How teachers can take control over their professional learning
Oct 12, 2020
Teachers are the ultimate life-long learners. We obviously value education so highly that we decided to become an integral part of the education system. It makes sense then that we would also value professional learning and development.
Our profession also requires us to undertake a certain number of hours of professional development in order to maintain our registration. In order to make sure their employees stay registered, schools have ‘staff development’ days at the beginning or end of term, which are compulsory for staff to attend, where they either conduct their own in-house professional development, or they get a consultant to come in and deliver something.
However, whilst some schools do ensure that their staff get access to high quality professional learning, there can be sometimes be problems with the type of professional development that many teachers have access to within their school settings, including:
It is often a generic, ‘one size fits all’ approach, which means that it might not be relevant for all teachers.
It is often not differentiated to teachers needs, and does not take into account their personal career goals or their unique interests.
Time can be taken up with meetings about school policies etc, instead of professional learning.
The quality and access of professional development can vary widely depending on what school you are working at.
Teachers may have little say in the type of professional development that they would like to have - it’s very much a ’top down’ approach, where the school leadership decides what teachers need according to the school’s strategic goals.
Of course, this is understandable for many logistical and practical reasons. However, wouldn’t it be great if all teachers could access professional development that is aligned with their own personal career goals, based on their values and mission as a teacher, as well as any particular areas of focus for them? After all, evidence shows that differentiation and personalisation leads to greater results for our students, so it makes sense that it would also lead to greater results for us as teachers.
A teacher's opportunity to attend other professional development outside of their school setting can also be limited by their school’s professional learning budget, as well as their location. Many of the big conferences are held in the city, which makes it difficult for teachers in rural areas to attend. Even where I am here in Perth, it’s still necessary to travel to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane in order to attend the big national teacher conferences.
There are, unfortunately, many inequalities within our education system, of which this issue is contributing to. All teachers deserve to access quality professional development, regardless of where they work. All students deserve to have teachers who are able to pursue a high standard of professional development and learning.
Furthermore, there is little support given to teachers in the actual implementation of they professional learning. Because of this, and a general lack of time, sometimes what is learnt does not end up being applied in full.
There IS a way that teachers can take back control of their own professional learning, however. One easily accessible way of doing this is to join my online membership for teachers, called the Transformational Teachers Academy.
Inside, members are coached and mentored through devising their own career pathway, and supported in achieving the goals that they set. They are also able to access professional development that is designed to meet them at their point of need, and they are supported in implementing what they have learnt.
As well as this, teachers will find support and guidance to help them move through the AITSL standards, by developing the skills and collecting the evidence that they need.