Developing the person in the professional

by Jan Robertson and Lesley Murrihy


This research report shows that the professional and personal aspects of a teacher's learning are inextricably linked. It also shows that there is little recognition of this link by principals and that few teacher development programmes take into account the personal, social, emotional, moral/spiritual and conceptual dimensions of teachers' learning. 

The 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.

Other 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
  • the best teacher development programmes encourage emotional engagement with learning, reflective practice, coaching and mentoring opportunities, creativity, and cross-cultural experiences.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of the 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?


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. Nottingham, UK: National College for School Leadership.

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