• Why is site-wide professional learning important?
  • A learning culture
  • Implementing site-wide professional learning
  • Monitoring implementation of site-wide professional learning

Why is site-wide professional learning important?

Professional learning is most effective when an education setting has a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement that is focused on improved learner outcomes. Site-wide professional learning can create a vibrant culture where staff work together, continually undertake high-quality professional learning, and collaborate in evaluating their teaching impact and learner outcomes.

A learning culture

There are common key features you’ll find in the culture of an education setting that is committed to improvement.

  • Focus on learners’ outcomes: Change is dependant on teachers working towards increasing learners’ academic, wellbeing and engagement outcomes.
  • Shared vision: To effectively implement site-wide professional learning, there needs to be a shared understanding of what quality teaching looks like. The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (the Standards) provide this for teachers at all stages of their career. A group or individual Teacher Self-Assessment using AITSL’s online tool can help teachers identify focus areas for improvement within the Standards.
  • Leadership at all levels: While principals, middle leaders and leading teachers are generally at the forefront of site improvement, all teachers play an important role in it. Every teacher can lead through their work and enthusiasm for improved learner outcomes.
  • Flexibility: Education settings are as diverse as our communities and need to respond to their own unique cohorts.
  • Coherence: From site plans to lesson plans, coherence across all initiatives ensures alignment across the education setting and in every classroom.


Implementing site-wide professional learning

Site-wide professional learning should be implemented on the basis of an identified and evidence-based need. Once the need has been identified, it is important to communicate this need to all teaching staff to create teacher buy-in for what you would like to achieve. From there, the below steps can be taken.

  • Plan: The first step is to plan the implementation. Planning includes clearly articulating the desired outcome as a whole and breaking the goal into “bitesize” achievable milestones for teachers. This allows teachers to build up their practice over time and ensures thorough understanding at each stage of the goal.
  • Accountability and Ownership: Teachers should know and understand both their own role and the roles of others in the implementation of site-wide professional learning. Through developing individual ownership and site-wide accountability for the implementation, teachers will be more likely to engage with the plan both through their own practice and through constructive feedback on the practices of their colleagues.
  • Evaluate: Before implementing a piece of professional learning site-wide, you must communicate to teachers how both individual and site-wide progress will be assessed and monitored. Evaluation of the implementation is critical to informing future professional learning, as it will generate valuable information on what works, for whom and why in your learning environment. It may also surface areas of need for future professional learning. The evaluation could be in the form of collegial or supervisor feedback, learner data, individual reflections, or specific practices that will be looked for in classroom observations.

Below are useful questions to consider that can help with site-wide implementation of professional learning. Is the plan:

  • strategic: What is the problem being addressed? Is the change important?
  • specific: What will change? What new approach will be adopted?
  • realistic: Can it be done? Will it be done in the timeframes?
  • action based: What are the first steps? What will be done in the longer term?
  • time-limited: When will it be done? When should it be reviewed?
  • measurable: How will we know what has been implemented? Can we measure the impact of the change? How will we know if it has improved learning outcomes?

Monitoring implementation of site-wide professional learning

  • Use a variety of data sources to evaluate and monitor the implementation of the site-wide professional learning. Know before you start what your data sources will be and get a baseline for comparison where possible. Consider data sources such as:
    • learner outcome data
    • coaching conversation records
    • classroom observation records
    • learner and parent/carer surveys
    • formative assessment outcomes.
  • Track change over a variety of time periods – changes over weeks, terms or years.
  • Not all professional learning will result in improved outcomes. It is important to evaluate all outcomes, explore why they occurred and make adaptions.
  • Trial and refine actions based on what you learn through the monitoring process. You won’t be successful every time, and some things will take more tweaking than others to make them work in your context.
  • Get feedback from your staff about what has worked in terms of implementation and rollout of the site-wide professional learning and what could be done better next time. Teachers should feel comfortable providing this feedback in an open learning culture.