Support for Professional Learning

As a Champion, your role is to build a bridge between leadership and action learning. This means supporting the vision, observing the current reality and encouraging others to take actions that improve learning.
Throughout the process, you have learned skills of observation and reflection. On this page we have provided some tools and resources to help you continue to observe learning and collect data. Remember to share what you find with your leadership team!
On this page you will also find some ideas for facilitating Action Learning Groups (PLT’s), including a podcast recording of a discussion about questioning. We hope this gives you some ideas for a model PLT!

Impact Data Collection

“You see Watson, but you don’t observe” – Sherlock Holmes

Make sure you have a single focus for your observation rather than trying to capture everything that is happening in the room. Try to focus on the students, rather than the teacher. That way, you will ‘observe learning’, rather than ‘see a lesson’.

Take a learning walk. Drop into 3 or 4 classrooms for 10 minutes each and talk to the students. Download the tools on this page to practice being an objective observer and collect data about student experiences.

A good Professional Learning Team conversation.

A good professional learning conversation involves teachers discussing an aspect of teaching and learning that interests them, and then planning an action to take in their classroom as a result.

A model PLT is based on these steps:

  • Start with a stimulus for thinking (for example, a short article, a video clip, student voice quotes…)
  • Discuss the stimulus with your colleagues in a PLT
  • In light of your discussions, think of an action you could take in your classroom
  • Try out your action (so make sure it is something simple and accessible)
  • Bring your reflections back to the group for the next PLT.

In his book, Visible Learning for Teachers (2012), John Hattie noted that one of the most powerful effects on student learning is when teachers talk to each other about teaching and learning, and reflect together on the new actions they take (micro-teaching; effect size 0.88).

The podcast attached demonstrates teachers reflecting on their own learning after taking actions around questioning. It follows on from episode 1 of the podcast, which you can find in the action learning section of this Hub.

Listen to the podcast and consider how these teachers are sharing their learning. Imagine if your PLT’s sounded like this: what would the benefit be to the school, and to the students?

Facilitating a Professional Learning Team conversation

As well as taking part in your own learning, a champion can also facilitate professional learning conversations with staff in PLT’s, staff meetings and one-to-one conversations, strengthening the bridge between the vision (leadership) and action learning (the staff).

Facilitating a conversation with colleagues can be an uncomfortable position to find yourself in, especially if you’re not used to it. There is always a temptation to maintain ‘a sense of harmony’ on the one hand or to ‘fix things up’ on the other.

Facilitating a conversation means creating the right conditions for exploratory talk to take place, where each member of the group is looking to find meaning and clarity in a new idea together.

You can read more about exploratory talk in Challenging Learning through Dialogue and Challenging Learning through Questioning.

Central to the process is the skill of active listening and questioning. To help establish these, we have placed a couple of protocols for you to download that will help provide a framework for your conversations with staff.

Use these to structure your PLT’s and you will soon find that exploratory talk comes more naturally to the group over a few sessions.

Remember: before you can start using the protocols, you need something to talk about! So ensure you have a new idea to explore, or have shared a stimulus for thinking first.

Stronger Learning for Stronger Lives

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Stronger Learning for Stronger Lives