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Transforming Teaching Through Curriculum-Based Professional Learning

Transforming Teaching Through Curriculum-Based Professional Learning
The Elements

Foreword by Linda Darling-Hammond, A Joint Publication with Learning Forward

Additional resources:

September 2022 | 192 pages | Corwin

The future of professional learning starts here.

Even the most experienced teachers provided with the highest quality instructional materials benefit from additional support to ensure student success. Simply adopting new instructional materials is unlikely to significantly change teacher practice. Ensuring a level of excellence that benefits all students calls for an approach to professional learning that is anchored in the use of high-quality curriculum and grounded in immersive learning experiences for all teachers.

Transforming Teaching Through Curriculum-Based Professional Learning offers a framework for practitioners looking to undertake this work. The curriculum-based professional learning detailed here enables teachers to deepen their understanding of the essential components of successful curriculum implementation and work together to provide instruction that has a positive impact on student engagement and learning. Features include

  • Detailed case studies based on actual schools and districts that illustrate the elements of curriculum-based professional learning in action
  • Detailed guidance on the roles and responsibilities of teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders
  • Comparison charts that show the distinctions between curriculum-based professional learning and more traditional forms of professional development
  • Elements icons that help readers navigate each chapter of the book

Teachers’ jobs are changing in real time. When they are supported with both high-quality instructional materials and curriculum-based professional learning, they can position our schools to achieve the dual goals of equity and excellence.

Chapter 1: A Transformative Approach to Teacher Learning
Chapter 2: Curriculum-Based Professional Learning: A Shift in Practice
Chapter 3: The Elements of Curriculum-Based Professional Learning
Chapter 4: Core Design Features of Curriculum-Based Professional Learning
Chapter 5: Structural Design Features of Curriculum-Based Professional Learning
Chapter 6: Functional Design Features of Curriculum-Based Professional Learning
Chapter 7: Essentials of Curriculum-Based Professional Learning
Chapter 8: Elements in Action: Roles and Responsibilities


“This is a highly accessible introductory account of why we need curriculum-based professional learning and the changes needed, both structural and normative in educators’ practices, in different roles at all levels of school systems, to transform its promise into day-to-day instruction reliably implemented with quality at scale.  Much of what we have learned from learning science and the first-hand work of improving schools over the last 30 years is succinctly summarized in the pages of this book.”

Tony Bryk, former President
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

"The elements of curriculum-based professional learning encapsulate what school system leaders have long known: successful curriculum implementation and excellent teaching requires an informed, multi-pronged approach. This book weaves together research and real-world evidence in an actionable manner, equipping stakeholders with valuable tools that will have a profound impact on the K-12 education space."

Mike Magee, former CEO
Chiefs for Change

"The adoption of high-quality instructional materials is one of the most promising developments of recent years. But even the best curricula don't teach themselves; only when educators have the chance to study materials at depth will this latest reform fulfill its potential. In this critically important book, James B. Short and Stephanie Hirsh offer a detailed guide for making it happen in the real world of schools and classrooms." 

Michael J. Petrilli, President
Thomas B. Fordham Institute

“Educators need and deserve high-quality instructional materials. But even the strongest, most educative curriculum is not enough on its own to support teachers and students. Transforming Teaching Through Curriculum-Based Professional Learning, through evidence, examples, and reflection clearly document the key components of curriculum-based professional learning and how to build them. This book is essential reading for all educators, administrators, policymakers and stakeholders.” 

Eric Hirsch, Executive Director

“This volume moves us past thinking of teachers as implementers of curriculum materials to thinking of teachers as learning engineers – professionals who apply their expertise and judgment to high-quality materials to drive learning gains. To demonstrate how we can make this transition, Jim Short and Stephanie Hirsh weave together engaging examples and research-proven, practical advice. This book is a must-have for anyone whose work touches teacher learning and instructional improvement.”

Heather Hill, Hazen-Nicoli Professor in Teacher Learning and Practice
Harvard Graduate School of Education

“This volume is one of the first of its kind to make a clear and compelling case for the connection between high-quality instructional materials and high-quality professional learning centered on those materials. This book can help with transforming the relevance and effectiveness of professional learning communities and reimagining traditional curriculum practices by moving from pacing guides and scripted curriculum to educative curriculum that supports and improves teacher practice. With compelling real-world examples from districts and the smart, eloquent Elements model, this book provides the theoretical framework, strategic direction, and practical guidance for meaningful and sustained improvement in the professional learning process for educators. Very smart connectors, such as the 'Changing Emphases' theme that runs throughout, will keep the reader engaged in seeing the transformational shifts the Short and Hirsh argue are needed.”

Segun Eubanks, Professor of Practice, Director of the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement
University of Maryland College Park, College of Education

“At last: A call for professional learning for teachers infused with the deepest respect for the actual work of teaching. Short and Hirsh cut right to the chase, arguing that the most logical and intellectually engaging learning opportunities for teachers engage them individually and collectively in doing the work of the (ideally high-quality) curriculum from which they teach, 'mirroring' and 'modeling' the student curriculum and in the process supporting teachers to unpack and discuss the content, anticipate student thinking, and plan for how they will elicit and respond to diverse student ideas. Any other approach risks loitering on the fringes of the real work teachers do – interpreting demanding content and curriculum to meet the needs of individual students and communities. The 'essentials' are clearly laid out and illustrated with compelling examples from districts, making for an efficient read with a potentially huge payoff for teachers, principals, and district leaders.”

Francesca Forzani, Deputy Director

“We are teachers at heart, with 22 classroom years between us. Teachers deserve high quality materials accompanied by high quality professional learning, as Transformative Teaching through Curriculum-Based Professional Learning suggests. Educators bring The Elements to life for students, and we are especially convinced that the Core Design Features - Curriculum, Transformative Learning, and Equity - play a critical role.”

Melissa Loftus and Lori Sappington, Podcast Hosts
Melissa and Lori Love Literacy Podcast Powered by Great Minds

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