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Unpacking Professional Development: Where next?

The curriculum can be re-interpreted depending on the context. For example, around Auckland and Northland, there are different interpretations compared with Southland for example.


One of the most important things about the PLD review is that everyone on the advisory group panel believes that we are all learners. Community and sharing is key. For some people, the notion of a spiral of inquiry for example, is not easy to conceptualise unless you have done it.


Sandra Cubbitt talked about the background of The Report of the PLD Advisory Group (2014), and the people who were involved in the review. The challenge in the work is translating how what you knows works in your context, to a more general context. How can we create system learning across New Zealand. Sandra mentioned two levers - funding and legislation; other soft levers include the curriculum. A new creation of a PLD system that recognises these levers is challenging.


What does sustainability mean? (Taking the money away because you are all right on your own?) We don’t examine a project or a programme and look at it to see what it is we need to modify to acknowledge the ‘time’...that recognises shifts in ways of learning, for instance. Where there is a lot of evidence, which evidence do you use?


The group started at the bottom to identify what should be happening in every school. Sandra pointed us to the Spiral of inquiry, learning and action on p. 16 of the report. What they have discovered however, as when you get more into it, there is utter confusion around the notion of inquiry. The group is creating case studies around what inquiry ‘looks like’ to help exemplify the practice.


One of the key factors is social dialogue, which includes navigational openings. The spiral of inquiry recognises that it’s necessary for every teacher and every leader has the experience of inquiry...therefore, it’s not ‘teaching as inquiry’. As such, there needs to be a strong focus on building the leadership capability.


How do you know that you are making an impact? What are valued student outcomes? The government ones of literacy and numeracy? The focus on national standards gave us narrow measurement data, and was not positive for the national curriculum. Therefore, this group has taken a way wider view of valued student outcomes. We still have to be able to tell government about the impact on students learning.


On p. 21 in the report, Sandra shared that teachers have fed back that teachers can’t see theselves as visible...where are the teaching practices? What is it that the professional has to learn? It’s about the professional as learner. The group are going to insert another box into the diagram so that the teacher is visible.


Some interesting provocations and ideas, in particular around the fundamental influence of the Principal, and the necessity of them being involved.

It’s definitely worth reading the report. The advisory group are looking for feedback around the approaches they are proposing, so you can also contact them by email at

Image: On white: Who you really are. CC (BY NC) licensed image by James Jordon:

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Comment by Merryn Dunmill on October 22, 2014 at 9:43

So true Eddie! Kids as mentors, beaming out across the nation/the world, telling their stories, teaching and learning in reciprocal arrangements are exciting projects along with industry people working as role models with kids and teachers online....grandparents beaming in to classrooms to read to and with their mokopuna......and the possibilities go on of opening the silos up and bringing learning to life, lives and living in a diverse and unpredictable world. It's so exciting. The mix of options are there for the uptake. 

Comment by Eddie Reisch on October 22, 2014 at 8:32

Very true Merryn I wasn't excluding anyone in a CoP/ CoI are the way we should be learning and the online environment lends itself to this notion. It is about gathering the right expertise to assist learners in their learning whether it be face to face, blended or totally online.

It is no longer the teachers domain exclusively at school or anywhere else

Comment by Merryn Dunmill on October 21, 2014 at 16:11

The notion of shifting thinking around hierarchies in schools, of principals as learners and as all teachers as leaders is powerful. There is work to do in NZ to get true collaborations and trust happening across staff and across schools. Silos are common. That's why online communities of practice are pivotal to supporting teacher thinking, to challenging and pushing boundaries and to giving the lone nuts a virtual staffroom of like-minded people.

Re the teaching as inquiry, or teaching IS inquiry, nothing is ever simple and spirals of inquiry are plural (not linear or even circular as cycles, directions can change)…. and synapsing happens….. tangential stuff where unexpected things like students' own passions and ideas that drive new directions and investigations into both teaching and learning. The together idea you suggest Eddie is inclusive of the kids and community as much as possible as well.  

Comment by Eddie Reisch on October 21, 2014 at 14:24

Interesting comments around teachers being visible Hazel. Maybe a discussion around the fact that we are all learners so they are visible and the fact that we need to construct learning from beginning through to the outcome together?

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