The modules in this professional learning resource examine ideas relevant to the work of learning specialists. They guide participants in reflection and action, prompted by video from Dr Lyn Sharratt's presentations in 2019 and her
'Clarity' book. The modules are sequenced, but can be accessed in any order after completing module 1.
Text required for all modules:
Sharratt, L. 'CLARITY: What Matters MOST in Learning, Teaching, and Leading' (Corwin, 2019).
Module 1: Being a consciously skilled 'Knowledgeable Other'
The role of learning specialist can be described as a 'Knowledgeable Other' who can assist other teachers to become consciously skilled in their work. Sharratt guides you through a self-reflection on the attributes of a 'Knowledgeable Other' using a 'Circle of Practice'.
Allow approximately 50 minutes [overview & read-through 2, watch 5, read 5, reflect 15, watch & reflect 10, act 13].
Additional resources for this module: print this
Circle of Practice, and access your role description and the learning specialist responsibilities on p.51 of the
Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2017 (VGSA 2017).
View module 1
We are learning about the skills and attributes of the learning specialist as a 'Knowledgeable Other' and how to become conscious of our personal skills and attributes so that we can build them into our roles.
- describe the skills and attributes of a 'Knowledgeable Other'
- know and describe my own skills and attributes as a 'Knowledgeable Other'
- relate my skills as a 'Knowledgeable Other' to my role description / VGSA 2017 responsibilities.
- 'Parameter #2: the embedded knowledgeable other' (pp. 270–275).
- Write down your responses to the following reflection prompts:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What is the difference you make for students and teachers?
- What is the evidence of your impact on students' achievement?
- What is the evidence of your impact on building teachers' capacity?
- How does what you do relate to your role description / VGSA 2017 responsibilities?
- Consider the colleagues you are working with and where they are positioned in Figure 8.2, p. 271.
In the video above, Sharratt guides you in using the Circle of Practice for self-reflection. She begins by using
deconstructed learning intentions as an example of how to use the Circle of Practice. She then guides you through a self-reflection on the attributes of a 'Knowledgeable Other', including Tonya Ward Singer's dispositions that make a difference (pp. 273–274).
- As you watch the video, use the Circle of Practice as a self-reflection tool on your attributes and dispositions as a 'Knowledgeable Other'.
- Reflect on how these attributes and dispositions relate to your role description / VGSA 2107 responsibilities.
Either (where there are attributes and dispositions outside your Circle of Practice):
Choose one or more that are just outside, or at the edge of your Circle of Practice. Create an action plan for how to move this/these inside the circle using the following prompts:
- Write down what success will look like for you with this attribute.
- Write down the difference the development of this trait will make to you, students and colleagues.
- Find two readings or professional learning resources that can help you.
- Find someone you know who does this well. Ask them to mentor you.
- Set a timeline and list of strategies for developing this trait, including a check-in time.
- Note any links between your action plan and your role description.
- Schedule a discussion with your principal, assistant principal or a colleague about your reflections and action plan.
Or (where all or most attributes and dispositions are inside your Circle of Practice):
Module 2: Success for all students
Sharratt says, "No sub-group should do better than another." She urges us to put faces on the data to ensure that there is equal access to learning excellence. This module can be done solo or alongside a colleague who may share the same class, or who would like support in improving teaching and learning outcomes.
Allow approximately 95 minutes [read-through & find data 17, video 3, read 5, reflect 15, act 55].
Additional resources needed: recent student learning data for one or more of your classes.
View module 2
We are learning how data can be used to evaluate and track the learning of sub-groups of students in order to plan learning supports and teaching strategies for targeted students.
- identify the learning data of student sub-groups
- reflect on how my colleagues and I differentiate teaching to meet the learning needs of students
- create a plan for scaffolding the learning growth of identified students
- create a plan for tracking the learning of all students that provides data on how subgroups are doing.
- ‘Putting Faces on the Data’ (pp. 53–58).
- Can you identify other student sub-groups in addition to those mentioned by Sharratt?
- How do you and your school track student learning data?
- Does this data allow you to track the learning of sub-groups of students?
- Using your student learning data, identify sub-groups and evaluate their learning progress.
- Identify a sub-group that needs a change in the way their learning is supported.
- Document the interventions (learning supports and teaching strategies) you have used to scaffold learning for your identified sub-groups.
- Consider and research alternative interventions you could use with this sub-group.
- Discuss with a colleague how they scaffold the learning of a similar group of students or student to ensure their success.
- Choose one or two interventions to trial.
- Decide which data you will use to evaluate the effectiveness of your interventions to improve the learning of your identified sub-group.
- Create an action plan and timeline for this intervention, its evaluation and sharing your learning.
Module 3: How we collaborate
Effective collaboration is inclusive, respectful and purposeful. You support effective collaboration in your classrooms through clear operating norms. Do you use clear operating norms for your collaborative work with colleagues? Co-constructing operating norms provides a powerful foundation for successful collaborative processes and outcomes.
Allow approximately 50 minutes [read-through 1, watch 2, read 2, reflect 15, act 30].
Additional resources for this module: 'Clarity' web resource 5.
View module 3
We are learning how to co-construct and evaluate operating norms to enable effective collaborative work.
- understand how and why to use operating norms
- co-construct operating norms with others
- review operating norms and make agreed adjustments as required.
- Collaborative Inquiry Operating Norms’ (p. 75).
- ‘Operating norms for collaborative assessment of student work’
(p. 1 of
'Clarity' web resource 5).
- Consider how your classes, meetings and teams currently collaborate. What works well? How can we deepen collaboration with these classes and teams?
- What are the operating norms in your classrooms? Are they clear, are they co-constructed?
- What are the operating norms in your school? Are they clear, are they co-constructed?
- Are operating norms used for: moderating student work, peer observations/learning walks, teams, meetings?
- Do you or your school review your operating norms regularly?
- Think of a team or group that could benefit from clear (or clearer) operating norms. How would it benefit?
Module 4: Assessment informed instruction
Quality teaching uses assessment to differentiate instruction. Quality learning uses self-assessment against clear success criteria to determine next steps. Sharratt explains the importance of purposeful assessment and the power of co-constructed success criteria for learning growth.
Allow approximately 50 minutes [read-through 1, watch 7, read 17, reflect 10, act 15].
View module 4
We are learning how to use assessment for, as, and of learning to choose instructional strategies that meet students' learning needs.
- identify assessment strategies that will identify learners' needs
- identify teaching strategies that will fit learners' needs
- implement improved assessment and instruction in my class
- work with a colleague to implement improved assessment and instruction in their class.
- 'Formative and summative assessment' and 'Debriefing each component of the assessment waterfall chart - big ideas and essential questions' (pp. 123-125).
- 'Peer and self-assessment' and 'Individual goal setting' (pp. 139-144).
- 'Success criteria' and 'Co-construction' (pp. 128-136).
- Do you or colleagues use visible success criteria like 'bump-it up-walls' with classes?
- Do your success criteria have an appropriate entry point, above the lowest piece for all students?
- How can you apply what have you learned about co-constructed success criteria and how they are used in assessment-informed instruction?
- Based on your reflections, write a list of actions you could take that use assessment data to improve teaching practice.
- Choose one of these actions by identifying items on your list that are high impact and low effort (quick wins).
- Plan what you will do and how you will evaluate its impact.
- Plan to share your learning (whether it worked or not) with your colleagues.
- Make a plan to repeat the above working alongside a colleague, guiding their reflections and planning.
Module 5: Conversations led by data
Quality teaching actions are based on evidence. Data can be used to plan learning interventions and focus the work of teaching teams. Having operating norms for using data can help individuals and teams maintain a clear focus. Dr Lyn Sharratt explains how to use data walls to track learning and develop teaching plans.
Allow approximately 60 or 90 minutes [read-through 1, watch 4, read 15, reflect 10, act 30 or 60].
View module 5
We are learning how data walls can be used to track learning growth for individual students and for classes or cohorts.
- create a data wall
- understand the operating norms needed for using data walls
- explain how a data wall can be used
- use a data wall to underpin professional conversations.
- 'The case management approach to monitoring student progress' and 'Prevention: data walls' (pp: 227-230).
- Case studies on using co-constructed data walls (pp. 241-249).
- How do you use learning data to identify and plan learning interventions for students who are not learning to their potential in your classes?
Either (if your school uses data walls):
- How well do you use the operating norms?
- Should the norms be revisited?
- Do the data walls lead to appropriate interventions for students who are not learning to their potential?
- How might the data walls be used more effectively in terms of operating norms?
- How might the data walls be used more effectively in terms of informing teaching?
Or (if your school does not use data walls):
- How might you create a data wall for one of your classes?
- What data would you use?
- What would the data wall look like?
- What operating norms would you and colleagues co-create for using the data wall?
- If your school uses data walls, based on your reflections:
- choose two actions that would make the data walls more impactful
- talk with a colleague in your teaching team about your reflections and thoughts
- develop a plan and timeline for an agreed action to make the data walls more impactful
- If your school does not use data walls, based on your reflections:
- create a data wall for one of your classes
- talk with a colleague about what you are doing and why
Module 6: Effective learning—what do the students say?
How do we know teaching and learning is effective? Ask students what they are learning and why, how they are progressing, how they can improve and how they help themselves learn.
Student answers provide data to monitor student progress and give insights for improved classroom instruction. Learning-centred conversations with students build their voice and agency. Students who are able to articulate their learning experience are able to become self-regulated learners.
Allow approximately 60 minutes [read-through 1, watch 4, read 5, reflect 15, act 35].
View module 6
We are learning how to use what students say as an evidence base for monitoring student learning and building the capacity of teachers.
- use what students say to understand their learning
- use what students say to provide insights into improved classroom instruction
- use clear rationale and protocols for asking students questions about their learning
- build student voice and agency by asking students about their learning.
- 'Powerful questions to get to know learners and learning' (pp. 59-61).
- How do you ask students in your class about their learning?
- Do you ask students in your colleagues' classes about their learning?
- How do you decide why, when, how and which students you ask questions of?
- Are the why, when, how and who clear to students/staff?
- Are the questions you ask the same as those on p.59?
- Are there improvements you can make to your process of student to teacher feedback?
- How might you use student questions in working with a colleague?
Either plan to use the five student questions with one of your classes coming up. In this plan include:
- your purpose for asking students questions
- what questions you will ask, when and how you will ask them
- which students you will ask and why
- how you will let students know about why, when, how and to whom questions will be asked
- how you will recall/record the answers
- how you will use the answers to assess learning
- how you will use the answers to adjust instruction
- how you will assess your own professional growth and share your learning.
- Plan to use the five student questions in classes with a colleague.
- Arrange a time to plan with a colleague who would like to work with you visiting each other's class and asking questions of students.
- Plan and create protocols, using the dot-points listed above 'Or'
- Schedule time to specifically discuss the student responses, asking:
- what do the answers indicate about that individual and class learning?
- what do the answers about learning tell us about instructions?
- what are three possible instruction tools or strategies to address the learning needs?
- Decide on one of three strategies to trial:
- Plan when you will trial the strategy.
- What evidence will be gathered to assess impact?
- How and when will this will be shared with other colleagues?
Module 7: Demonstration lessons—a strategy that works
Teachers need to see effective practice to be able to put it into action. Demonstration lessons can de-privatise effective teaching practice and broaden its impact.
In demonstration lessons, teachers are invited to observe an instructional leader model a teaching strategy or curriculum delivery. Demonstration lessons are identified by Dr Lyn Sharratt in her book as one of six professional learning 'strategies that work'. Four of these strategies are summarised in the video.
Allow approximately 90 minutes [read-through 1, watch 4, read 5, reflect 15, act 65].
Additional resources for this module: documents used for demonstration lessons and/or professional observations.
View module 7
We are learning the benefits of using demonstration lessons to improve teacher practice, and how clear processes and protocols can maximise the benefits.
- explain the benefits of demonstration lessons to my colleagues and leadership team
- prepare myself and observers for demonstration lessons through protocols for:
- scheduling who will visit, when and for how long
- agreeing on an instructional focus and questions for professional growth
- structuring the pre and post demonstration discussions
- using non-evaluative processes and documentation.
- 'Demonstration classrooms of exemplary practice' (pp. 285-287).
- Does your school provide opportunities for teachers to professionally observe another teacher?
- What are the purposes of your school's current professional observation practices?
- Are demonstration lessons used at your school?
- How do demonstration lessons fit with your role description?
- What protocols and documents do you have / would you co-create for demonstration lessons?
- What protocols and documents are in place / would you co-create for pre and post demonstration professional discussions?
- How might you ensure protocols are non-evaluative and purposeful?
- Access and read through documents used for demonstration lessons and/or professional observations - annotate based on your reflections.
- Draft or revisit protocols and documents for demonstration lessons that address:
- pre-demonstration lesson conversation and agreements for purpose and scheduling
- instructional focus of the demonstration lesson and questions for professional growth based on this
- post-demonstration lesson conversation that focusses on actions the observer/demonstrator can take away.
- Find a colleague to work alongside you in testing your demonstration lesson protocols.
- Set a time to talk with a member of your leadership team about this work.