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Principals and their Very Necessary Involvment in the Professional Learning and Development of their Staff


In 2014, I decided to conduct an inquiry into the involvement of principals in the professional learning and development project that I was facilitating in their schools.  I had found that in 2013, some principals were not active in the professional learning and development (PLD) that they wanted their staff to particpate in.  When this happens, some staff see the project as being of lower priority in the school.

I had about 30% active involvement of principals and decided I wanted 100%, so my inquiry was to see what I could do about it, as research had told me that the PLD would be more successful if principals were actively involved.  I decided to approach the principals and ask them to complete a checklist of indicators that they were actively involved.

This strategy had a twofold purpose:

  1. To alert the principals to the fact that they should be involved (even though the Memorandum of Understanding clearly stated they would be)
  2. To give principals some ideas of how they could be involved (because sometimes these things may be as clear as the big nose on your own face but not to others)
Principals were asked to help me with my inquiry by assessing their own degree of involvement and also adding any other factors that they could think of that would indicate that they were involved.  
There were unexpected outcomes.  As I watched some principals complete the checklist, I saw them waver as they filled out the sheet.  They WANTED to check the indicators positively but they knew they had not , in all honesty, done what they indicator had suggested. But they went ahead and checked it anyway!  And then they started doing it from that point on!  
So I suddenly became aware that some principals need a little help in meeting success criteria.  They need to know what is expected of them spelt out in black and white.  This year, I had over 80% active involvement by principals in the PLD.  A big improvement.
Principals also added some criteria to my original list and I am publishing this list of indicators so that it can be used by others working in schools in the same way that I do, and by principals if they wish to do a little self review on how well they are involved in PLDs in their school.
If you have a suggestion to add to the list, please do so by adding a comment below.  Here is the checklist:


Be involved in the PLD visioning development - establishing goals, targets and opportunities

Communicate to the staff that the PLD  is a major focus for the school this year

Touch base with the facilitator when she/he is in the school to give feedback on how the PLD is progressing

Attend, visit,  or take part in any PLD  that the facilitator leads or facilitates

Ensure that teacher inquiries continue in the school, between facilitator visits

Encourage staff who are trialling PLD by visiting their classes when appropriate

Make the PLD inquiry part of appraisal cycle  for some / all teachers

Respond in a timely fashion  to emails from the facilitator

Give feedback in the collaborative google document for your school

Releasing staff with relievers when possible

Read recommended research like BES re leadership around PLD in schools

Encourage staff to attend relevant PLD outside the school like ULearn

School subscription to relevant literature like Interface magazine/ ipad Tech

Belong to and participate in VLN

Contact primary and intermediate schools to see who and what skills are coming (regarding digital technologies)

Inform board what is happening internationally

Do the self -review from STA called Falling Behind ? Not sure if this is the correct resource but I have added the link here.

Visit local schools to see what is coming