Education heavyweights launch new PD programs

Education heavyweights launch new PD programs

Nationally and internationally renowned educators and thought leaders have announced they will join forces with an education leadership institute in Queensland to roll out three major professional development programs in 2019.

Professor John Hattie, Professor Stephen Dinham, Dr Jim Knight, Dr Annette Hilton, Dr Geoff Hilton and Emeritus Professor Dylan Wiliam will collaborate with the Queensland Education Leadership Institute (QELi) to develop the Professional Certificate in Instructional Leadership, Practitioner Research Program and The Impact Cycle.

The three programs complement the Institute’s extensive portfolio of more than 20 high‐quality professional learning programs for educators in government and non-government schools and sectors in Queensland and across Australia.

QELi CEO, Neil McDonald, said Queensland school leaders have achieved “incredible improvement over the past decade”.

“The challenge now is to hone in on what has worked and replicate it more broadly for continued growth,” McDonald told The Educator.

“That sounds simple but for the principals who are actually leading the work, it can be difficult when balanced against their myriad of other responsibilities.”

McDonald said high quality professional development for educators should have a blend of internal focus (self-development, reflection, the learning of new tools and strategies) as well as opportunities to collaborate, share practice, and build relational skills.

“QELi participants draw a lot of value from growth coaching [of self and others] and also report that the trust, team‐building, and neuroscience of leadership programs are highly practical and make a positive difference to their school leadership,” he said.

Experienced principals should share wisdom

McDonald said it is important that Australian K-12 school leaders find time to focus on “the leading of learning”.

“They need to have capability to implement improvement efforts, and many principals would like greater clarity and guidance around what approach to take and which evidence to use in the face of information overload,” he said.

“Principals who are very experienced in school improvement can contribute so much wisdom to their less‐experienced colleagues so another challenge is capturing and sharing that effectively within and across systems.”

McDonald said investing in teacher development makes sense given that research shows teachers have the greatest impact on learning in the classroom.

“The Gonski 2.0 report signaled clearly that quality teaching involves knowing one’s students and also collaborating with one’s peers, so that has probably driven a renewed focus on professional development around targeted teaching as well as a range of formal and informal professional collaboration networks,” McDonald said.

“In any case, the renewed interest in building a solid evidence base about what has the greatest impact on teachers’ learning is very welcome as it allows organisations like QELi to self‐evaluate and make sure we are meeting industry needs.”

McDonald said this also allows schools and systems to ensure they get best value for their PD investment.

“It’s terrific to see more practitioner‐led research in this space as educators contribute to the knowledge base and we’re excited to be working with Dr Annette Hilton, former associate professor at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Copenhagen and University of Technology Sydney, and Dr Geoff Hilton, former postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at The University of Queensland to launch QELi’s own practitioner research program in 2019,” he said.