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.