Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: what does it take?
Professional Learningfor School Effectiveness inAustralia: what does it take? 1
The dilemmaAnne Murray is an energetic young woman who co-teachesa year 4 class with an experienced colleague at GeorgevillePrimary School.She is a Professional Development (PD) junkie.In 2012 she attended a two-day course, four after-schoolseminars, led the four staff professional development days ather school, read numerous articles and participated in threewebinars. She is active in online discussion forums and isan incessant tweeter. She is also the president of her localprofessional association.Anne is committed to her Year 4 class and is full of ideas. Butshe has been too busy to manage a meaningful collaborationwith her co-teacher that would have resulted in teachingpractices being better targeted to meet the needs of theirunderperforming non-English speaking background students.The appraisal program at her school also does not result in herreceiving the feedback and support she needs to re-evaluateher current eclectic, disorganised approach to teaching.Consequently, despite her enthusiasm and willingness tolearn, Anne’s teaching practice has scarcely changed and theprogress her students have made shows no acceleration.
Professional learning should not leavea school unchanged.Cole, 2012 4 The context 6 A commitment to professional learning 10 Developing the vision in partnership 13 The Charter 16 The challenge of making effective professional learning a way of life in Australian schools 26 We will know we have been successful when… 28 References 30 AITSL partners ’s
It is time for all stakeholders in schooling, inall jurisdictions and sectors, to engage in avigorous dialogue and to take action to ensurethat every child gets an excellent educationand that every school is a great school.Commonwealth of Australia, 20084 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
ThecontextThe Australian Institute for Teaching and School Using this platform, what will it take to buildLeadership (AITSL) has a role to establish a a quality, contemporary education workforceshared and agreed platform from which the of teachers and school leaders who promotequality of teaching and school leadership can equity and excellence, so that all youngcontinue to grow. Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active andOver the last 2 years a solid foundation has been informed citizens* and to ensure that our nationestablished: prospers economically, culturally and socially?• ational standards for teachers and a standard n Much of the answer lies in relevant, for principals have been introduced collaborative, futures-focused and• tandards and procedures for accreditation s evidence-based professional learning. initial teacher education programs have been * inisterial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and M implemented Youth Affairs – MCEETYA, 2008.• consistent approach to teacher registration a (licensing) has been adopted The Australian Institute for Teaching and School• national approach to the certification of highly a accomplished and lead teachers has been agreed Leadership (AITSL) was established and funded• framework for teacher performance and a by the Australian Government as part of a bold development has been accepted across the country and; strategy to coalesce and stimulate the activity of• n Australian charter for the professional a learning of teachers and school leaders has eight states and territories to address the significant been established. challenge of improving the quality of education workforce in a 21st century world. 5
A commitmentto professionallearningThe collective sharing of skills, expertiseand experience will create much richer andmore sustainable opportunities for rigoroustransformation than can ever be providedby isolated institutions.OECD, 20086 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
Professional learning is fundamental to improving The Standards do this by providing a frameworkthe capacity and capabilities of teachers and that makes clear the knowledge, practice andschool leaders. It has become a national professional engagement required acrossimperative to build a sustained commitment to, teachers’ careers. They present a commonand culture that recognises and nurtures, the understanding and language for discourse amongcentral role of professional learning in: teachers, teacher educators, teacher organisations, professional associations and the public.• uilding the performance and capability of b teachers and leaders to continually improve A recent OECD review of evaluation and their professional practice and, consequently, assessment in education confirms the important outcomes for all Australian school students link between teacher learning, clear performance expectations and progression and has• ontributing to the confidence and ability of c recommended better alignment of professional teachers and school leaders to apply their development with teaching standards and career knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively in development (Santiago et al, 2011). Research response to different and changing contexts also reveals, however, that the quality of support• upporting the recruitment, development and s and professional learning available to teachers retention of high quality, effective teachers and and school leaders is highly variable. The OECD’s school leaders. TALIS survey indicated that Australia was in the lowest quartile of participating countries in termsProfessional learning that engages all teachers of the average number of days of professionaland school leaders at every stage of their career learning experienced by teachers in the previousis an essential component of a high achieving twelve months (OECD, 2009).education system and is most effective when it isunderpinned by rigorous standards of practice. It was in this context, where there were: lowTeachers are entitled to know what is expected of expectations of the impact of professionalthem in relation to their professional practice. learning on practice; a dearth of systematicAustralia now has a set of Standards for teachers. structures to support professional learning;The Standards define the work of graduate, and highly variable quality and access toproficient, highly accomplished and lead professional development across Australia,teachers. They make explicit the elements of high- that AITSL was commissioned to foster andquality, effective teaching in 21st-century schools drive a culture of high quality professionalthat are known to result in improved educational learning that would change the attitudes andoutcomes for students. practices of teachers and school leaders. 7
The Importance ofProfessional Learning COmmentary by Frederick Brown, schools in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Learning Forward Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland provide time for professional development as part of In a landmark study of professional learning teachers’ average work day or week. When time conducted for Learning Forward, Darling for professional learning is built into teachers’ Hammond, et al (2009), studied the status schedules, their learning activities can be ongoing of professional learning around the world and sustained and can focus on a particular issue with a focus on countries where students are or problem over time. experiencing higher levels of achievement. Several trends were identified in those countries. Similar practices are common in Japan, Singapore, and other Asian nations, as well. In South Korea, for example, only about 35 percent of teachers’ Ample time for professional learning is working time is spent on classroom instruction. structured into teachers’ work lives One of the key structural supports for teachers Beginning teachers receive extensive engaging in professional learning is the allocation mentoring and induction supports of time in the work day and week to participate in such activities. In most European and Asian Induction programs are mandatory in many countries, instruction takes up less than half of countries and they tend to emphasise the building a teacher’s working time. The rest – generally of strong professional relationships among about 15 to 20 hours per week – is spent on beginning and veteran teachers, as well as the tasks related to teaching, such as preparing development of teaching practice. In China, for lessons, marking papers, meeting with students example, both new and experienced teachers and parents, and working with colleagues. Most participate in teacher institutes at the local planning is done in collegial settings (such as university and are inducted into a community of large faculty rooms where teachers’ desk are same-subject teachers. In Switzerland, beginning located to facilitate collective work) and during teachers work in practice groups of about six meetings of subject-matter departments and teachers from across different schools and grade-level teams. together they participate in peer observation, observation of more experienced colleagues, and Schools in European nations – including self/peer evaluation with the practice group. Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland – dedicate time for regular In a model like that found in a number of Asian collaboration among teachers on issues of nations, the New Zealand Ministry of Education instruction. A majority of schools in high-achieving funds 20 percent release time for new teachers and nations provide time for teachers’ professional 10 percent release time for second-year teachers, learning by building it into teachers’ work day and/ and requires schools to have a locally developed or by providing class coverage by other teachers. program to develop new teachers’ abilities. Among OECD nations, more than 85 percent of8 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
Mentor teachers and coaches play a key part by national boards of education, the content of In Singapore, the government pays for 100 hoursin launching new teachers into the profession, professional learning is determined according to of professional learning each year for all teachers.and some countries (including England, France, local needs and is often embedded in the work That is in addition to the 20 hours a week theyIsrael, Norway, and Switzerland) require formal of “teacher teams” or “teacher units” at particular have to work with other teachers and visit eachtraining for mentor teachers. In Singapore, master schools, which are empowered to make decisions others’ classrooms to study teaching. Further,teachers are appointed to lead the coaching and around curriculum and evaluation. and with government funding, teachers can takedevelopment of the teachers in each school. courses at the National Institute of Education In Sweden, the decentralization of curriculumNorwegian principals assign an experienced, toward a master’s degree aimed at advancement planning and in-service training led to a shift in thehighly qualified mentor to each new teacher and to curriculum specialist, mentor for other teachers, focus of the development work at each school –the teacher-education institution then trains the or school principal. from prescribed teacher-training models definedmentor and takes part in in-school guidance. In by the central education ministry, to teacher- Some countries have established national trainingsome Swiss states, the new teachers in each designed projects focused on solving problems programs. In England, for example, governmentaldistrict meet in reflective groups twice a month in teachers’ own classrooms. Teachers are now offices devoted to literacy and numeracy sponsorwith an experienced teacher who is trained to required to participate in teacher teams, which a countrywide teacher-to-teacher training effort,facilitate their discussions of common problems meet during regular working hours to discuss focusing on proven instructional practices in thosefor new teachers. and make decisions on common matters of subjects. Many observers credit that work with their work, including the planning of lessons, the a subsequent rise in the percentage of studentsTeachers are widely encouraged to participate welfare of pupils, and curriculum development meeting national literacy standards from 63 percentin school decision-making. and evaluation. Such action research to solve to 75 percent in just three years. The training pedagogical problems and guide curriculum program is one of England’s national literacy andIn most of the countries studied, teachers are decisions is also encouraged in Australia, Hong numeracy initiatives. It provides resources – suchactively involved in curriculum and assessment Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore. as high-quality teaching materials, resourcedevelopment, often in response to national or documents, and videos depicting good practicestate standards, and they guide much of the – to support implementation of the nationalprofessional learning they experience. In Western Governments provide significant levels of curriculum frameworks.Europe, nations such as Finland, Sweden, and support for additional profession learningSwitzerland have decentralized most classroom ~ Frederick Brown Beyond the structure of the work day thatdecision-making to professional well-informed accommodates daily professional collaboration,schools and teachers. Teachers in these and many high-achieving nations dedicate significantmany other nations are responsible for developing resources to professional learning, oftensyllabi, selecting textbooks, developing curriculum drawing on expertise beyond the schools. Someand assessments, deciding on course offerings countries have established national requirementsand budget issues, planning and scheduling for professional learning. For example, theprofessional learning, and more. They typically Netherlands, Singapore, and Sweden require atdesign key school-based assessments to evaluate least 100 hours of professional learning per year, instudent learning as part of the overall assessment addition to regularly scheduled time for commonsystem. In place of professional learning dictated planning and other teacher collaborations. 9
Developing thevision in partnershipAITSL began looking at the problem of howto foster and drive a culture of high qualityprofessional learning that would change theattitudes and practices in July 2010, using atraditional lens. The resulting Guidelines forProfessional Development were solid but notdifferent or better that what already existed ina range of forms throughout the country. Weweren’t confident that another set of guidelines,no matter how good, would make the differencewe needed.In February 2011 we rethought our approach.We wanted to privilege:• rust over accountability t• empowerment over prescription• impact over entitlement• efficacy over complianceThe result is the Australian Charter for theProfessional Learning of Teachers and SchoolLeaders (the Charter). June 2011 Roundtable Practitioners, teacher March – April 2011 educators and policy Research papers makers workshopped a national approach Professors Timperley to revitalising teacher February 2011 and Collarbone, interest in effective Re-thinking the and Cole were professional learning. approach commissioned to The idea of a Charter provide background was born. October 2010 Uneasy with our draft research papers / Academic review and guidelines AITSL think pieces on quality critique invited academics professional learning. and experts to a August – Two Australian discussion to re-think September 2010 academics reviewed our approach. We National Professional and critiqued our initial considered what Learning Program draft of the proposed existed, what works July 2010 national professional guidelines and what is possible. Commissioned development Literature Review In house we drafted standards/guidelines. professional We searched the developmentliterature to inform best standards/guidelines. practice standards/ guidelines. Traditional lens New lens Problem + expert = answer Profession + experts = ideas10 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia
August 2012 Charter Endorsed by education ministers in June 2012 every Australian state and territory International expert feedback March – June 2012 The draft Charter was Input from presented to eight practitioners international education experts for detailed October 2011 Dedicated face to face critique then further Public release for meetings were held refined. The final national conversation with teacher educators draft of the Charter and senior sectoral was also aligned September 2011 Seventy education and jurisdictional policy with the Australian Expert practitioner, leaders from across representatives to Teacher Performance academic and opinion Australia were invited gather feedback about and Development leader critique to a forum where the draft Charter and August 2011 Framework. AITSL released the seek advice about Charter drafted Written review and Charter for national tools and resources critique on the draft critique and discussion that would supportThe Australian Charter Charter was invited of implementation the culture change we for the Professional from a cross section challenges. were seeking. Learning of Teachers of stakeholders. and School Leaders Their feedback led to Keynote presentations A survey was released was drafted. redrafting. on the value of, and to Australian National focus for, teachers’ Teacher Associations professional learning and Principal and system reform Associations seeking were delivered by feedback on the draft Professor John Charter and advice Hattie, University about tools and of Melbourne, and resources to support Professor Michael culture change. Fullan, OISE, University Thirty-six separate of Toronto. responses were received representing approximately 50,000 educators and the Chatter was revised again. Australia finally had a nationally endorsed statement that made explicit the key role professional learning in the growth of a high quality education workforce. New Approach Shared responsibility + commitment = impact 11
Underpinning the Charter is a deepcommitment to high quality professionallearning. The Charter focuses on makinga difference, where it matters most of all,in the classroom. The Charter reinforcesthat high quality teaching is the key toimproving learning outcomes for youngpeople and making a difference to theirlife chances, irrespective of context. TheCharter also emphasises that professionallearning is not an end in itself but ratheris a means to an end. It is primarily aboutsecuring higher achievement and betteroutcomes for all learners.Harris, 201212 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
THECHARTERThe Charter is the result of the contributions ofpractitioners and experts within Australia andbeyond. The Charter:• ffirms the importance of learning in improving a the professional knowledge, practice and engagement of all teachers and school leaders to achieve improvement in student outcomes• rticulates the expectation that all teachers and a school leaders actively engage in professional learning throughout their careers• escribes the characteristics of a high-quality d professional learning culture and of effective professional learning, to assist teachers, school leaders and those who support them to get the most from their professional learning. 13
What does it take to change the professional practice of every teacher andschool leader in ways that improve the learning, engagement and wellbeing ofevery Australian student?1 2 3A deeply held belief in the importanceof professional learning to developindividual and collective capabilityacross the teaching profession toaddress current and future challenges. A professional learning culture, where teachers and school leaders expect, and are expected to be, active learners, to reflect, receive feedback and improve their pedagogical practices. A commitment to evaluating professional learning.Teachers need to be provided with opportunities Such a high quality professional learning culture is Effective professional learning should supportto learn; they must also be open to learning characterised by: teachers and school leaders to reflect on,(Office of School Education, Department of question and consciously improve their practice. • high degree of leadership support for aEducation Training, 2005). A commitment to It is also important that teachers and school ongoing adult learning and risk takingthe professional growth of every teacher must be leaders evaluate their professional learningsupported with professional learning opportunities • collective responsibility for improving practice activities to ensure they are receiving the mostthat respect and acknowledge that teachers are benefit from their professional learning. • isciplined collaboration aimed at specific and dadult learners who learn in different ways, come relevant goals that relate to the learning needs Sophisticated, robust, multi-method ways offrom different backgrounds, work in a variety of of students evaluating professional learning are required tocontext specific settings and cater for the needs identify the impact and effect size of professionalof diverse students. • igh levels of trust, interaction and inter- h learning activities. The identification of the dependence changes in teacher and leader practices that are • upport for professional learning through s most likely to lead to improved student outcomes school structures, explicit planning and the can support teachers and leaders in setting allocation of time personal goals for professional learning and • focus on the professional learning that a development. is most likely to be effective in improving It is important that such evaluation: professional practice and student outcomes. • is built into programs from the start • evaluates outcomes at multiple levels • f cuses on changes in teacher and leader o practices that led to improved student outcomes • racks change over the short, medium and t long terms.14 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
4Professional learning that is relevant, collaborative and future focused. 5 Agreement that professional learning is a shared responsibility that is taken up at all levels of the education systems – teachers, school leaders, system leaders and policy makers.a. Relevant Collaborative professional learning should: Teachers take responsibility for,Professional learning will be most engaging for • romote teacher and leader ownership of their p and actively engage in, professional learning in orderadult learners and have the greatest impact on learning through active involvement in the to build their capacity andpractice when it assists teachers and school design content, practice and evaluation of their that of othersleaders to address and adapt to the challenges learningthey face in improving student learning, • rovide opportunities to receive feedback on p To changeengagement with learning and wellbeing. practice, and observe the practice of others professional practiceTo be relevant, professional learning should: in ways that improve the • ffer support to change practice through o System learning, engagement School leaders and leaders• ssist teachers and school leaders to meet a coaching, mentoring and reflection policy makers and wellbeing of every engage in and enable and Australian student model learning the identified needs of students to achieve support a and lead the • rovide opportunities to access and learn from p immediate goals and long term outcomes learning and development of a experts development learning culture culture in schools in schools• ncourage teachers and school leaders to e • evelop professional learning communities d find new solutions to persistent issues, by within and between schools challenging their assumptions about their practice • se technology to enrich collaboration and u learning.• e based on current research on effective b The Charter is about making a difference to leadership, teaching and learning teachers and ultimately to students. c. Future focused• ink closely to school, sector and system goals l and initiatives Effective professional learning seeks to develop teachers and school leaders who are adaptable• e matched to the experiences, strengths, b and able to deal with new and unexpected current knowledge, career stage and goals of challenges. the adult learner It should focus on:• e available when needed. b • quipping teachers and school leaders to deal e with future as well as current challengesb. Collaborative • romoting action research and inquiry and pCollaboration has a powerful effect in magnifying developing teachers as researchersand spreading the benefits of professionallearning and adds a new and valuable dimension • eveloping high level skills that allow teachers dto the learning undertaken by individuals. and school leaders to adapt and excel in aEffective collaboration demands a disciplined and rapidly changing and hyper-connected worldpurposeful approach to solve challenges that are • upporting teachers and school leaders to smost important to improving student outcomes. explore research that challenges their thinking, encourages them to develop their own theories of practice and promotes use of a range of effective pedagogical practices • romoting innovation in teacher and school p leader practice. 15
The challenge ofmaking effectiveprofessional learninga way of life inAustralian schools The Charter does not set out requirements that Professor Michael Fullan (2011) writes “the must be met by any single school, system or research has been clear and consistent for provider of professional learning. It does, however, over 30 years—collaborative cultures in which present unequivocal national expectations teachers focus on improving their teaching regarding the importance of professional learning, practice, learn from each other, and are well led the characteristics of effective professional and supported by school principals result in learning and the need for establishing better learning for students”. Collaboration is a professional learning cultures in all schools. strong focus within the Charter and by bringing a ‘discipline’ to that collaboration we ensure that To foster and drive a culture of high quality practice changes in ways that are sustainable. professional learning that would change the Where teachers connect in order to collectively attitudes and practices of teachers and school and systematically investigate ways of leaders, AITSL is focusing its time, resources and overcoming barriers to their students’ learning, thought leadership on two high impact initiatives the outcomes can be dramatic (Harris, 2012). and how they intersect with each other: In particular, the development of a Professional 1. ethods that allow teachers and school M Learning Community (PLC) engages leaders to collaborate effectively. professionals in addressing an issue, solving 2. valuation of the impact of professional E a problem or meeting a real need through learning in improving outcomes for students. systematic collaborative enquiry and innovation that results in better outcomes for learners. Sustained improvements in student learning 1. Disciplined Collaboration are more likely to result if professionals actively There is evidence that some forms of learn with and from each other in a constructive professional learning affect practice and student and rigorous way. Through ‘disciplined outcomes more than others. In an OECD survey collaboration’ teachers follow a clear and robust (OECD, 2010), teachers from around the world model of inquiry, trial new classroom strategies reported that, generally, sustained collaborative and approaches, and consistently gauge work on real problems, with expert support the impact of changes in practice upon their has a greater impact than one-off activities. students’ learning.16 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
A growing consensus among researchersand practitioners suggests that themost effective teacher learning activities(i.e. those that improve instruction and inturn student achievement) involve forms ofjob-embedded professional learning.Cogshall et al, 2012 17
Disciplined Collaboration andEvaluation of Professional Learning COMMENTARY BY Alma Harris and researchers (Hadfield and Chapman, 2009) Michelle Jones similarly noted the difficulty of establishing any causal link between networking and improved The research literature has established that there learner outcomes. The main reason for the is a powerful relationship between high quality lack of impact resides in the fact that many of collaborative professional learning and school these collaborative or networking arrangements and system improvement. It reinforces that the main point of any professional collaboration is to did not have a clear model or theory of action ‘connect to learn’ but that often little thought is guiding their collective work in any consistent or given to the establishment of those connections disciplined way. and scant attention is paid to the fact that to be Second, It remains a fact that many of the most productive and effective, some professionals evaluation practices related to professional learning need to ‘learn to connect’ (Harris and Jones, or development are still fairly rudimentary (Harris et 2012). So how do we get professionals to connect al, 2008), They tend to focus on summarising the to learn in the most effective ways, and how do activities undertaken, the participants’ responses we evaluate the impact and outcomes of this to it and self-report on the outcomes and impact. professional learning more generally? There are, of course, exceptions where the First, although it is now well established that evaluation of professional learning practices in carefully constructed and systematic professional schools is well developed, sophisticated and collaboration can make a positive difference to rigorous, but this is not the norm. organisational performance and outcomes, it can The reality is that busy teachers find it difficult to only do so if it is rigorous, focused and systematic undertake rigorous and systematic evaluation of (Harris and Jones, 2010). The research evidence their professional learning without clear guidance has highlighted again and again that loose or and support. The Charter is clear – the evaluation unfocused professional groupings, partnerships of professional learning is critically important or networks are unlikely to secure improvement because it enables teachers to judge and reflect in the long term. An international review of upon how changes in their practice affect those school to school networks found that relatively they teach. The challenge is how to provide few networks could demonstrate a positive teachers with models of evaluation that align with impact upon learners. Where an impact could their professional learning and are a natural part be substantiated, it was largely correlated with of their professional practice. learner enjoyment and engagement (Bell et al, 2010). In their analysis of school networks, other ~ Alma Harris and Michelle Jones18 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
Evaluating the Impact ofProfessional Learning Professional learningWhile there is a considerable body of research intovarious aspects of effective professional learningand professional development, there is less known needs to be built upon anabout what teachers learn from their activitiesand how resulting changes to practice directlyimpact student outcomes. It is not always easyto measure in simple, causal terms the impact ofprofessional learning (Lloyd Mayer, 2011).It is important to consider how the desiredimprovements in student outcomes will be evidential foundation ofmeasured, and to build this into the professionallearning programs from the start. what works in teaching, not fad, fantasy, idealism, ideology or rhetoric. Dinham, 2007 19
EVALUATING Commentary by Albert Bertani Senior Advisor – Urban Education Institute – University of Chicago, U.S.A.THE IMPACT OFPROFESSIONAL The argument for professional learning seeks to draw a causal relationship between professional development and student learning outcomes.LEARNING A key question for the field of professional learning focuses on what indicators and metrics should be used to evaluate the impact of professional learning. While no specific formula has been cited to respond to this, it is imperative that programs regularly assess transfer and application as part of the analysis of impact. In order to outline a potential way forward, a research-based framework might serve a useful purpose for framing the discussion. In 2010, the University of Chicago Press published Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. The authors introduce a framework that highlights the five essentials for improving student learning and organisational performance in a school. They include: Effective Leaders, Collaborative Teachers, Involved Families and Supportive Environment, all impacting Ambitious Instruction, which stands at the core of their framework. Using twenty years of data from over 675 schools, 300,000 plus students, and 20,000 teachers, the authors correlated student learning gains with the strength of performance in each of the five Essentials. What can we learn from this research that could inform a discussion about how to measure the impact of professional learning? What could serve as leading indicators in describing the improvements that have occurred as a result of professional learning? What tools could be utilised to collect information on program implementation efforts associated with professional learning programs? Evaluation Indicators and Methods Evaluating the impact of professional learning requires a robust set of indicators and multiple methods for collecting information. These indicators and methods should be detailed from the earliest stages of program design to ensure there is alignment between the program objectives and desired outcomes. Since evaluation is often the weakest component in many professional learning programs, particular attention must be devoted to demonstrating the results from these programs. The proposed indicators and methods are summarised in the table below and elaborated with short descriptions.Professional learning that increaseseducator effectiveness and results forall students aligns its outcomes witheducator performance and studentcurriculum materials. 21
The indicators detailed below can be used individually or in combination with one another to produce a rich picture of the impact and results of professional learning programs. They are intended to guide a rigorous assessment of the key elements associated with high quality professional learning. Indicators Design Features Normative Practices Research indicates that powerful professional learning While change and improvement might be viewed includes specific components: theory or knowledge as an individual process, it also has dimensions building; modelling opportunities to practice; that are related to the normative practices of the feedback; and coaching. Professional learning school. These changes should also be evaluated designs should be evaluated using these criteria. because they help build a professional learning culture that reinforces the norms and values of professional learning communities. Job-embedded Strategies Professional learning programs should include Student Learning Outcomes job-embedded strategies that integrate learning into the daily routines and schedules of teachers Since the ultimate outcome of professional and leaders. In effect, professional learning is learning is the improvement of student learning work and should be evaluated accordingly. outcomes, data from student learning measures should be a factor in assessing the impact of Transfer and Application Of New Practices professional learning. While there are many New practices should be visible in the classroom variables standing between professional learning as teachers and leaders transfer their new and student outcomes, it is important to identify knowledge and skills from the workshop setting the causal linkages between changes in teacher to the work setting. Expectations for changes in practice and improvements in student learning. practice should be clear, consistent and directly tied to improvements in student and staff learning. Quality of Implementation Change and improvement is a developmental process and should be accorded the time, energy, and resources needed. Individuals will move through various stages of change that have to be recognised and acknowledged. Once again clear and consistent expectations play a key role in supporting what changes need to occur.22 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
The potential methods Methods Surveys (paper or virtual) Observations detailed below can be used Can provide a valuable source of evidence in Peer observations or leader observations serveindividually or in combination assessing the impact of professional learning as another source of evidence in evaluating thewith one another to produce programs. They can help track progress as well as identify implementation challenges that need to impact of professional learning. Observations should be focused, clear in intent, and includea rich picture of the impact be addressed. While surveys can be customised pre and post-observation conversations. Like for particular initiatives, there also are commercial interviews – observations can provide a highlyand results of professional survey tools available that can be used. personalised method of data collection.learning programs. They Interviews Journals or Logs employ a mixed-methods When teachers and leaders are engaged in new Using journals or logs to document professional(quantitative and qualitative) learning to improve their practice, interviews learning provides a rich source in assessing the provide a highly personalised method of impact of professional learning programs. Theyapproach to collecting and collecting information about the impact of should be reviewed and analysed regularly to enableanalysing data to understand professional learning. A short protocol of five the impact of professional learning to be assessed. to seven questions usually provides more thanthe impact of professional enough pertinent information. Case studies (written or video)learning programs. The data that combine interviews with Focus Groups observations.can be used for summative An alternative to interviews is focus groups – Can provide a rich and varied source for assessingevaluative purposes as well gathering small groups of teachers (six – eight) the impact of professional learning. They also to discuss and reinforce their implementation have the added advantage of being able to tell theas for formative purposes to successes and challenges. Once again a short story of changes in practice that demonstrate theenable mid-course corrections protocol of five to seven questions will provide impact of professional learning programs. sufficient prompts for a discussion. ~ Albert Bertaniin the learning process. 23
A commitment to ongoing professionallearning is required not only to maintainbut to elevate Australia’s position as a highachieving education system.OECD, 2011
We will knowwe have beensuccessful when…The challenge of havingeffective professionallearning become pervasivein Australian schools will bemet if teachers and schoolleaders can confidentlyassess and make informeddecisions about the learningin which they will engage andwhen they are equipped willmethods that ensure theircollaboration is productive. The platform for reform established in Australia and ultimately when: and the ambitious goal of fostering and driving a • rofessional learning improves the quality P culture of high quality professional learning that of teaching and leadership, and through changes the attitudes and practices of teachers this, improves the outcomes achieved by and school leaders will be considered a success all young Australians. when professional learning can be directly linked to improved pedagogical practice of teachers Changing culture and professional practices is not like Anne (referenced on page 1) and in turn the easy and will require sustained endeavour, but the improved performance of students. clear message of the Charter is that the results will be worth the effort. We will know we have been successful when: • eachers work with existing theories of best T practice and operate as co-constructors of next practice. • chool leaders work as leaders of learning, S motivating and supporting teachers and their colleagues. • eachers and school leaders initiate the T establishment of sustainable professional learning communities. • eachers and school leaders choose T appropriate assessment strategies to determine the impact of improved professional practice on student outcomes. • valuation of professional learning is E mainstreamed and embedded. • rofessional learning that takes into P consideration the individualised learning needs of teachers is developed, scaled and sustained.26 Professional Learning for School Effectiveness in Australia
A CASE STUDY OF SUCCESS -MAKING SCHOOLS CENTRES FORLEARNING Across the world, school leaders are working to build professional learning communities (PLCs) in their schools. These leaders work strategically, investing time, energy, and resources into building collaborative work places where the norms of collective responsibility, reflective dialogue, and the deprivatisation of practice all contribute to improving student learning. commentary by Albert Bertani Processes for Deprivatising Practice Senior Advisor – Urban Education Institute – Smart school leaders also help staff members University of Chicago, U.S.A. broaden their vision of the school by helping them experience the school beyond their respective The following examples reflect a composite teaching assignment. This is often accomplished of actions observed in a number of schools through walk-about or walk-through processes across the United States. All of the actions are that are structured to help staff members visit built around a theory of action that places trust and observe one another during instructional and relationships at the heart of the efforts with time within the school day. These processes for appropriate structures and processes serving as deprivatising practice are designed to: help staff the mechanisms to organise the work. members see the school as a system; invest them in the process of school improvement; and Structures for Collaboration enhance shared accountability across the school. Smart school leaders recognise that they cannot improve student learning and organisational Support for Learning performance by working alone. They have to Smart school leaders also know that staff engage professional and non-professional staff members need highly personalised support members in the process. They often accomplish that extends beyond meetings. In order to this goal by creating structures and processes guarantee that staff members transfer and apply designed to support collaborative participation. their learning, school leaders often institute While the structures can take many forms – coaching programs to ensure that there is the leadership teams, grade level teams, or cycle appropriate reinforcement and support for teams - they all engage in processes that developing new skills. Coaching that includes promote collaboration and reflection. Examples opportunities to practice, receive feedback, and of these processes often include: joint lesson discuss implementation challenges provides the planning; examining student work; individualised personalised support staff members usually need discussions around specific students; and when trying to learn new strategies and methods. planning for the differentiation of instruction. Regardless of the processes used, the structures ~ Albert Bertani serve a normative function in shaping a culture that enhances collaborative participation. 27
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