Posted on September 2, 2016
Every Thursday our teaching staff come together for formal Professional Learning. This can take many forms: guest speakers who are experts in a particular field; workshops in particular teaching strategies; sessions aimed at understanding the different needs of our students better; or teacher-teams meet to review and plan curriculum and assessment.
This week a team of pioneering staff are meeting to hold their final reflection meeting as part of a year-long trial of our latest initiative in best-practice professional learning. The Professional Growth Pathway (PGP) Pilot program involves teachers working with a partner under the guidance of a coach, to devise a meaningful Practice Goal and a Knowledge Goal over the course of the school year linked to student outcomes.
The Practice Goal is one that centres on peer-observable classroom practices. A Knowledge goal relates to their knowledge of curriculum content and their own students, which the teacher uses to prepare and refine their teaching programs. The Practice Goal is not a new thing for our staff as for the last 3 years all teachers have worked with a peer in our Peer Partnership program towards a Practice Goal each year. The PGP, however, has piloted developing this program further to include a Knowledge Goal and to have a group of pairs working in collaboration with a coach to guide them. We have found that collaborative learning amongst peers is a powerful amplifier of good practice further enhances our excellent staff engagement, motivation and morale.
The final stage of this annual cycle of Reflection – Goal Setting – Professional Practice and Learning – Review and Feedback is taking place this week in Professional Learning time when each participant in the pilot will meet with their coach to formally reflect and evaluate on the steps they took towards their goals and look ahead to their next year’s goals.
The feedback from participating coaches and partners has been extremely positive and their enthusiastic support has allowed us to refine and develop our model to best suit our school environment and culture of continuous improvement as we move toward implementation of the program for all teachers in the school in 2018.
Much like the formal and informal assessment and reporting loops we use in classrooms with our students, and invite our parent’s participation through whole school surveys, forums or parent-teacher-student interviews, this cycle of learning helps us make learning more visible and therefore more able to form the basis of future learning. Setting up these loops and refining how they all work in tandem is what drives great learning for a students and teachers alike.
by Jason McManus, Vice Principal, Teaching and Learning