Lift-off for a new way in teachers' learning development

FEBRUARY 12, 2016 / Announcements


The Teacher Academy at Westmount School has launched for the start of 2016 with rocket fuel provided by its new director, Nicole Peterson.

Her mission: To boldly go where no school in New Zealand has gone, in acknowledging the importance of developing teacher pedagogy through recognising each teacher’s aspirations and potential.

“It’s really exciting. When I talk to people and tell them what we are planning to do they are quite blown away.”

The initiative borrows from business principles specifically, the knowledge that to sustain innovation requires continuous investment in people development, aligned to the organisational goals.

“The old way is for PD to happen in a workshop, which is soon forgotten, or through an inquiry led by an individual teacher based on their own interest, and not necessarily the needs of the school.

“The new way is for a whole-school, collaborative approach that marries school goals, with teachers’ goals and interests.”

In the same way that accountants must attend seminars and earn professional development credits on a continuing basis, the vision is to have a system where our teachers gain credits for their professional development. But a qualification system maybe a couple of years off. The first step is to get the programme designed and launched.

The programme’s development has considered:

  • Results from a staff survey of development needs
  • Best-practice Practising Teacher Criteria
  • MOE requirements
  • Whole school community needs
  • Individual staff appraisal goals
  • Westmount School strategic goals

The programme will run for the whole year and teachers will be provided with at least three opportunities:

  • A 2-3 day national workshop to develop a school-wide shared vision and understanding of the pedagogy.
  • A collaborative professional learning opportunity, focused on an inquiry related to teaching practice.
  • A subject-specific development opportunity.

“It will create opportunities for our teachers to develop their skills, and progress their careers.”

Nicole brings strong pedagogical knowledge and passion to the role.

A Technology trained teacher, in recent years she has been contracted as a consultant and change agent, supporting schools and teachers from Bombay to the Far North to solve student achievement challenges.

In some schools, the work has focused on middle leadership development. In others, the work has involved defining competencies for quality teaching, and implementing teacher development programmes to enable shifts.

Nicole has gained international attention for a book she wrote that came out of a Ministry of Education scholarship to undertake leadership training. She was asked to develop an inquiry for research into emotional intelligence for learning. It evolved into a full research project, and a book for parents on dealing with school-based bullying instances. She has gone on to complete a Masters and is now studying for a PhD in this field.

We are delighted to have Nicole on board to lead this initiative.