Why teacher professional learning matters?
Not only does professional learning provide teachers with the skills to plan and navigate these complex times but research finds that collective teacher efficacy is the primary factor influencing student achievement.
In his research, ‘Visible Learning Education’, Prof. John Hattie from The University of Melbourne investigated what impacts student learning the most 1. The research was the culmination of more than 25 years of examining and synthesizing more than 1,850 meta-analyses, comprising more than 108,000 studies and involving 300 million students around the world.
The research confirms that collective teacher efficacy is the key factor impacting student achievement. This is why at The Song Room teacher professional learning is an integral part of our mission in creating sustainable arts learning programs and cultures.
The Song Room’s approach to professional learning
The Song Room takes a uniquely holistic approach to teacher professional learning. This means that rather than just working to upskill individual arts specialist teachers, The Song Room works with whole school teaching and leadership teams to build their collective confidence and belief that together they can support their students and communities to flourish through the arts.
Professional learning is provided across multiple hybrid environments – on the ground in individual teachers’ classrooms, with teams of teachers in staff rooms and curriculum meetings and through intensive face-to-face workshops with clusters of schools and online with experts and colleagues across Australia.
The Song Room connects with each school’s set of strategic priorities to develop bespoke professional learning and tailored programs that meet each school where they are at and support them with resources, planning and expertise to support whole school improvement.
A critical aspect of this work involves, experienced Teaching Artist Mentors coaching teachers in their classrooms to build skills, confidence and professional knowledge. Mentors work alongside teachers to model arts and music pedagogy and assist with co-delivery, while helping with planning and one-on-one training sessions. This is a rare and valued experience that provides teachers with the opportunity to receive instant feedback and in-class support in a way that many teachers report not having accessed since their initial teacher education training.
Creating supportive educator networks
Building collective teacher efficacy also involves creating a supportive educator networks between our schools. This is especially important in challenging times when teachers can feel isolated. Teachers in our professional learning groups become part of a learning community where they share, encourage and learn from one another.
This term, our ‘Reciprocal Song Swap’ encouraged teachers and Teaching Artists to share their favourite songs and activities with colleagues. This simple act provided easy access to a range of practical, curriculum-aligned resources that helped save time and provided easily implementable lesson activities to busy teachers.
The Song Room reflection and training
Providing learning and development to our Teaching Artists ensures that they also have access to opportunities to grow and connect. National training is delivered to Teaching Artists from experts within the Song Room team and from colleagues in the sector. Our most recent training in Trauma Informed Practice was facilitated by Berry Street consultant Chris Dawson. In a full day workshop the team learnt about trauma-informed practice and how to utilise strategies from the Berry Street Education model to support vulnerable young people in the classroom.
Our hybrid approach to professional learning includes online and face-to-face training. This ensures teachers and Teaching Artists across Australia have access to current, quality training. For teachers in regional and remote locations this support and connection can transform their teaching experience.
Workshops play a key role but it is our social media groups like The Song Room Teachers Group on LinkedIn that are providing day-day support to teachers across the country. Teachers are sharing and discovering new ideas and solving problems in real time.
The benefits are great. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited (AITSIL) explains this best:
‘Professional learning on social media provides a platform for teachers to share, network and build professional learning communities. Social networks encourage connections, discussions, participation and sharing of resources. It can be a source of feedback, inspiration and support. All of this can enrich your knowledge and skills as a teacher2.’ “
Start exploring new content, ideas and learning by joining The Song Room Teachers Group on LinkedIn. Or get in touch to find out how to support teachers at your school with a professional learning program from The Song Room.
- Hattie, J. 2009. Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. www.visible-learning.org/2009/02/visible-learning-meta-study/
- Using social media for professional learning. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Limited. www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/improve-practice/practical-guides/using-social-media-for-professional-learning