Due of the high complexity of the nature of role as a primary school principal, I require ongoing professional development in order for me to lead effectively and respond to the challenges intrinsic to school leadership. My Professional Learning Networks amongst fellow principals, colleagues, consultants from the system office, friends, local community and the ‘online’ community is essential and a valuable source of professional learning for me and for all school leaders. In Covarrubias’ (2014) words, “In order to create and lead effective schools, principals need quality professional development, and the best way to do that is through an ongoing professional network” (p.11). This professional network is crucial to me as most of the time principals work in isolation…we are the Lords of our domains!
This networking is important especially for the professional development of staff to ensure that the professional development is accurate and worthwhile for all staff. In looking back at my Lesson Plan Version 3.0, the networks that I would have utilized would have been by contacting peer principals seeking information if they had previously conducted a day on SEQTA dealing with Pastoral Care of students.
By reviewing Lesson Plan Version 3.0, I would seek guidance and advice initially from my Assistant Principal, knowing that he has used this part of the SEQTA program previously and may have some valuable input for the day. I would also discuss with the Assistant Principal any possible pitfalls that may occur during the professional development i.e. ICT literacy levels of staff, staff who may have issues with this idea, relevance for the staff, school and system and any possible digital technology problems on the day. I would then approach the SEQTA consultants who deal with our system seeking any further or extra information that will be required to conduct the day successfully as this is a relatively new program for the school.
By using my professional networks and then leveraging the power of these networks it will help me to develop a clear and concise process for the day. I will use these networks to help me try to avoid any possible problems, issues or concerns that may arise (especially as we will be using digital technologies) within the staff of adding data to the SEQTA Program. I would also incorporate time in the professional day for the staff to use their networks as this is important for them and will aid them with this endeavor. This would be done at the beginning of the professional development day and then at the end of the day, allowing then to collect and revise their thoughts of the day.
During, and also after the professional development day the staff will use their professional learning networks, firstly by means of talking and discussing different discussion points raised during the day amongst themselves and also with me as facilitator of the day and also by using the previous knowledge of the Assistant Principal. As my school has two distinct areas, Junior Primary and Middle/Upper Primary, I have observed that these two groups of teaching staff will have regularly scheduled informal meetings to discuss curriculum, any issues and concerns within their particular areas. They use this as networking time due to the business of the ‘normal’ teaching day. Were they work alongside of one another, but rarely interact with each other during the school day. Covarrubias (2014) clearly states,
“Teachers spend most of their time working in isolation away from each other in self-contained classrooms with no opportunity to engage in continuous and sustained learning about their practice in the setting in which they actually work” (p.25).
Covarrubias (2014) then likens this to two children playing beside each other in the sand pit, each doing their own thing, but never really interacting during their play.
I actively encourage ‘all’ my staff to develop professional learning networks, although many of the staff already have professional learning networks, especially the more experienced teachers as they regularly comment on the benefits of these networks, although they might necessarily call them Professional Learning Networks. This revision of Lesson Plan 3.0 would support learning as it would require the staff and also myself to take the next step and actively seek out further information individually, in small cluster group meetings or actively seeking further information on line. Trust (2012) remarks that,
“Many teachers are joining online communities of likeminded individuals and subscribing to various blogs and Web sites to continue learning and improve their professional practice…When a teacher joins an online community or subscribes to education blogs, podcasts, and news feeds, the teacher is building a professional learning network (PLN)” (p.34).
Today with the digital resources so readily and easily available, I would encourage all staff, not just the teaching staff to join these online communities to further develop their learning.
Covarubias, M. (2014). Comparative study of the networked principal vs. the isolated principal (Order No. AAI3628142). Available from PsycINFO. (1678753285; 2015-99090-166). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1678753285?accountid=12598
Trust, T. (2012). Professional Learning Networks Designed for Teacher Learning (Reviewed). Australian Educational Computing 27 (1), 34-38.