The way educators are engaging in PLD is changing. As the school year begins teachers and leaders are crafting inquiry goals and considering their professional learning foci for 2016. For many teachers, particularly those in schools and kura clustering inCommunities of Learning (CoL), this may mean embarking oncollaborative inquiries as they ‘share goals based on information about their students’ educational needs and work together to achieve them’.
Current research highlights the importance for learning networks, or learning communities, to develop shared approaches, and a culture of learning and inquiry. In the NZCER paper, Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching – a New Zealand perspective it is noted that:
“Schools are being talked about as “learning organisations”, and educators are encouraged to become “professional learning communities” or even “networked learning communities” within and across schools. School leaders have responsibility for supporting and sustaining a continuous culture of learning amongst staff, in a dynamic environment.” (p 45).
The fundamental shift of communities of learning is to function more as anetworked organisation focused on raising achievement across the educational sector. As written in, Accelerating student achievement: a resource for schools (December 2015, p 1):
“Accelerated improvement requires a whole system to function as a collaborative learning community that is advancing progress on the four areas of leverage: pedagogy, educationally powerful connections, professional learning and leadership. (Adrienne Alton-Lee, cited in Mathematics in Years 4 to 8: Developing a Responsive Curriculum; ERO, 2013)
The PLD implications for schools practising as networked organisations and professional learning communities are varied. New ways of working as networked organisations may challenge and influence, “infrastructure, processes, people and culture” due to organisational and logistical factors as time, location, size, and distribution of those schools involved in the communities of learning.
The challenge for schools is to find responsive ways to create on-going, engaging professional learning opportunities that are inclusive of all staff across their CoL, able to address individual and collective strengths/needs to help achieve collaborative goals for teaching and learning, not constrained by time or location.
When reimagining PLD in 2016, key aspects worth considering include: