Developing Effective Professional Development
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
Dr Angela Tohill
Professional Development Co-ordinator, St. Macartan's Primary School, Mornington