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  1. ResearchBrief:What Professional Development Structures Best Affect Classroom Instruction?
  2. More EL Resources
  3. British Council ELT Research Papers: Volume 1
  4. Professional Development

The development of future leaders should emphasise the growth of these skills over time and from early in their careers. High-quality professional learning matched to capability and school and community context is important for developing the behaviour of future school leaders.

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By providing opportunities to lead, professional learning and time to act on feedback can be provided in context. Learning should take place in a culture where individuals are expected to be reflective and active learners, and where there are performance and development processes that provide them with frequent, constructive feedback and support to improve their leadership. The Charter and the Framework describe the culture and processes for effective collaboration and professional growth. These should be implemented in all Australian schools.

Effective leadership development is a career-long process that involves a range of professional learning activities. Extended experiences that involve learning within the context of work allow individuals to practise and refine their skills in real situations and receive ongoing feedback. These experiences contribute most effectively to sustained behaviour change and should be factored into the ongoing development of future leaders.

Impact Podcast - Continuous Learning for Professional Development

Other experiences that focus primarily on acquiring new knowledge must be balanced with opportunities to translate that knowledge into practice. When diverse and extensive professional learning experiences are complemented with access to relevant and timely advice and support from colleagues, mentors and coaches, growth is accelerated. Networks foster social capital across the jurisdiction or school, and provide structures for individuals to seek help from others. Establishing networks should be deliberate and a core element of professional learning. The pathways to leadership are varied and principals play an important role in supporting teachers on their journey.

This role is outlined in the Principal Standard, which sets the expectation that principals will support all staff to build their leadership capacity. This begins with principals understanding their position as a role model for emerging leaders and aspiring principals. The role of principal brings enormous reward and satisfaction, and it is important colleagues have the opportunity to see the role in the best light possible. When principals, along with their leadership team, understand and value their role in leadership development, they are key enablers to finding and developing future leaders.

They should be supported to prioritise the development of leadership within and beyond their schools, and build the capacity to carry out this important work. To make sure this happens, current principals and school leaders should be provided with targeted professional learning experiences to build knowledge and skills in leadership development strategies, and the expectation for leadership development should be built into their performance and development goals. Effective jurisdictions and schools make the most of their workforce and give successful leaders scope to use their expertise to lead professional and organisational development.

Explicit,formalised roles for expert current and retired principals, as well as other school leaders, should be established to support a shared responsibility for the development of future leaders. Examples of these are:. Principals who engage and develop potential leaders are more effective in attracting and retaining individuals to leadership positions. This involves using leadership knowledge and expertise to structure professional conversations with future leaders. The positive effects of targeted, purposeful and systematic coaching on career development are well recognised, with those who receive coaching more likely to set goals for their development, seek ideas for improvement, act on feedback from colleagues and supervisors, and improve their performance.

Coaching is a skill and comprehensive training should be provided to help principals develop the capacity to do it effectively. It is important that leadership development activities are evaluated for impact and that findings are used to inform future strategic directions. Successful jurisdictions and schools are increasingly using data and metrics to track and report on leadership development achievements, and to inform decision-making on future actions and investments. By collectively identifying and articulating the objectives of leadership development strategies before implementation, jurisdictions and schools can identify appropriate metrics and measurement methods, track progress over time, and assess success.

Building on success and addressing areas for development as a key focus for ongoing review and implementation will improve provision of leadership development. By providing regular and diverse opportunities to engage in leadership, those individuals with a particular aptitude and interest in principalship will emerge. It is important that these emerging leaders are identified and provided with clear career pathways, strong preparatory experiences, and ongoing support.

Clear career pathways through middle and senior leadership positions help retain emerging leaders in the profession and motivate them to pursue future leadership opportunities.

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  • When formal leadership roles are fully integrated with and underpinned by broader professional learning and performance and development processes, emerging leaders have the necessary structures to reflect on their progress along the career pathway. Informal leadership roles also provide platforms for developing aspiring principals. When a range of formal and informal methods and data are used to identify potential principals, it offers a more comprehensive picture of their leadership potential. A key resource in this process should be the expertise of serving principals, and jurisdictions and employers should support them to understand their critical role in the principal preparation process and develop the necessary knowledge and skills to recognise potential.

    Implementing purposeful strategies and using multiple, objective methods helps to find eligible candidates who may not have identified themselves as a potential principal and increases equality and diversity within the aspirant pool. Educational research continues to shape new thinking for what works best for learners, technological advances are shaping educational directions, and the cultural diversity of school communities is increasing.

    As a result, the role of school principal in Australia is complex and evolving. By developing a disposition for learning, a broad range of skills, and the confidence and aptitude to apply them with impact, aspiring and new principals will be better prepared to keep pace with trends and new research, and respond effectively to culturally diverse communities. This helps to develop principals who are agile, informed and successful in the role. The aim of principal preparation must be to ensure a supply of suitably qualified and skilled applicants to meet demand.

    ResearchBrief:What Professional Development Structures Best Affect Classroom Instruction?

    Preparation should be comprehensive, aligned to the expectations set out in the Principal Standard, and ensure quality professional learning experiences are available to all those ready to undertake them so that aspiring principals are ready to step into principalship and begin their ongoing development in the role. Formal leadership preparation programs provide a discrete, time-bound experience that can be factored into a full-time workload, and an opportunity for participants to step out of their role and reflect on their next step along the professional pathway.

    They should accommodate the existing knowledge and skills of participants, using this as the starting point for learning. Principal preparation programs should allow participants to apply theory in the context of their work and demonstrate transfer of learning into current or future contexts. Evaluating your Principal Preparation Programs: A Practical Guide sets out an evidence-based approach to assessing the impact of such initiatives. The guide supports the evaluation of impact of principal preparation programs and can assist with the continual improvement of provision.

    Programs are just one approach to principal preparation. Internships, shadowing and acting principal roles, where substantial support is provided, also offer valuable principal preparation experiences that provide the opportunity for highly relevant, job-embedded professional learning. Formal and explicit processes to assess readiness for the principal role that are based on demonstrated leadership, rather than age, length of time in the profession or progression through formal leadership positions, support the professional development of aspiring principals.

    These processes might include the achievement of a qualification, credential or certification. Recruitment and selection to principalship needs to attract a diverse range of applicants who meet the expectations set out in the Principal Standard and the needs of a school.

    Innovative approaches to recruitment that go beyond the traditional written application and interview provide a more comprehensive assessment of leadership capacity. Approaches should include processes to target applicants from under-represented groups to achieve the broadest possible pool of suitable potential candidates. Ensuring members of the recruitment and selection panel are equipped with the necessary knowledge and understanding to evaluate each applicant objectively and contribute to an informed selection is equally important.

    This requires training for panel members in key areas, including the expectations set out in the Principal Standard and awareness of unconscious bias. The recruitment and selection panel needs high-quality information about each candidate, which is gathered through well-designed and targeted recruitment activities.

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    Rather than relying solely on qualifications and perceptions of personal qualities that are not substantiated by evidence, emphasis is placed on actual behaviours and actions demonstrating application of personal qualities and impact on teaching and learning. In each case, the activities should reflect the dynamic nature of the principal role and involve internal and external situations and stakeholders. Responses should be evaluated against agreed criteria in order to minimise any bias in interpretation.

    For example, although a trainer may explain and even model a new reading method, classroom instruction may look very different from that model when teachers return to their classrooms. In addition, teachers make adaptations when they return to the classroom that can vary across an entire school or system.

    British Council ELT Research Papers: Volume 1

    These adaptations can influence the results a district or school achieves compared with expectations based on program results in other schools and systems. District and school leaders, program developers, and professional staff developers concerned about fidelity to a program design use IC maps to facilitate implementation that more closely aligns with their expectations for practice.

    NSDC is equally concerned about what happens when states, technical assistance agencies, school systems, and schools adopt the standards. ICs define the various actions educators can take to move from low levels of implementation of standards to higher levels.

    NSDC published the first set of these frameworks in Titled Moving NSDC's Staff Development Standards into Practice: Innovation Configurations , this publication addressed the roles of teachers, principals, central office staff members, superintendents, and school board members. NSDC published a second set of ICs in that address the roles of state departments, technical assistance providers, state agency personnel, higher education professional associations, and district staff developers. IC maps, which can vary in complexity, describe the major components of a program or innovation in action.

    IC maps for the NSDC standards are fairly complex as they describe 2—6 outcomes associated with each of the 12 standards for each role.

    Professional Development

    For example, the following five outcomes are stated for the first standard, Learning Communities for the Principal:. Each outcome is followed by a description of a series of actions—what the principal will actually be seen doing if the standard is being fully implemented labeled as Level 1 through descriptions of lesser levels of implementation. As an example, we will look at Outcome 4. Desired Outcome 4: The principal creates and maintains a learning community to support teacher and student learning.

    Level 1: Builds a culture that respects risktaking, encourages collegial exchange, identifies and resolves conflict, sustains trust, and engages the whole staff as a learning community to improve the learning of all students. Level 2: Works with faculty to create a variety of learning teams to attain different goals; facilitates conflict resolution among group members; and supports learning teams by providing articles, videos, and other activities during team time. Level 3: Works with faculty to create learning teams with clear goals, outcomes, and results outlined in writing and expects and reviews team logs each month in order to coordinate activities within and among the teams.

    In the end, NSDC published the IC maps so all educators will have a clear and richly descriptive vision of what the standards look like in action and will use that vision when helping others implement the standards to improve the quality of professional development for a state, organization, district, or school. A consistent set of staff development standards provides a common language and supports a deeper understanding among educators.

    NSDC recognizes its responsibility to ensure the applicability and usefulness of the standards to educators. NSDC will continue to monitor the research and, when it again becomes necessary, facilitate another update.

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    Meanwhile, NSDC continues to believe that the single most valuable way to help all educators and students achieve at high levels is through highquality professional learning. The above situation notwithstanding, we have begun to see a great deal of options available to educators when it comes to professional development. Online professional development modules or entire courses can be purchased — in an 'on-demand' manner — to serve the needs of individual teachers.