Understanding the need to explore personal and professional identities as well as the necessity of responding to the strengths and needs that students from all cultural backgrounds bring to classrooms, the Equity Alliance at ASU follows a set of principles to professional learning for equity. These principles were developed by the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt) (Kozleski, 2005, p. 7), one of the many projects that are part of the Equity Alliance at ASU. These principles were influenced by research from the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE), the research of McLaughlin and Talbert (2006) with teacher learning communities around the nation, and the work of the National Staff Development Council.
- focuses on improving learning within a diverse, multicultural community. The outcomes, content, and activities of any professional learning activity must be grounded in the multicultural context that characterizes most contemporary urban communities.
- engages educators in joint, productive activity through discourse, inquiry, and public professional practice. Effective professional learning is reached by continuous, collaborative interaction with colleagues through discussion, knowledge development and understanding, and directed inquiry around professional practice.
- embeds development within practice, is part of daily discourse and shared discussions about student learning and student product, as well as more formalized mentoring and coaching, meetings, study groups, and examination of evidence from inquiry cycles, and is differentiated by individuals’ development.
- results in improved learning for students who have been marginalized from the academic and social curricula of the U. S. public school system. Professional learning provides opportunities for teachers to explore and understand the influence of individual cultural identity and values on individual and systems practices, as well as expand their professional knowledge of the sociocultural dimensions of learning, and its impact assessed through student involvement and performance in academic and social curricula.
- influences decisions about what is taught and why. Since professional learning is generative, educators’ knowledge will expand and become more complex as it develops. It is expected that professional learning will result in the use of a cultural perspective in the examination and improvements to the content and process of instruction for all learners.
- generates the diffusion of professional knowledge to build sustainable educational communities focused on improving learning outcomes for all students and their families, particularly those students who are members of cultural and linguistic minority groups. As educators gain knowledge, they also have the responsibility for sharing and mentoring others both in the practice of professional learning and in the expanded knowledge that comes from such activity.