Professional Learning and Appraisal at ASHS
- 1 The Process
- 2 Overview
- 3 What is Professional Inquiry?
- 4 How we support each other in our inquiries
- 5 External PLD components of professional learning
- 6 A school culture of professional learning
- 7 Staff-developed resources
We started with a strong belief that given the right learning environment, and with rigorous professional inquiry, we could ensure academic success for all our students. The data we were seeing to begin with however, did not appear to match this belief. As a learning community we decided to use research to inform a system for teacher learning that would continue to challenge any of our problematic beliefs about students and provide effective teaching and learning solutions that might be different from what we'd done in the past. The professional inquiry is a process that continues to be developed as we learn more about the relationship between teacher and student learning. It demands a high degree of challenging collaboration, data literacy and research to inform our decisions. Inquiry is at the centre of high quality professional learning. Inquiry enables us to learn about students and learn from students about the effectiveness of our teaching. It also enables us to go deep with our learning as teachers as we challenge each other's thinking, inadequate mental models and view of teacher learning and how this best works.
What is Professional Inquiry?
- Agentic (you are in charge of your learning. It fits with the needs of your students.)
- Collaborative (your colleagues challenge and critique your theories and you share your knowledge with cross-curricular teams, departmental teams and students)
- Embedded (an integral part of your teaching practice)
- Timely (so that it makes a difference to the learning of the students in front of you now)
- Iterative (informs your future planning and your your learning journey)
- Always use data from classes as your starting point. Where is the underachievement? Who are the actual students. Name them. Export data from Kamar. What current information do you have on these students? How did these students perform in this subject or similar subjects last year? What other kinds of data are your 'critical friends' encouraging you to explore? What theories are you developing to explain why the under performance has happened?
- Our first attempt to explain any under-performance we are seeing will often be inadequate in describing the complexity of the situation. How are you developing multiple theories to explain what you are seeing? Collaboration is an essential step here - using your colleagues to question and challenge and to provide alternative theories. Refer Timperly and Robinson's paper on schema.
- Who are the students you are focusing on? What are others suggesting about what has caused the underachievement? Triangulate between conversation, observation and products. Talk to students. Use these feedback tools to get their comments on what worked and didn't work for them.
- Identify the real cause of the problem. Are you using single loop or double-loop learning?
- Given the theory you eventually settle on, identify the particular learning needs of the students. This ensures that the interventions will be useful for them.
It is vital to ensure that the strategies we are employing have a sound, peer-reviewed research base. There are a wealth of different databases you can use to research strategies. For instance:
- The EPIC databases (particularly Educator's Reference Complete, Masterfile and Onefile). These require a username and password which is on the Library Intranet page.
- ERIC (Education Resources Information Centre
- Google Scholar (Try this sample search in Google Scholar.)
- NZ Educational Theses Database. This requires a username and password which is on the Library Intranet page.
- As well as your SSL and TL, who else did you seek challenge, questions and/or critique from and what input did they provide?
- How will you measure the outcomes later in your learning inquiry?
Teaching and Learning
- You will have one appraiser each year although each professional inquiry should have multiple collaborators and sources of feedback, data and guidance. These may be colleagues, SSLs, TLs, students the SCT and members of SLT.
- Observations. If you need time to observe other teachers using strategies you would like to learn more about, talk to SLT about getting cover for your classes. What feedback did you get from your observation?
What happened for the students as a result of your inquiry? Did the chosen intervention(s) raise outcomes? How do you know? Have you used triangulated evidence to assess outcomes? (Conversation, observation and products.)
Your reflections on your inquiries and what you have learned from them should be recorded in your (e) portfolio.
- What are the sustained changes you will take into your future practice?
- How might this impact on your next inquiry?
How can you share your learnings with internal and external colleagues? Think of Tuesday morning presentations, Ignite, subject conferences, online learning communities and youtube.
How we support each other in our inquiries
We operate on a three week cycle to maximise opportunities for effective peer collaboration. One week is for working individually, the next for collaborating with cross-curricular teams, and the last for collaborating with departments. We share our learning from inquiries weekly on Tuesday mornings and present at the end of term to each other on our own learning, the learning for students and the relationship between our actions and student outcomes.
External PLD components of professional learning
SLT and Team Leaders
BOT funded post graduate educational studies.
- data analysis
- educational change
- whole school professional learning
- educational leadership
A school culture of professional learning
Developing a whole school approach to professional learning has included the development of structures and processes (such as personalised learning programmes and close monitoring of students through tutorials) shared understandings and commitment on the part of all staff to moving outside our comfort zones when collaborating and processing data and ideas. We have developed and continued to refine a responsive system and culture around professional learning that will continue to adapt as we learn. It has also provided us with chances to practice our learning in a way that challenges us but also improves outcomes for our students.