Teachers Teaching Teachers

Teachers Teaching Teachers

Learning never stops at Trinity—for students or staff

In the words of Head Master Tim Bowden: “To be a teacher is to be a learner.” Which is why the School invests heavily in its Professional Learning Team (PLT) programme; a commitment to building a culture of continual improvement in the way boys are educated.

“The PLT programme is a significant investment, but it is only one part of the School’s overall professional development budget. The total cost spent on professionally developing staff through all the various means—such as staff days, tertiary study, workshops, conferences, time in release, and casual teachers to cover classes—is significantly higher,” said Mr Bowden.

However, the difference is while not all academic staff apply for specific professional development funding for something like tertiary study, all of Trinity’s teachers participate in Professional Learning Teams.

Each teacher is allocated two teaching periods per fortnight. One of these is a face-to-face meeting, the other period is unallocated to provide time to progress the things learned when meeting. PLTs meet in groups of 5-12, mixed across all faculties, each led by a facilitator.

There’s a choice of up to ten constantly changing courses, each lasting a semester. Typical examples are: remote learning, building classroom culture, building strong Houses, critical thinking, enhancing academic writing, IB approaches to teaching, inquiry-based learning, how to use data, and extending high potential learners.

The PLT programme is in its third year and has already led to a “real culture shift”, according to Director of Professional Practice and Senior School English teacher Alison Boyd-Boland.
“The focus is on practical help in the classrooms. A teacher might say, ‘I see this issue—what can I do to address it? What can I rethink? How can I adjust my designs for this particular student or this cohort?’

“It’s part of our teaching load. This sends a strong message that at Trinity we value this enough to make it part of our load. There’s nothing token about it. It’s not an after-school add-on, or a tick-a-box compliance measure.

“It says a lot about Trinity and the importance of staff really thinking about their practices.

“It lives out our philosophy of putting students at the centre of what we do.

“We are building a culture of learning as a model to our students.”

The programme underscores Trinity’s commitment to build its staff as well as its students. PLTs give teachers time and space to design their learning and enhance their own capacity to solve problems.
Head Master Tim Bowden said the learning was collaborative, rather than requiring individuals to operate in isolation.
He said it was embedded in each teacher’s context, enabling them to apply the learning to the classes and students with whom they were working from day to day.

“The cost of this initiative is substantial,” he said, “but the investment—on top of the investment we are making in professional development such as tertiary study and external courses teachers may take—demonstrates the commitment of the School to continual improvement of teaching practice.

“Parents can be reassured that teachers are consistently thinking about ways to ensure every student is learning and growing under their care.”

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