Te aromihi pouako e puta ai ngā ihu o ngā ākonga Māori

Identifying professional learning needs: What to think about

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This section discusses the evidence to draw on when identifying professional learning goals and monitoring progress towards those goals, including teaching effectiveness.

Identifying professional learning goals

It is important to draw from two sources of evidence when identifying teachers’ professional learning goals:

  • One source is information about achievement of the school’s priorities for student and teacher learning as identified though self-review processes. This requires school leaders to disaggregate their data to such an extent that they can build a rich picture of Māori students’ needs and strengths. They then need to consult with the wider community to develop school goals that target the most urgent needs. When negotiating goals for individual teachers, leaders must ensure that meeting these goals will contribute to achieving the goals for the school.
  • The other source of evidence is information about individual teachers’ developmental needs as identified through self-appraisal and through observation of teacher practice.

Reflective questions

  • How does our practice help meet (or create) the needs of our Māori students? What are our learning goals, given these needs? What do we need to do to achieve them?
  • What do we already know that we can use to promote the outcomes we value for our Māori students?
  • How good are our professional learning goals? What evidence do we have that meeting them will help us in achieving our aspirations for our Māori students?
  • What is the connection between our individual goals and the school’s strategic goals?

Monitoring progress towards professional learning goals

To be effective, appraisal must be focused on the day-by-day impact of teaching on students. Effective appraisal has two aspects:

  • It is summative, as teachers reflect back on how any changes in their teaching practices have affected their student outcomes.
  • It is formative, with constant inquiry into the relationship between teaching and learning.

Traditional appraisal practices have tended to emphasise the role of leaders in monitoring teachers’ progress, but if appraisal is to support professional learning, then it must also support teachers to self-regulate their learning. This requires teachers to interrogate student data, to connect their actions to that data, and to adjust their practice in response to what they find. In turn, this requires teachers to:

  • identify what they should be doing and what their students should be doing if they are to successfully move towards their goals
  • draw from a range of evidence, including the voices of their students and evidence from classroom observations.

There are many ways in which observations can be conducted, but they should always be directed towards the teacher’s goals and focused on criteria for effectiveness that the teacher has identified. Several of the resources for this section include classroom observation templates that incorporate student voice and criteria for teacher effectiveness.

Reflective questions

  • How will our progress towards achieving our goals be monitored (for example, through student voice or self-monitoring) and recorded?
  • What relationships do we need to build between the people in our school if we are going to focus appraisal on learning and not simply on compliance?
  • What relationships do we need to build with students, parents, and whānau if we are going to include their voices in appraisal?

Elements of Teaching Effectiveness

This paper by Graeme Aitken (2005) examines the concept of teaching effectiveness. The paper is addressed to new principals but succinctly examines three different views of effective teaching:

  • the ‘style’ view: a common view that focuses on how teachers teach
  • the ‘outcomes’ approach: a common view that focuses on student results
  • the ‘inquiry’ approach: an alternative view that incorporates style and outcomes within an inquiry-based framework.

Aitken argues that the most defensible framework is the inquiry approach. He offers the following explanation:

Effective teachers inquire into the relationship between what they do (style) and what happens for students (outcomes). But effective teachers do more than simply inquire (or reflect) – they take action (in relation to what they are doing in the classroom) to improve the outcomes for students and continue to inquire into the value of these interventions.

Thus effective teaching is more than style and it is more than outcomes – it is the continual interrogation of the relationship between these two dimensions with the aim of enhancing student achievement.

Such a model implies particular attitudes or dispositions (open-mindedness, fallibility) and particular actions (questioning students about what they are understanding) but it does not prescribe or checklist such qualities. It simply prescribes inquiry, action and the search for improvement.

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