One of the first things I noticed was that the document deals with the idea of sustainable leadership - very important in our international schools where principals are frequently moving from school to school, country to country. Because of this the PYP encourages a devolved or distributed leadership model to develop the talent of the teachers within the school. The document states that it is important to identify and train teachers to take on responsibilities for pedagogical leadership:
Given the premise that PYP schools are communities of learners, the school leaders should be mindful of ways to motivate, challenge and empower teachers to accept and enjoy leadership roles, and to support them on that path. Assessment as feedback, to improve learning and performance, is as relevant for teachers taking on new responsibilities as it is for the students in their classrooms.
The emphasis is also on developing collaboration within the leadership team. It is therefore important that the leaders of the school have significant experience of working in collaborative teams:
a .... significant contributing factor to a deeper understanding, and improved practice, of the PYP is the nature of the collaboration in which any individual has participated.
The responsibilities of the pedagogical leadership team go further than just leading the teachers - the aim is to create an internationally minded community of learners so that the school has a responsibility to:
• regularly arrange general sessions about the PYP for the whole school community and for interest groups within the community, for example, parents
• demonstrate reflective leadership practice that values feedback
• model the constructivist approach, including inquiry, during meetings or workshops focusing on gaining a better understanding of the requirements of the programme
• model and promote the IB learner profile and the PYP attitudes
• encourage teachers to see themselves as researchers and support their inquiries into pedagogy.
In addition I was interested to read that teachers and the pedagogical leadership team should develop a teacher's job description collaboratively. Last year I did get the chance to discuss my job description and I'm happy to see that this development is supported by the official documentation.
Another role of the pedagogical leadership team is to develop an ongoing professional development policy - this is because the pedagogical leadership team has the responsibility of encouraging the learning of everyone in the school community (Note to self - check out whether such a policy exists at school).
What I love about this document is that it directly addresses how we find the time for all this. Suggestions include releasing teachers during assemblies, early release or late start days. Other suggestions are:
• During the orientation days at the beginning of a school year, keep administrative details to a minimum and use the time for planning together.
• View each staff meeting as a professional development opportunity; handle administrative issues in other ways—memos, daily bulletins, a read-and-pass-on file.
• Reconsider how best to use in-service days; recognize that the one-off consultant is not always effective in bringing about lasting change and that training days may be better used by providing time for teachers to plan together.
• Use more of the budget to release teachers to plan and reflect together. For example, pay substitutes or pay staff for part of their own time.
• Take the whole staff on a weekend retreat away from school and spend the time discussing, planning and reflecting.
• Alternate staff meetings so that some are for professional development, some for collaborative planning, and some for administration.Time is a big problem for many teachers, and it's all too easy for collaborative planning to be pushed aside with the many other demands on our time. Quite a few of the suggestions in the document cost little or nothing, yet have a great impact on time available and also on morale. It would be great if some of these ideas could be taken on board to create the time for more collaborative planning and professional development.
Photo Credit: take mee too ur leeeder by Harold Lloyd