Over recent years, educational policy has re-shaped teachers’ professional learning. It has specified the need for this to affect teachers’ self-efficacy and improve knowledge and skills to affect their practice and improve pupil learning1. The best professional learning is endorsed as that done through cognitive engagement, independently and with others; collaboration is aligned with evaluating and improving practice. Approaches such as mentoring, being part of a learning community or undertaking collaborative enquiry are central to effective professional learning. The North Lanarkshire Council Induction Programme incorporates this. It delivers a carefully structured model that supports probationary teachers in meeting the Standard for Full Registration and provides them with methodologies and approaches to professional learning that will support them throughout their careers.

We cannot understand practice without an ability to interpret or analyse and evaluate what is done and why. Teachers cannot work in isolation: they are ‘part of an interactive world and …have to measure up…in a transparent and public way’2. The Induction Programme focusses on examination of practice. It allows our probationary teachers to learn from the Core and Optional Programmes and crucially, from each other and from colleagues. It promotes practice as existing ‘in the continuing interaction between participants and those participants’ intentions, beliefs and values’ 3. The programme endorses a collaborative culture where individually identified professional development needs are addressed through shared experiences. This culture of shared understanding promotes a climate of trust, openness and honesty allowing observations, focussed dialogue and structured feedback to be used to examine values and explore practices.

In the first half of the induction year, the programme provides probationary teachers with input to support effective classroom practice. In the second half of the year, through a Collaborative Practitioner Enquiry, specific aspects of this practice are examined in light of current research; this work is undertaken in small cross-sector groups. Research evidences that collaboration positively addresses ‘…how teachers maintain, revisit and renew…their personal and professional identities…and their belief that they are able to make a difference to the learning of their pupils’ 4. This concept of enquiry is extended through the GTCS professional standards. Collaborative working and professional enquiry support values, sustainability and leadership, the key themes of the GTCS professional standards. Through initial teacher education and beyond, the professional standards require all teachers to engage in critical reflection and evaluation of practice to improve learning and teaching.

The collaborative enquiries are presented here. They represent a shared examination, by our probationary teachers, of the pedagogies and practices they employ. The work outlines the development of our probationary teachers’ knowledge, understanding, skills and abilities to meet the requirements of the Standard for Full Registration. It illustrates a positive outlook for the Induction Programme to continue to promote excellence in our new teachers.

 

1 Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) (2013), PISA 2012 Results: Excellence through Equity Giving Every Student the Chance to Succeed (Volume II), available online at:
http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-volume-II.pdf

2 General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012) Teaching Scotland (47) 10-12 available online at:
http://www.teachingscotland.org.uk/home/download-printed-versions.aspx

3 Waters-Adams S. (2006) Action Research in Education online at:
www.edu.plymouth.ac.uk/resined/actionresearch/arhome.htm p.98

4 Day C. and Gu Q. (2010) The new Lives of Teachers, Oxford: Routledge, p.193