An expert teaching team

An expert teaching team


Tailored professional learning opportunities for all members of the school community enhance the effectiveness of whole school leadership, and support classroom and school community responsibilities to contribute directly to a culture of continuous improvement.

An expert teaching team

NSW School Examples

  The Deputy Principal of Batemans Bay Public School on the NSW South Coast, describes how the school leadership drove their explicit whole school improvement agenda to upskill teachers so they could change their teaching to best address the needs of students. The school chose to invest time and resources in selecting the most effective tools to address the learning needs of students. 
  A PowerPoint from Batemans Bay Public School, on the NSW South Coast, illustrates the practicalities of “building teacher capacity to build student capacity”. The school chose to teach literacy through the pedagogy of Accelerated Literacy, requiring significant investment in professional development
  This PowerPoint from Fairfield High School describes the whole-school strategies in place to plan and undertake change and to up-skill all staff.
  A Powerpoint presentation from MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale, describes how reflection on data allowed the school to set goals, targets and strategies across the whole school to enhance student outcomes. Effective instructional leadership, professional development and the formation of teams has changed practice, with an emphasis on the systematic delivery of the most effective practices. 
  Catholic Schools Office Education Officers, working with MacKillop Catholic College, Warnevale, outline in this video how they support teachers through a structured program of tailored professional learning that encourages open classrooms and responsive practices, in line with system-wide expectations. 
  Literacy Coordinators working in MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale, discuss their initial concerns and successful strategies in working with teachers in classrooms, improving teacher skills in literacy and opening up classrooms for collegial professional learning experiences. 
  This PowerPoint from St Felix Primary School, Bankstown, shows how the Leadership Team worked with a Teacher Educator, teams of teachers and with parents to collaboratively plan and implement reforms that encourage data-driven teaching and to promote the school as a community of learners
  This PowerPoint from Maroubra Bay Public School illustrates some of the dramatic changes in student performance which have resulted from an expert teaching team implementing an explicit whole-school reform agenda, with their efforts guided by reflection on student data.
  • An expert teaching team - in detail


    Changes present new challenges


    Every case study school in NSW (Erebus International, 2012 and 2013) experienced a process of change, most commonly in the way that student learning occurred both at the classroom and whole school level. Changes such as this bring diverse and unexpected challenges, with every member of the school community requiring tailored professional support.


    Teachers and school leaders need effective and timely professional support


    The NSW case studies highlighted the pivotal leadership role of the school principal, however leaders also reported the importance of acknowledging the professional learning that they needed to assist them in this role.

    Teachers also needed appropriate professional support as change brings the challenge of adapting many aspects of their classroom practice. Teacher capacity must increase if change is to succeed and become sustainable.

    Hattie (2009:254) notes that innovations to improve teaching expertise, student learning etc only touch a very small percentage of teachers. The value of providing professional support that is tailored to teachers’ (and students’ learning) needs therefore cannot be underestimated.

    Professional development supports individual teachers and builds “professional capital”

    Effective schools avoid the apparently easy solution of “one size fits all”. On the contrary, while some teachers may engage in learning new and different classroom methodologies, often through peer observation and mentoring, others may develop team leadership capacities at whole year or faculty levels. It is important for tailored professional learning experience to be aligned not only with current but also future or emerging responsibilities.

    Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) suggest tailored professional support must be employed to build teachers’ “professional capital” to thrive on the change process. Indeed, almost 20 years ago Fullan (1993) cited the relationship between the teacher’s role as change agent and their holding a sense of moral purpose. However all tailored professional support must “make a difference in the lives of children”. As Fullan (1993:2) reiterates, “moral purpose keeps teachers close to the needs of children and youth; change agentry causes them to develop better strategies for accomplishing their moral goals.”

    Expert teaching teams can take on responsibility for change

    Whalan (2012) identified professional development as one of the key elements to ensure that teachers engage in a sense “collective responsibility” for the change process. Along with professional community, relational trust, accountability and efficacy, Whalan suggests that each of these “interconnected discourses” relates directly to the concept of “teachers’ collective responsibility”.

    When a principal promotes and participates in teacher learning and development as a leading learner, the effect on student learning is significant (Robinson, 2007). School leaders are then more likely to be perceived by their staff as having pedagogical expertise to provide instructional advice and influence the quality of teaching in the school. Their advice is sought, respected and acted upon. (Whalan, 2012)

    A “learning community” approach to building an expert teaching team

    Teacher professional learning must not simply be an isolated activity that touches on individuals; it is also part of an effective schools’ culture. There is a vast difference between schools in which individual teachers attend courses or seminars that are of particular interest to themselves, and schools where all members of staff are part of a learning community. This means that teacher knowledge and skills are constantly refreshed and refined through a variety of planned interactions that might include peer observation, sharing of reflections or collaborative planning. This was exemplified in the NSW case study schools where tailored professional development was seen as one of the most important positive influences on sustained change.


    Erebus International (2012). Evaluation of the take-up and sustainability of new literacy and numeracy practices in NSW schools – Final Report for Phase 1, undertaken on behalf of the NSW Minister for Education

    Erebus International (2013). Evaluation of the take-up and sustainability of new literacy and numeracy practices in NSW schools – Final Report for Phase 2, undertaken on behalf of the NSW Minister for Education

    Fullan, M. (1993). Change Forces London: Palmer Press

    Fullan, M. and Hargreaves, A. (2012). Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School. New York: Teachers College Press

    Hattie, J.  (2009). Visible Learning: a synthesis of over 800 Meta- Analyses relating to Achievement. London: Routledge

    Whalan, F. (2012). Collective Responsibility: Redefining what falls between the cracks for school reform.  Amsterdam: Sense Publishers

Whole school factors

Tailored forms of professional support (e.g., targeted professional learning, deep pedagogical knowledge, release from face to face class time for observation, reflection and collaborative planning) can underpin a whole school culture that will include innovative and effective teaching strategies.


Classroom/teacher factors

Optimal teacher professional learning reflects contemporary pedagogy and supports effective and targeted programs based on evidence of student learning needs.


See also

Read about Teacher Learning and explore other professional learning and leadership development resources produced by the DEC, available online and through the intranet.

Review this research into Accelerated Literacy, with a strategic approach to professional learning, undertaken at Mayfield East Public School.

Explore resources available on the NSW Institute of Teachers website.

For teachers in independent schools, the AIS provides support through their Professional Learning Team.

For teachers in Catholic diocesan schools, the CEO Sydney presents resources on continual learning for teaches.

Read about Leadership Learning and explore other professional learning and leadership development resources produced by the DEC, available online and through the intranet.

Browse this PointPoint presentation on The Role of Instructional Leadership, produced by the South Australian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Read a research report by David Gur on Instructional Leadership in Three Australian Schools.

Explore resources around instructional leadership produced by e-Lead, a Washington-based organisation.