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 Professional Development at Officer Secondary College

Officer Secondary College recognises that quality teaching is the largest in-school factor in determining student success. As such, we have a broad Professional Development program that targets specific areas of need within the school. We also recognise that on-site professional learning is the most effective way of improving practice and our resources are devoted to maximising these opportunities.

Team Teaching

Collaboration is central to the Officer Secondary College culture. In addition to a highly collaborative and supportive workplace, we are a team teaching school. All Year 7, 8 and 9 core classes have 2 teachers and up to 50 students. In addition to providing additional opportunities for small-group intervention, and allowing people to share their speciality areas with an additional class, team teaching is outstanding professional development. Every teacher can conduct ongoing observations of another practitioner, and work as a close team to learn new skills and strategies around addressing student behaviour and improving learning.

Observations and coaching

Research around effective professional development shows that coaching teachers is the most effective way to improve their skills. At Officer Secondary College we conduct a range of observations and coaching:

New teacher coaching
All new staff (including graduates) are observed once a fortnight by our Instructional Leaders. These are followed up with coaching conversations with the teacher and their team teaching partner in which they reflect on the lesson and set goals. Additional information can be found in the “Supporting New Staff” information sheet.

Triad observations
All teachers are a member of a “triad”. These groups consist of 3 staff members, each with different experience levels and teaching areas. These staff will conduct a total of six observations for the year. The observer and the teacher being observed select a focus for the observation together. Observations are conducted using the OSC Instructional Model and the Observation Template.

Principal class walkthroughs
The principal class at Officer Secondary College are active Instructional Leaders. All members of the Principal class regularly walk through the buildings throughout the school as individuals or teams to support staff to follow expectations, ensure that the learning environment is orderly and that the teaching is being conducted at a high standard. These are conducted informally and frequently.

Informal observations
At Officer Secondary College we believe that all staff should be given regular feedback on their teaching practice. At least twice a Term, the Assistant Principal: Learning and Teaching Excellence will visit the classes of teachers for a short (5-15 min) observation to celebrate some positive practices and provide advice on improvement. Feedback is delivered electronically or left on a post-it note for the teacher. A short coaching conversation is then had soon after the observation to identify next steps.

Learning Walk & Talks
The Leadership Team at Officer Secondary College has recently commenced Learning Walk & Talks. Groups of 3-4 members of the leadership team, led by a member of the Principal Class, conduct a series of short observations of classes and have quick interviews with students around a central focus. After the classroom observation (the Learning Walk) team members have a brief conversation (the Learning Talk) in which they recount what they saw, reflect on what it means and relate it to a problem of practice. The purpose of these observations is to evaluate how well the school’s programs are being implemented in classrooms. For example, if the school has a focus on developing teacher practice around feedback, the Learning Walk & Talk would be used to gauge how effectively the new learning was being put into practice across the school.

Professional Learning Communities

Officer Secondary College is a Link (Lighthouse) school for the state-wide Professional Learning Community (PLC) initiative. In professional learning communities, teams of teachers meet to analyse student learning data, plan interventions to support student learning, reflect on their teaching and use research-based teaching methods to improve their practice. PLCs have the dual aims of achieving high levels of student and adult learning. These practices are central to how all teachers and leaders approach their work and improve student learning outcomes.

Strategic sessions

The first 45 minutes of every Wednesday meeting (from 2:45-3:15pm) is focussed on developing a specific area of teacher practice in the school. These are generally focussed on providing the knowledge and skills to develop teaching strategies that can be used in the Professional Learning Community meetings held immediately afterwards and are integral to improving student outcomes.

Staff PD sessions

Every week there is a compulsory one hour meeting on a Tuesday. These meetings cover key areas integral to the smooth running of a school. They are generally used to develop a more in-depth understanding of a concept, develop curriculum or come to collective school decisions.

Literacy & Numeracy briefings

In addition to regular Mathematics and English classes, students in year 7 and 8 at Officer Secondary College have additional Literacy and Numeracy classes. These are based on student ability and are designed to improve their skills at a specific point of need.

For 15 mins, two mornings a week before school there is a Literacy briefing and a Numeracy briefing. This provides an opportunity for our Literacy Learning Specialist and Numeracy Learning Specialist to provide targeted professional development around these two important areas. Professional development includes elaborating on key elements of an upcoming lesson, analysing student misconceptions and presentations from staff around effective teaching strategies. Teachers report that these sessions are vital in building their capacity to be highly skilled teachers of Literacy and Numeracy.

Middle leaders coaching

Officer Secondary College has a distributed leadership approach and supports leaders at every level. Members of our leadership team work with an external leadership coach to improve their leadership skills.

PLC Domain Leaders (e.g. Science, Maths, English etc.) also have fortnightly meetings with the leadership team to develop their individual leadership skills, with a focus on problems of practice in their area. These conversations are augmented by professional development built into every Education Committee meeting. The current focus on Education Committee meetings is “Having challenging conversations”.

Twilight Professional Development

Three Thursdays a term, we provide optional professional development sessions after school. These focus areas are strategically selected to align with the Annual Implementation Plan. Key focus areas include using data to support student learning, Positive Behaviour Supports (PBS), Literacy, Numeracy and ICT.

Curriculum days

The Victorian Government allows four student free days throughout the year for schools to use for professional development. These sessions are tightly aligned to the school’s Annual Implementation Plan and the previous term’s data.

External Professional Development

Officer Secondary College recognises that the most effective professional development occurs within the school setting and has allocated resources accordingly. External professional development is granted to support specific areas of expertise that do not exist within the school, or key improvement areas that are supported by multiple points of view. Developing teacher understanding of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Vocational and Education Training (VET) and the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) programs has been a particular focus of our external professional development as we move into Year 11 and 12.

Supporting new teachers at Officer Secondary College

As a rapidly growing school, selecting and training new teachers is highly important to the school. We have a rigorous program to ensure new staff get the support they need to continue to improve and become confident and competent expert teachers and leaders.

Contact prior to Induction Day

When offered a position at the school, new graduates are given the opportunity to volunteer at the school with our Literacy and Numeracy support teams. This can provide them with an introduction to the school ethos, processes and programs, and the opportunity to meet the staff and students they may be working with.

New teachers are also put into contact with the PLC Domain Leaders of their teaching area (e.g. Science) so they can access curriculum documents and initiate planning prior to the commencement of the school year.

In December, the school organises time for staff to meet and plan for the following year, and new staff are invited to these planning sessions. This provides them with an opportunity to meet teachers at the school, understand our curriculum and planning processes and ask any questions they may have. This is particularly helpful for graduate teachers who may have finished university and not have any other work commitments.

Induction Day

In the final days of the school year, college leadership facilitates an induction day for all new staff. All new staff are expected to attend this session.

At this session they are introduced to the leadership team and the vision and values of Officer Secondary College. We also present the key information they will need in day-to-day teaching. In particular, we discuss our Positive Behaviour Support approach, the 5Bs and 5Rs. Induction sessions are designed to present the most important information without overloading new teachers.

Following the induction session, each Learning Community (House) will host a lunch, where new staff have an opportunity to meet staff in their office. Following this, there is time to meet their team teaching partners in curriculum teams, and to ensure they have the resources to plan over the holidays, in preparation for the following year. Email communication is established on this day.

First Day of the Year

On the first day after the holidays, we have an activity day in Learning Communities so that staff have an opportunity to meet each other and bond. When the school opened this was an overnight conference, but as of 2019 it has been an activity run during the day. As we are a new and rapidly growing school, this day is important to build a strong staff culture. Activities are undertaken in Learning Community groups to develop the Learning Community spirit.

Second Day of the Year

The second day of the school year is designed to develop a common understanding around the most important work for the year. This includes ensuring consistency around core areas in the school (e.g. uniform, behaviour, curriculum expectations etc.) and to lay out the strategic improvement direction for the school. This day also includes team teaching planning time for staff.

Classroom support for Graduates and new teachers

New teachers are observed at least once a fortnight by the school’s Instructional Leaders. Their progress is monitored closely, both in terms of teaching practice and emotional wellbeing.

Teachers in need of additional support will have more regular observations and additional support. Teachers who need a high level of support will have a team of support placed around them to assist their development. This may include supports to manage some of the more challenging student behaviours until they can build their skills with the rest of the class; being paired up with expert teachers in some lessons to model good teaching practice; and more regular observations and coaching.

New & Graduate teacher meetings

New teachers will have three additional meetings a term to provide them with additional support.

The first section of these meetings involve point-of-need professional development around major upcoming school changes and events. These include events such as Parent-Teacher-Student conferences and Semester Reports.

The second part of these meetings provide Graduate teachers with an opportunity to reflect on their practice and identify areas they need additional support with. This information is used to provide individual support or include additional targeted professional development at the next new teacher meeting.

The final section of the meeting is targeted at graduate teachers to support them with the process to become fully registered teachers with the Victorian Institute of Teaching as discussed in the following section.

Full registration for the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT)

To become fully registered teachers in Victoria, Graduate teachers have two years to complete a short action research project centred on their classroom practice. The final report is presented to a panel including the Principal, and staff that present at a satisfactory standard are eligible to become fully registered teachers.

At Officer Secondary College we support our Graduate teachers through this process by employing an external mentor who guides Graduate teachers through this process and ensures their work is conducted to a high standard. At Officer Secondary College these have been completed to an outstanding quality, and all audits have been passed with flying colours.