Director of Professional Learning
The core purpose of professional learning for teachers is to improve student outcomes – those relating to both learning and wellbeing. For support and operations staff it is school improvement. Our model for professional learning aligns with the strategic intentions of the school as well as meeting the needs of the individual and teams within it. Staff members identify their professional learning goals annually, in consultation with their managers, so that training and development activities may be selected appropriately.
At Loreto Normanhurst, a number of professional learning initiatives are available for teachers to engage in, so they can choose something that suits their particular needs and interests. A variety of approaches and programs allows each teacher to meet their individual professional goals, team goals or school goals. Some of the programs on offer are long-term, such as Elevate. This is a two-year program run by the Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales (AISNSW) in conjunction with the UK’s Innovation Project, with the aim of re-designing learning to improve outcomes for potential high learners. At the other end of the scale are our ‘pop-up PD’ events. These are one-off sessions with a specific, single purpose goal to meet an immediate need. Examples include preparation for Year 12 Academic Plenary Meetings for those teaching Year 12 for the first time, and a workshop to support teachers new to the school who are conducting Conversations with students (which form an integral part of the Loreto Normanhurst Student Growth Model). Teachers are also invited to meet informally to share their opinions on educational articles – a ‘professional book club’. These types of activities enable the school to respond efficiently and effectively to individual or group needs, and have been well received and well attended.
Between these two extremes are a variety of programs, including our popular ‘Loreto 5’ initiative. This is a professional learning program where five teachers are selected annually to undertake an action research project relating to pedagogical change. It allows teachers to research an area of interest in education and use the research outcomes to improve their classroom practice. The teachers are given release time, which allows them to work collaboratively with peers, conduct research and engage in professional learning activities. Each year a general theme is identified, which provides some common threads and enables the team to work more collaboratively. The intention is that the Loreto 5 team members will also work with other members of their faculties, teams or pastoral groups to improve outcomes for students. This may take the form of team teaching, presenting demonstration lessons, masterclasses or workshops for colleagues, and producing resources. Thus, the program is a professional learning experience for the whole faculty, team, or pastoral group as well as the Loreto 5 member. This year the members of Loreto 5 are Ms Potalia, Ms De Mattia, Mrs Nalewabau, Ms Morosin and Mr Stitt.
Plans under consideration for Professional Learning include the development of a formalised mentoring program, and the teacher evaluation process will be refined to include feedback from students, peers and Heads of Department as well as self-reflection. The support network for teachers at various stages of accreditation will be expanded, and a program of workshops, masterclasses and information sessions will be held as a means of sharing knowledge, expertise and wisdom, and to provide greater opportunities for collaboration. Developing professional learning communities both within the school and with external organisations will be a priority.
Professional Learning plays a pivotal role in schools, transcending all sectors and helping individuals, teams and the school as a whole to achieve set goals. Providing a variety of programs allows staff members to engage more readily with those that best meet their needs or suit their circumstances, thus maximising the opportunities for professional growth.
Ms Carol Osborne
Director of Professional Learning