Pakuranga College principal, Michael Williams describes their intensive PLD programme. Students have a late start every Friday morning with that time dedicated to professional learning. Teachers have time and support to focus on their inquiries, which are based creating better learning opportunities for students using digital technologies as a tool to support this.
Michael: We run a very intensive PLD programme in the school. We have a late start every single Friday morning and that time is dedicated to professional learning. You’re thinking about your inquiry, which is based on your students and your class and how will you create better learning opportunities for them? The digital technology thing’s really become a tool within that environment. Our professional learning programme is very structured within the school.
While we’ve put a bit of resource into e-learning, I’ve put a huge amount of resource in this school into professional learning development. We have a specialist classroom teacher who’s heavily involved, naturally, but I also have a team of teaching and learning coaches and they work with groups of staff around their inquiries. Most years it has been cross-curricular and I think that breaks down lots of barriers across the school of English teachers talking to Phys Ed teachers talking to Maths teachers talking to Science teachers and sharing their practice, not their content. Professional learning doesn’t happen with a whole staff meeting. What does change practice, is working in small groups and so we do a lot of work within that group sharing our practice, sharing our inquiries.
For the first year of that we did multiple inquiries and it was about practicing the process and that was all we were really trying to achieve out of that year, was let’s understand the steps of the process and what it looks like. Now a few years down the track, I’m pressuring the team about the depth and the quality.
We also have a process where we involve student voice heavily. Right through to the top end of that is, sometimes in the teachers sharing back with their colleagues their inquiry, the students from their class will also share the teacher’s inquiry and they will feed back to the teachers on how their teacher’s inquiry went and that’s a really powerful session. You’ve got a teacher who’s been thinking about their practice and how they’ve changed their practice to help their students’ learning, the students will talk about how their teacher was trying to improve their learning, the students will talk about how it helped their learning and why it helped their learning and they usually go on to say, “and you could apply it in the other subject areas and I’d like to see my maths teacher doing this or my science teacher doing this”, so it’s a very powerful, shared process about what is learning and how do we move forward together.