Part 4 Continuous and coherent

Continuous – every day in every classroom

School leaders and teachers in high performing systems see professional learning as a core part of their role (Jensen, Sonnemann, Roberts-Hull & Hunter, 2016). In these schools, professional learning is built into the everyday routine within the school. School principals and their leadership teams put professional learning at the heart of their school planning, developing school timetables and allocating resources to create the space and the time teachers need to effectively collaborate. For example, team programming, classroom observations, research and external professional development. (Jensen et al., 2016).

In high performing schools, teachers engage in cycles of learning, setting development goals, doing the work, reflecting on the impact and gaining feedback from their colleagues. High impact professional learning is localised within the context of the school, with a focus on specific problems of practice and there is an expectation that teachers learn through application in the classroom. It is embedded in daily practice and deeply connected to student learning needs in each classroom (Timperley, Wilson, Barrar & Fung, 2007).

Coherence with high fidelity implementation

Implementation of professional learning in practice is thorough and sustained over time. In high performing systems, improvement strategies have been implemented over years, with the focus being kept on a few strategies that were deemed to be most effective in their context (National Institute of Education, Singapore [NIE], 2009; The Institute for Education Leadership, 2013).

In high performing schools, the introduction of new skills and capabilities is carefully planned and implemented thoroughly over time through active learning cycles, including goal setting, action, feedback, reflection and evaluation of impact (AITSL, 2012b; Dawson, 2018; Honing, Copland, Rainey, Lorton & Newton, 2010; Barber, Whelan & Clark, 2011; NIE, 2009). These elements are designed around meaningful interaction and development processes such as mentoring, professional networks, collaborative learning and improvement-focused design (Jensen et al., 2016).

Effective professional learning is aligned to the strategic priorities of a school and translated into professional goals in individual performance and development plans. This whole school approach begins in the planning phase and is based on student progress and achievement data and evidence. The whole school planning process ensures a level of coherence in the learning approach for all teachers and ensures that there is coherence for the students through the different stages and year levels.

Barber, M., Whelan, F., & Clark, M. (2011). Capturing the leadership premium: How the world’s top school systems are building leadership capacity for the future. Retrieved from the McKinsey & Company website:

Dawson, T. L. (2018). The DiscoTest Initiative: Evolution & rationale. Retrieved 9 July, 2018, from:

The Institute for Education Leadership. (2013). The Ontario Leadership Framework: A School and System Leader’s Guide to Putting Ontario’s Leadership Framework into Action. Retrieved from the Institution for Education Leadership website:

Honing, M. I., Copland, M. A., Rainey, L., Lorton, J. A., & Newton, M. (2010). Central Office Transformation for District-wide Teaching and Learning Improvement. Retrieved from the Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy University of Washington website:

Jensen, B., Sonnemann, J., Roberts-Hull, K., & Hunter, A. (2016). Beyond PD: Teacher Professional Learning in High-Performing Systems, Australian Edition. Washington, DC: National Center on Education and the Economy.

National Institute of Education, Singapore. (2009). TE21: A Teacher Education Model for the 21st Century. Retrieved from the National Institute of Education, Singapore website:

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration


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