A professional learning community to prepare teachers for life-long learning: integrating theory, practice and reflection.

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


The objective of this contribution is to inform the audience on our reform effort and the capacity building issue this challenge of reform brings.

The goal of our teacher training programme for secondary teachers is to train professionals who are competent in the area of lifelong learning. In the current programme there was little attention for this competence and with the overload in the programme as it is, we saw no opportunities to devote more attention to it. This has led to an effort to restructure the programme. Our programme comprises only STEM disciplines: physics, chemistry, computer science, maths and ‘design and research’, an interdisciplinary course that brings together elements of design thinking and research and aims to let secondary school students work on complex societal issues.

In workplace learning two elements are paramount to learning: feedback and reflection. To create meaningful opportunities to provide students with feedback on their experiences and help them to reflect in the connection between theory and practice, we set up an experiment with professional learning communities (PLC). In the PLC the learning goals of the students are central to any of the learning activities. The theoretical courses were redesigned to cater to the needs of the students.

A second ambition we defined was to bring together the STEM disciplines as we foresee that courses will be increasingly offered in integrated ways in secondary schools. The PLCs could be a vehicle to achieve this. There are many degrees of freedom in setting up PLCs: we are currently looking at various ways to create groups of students: level of experience, school subject, type of teacher training programme they are in.

Currently we are evaluating the experiment to improve the effort, but also to get a clear idea on what this new set up means for scaling up this type of teaching and learning activity in terms of capacity building, logistics and collaboration with the schools where students gain their practical experience.

In research it is well established that teachers have the largest impact on the learning of students. That also holds in teacher training programmes. In this session I would like to explore what kind of teacher trainers it takes to help students prepare to become lifelong learners in this set up as part of our effort to build capacity in the team to scale up this approach to teacher training.

In this session I will briefly present the set up of our programme and present two central questions to the audience: what competences do our teachers trainers need, how do we train teachers to learn such competences?

Period16 Oct 2019
Event titleInternational Society for Educational Planning 49th Annual Conference
Event typeConference
LocationLisbon, Portugal
Degree of RecognitionInternational