Blueprint for success: designing your school-wide PLD in the new year

By Megan Peterson on January 22, 2024 in Leadership

This blog outlines some key points leaders should consider as they plan for meaningful professional learning in their school or kura.  

As we welcome the new academic year, it's an ideal moment for reflection and strategic planning. I’m often drawn to this whakataukī, whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou (seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing) as it connects the purpose of ongoing, robust professional learning. This blog outlines some key points leaders should consider as they plan for meaningful professional learning in their school or kura.  

New staff, new learners, new whānau, new challenges 

The new academic year is a mosaic of fresh faces and possibilities. It's a time to understand the diverse needs of each ākonga and how they shape your teaching approach. As teachers engage with ākonga and their whānau, this often highlights areas for development, such as support for neurodiverse learners, a need to foster ākonga agency, and culturally responsive pedagogy. Professional learning is essential in enabling teachers and kaiako to adapt and respond effectively to the new group of ākonga in front of them. The direction your professional learning was going to take may shift in the new year, particularly as you also consider your new staff as learners. What are their learning needs? How do you know?  

Harnessing data for informed planning 

The whakataukī above reminds us that knowledge not only empowers but also nurtures. You can tailor your professional learning plan that is informed by information you already have such as student achievement, attendance and retention data, transition information, and insights from teachers’ professional growth cycles. An evidence-informed PLD plan will help you meet the evolving needs of both staff and ākonga.  

Navigating curriculum change 

With the arrival of the new year comes the responsibility of navigating significant curriculum shifts. The increased emphasis on literacy and mathematics – including the introduction of NCEA corequisites in te reo matatini, pāngarau, literacy, and numeracy, presents a challenging yet exciting opportunity. Implementing our new curricula Te Mātaiaho and Te Tīrewa Marautanga o Aotearoa further adds to this landscape. Your leadership is essential in preparing your staff to effectively adapt to and embrace these changes. Professional learning is a critical tool in this journey, helping to build teacher and kaiako understanding and identify areas for growth. 

Blueprint for success

Capitalising on fresh energy 

There's something magical about the energy educators return with after a well-deserved summer break. The enthusiasm and fresh mindset of your team can be channelled into embracing new skills and knowledge, setting a proactive and positive tone for the rest of the year. As a leader, you need to be enthusiastic about your strategic direction and the learning that is required to get there. Model openness and vulnerability as a leader. As leaders, your role is to take your community with you. We encourage leaders and teachers to share their professional learning goals with whānau and ākonga early in the year.  

Aligning PLD with your strategic goals 

In my years of working with various schools and kura, I've seen firsthand how a well-structured professional learning plan can be the rudder that steers the entire ship. It's not just about meeting targets and ticking off actions; it's about inspiring, challenging, and uniting your team under a shared vision.  

Carefully map out your professional learning plan across the year. Think about when you will evaluate the effectiveness of your new learning. To do this you need to have a sense of what sufficient progress would look like. Then, at key points evaluate whether the PLD is it having the impact you hoped. Are you making sufficient progress? Where might you need to improve? Encourage ākonga, whānau, and staff to give feedback on your goals, actively seek information from them about how you and the team are going.  

Resource your professional learning plan well 

Effective professional learning requires a clear strategy and adequate resources. Ministry funding for PLD is available in term one, with applications closing on the 24th of February. As a leader, it's imperative to assess your school's or kura's needs and create a well-founded rationale for improvement to inform your PLD application. This approach ensures that you use available resources to support your staff's growth and subsequently enhance the outcomes for the ākonga they teach. If you need help preparing your application before the deadline, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support. 

As we embark on this year, view professional learning as a transformative force in your school or kura. The investment you make in your staff's development today will shape the educational experiences of your students and contribute to the future of learning in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Get in touch with us for help with PLD plan

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