PPTA President

Image Angela Roberts PPTA president 2013-2014

News and views from PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Includes the PPTA News viewpoint and his responses to various education issues raised in the media.

(Angela began her presidency mid January 2013)



Let's try learner-centred PLD for teachers

It's time policy makers provided learner centred professional learning and development (PLD) for teachers says PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Providing the right conditions for learning in our classrooms
It seems that at every conference I go to these days people (usually not teachers) sit around affirming the need to focus on providing the right conditions for our students to have the best possible chance to learn and grow. The debate then inevitably moves on to how they make sure that teachers do a better job of providing these conditions in the classroom.

Student centred learning conditions and a safe environment
The conditions themselves are nothing new: provide a student-centred curriculum, respond to the individual needs of each student, ensure that students have the time to reflect on their learning, and of course, foster an environment where it is safe to fail — as long as students learn and change as a result.

So how do we make sure the teachers can and do create classrooms that look like this? Simple really — provide the same learning conditions for the profession that we know best supports the learning of our students.

Students influence what happens in the classroom
We know that it is good for the learning in our classrooms to be student-centred. We are encouraged to allow our students to have an influence on what happens in our classrooms. Sure, we are the experts but we know that if students don’t truly believe that the content is relevant, useful and interesting to them, they will not engage. Just imagine if Cabinet took the same approach and instead of them making decisions for us about what professional learning and development (PLD) is to be prioritised they simply left it to us. Let us have a PLD system that is learner, rather than politician, centred.

Teacher centred learning - teachers as decision makers
The expectation that we take the time to know and respond to the needs of each of our students is the norm. Long gone is any notion of a "cookie cutter" curriculum. Could we expect the same for teachers? Instead of someone in the ministry looking at school-wide data and deciding which school gets what, why can’t PLD demand be driven by the individual? Of course it is sometimes appropriate to take a school-wide approach to issues and initiatives but too often this sees the individual being ignored. Let us have a PLD system that is nimble enough to respond to the needs of each of us.