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Professional learning to level up your teaching game

PLD is essential for all school staff, though choosing the right option for you and your school can be overwhelming. We explore the options.

We know we have fantastic teachers in Australia, and Professional Learning Development is keeping them on top of their game.

PLD can help develop new ways of thinking about content, and encourages teachers to explore new approaches to their craft. Teachers acquire new knowledge, through PLD, and then modify their existing beliefs and attitudes in relation to their teaching.

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This will benefit student achievement over a period of time. Learning opportunities should be assessed upon staff completion, and student outcomes measured or observed. It is crucial to ensure a change in teaching practice strongly correlates with the improvement of defined student outcomes.

Each state and territory has its own regulations for PLD, though all require teachers to undertake some form of professional learning to maintain registration. Make sure you are aware of the requirements in your jurisdiction. Engaging in professional learning is also part of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, as well as the Australian Professional Standards for Teacher Aides.

What PLD is right for me?

For PLD to be effective, ensure the content, format and duration of the PLD will meet the needs and goals of participants. In some instances, this may require engaging an external provider to tailor a programme specific to your context. This could be presented to the entire cohort of teaching staff, or to specific curriculum or year level groups. Partnering with other schools in your area to provide tailored PLD opportunities may help reduce costs.

Some providers offer a suite of learning opportunities, with sessions for teachers, students, and parents. Sessions on digital literacy, study methods, or respectful relationships, for example, are important for all education stakeholders, and can be adapted to suit the intended audience.

The Federal Department of Education suggests online courses may be an effective form of PLD. These courses can be done at the learner’s own pace, and can work in with your personal schedule. They also offer the flexibility to take a course offered outside your geographical area, expanding the options for learning.

Some courses connect participants with others undertaking the course, helping to build learning communities, and extend teaching practice conversations beyond an individual’s school. The department cautions, though, that the wide range of types and quality of online courses mean it can be difficult to assess their effectiveness. Look to reputable institutions, with good reviews and demonstrated benefits to teachers.

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Beyond teaching and learning

In some instances, it may be necessary to explore PLD opportunities outside of learning and teaching. School principals and other leaders may benefit from management and communication training, as well as leadership workshops. Workplace health and safety, efficient use of technology, and first aid courses can all be valuable for teaching staff.

Teacher aides provide invaluable assistance in the classroom, and to individual students. Similarly to teachers, they must ensure their skills remain up to date, and in line with current best practice.

When considering PLD opportunities for these staff, make sure you are addressing the needs of your school, and offering staff something they feel is of value. You may need to address a shortfall in your school’s ability to cater for students with English as an additional language, or from different cultural backgrounds, or a staff member may be interested in learning how to better support students with specific learning needs.

All staff should be encouraged to seek out opportunities to further their skills, so remember to include non-teaching staff in PLD conversations. A strong support team, that feels valued and respected equally to teachers, will enhance your school culture, and learning outcomes.

A sample of opportunities

Established in 2013, the FREEDOM Wellbeing Institute is the exclusive global provider of research-based services and capability programmes underpinned by the Universal Wellbeing Model. This Model has emerged from a 15-year wellbeing research programme which was supported by two national Best Practice Research Awards.

Annual professional development offers include interactive online, and face to face community of practice, webinars, workshops, resources, and an annual conference.

The Universal Wellbeing Evaluation Tool Accreditation Programme will help your staff achieve measurable improvements in engagement, achievement, and equity.

Invest in building the capacity of your staff to implement the Universal Wellbeing Evaluation Tool with FREEDOM, and build a whole of organisation Universal Wellbeing system through professional capacity building coordination, facilitation, coaching and leadership programmes.

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