For successful student learning, schools must become learning organisations. Continuous, impactful teacher professional learning inside, outside and across schools’ learning communities is a fundamental feature. This may sound obvious, but it’s not always the reality. School leadership is critical to make sure that teacher professional learning is pervasive, and that the best conditions nurture and sustain it. What’s required?
Ensuring powerful professional learning – Inform your leadership practice with evidence on adult and professional learning that makes a difference for teachers’ practice and students’ learning. Doing this, you can ensure that professional learning addresses problems identified in students’ learning and wellbeing, engage teachers, develop theories of action about the difference professional learning makes, and carry out inquiries to evaluate and refine its processes and assess impact.
Creating the learning culture – Be clear that ‘everybody learns here every day’, model your own learning, and get involved in as well as promoting, teacher professional learning. Nourish a collaborative culture that values trust, curiosity to investigate practice together and willingness to try something new. Use failure for learning, so that teachers feel safe to step out of their comfort zones and take risks, e.g. open their practice to peers, be challenged, and experiment with and practise new learning. Stimulate and facilitate learning conversations, exchange of knowledge and sharing of practice, and encourage collective responsibility where teachers care about each other’s learning.
Designing supportive structures – Integrate teachers’ professional learning within a consistent, coherent approach to improvement and future development. Weave it into school plans, align it with appraisal systems, and allocate sufficient time and funding. Also, create roles and opportunities for others to lead and champion professional learning.