Factors That Contribute to Quality Professional Practice

Adapted from Transforming the Workforce Chapter 8

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Key Takeaways

  • There is wide variability in the quantity, quality, and type of professional learning opportunities for those working with children from B–8.

  • Barriers to professional learning include: high staff turnover, lack of time, lack of funds to pay for training, and a lack of available professional learning opportunities.

Chapter Summary

Professional learning refers to all of the activities that contribute to developing and sustaining quality professional practice, including preparation programs, mentoring and coaching, and ongoing training. Systemic and contextual factors such as working conditions, availability of resources, and status and well-being of the professionals also contribute to (or, when scarce, may detract from) a professional’s ability to learn and improve.

Early care and education professionals working with children from B–8 play a variety of roles. For this reason, there are many entry points to the field and multiple pathways leading to jobs in the profession, and requirements vary by state and local context and sector. Professional learning also occurs in many different settings and runs on different timelines. The lack of consistency and coordination across types of workforce development is not supportive of a strong B–8 continuum.

While some aspects of professional learning and practice need to be tailored to specific professional roles, specialization should be developed in the context of a shared foundation of child development and early learning. Initiatives and activities that support professional learning should be high-quality, well designed, and well implemented. All educators need to develop core competencies and a shared knowledge base to move children along a trajectory of learning and developmental goals. 

Key Quote from Chapter

“Embracing a broader and more unified concept of professional learning will facilitate a process of coming together across types of professional learning support and across settings and professional roles to arrive at improved consistency and commonality in care and education for children from birth through age 8.” (pg. 360)

Questions for Policymakers, Higher Education, and Workforce


  • What policies for improving the working conditions and the well-being of the workforce might be effective to reduce staff turnover and the resulting need to constantly retrain new staff?
  • Could states and districts help provide early educators with the funds necessary to pursue additional education?
  • Given the needs in your state or locality, what topics for in-service professional development should be prioritized for early educators?
  • How can career ladders be constructed to ensure that early educators have opportunities for professional advancement?

Higher Education:

  • What coordinated actions can educator preparation programs take to ensure all early educators enter the classroom with a shared foundation of child development and early learning?

B–8 Workforce:

  • What barriers might be keeping early educators from being able to advance their education or take advantage of professional learning?
  • What actions can schools and districts take to foster the development of a professional community of early educators that support each other to improve pedagogical practice?