilssens & Boonen, 2019). These nine elements hang together like the nine spheres of the Atomium, the famous monument in Belgium.
A. Within its structure, professional development should be…
Organised school based, to promote the incorporation in the daily work and to be embedded in the local context;
Implementing collaborative and collective learning in a teacher community of about four to fourteen teachers, either newly composed, or embedded in an existing (sub)team with a related focus;
Intensive and extensive, implementing seven or eight 2,5- to 3-hour sessions, spread across the school year, taking at least twenty contact hours altogether;
Supporting active learning through at least two cycles of action-research, in which teachers act as co-creators rather than consumers of knowledge;
Engaging one or two coaches in each community to guide and facilitate teacher learning locally.
B. Within its contents, your professional development should be…
Stimulating teachers and other educational professionals to take ownership of their learning process and outcomes, starting from their personal needs and interests related to teaching a wide variety of learners;
Providing knowledge and inspiration, conducive to apply the available scientific evidence and insights about teaching and learning within inclusive contexts;
Supporting teachers and other educational professionals to undertake actions focusing on high quality learning opportunities for all, informed by evidence of this learning and by learners’ prior knowledge;
Guarding the coherence of these actions with teachers’ personal learning goals, as well as school and government policies.