How professional development is being reinvented

How professional development is being reinvented

As schools transition online so that students can continue to learn during this challenging time, there is a synchronous push to ensure teachers and leaders continue their professional learning.

After all, the profound changes taking place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic mean that teachers need to be at their absolute best – even more so than usual – to ensure that the current disruption doesn’t morph into an unmanageable mess.

In response to the pandemic’s impact on school operations, PeopleBench - a company which offers resources and consulting services to empower educators to build better school workforces - has developed an effective way to boost the resilience, and effectiveness, of educators.

The “resilience ready reckoner” is based on the Resilience at Work ([email protected]) model, which was designed in 2011 by organisational psychologist practitioner Kathryn McEwen and psychological wellbeing researcher Dr. Peter Winwood.

Below, The Educator speaks to PeopleBench CEO, Dr Vicky Cameron about the model and how her organisation’s new resource is helping teachers and principals thrive during this difficult time.

TE: What kind of impact has the COVID-19 outbreak/crisis had on professional development within the Australian education space?

VC: Professional development in the Australian education space has had to be reinvented to adapt to the unprecedented and changing needs that have evolved since the outbreak of COVID-19. Face to face teaching is no longer an option, professional development focused on rapidly upskilling teachers and other educators to deliver education in alternative modes including online or using video conferencing has emerged. Whilst many education facilities have previously offered flexible teaching and learning in limited areas, only a small number of educators have had the opportunity or necessity to develop skills in this area.  Adapting to rapid change and disruption requires more resilience than usual resulting in the need for professional development to also focus on wellbeing and resilience. 

TE: I understand that PeopleBench have developed a professional development resource based on The Resilience at Work model. Can you tell us more about this?

VC: PeopleBench have developed a “resilience ready reckoner” which is a resource that shares the Resilience at Work ([email protected]) model by Kathryn McEwen & Dr Peter Winwood (2011). This model is comprised of seven components: Living authentically, Maintaining perspective, Mastering stress, Interacting cooperatively, Staying healthy, Building networks. As well as presenting the [email protected] model PeopleBench have adapted the seven components to the education context and will follow this with an explanatory webinar. Educators are in the front line of fight against COVID-19 working to deliver education seamlessly whilst experiencing unprecedented disruption. The [email protected] model will ensure that school principals not only have a checklist of ideas to help keep their own resilience at a high level, they will also be able to use it to guide their staff towards developing greater resilience to manage the current changes and challenges.

TE: The COVID-19 outbreak has certainly had a huge negative impact on schools, but what are some of the positive outcomes you’ve observed?

VC: There are some positive outcomes as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, one of which is the amazing way educators have been innovative in the way they present the curriculum and have rapidly upskilled to use flexible learning methods to put their student’s education before their own needs. Another positive impact is how flexible learning modes have encouraged parents and families to participate together in the education process. On a larger scale, this disruption has facilitated a rapid change in the structural architecture of education. Education has been slow to change since the industrial revolution; this event has paved the way for a new approach to education beyond rows of desks in a purpose-built room in a siloed environment.