Developing Effective Professional Development

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Curriculum development in Victoria, Australia, focuses on structuring learning experiences which support students in their personal and interpersonal development as they develop efficient thinking skills and construct reflective insights into how the world works.

Over the past two years, St. Macartan’s Primary School, Mornington, Victoria, has been developing an approach to professional learning which aims at cultivating a rich learning community. Using a team approach to planning an inquiry curriculum, provides a powerful framework for professional teacher discussion, learning, reflection, questioning, goal-setting, assessment and evaluation. This in turn provides each teacher with a clear understanding of each others’ beliefs, teaching approaches and understandings about teaching and learning in our school. It also provides a foundation for using a shared language and understanding when teachers discuss teaching and learning strategies which promote and develop authentic and relevant learning situations in their classrooms, which support independent thinking and application of ideas, strategies and skills. But it is not just the sharing that is crucial, it is also the support for teachers as they develop professional learning in their day-to day experiences.

We are frame-working our professional learning through developing a SKILLS approach:
S – stimulate (how do I stimulate and motivate the students’ interest in this work?)
K – knowledge (what knowledge do the students already have about this work?)
I – investigate (how do I support the students investigate and research new information and knowledge about this work?)
L – learning (how do I support the students organise and control their learning experiences?)
L – local/global demonstration (how can I support the students demonstrate and respond to their learning at the local or global level?)
S – synthesis (how do I support students to understand and synthesise the learning and thinking they have used during the course of this work?)


Keywords: Professional Development, Professional Learning, Learning Community, Thinking, Learning, Teaching Strategies
Stream: Teacher Training and Professional Development
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Developing Effective Professional Development


Dr Angela Tohill

Professional Development Co-ordinator, St. Macartan's Primary School, Mornington
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Angela Tohill is an experienced teacher, curriculum leader, author, PhD student, professional development presenter and consultant with some 30 years of classroom and leadership experience. She is passionate about effective planning and teaching for all learners using literacy and inquiry based curriculum which acknowledges the individual needs, learning styles and preferences of all learners. She is dedicated to supporting teachers in their professional journeys as they develop their understandings about theories of teaching and learning and interpret these in their classroom practices. Crucial to her (nearly completed) research is the offering to teachers a place to share and analyse their classroom/professional experiences with other teachers. It incorporates and is specialising in supporting teams of teachers to work and plan together, as they make and develop professional learning an important part of their day-to-day experiences. This constant support in turn benefits each of the learners in each teachers’ care.

Ref: L09P1070