Developing the person in the professional: building the capacity of teachers for improved student learning: the missing basket – personal learning

by Jan Robertson and Lesley Murrihy

Overview

This report provides examples from research of how some school leaders and researchers, in New Zealand and England, have developed successful holistic, professional learning programmes for teachers. The findings show that the professional and personal aspects of a teacher's learning are inextricably linked. They also show that there is little recognition of this link by principals; and that few teacher development programmes take into account the social, personal, emotional, conceptual, and spiritual/ethical dimensions of teachers' learning.

The summary report is very brief, and readers are advised to read the full report.

Other key findings from the research show that:

  • educational leaders whose own professional learning has been inclusive of the dimensions mentioned above are more likely to be aware of the holistic learning needs of their teachers
  • current national political contexts that drive schools to focus on academic outcomes alone, and which encourage competition among schools, restrain the quality of teacher development programmes
  • the best teacher development programmes encourage emotional engagement with learning, reflective practice, coaching and mentoring opportunities, creativity, and cross-cultural experiences.

The full report also contains further useful and recent references on the topic.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of the research brief and report:

Within your leadership team discuss the most successful professional learning opportunities you have experienced.

  • What were the reasons for their success?
  • Over the last year, in what ways have your school's professional development opportunities taken into account teachers' personal development, their creativity, and their critical thinking?
  • What evidence do you have in your school to identify the impact of your staff's professional learning on their classroom practice?

References

Robertson, J. & Murrihy, L. (2005). Building the capacity of teachers for improved student learning: The missing basket – personal learning. Full report. Nottingham, UK: National College for School Leadership.

Robertson, J. & Murrihy, L. (2006). Developing the person in the professional: Building the capacity of teachers for improved student learning: The missing basket – personal learning. Summary report. Nottingham, UK: National College for School Leadership.

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