At my school, we’re moving towards creating a dedicated in-school hours time for professional learning. We know how essential ongoing teacher learning is, but we also know how valuable teacher time is, with a multitude of different tasks teachers are required to do each school day. Creating a dedicated PL time will allow opportunities for PLC team meetings, faculty-based PL, and whole-school PL on our school plan priorities of formative assessment, Project Based Learning and Differentiation.
I never knew it before, but I’m a systems person. I’ve worked hard this year to develop an over-arching PL system based on the PLC model. (You can read about that in earlier blog posts.) I’ve spent a lot of time revising the school assessment and reporting policy, and I’ve created separate assessment booklets for years 7, 8 and 9. I’ve always been very aware of the powerful relationship between assessment and learning. After almost a year at an academic selective school, I’ve become even more conscious of the relationship between assessment and wellbeing – something particularly close to my heart, because of my own son’s difficult adjustment from primary school (with its deemphasis on grading) and high school (with its constant emphasis on grading). Finally, I worked with the HT English to write part of the school plan – Our Learning Culture – and develop a series of detailed milestones for the next three years. For each of these there’s an underlying structure which allows me to set goals for myself and others – super important when you’re trying to manage change in learning culture!
Two big PL successes at my school this term have been PLC team learning, and Tech & Teas. This term each PLC team worked on their action research project based on their chosen quality teaching practice. After setting teams up with action research plans on SDD at the beginning of the term, each team went off to work together to research, implement, observe and reflect on the use of a specific teaching strategy. I’ve been really pleased with the way in which teachers have embraced this model and throughout the term had a lot of discussions with teachers about their learning. Next time we do this, I’ll make a time to meet with every PLC team to see how they’re going, and offer ongoing PL support. This round of PLC team action research projects I simply didn’t have enough time, with so many other priorities taking my time I was frustrated that I didn’t get to support teachers as much as they needed. Teams have their presentations to the whole staff next term in week 3, so I’m hoping they go well, but I understand if some don’t because they didn’t get the ongoing support they needed. Next time they will!
Tech & Tea has been another success this term. Initially I ran Tech & Teas in term one at lunch times, and literally had zero attendees for many sessions. At the end of term two I asked teachers to identify their preferred time and ICT they’d like to focus on, and then made regular times each week to meet these needs. The most popular time was after sport on a Wednesday, with most teachers keen to learn about Google Apps, Edmodo, and online quizzes. To track teacher attendance, and to help teachers identify teaching standards met, I have created two Google Forms – one for teachers to RSVP, and one to reflect on their learning and select standards met. They keep a copy of both forms, which they use as their PDP evidence for their goals. Cool, huh? I’ve had about 20 different teachers attend over the term, with many of those attending two or more sessions. Casual teachers have been attending too – coming in even when they’re not teaching that day! It’s been nice to have teachers asking about Tech & Teas next term, how cool is that?
Anyway, I think last term was a pretty epic term for teacher learning – oh yeah, I ran four sessions on faculty-based PBL last term, and one session on assessment as learning for another faculty, so MUCH learning! Next term will see me engaging with data collected during our Tell Them From Me survey, and student focus groups – students and parents need to be part of PL dialogue too.
So, what does professional learning look like at your school?