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Professional learning in the Preparatory School

Regulus // Issue 1 // May 2023

More news for Preparatory School

Deputy Principal of Preparatory School (Well-being) and Head of Education, Vicki Pettit, leading a professional development session for Preparatory School teachers.

Well-being is a significant focus of staff professional development in the Preparatory School, especially given the recent challenges presented by COVID-19, says Deputy Principal of Preparatory School (Well-being) and Head of Education, Vicki Pettit. “We usually start with our Whole School Goals when planning our professional learning, and well-being has certainly been a strong focus over the last couple of years. Our goals in this area have included the development of workplace well-being and class programmes related to well-being, along with building teachers’ skills in having difficult conversations with parents.”

Vicki has the oversight of the Professional Learning programme in the Preparatory School, which includes a combination of in-house teacher experts sharing their knowledge, Professional Learning Groups (PLG) exploring areas of interest, and external providers delivering onsite, offsite, or online learning. One of the most successful and engaging initiatives in 2022 was called, ‘Investing in our Psychological Capital – Unlocking the Key to Workplace Well-being’, delivered to nine staff across four full days during the year by Tony Burkin of InterLEAD, she says. “This programme helped our teachers to measure workplace stress and anxiety levels, identify if they are nearing a dangerous zone, and through self-monitoring, change how they work without impacting adversely on learning outcomes or the quality of their work. We all found it highly valuable.”

Teachers have also upskilled on the Komodo Well-being Survey tool, which has been introduced in Years 4–8 to encourage students to make checking in on their well-being habitual. “Staff are finding the tool invaluable, particularly in providing the means to implement support for students experiencing struggle or difficulty before this develops into bigger issues.”

Visible Learning continues to be a focus in key learning areas, with the adoption of a Structured Literacy approach leading to ongoing staff development. “A Structured Literacy approach to the teaching of reading, spelling, and writing is gaining considerable traction in New Zealand education circles, particularly as an approach for our youngest learners and those with learning differences. Many of our staff trialling this very structured approach have reported significant gains for learners. It ensures no one is left behind.”

Vicki says teachers in the Preparatory School are also on a learning journey to improve their knowledge and confidence in using te reo Māori as part of daily interactions and learning with the children. “Staff have attended workshops, had full day visits to Tuahiwi Marae, and have taken part in introductory sessions around the new Aotearoa New Zealand History curriculum with teacher, Mary Leota, who is so approachable, knowledgeable, and passionate about this area. Mary also supports our teachers to develop their confidence in te reo.”

Leadership development and supporting students with neuro‑diversity differences to reach their potential in the classroom, are some of the other topics recently covered in the Professional Learning programme, which also features ‘just in time’ learning, to meet more immediate needs, such as the use of technology in the Preparatory School. “A diverse Professional Learning programme coupled with knowledgeable and passionate staff who are keen to learn, continues to have benefits for our whole community,” says Vicki.

Deputy Preparatory Principal shares success of well-being, literacy, leadership, and te reo Māori-focused professional learning programme.