Professional Development and Teacher in Residence

The Teacher in Residence professional development service is designed to support schools and administrators in response to the context and some of the issues that surround schools’ Professional Development Programs.

In February 2011, the (Australian) Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) 2011 released the National Professional Standards for Teachers (NPST).

The Standards make explicit what teachers should know and be able to do across four defined career stages (graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead) in relation to three domains:

  • Professional Knowledge
  • Professional Practice
  • Professional Engagement

These standards complement the continuing professional development requirements for States’ teacher registration. They also provide an important guide for Professional Development Programs within schools as they are the result of extensive reflection and research on how teachers can create better education outcomes for their students.

Professional Development has clearly been positioned ‘front and centre stage’ in Australian education reform.

In recent years most schools have spent considerable time exploring and adopting models for developing their curriculum in order to guide the planning and mapping of their curriculum offerings. In part this has been driven by changes in the syllabuses directed by education authorities, but schools also recognise that the quality of education provided to their students is central to maintaining their competitiveness and viability. The curriculum models implemented by schools (e.g. Understanding by Design, Dimensions of Learning) have provided a structured framework to scaffold staff planning and provide an important focus for staff as they work collaboratively for whole school development.

However while considerable attention has been given to how students learn, accommodate and construct new knowledge, administrators, in particular need to ask the same questions in relation to their Professional Development Programs.

What processes will ensure staff PD creates the intended outcomes in Staff practice?

Is the PD provided in your school implemented with a model in mind?

What are the full suites of PD opportunities for staff in your school and do they have sufficient scope to support the career development of all staff across all the seven standards of the NPST?

Do activities give adequate attention to the individual professional needs of staff or is it ‘one size fits all’

Sparks and Loucks-Hoursley (1989) in Gardiner (1998) for example suggest five models for realising professional development goals.

  • Individually guided, where individual, but highly motivated professionals, pursue their own learning activities.
  • Observation/assessment, where individuals receive objective data and feedback regarding their performance through such techniques as evaluation and peer coaching.
  • Involvement in a development/improvement process for a more learn-by-doing or problem-based model.
  • Training through individual or group instruction. This will often mean that schools engage experts who; select the objectives, identify staff learning activities, organise or supervise trials  of new practices and monitor feedback
  • Inquiry, either individually or in groups, to pose questions about teacher practice, gather data, reflect and formulate solutions. Sparks and Loucks- Horsley describe how action research, with its phases of planning, acting, reflecting and revising, is one technique for implementing the inquiry staff development model.

Department Professional Development

Most schools will engage a variety of processes and models similar to those listed above but what is not so often acknowledged is the need for a comprehensive departmental approach. Departmental needs can be very specific and may require considerable time and space for adequate professional development. This need is often greatest when new syllabuses specify engagement in new and revised objectives and forms of assessment. These syllabuses are also implicitly guided by discipline based education research and require revision of pedagogical practices. Identifying these and responding to diverse departmental staff needs requires significant resource allocation and careful consideration from administrators who will want to be able to:

  • Provide support and supervision for their less experienced HODs who are invariably responsible for the implementation of PD at the department level.
  • Ensure that whole school initiatives do not drain staff energies for departmental priorities.
  • Ensure that adequate resources in terms of finance and time are provided for HOD.

The Teacher in Residence process provides a very innovative and cost effective means of supporting your HODs in Mathematics and Science particularly at this time of considerable workloads whilst the Australian Curriculum is being implemented.

What is a Teacher in Residence and how does it support Department PD?

This year,some staff in your school will invariably be seeking to take various types of leave, whether it is enforced leave for health reasons, parent leave or elective leave. Often this raises concerns for administration staff that have to find replacement teachers, sometimes at short notice.

If you are seeking to employ relief staff you might like to consider this service that can provide a very passionate subject based teacher with broad education experience. An experienced educator can minimise the potential disruption to your students programs but more importantly provide another dimension to your schools PD for staff . Apart from teaching regular classes, by negotiation (You may prefer to trial the ‘supply teaching option’ first.), the Teacher in Residence service can also provide:

  • Assistance for your HOD in mapping and reviewing their Departmental PD programs
  • Provide confidential feedback to HOD and help identify specific strengths and areas for development.(My experience in teaching in a wide variety of school contexts can provide invaluable support in this context)
  • Provide specific workshops ( see workshops section) either during the residence or at a later date
  • Provide observation and feedback/ assessment for staff open to such opportunities
  • Support the ‘Discipline of Noticing’ for interested staff
  • Provide  mentoring either for individual staff or HOD
  • Coaching in specific skills through in- class support/teaching or other means
  • Assist learning teams already identified to assess their progress.

Should you see the potential for this innovative cost effective service to enhance the overall Professional Development and Mentoring Program at your school, email patick@educationmentor.com.au or contact by phone.

References:

Sparkes, D., and S Loucks-Hoursley (1989). “Models of Staff Development.” Journal of Staff Development 10, 4: 40-59 in Gardner, S (1998) in online: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape11/PQDD_0006/MQ41802.pdf

Mason, J. (2002). Researching Your own Practice: The Discipline of Noticing. London: Routledge

Readings:

Learning Communities: http://www.learningforward.org/standards/learningcommunities.cfm

This gives further reference to a number of sites and papers on learning communities.

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