My school is a K-12 District High School located on the outskirts of Perth in Western Australia, and I was appointed as Learning and Teaching Associate this year. Our unique school context is significant to any discussion of improving student achievement. Since recent Expert Review Group procedures wrought prescribed improvement strategies, we achieved Independent Public School status, and transformative re-structuring is underway. Subsequent cultural change, together with an ongoing $25 million re-building program is causing upheaval. While school pride is strong, community perceptions are mutable.
By drawing on research to provide a rationale for my approach in planning a professional learning program, and through developing a whole school assessment policy to embed best practice in assessment, I intend focusing on promotion of an inclusive learning environment where the challenge of change demands “Learning is at the heart of what schools must be about” (Stoll & Bolam, 2005, p. 54).
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Guiding principles for a professional learning program devised for staff in my school include:
- Build trust
- Start with the end in mind – backward map assessments, and embed reflective/ review processes to promote assessment for learning
- Audit to determine baseline data/ define requirements for differentiation with staff
- Coaching/ mentoring processes will be ongoing in order to observe prompt re-direction of students’ learning as required
- Implement moderation and review processes with reference to best practice, work samples and principles of educational measurement
- Interpret and apply NAPLAN data to track student progress and teacher-led improvements in learning
- Leverage the ripple effect of change theory to build capacity with staff, and foster improvements in learning
- Draw on academic reading
- Undertake ongoing iterative processes of learning/ unlearning/ relearning in order to ensure consistent feedback about visible improvements
Professional Learning focus
|Formative and Summative assessment||Define purpose of assessment (for learning), and employ terms to build a common language/ understanding:
Conduct professional reading group discussions to identify best practices and determine ongoing refinements as necessary
|Visible learning culture||
Horizons “provide landmarks on a journey that offer their own viewpoints and… motivate travellers to find and forge their paths ahead” (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 49). In order to evaluate these initiatives and ascertain whether they generate improved student achievement, I will persist in “building professional cultures of trust, cooperation and responsibility and establishing professional networking of peers and mentors” (Harris, 2011, p. 167). Measurement will involve:
- Evaluating motivation and emerging learning culture through staff and student self-reflection, and peer evaluation processes
- Pairwise moderation tools
- NAPLAN data and WACE results
Staff engagement in this professional learning program will indicate commitment “to deeper relations of trust in long-term communities that take the time to pursue and achieve inspiring and challenging goals that benefit students together” (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 43).
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