Hillbrook is committed to being a learning community. Within this commitment is a focus on helping teachers to develop skills that will support their ability to deepen the learning of Hillbrook students.
To achieve this, we have been working with Emeritus Professor Wendy Patton since 2017 as an Embedded Researcher to support our teachers through the Professional Pathways and Development Program. Wendy shares her thoughts below:
“This program requires all Hillbrook teachers to complete an individual professional inquiry focusing on a student centred, teaching and learning project, and occurs every three years.
My focus is on providing teachers with the following:
- Access to existing research to inform projects and practice;
- Assistance to recognise where research would provide necessary information;
- Clarify rigorous research questions;
- Design methodology around each project;
- Support research processes, including the analysis of data;
- Guidance in the publication and dissemination of findings; and
- Support and guide teachers in the implementation of findings into pedagogical practice.
This program encourages teachers at Hillbrook to reflect on practice with self and others, learn from practice and act on that learning. These practices are embedded in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST, AITSL, 2011) which also function as professional development tools by providing a framework for reflection and professional inquiry.
Ongoing inquiry by teachers into their practice in classrooms can increase professional understanding and foster new perspectives, which ultimately improves their teaching.
Within the APST, it is key that the outcome of teacher professional learning is the improvement of student learning.
I have worked beside individual teachers, in small groups, and subject area teams.
Classroom inquiry projects are planned and carried out and I also assist teachers develop written reports of their projects.
An important component of this program is peer-to-peer sharing and teachers are encouraged to share their work, at conferences, in the Hillbrook Professional Journal, in Professional Association publications and peer reviewed journals. At the end of 2019 all Hillbrook teachers will have completed their first professional inquiry and it has been a pleasure working with them.”
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Stephen Hawking
English Coordinator, Debbie Schuler, has been working with Wendy: “My inquiry focused on how to give students the tools to move from surface to deeper thinking in the planning stages of their work.
I met with Wendy several times. At the beginning, she was very useful in recommending articles and books for my literature review and in helping me define my focus question. Being able to discuss the process I would undertake was also key, as she helped me narrow my ideas into a manageable task and design ways to collect relevant data (not my strong point). I found my interactions with Wendy stimulating and motivating. She provided me with a lot of positive reinforcement while guiding me in the right direction.
My inquiry both confirmed and challenged some of my thinking around deepening student thinking.”