Part 1 Student needs

Evidence-based; driven by student needs

The most effective professional learning for teachers begins with the question ‘What do my students need to learn?’ (Timperley, Wilson, Barrar & Fung, 2007). This question puts the core work of teaching and learning at the heart of professional learning and needs to be approached with 'a mindset of curiosity and genuine inquiry into what is going on for learners, and then to move forward from there’ (Timperley, Kaser, & Halbert 2014).

Expert teachers can effectively diagnose ‘what each student brings to the lesson, their motivations and their willingness to engage’ (Hattie, 2015). This diagnosis requires school leaders and teachers to be able to use a variety of data sources such as joint evaluation of work samples, professional conversations and classroom observations to ensure a rigorous assessment of each child’s current learning needs.

‘What do I need to learn?’ – Teacher learning needs

Highly effective teachers recognise the knowledge and skills they need to develop to support student learning and improve the quality of their teaching. They then take ownership of their professional learning to strengthen identified areas for development. High quality professional learning builds a teacher’s capability to tailor teaching based on evidence of their own students’ learning to ensure maximum impact. This means that what the teacher is learning is grounded in what the students need to learn. School leaders and teachers use evidence to diagnose these needs and monitor student progress and achievement over time, adapting their approach where required (Darling-Hammond and Rothman, 2011; Hattie, 2015a; Timperley et al., 2007). With this as the starting point for teachers’ professional learning, students have the best opportunity to reach their full potential.

"The teacher must know when learning is correct or incorrect; learn when to experiment and learn from the experience; learn to monitor, seek and give feedback; and know to try alternative learning strategies when others do not work." Hattie, 2009

This approach to professional learning requires schools and teachers to look at their knowledge, beliefs and assumptions, to understand what they may need to change to enable them to learn new approaches to address their students’ learning needs.

Australian Council for Educational Research. (2016a). The ACER Professional Learning Community Framework. Retrieved from the Australian Council for Educational Research website:

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2011). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership website:

Calvert, L. (2016). The Power of Teaching Agency: Why we must transform professional learning so that it really supports educator learning. JSD, 37(2) the-power-of-teacher-agency-april16.pdf (

Darling-Hammond, L., & Rothman, R. (2011). Teacher and Leader Effectiveness in High-Performing Education Systems. Retrieved from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education website:

Hattie, J. (2015a). What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise. Retrieved from the Pearson website:

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. Abingdon-on-Thames, England: Routledge. Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement (

Timperley, H., Kaser, L., Halbert, J. (2014). A Framework for Transforming Learning in Schools: Innovation and the Spiral of Inquiry. Retrieved from New Zealand Ministry of Education website:

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration. Retrieved from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development website:



  • Teaching and learning
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