Identify professional learning needs


The first step in any professional learning and development planning process is self-reflectionThis provides the opportunity to think through your personal and professional priorities, and to examine your achievements and future learning needs.

If you regularly, or even irregularly, record personal reflections about your work practice – for example a log, a diary, e-portfolio, network discussions or private practice notes – these can help you to identify the areas of professional development you might like to focus on in the coming year.

Notes on how you currently perform using the professional standards relevant to your current role will be particularly valuable for identifying areas of possible development.


One of the areas that stands out in your writing over the past three to six months is a repeated reflection on the frustration you experience in dealing with staffing performance issues. You might like to explore whether there are any courses, workshops or coaching options available that might give you ideas, tools or skills to handle these instances more effectively.

Self-evaluation data

Supporting your judgements with empirical evidence is essential to developing a robust professional learning and development plan that will gain the support of your board.

If you have any evidential data on your current professional skills and knowledge and/or personal attributes and how these contribute to your professional role, these can be used to identify your professional learning needs.

Useful tools might include, but are not restricted to, personality assessments such as Myers Briggs; The Big Five Personality Traits; Keirsey Temperament Sorter; or team psychometrics or 360 degree surveys. You might also like to review your cultural competency using Tātaiako.


You have recently finalised a set of change management priorities related to building better relationships with Māori learners and the whānau. You are very keen to pursue this. The data at your school shows that your Māori students are not achieving as well as other learners and your school has not engaged very well with the whānau of your learners.

You have been communicating your priorities to the staff through a number of processes including briefing them at staff meetings, distributing the Tātaiako materials and talking about your priorities at community meetings.

It is important that the staff buy-in to the process and help you to drive a change process designed to lift learner achievement. It is also important that they are with you as you seek to find ways to build productive connections with whānau.

A recent 360 degree staff survey highlights that the staff do not understand the key messages you are trying to convey and further, they don’t believe that what you want to do will make any real difference to learners' outcomes.

It is clear from the survey that you need to find more effective ways to communicate with staff to engage them in reflecting on their beliefs and assumptions. How will you go about this? Who might be able to work with you?

Performance evidence from others

You can get useful information on your performance from the reflections of people who see you carrying out the role on a regular basis or are affected by your performance in the role. This could be staff members, students, parents, hapū or iwi members, members of the school community, or school supporters and suppliers.

Seek out and document evidence of your performance from your stakeholder groups. Use the feedback they give you to help you to drill down to specific areas for further learning and development.


You want to learn more about financial management. There is nothing wrong with the state of the school’s finances, but you are not totally comfortable that the balance sheet always makes complete sense to you. At the end of each month it is a stressful process for you and your senior staff members to gather all of the relevant data and ensure that everything is accounted for. It feels uncertain, but you are not sure what specifically might help.

Your board suggests that you would find it useful to change some of the financial reporting practices at the school so that the monthly balance sheet reconciliation is less of a mission for everyone.

Focusing your learning on financial reporting and recording might help you to fully understand and work with the board and your senior management team to put changes in place that will help all of you. Many tertiary institutions in NZ offer short courses in Finance for Non-financial Managers that may be helpful.

Agreeing your priorities with the board

Before you use the priorities you have identified as the basis for your professional learning and development plan, it is a good idea to check them out with your board, or board representative. This opens the conversation and ensures there are no surprises on either side as the planning process continues.

If the board has additional or alternative priorities they would like you to focus on, the template can be used as the basis of a conversation to finalise and agree your priorities.

Download proposal template

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