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Sustaining Teacher Learning

Monaliza Maximo CHIAN


Teacher learning affects students' learning (e.g., Fullan, 2007; Hattie, 2012). Thus, sustaining teacher learning can catalyse the essential professional skills, knowledge, and dispositions designed to keep pace with the rapidly changing world (Goodwin, 2011). Sustainable learning involves learning knowledge and skills that are timeless yet adaptable and permeable to changes. Akin to lifelong learning, sustaining learning involves a set of intentional, interactive, and inquiry-driven practices that positions learners to proactively identify their learning needs and reflexively adapt to contextual changes (Hays & Reinder, 2020). However, sustaining teacher learning remains a work-in-progress, and conceptualising what constitutes teacher learning may be the foundational step.

Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1999) present three conceptualisations of teacher learning: knowledge-for-practice, knowledge-in-practice, and knowledge-of-practice; all are essential over teachers' career lifespan. These types of teacher learning can be actualised in various approaches to teacher education, professional development (PD), and professional learning (PL). Historically, PD refers to structured collective learning activities (e.g., lectures, seminars, workshops) centred on predefined topics. In contrast, PL refers to ongoing activities that can be collectively and/or individually done (e.g., lesson study, coaching/mentoring, self-study, action research), centred on teachers' learning needs. Darling-Hammond and colleagues (2017) consider that effective PD is organised PL, resulting in pedagogical transformation and student learning progress.

Supporting teacher learning that engenders a continual (re)constructing of knowledge, skills, and dispositions over the span of a career, may reside in ongoing inquiries of the kinds of teacher learning and how to sustain that learning -- with and by whom, and under what conditions leading to what outcomes. The latest professional learning standards suggest that content, transformational processes, and conditions for success are essential elements for quality professional learning (Learning Forward, 2022). Adopting these standards requires a commitment to continually learn contemporary knowledge by all members of professional learning communities at the systemic, community, and individual levels. It needs strategic coordination of all stakeholders to orchestrate alignment of policy and practices related to designing relevant and rigorous teacher education programmes. These programmes foster the learning of enduring knowledge and skills that can thrive and be regenerated to respond to changes and contextual circumstances. These types of learning must be job-embedded, student-needs-driven, culturally-relevant and contextually-responsive. Sustaining these kinds of learning involves the cooperation of professional communities to uphold a culture of collaboration to maintain a viable, supportive, and adaptive learning environment to foster continuous professional development and learning of classroom practitioners. It means encouraging all teachers across school levels (i.e., kindergarten, primary, secondary, and tertiary) to become active partners in their learning and vested contributors to the local and global issues in education through individual reflections and collective conversations.

Below are relevant and timely resources that raise issues, considerations, and challenges as we develop strategies to sustain teacher learning to provide quality and just education for all students.


Lifelong Learning

Highly-Cited Academic Articles


Publications in/about the Region


HKU Research and Resources


School Examples


Internet Resources


YouTube Videos

Blog Posts


Extended Readings



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