Learning specialists

The learning specialist position is a career pathway for highly skilled teachers who want to stay in the classroom and work with other teachers to improve their practice.

About learning specialists

 

Learning specialists:

  • are highly skilled classroom practitioners who continue to spend most of their time in the classroom
  • build excellence in teaching and learning within the teaching service
  • support the learning and development of colleagues and are comfortable in demonstrating a wide range of teaching strategies, building excellence and leading change
  • use inquiry, evidence-based teaching strategies and evaluate their impact on student learning
  • have deep knowledge and expertise in high quality teaching and learning
  • have a range of responsibilities as per Schedule 2 of the Victorian government schools agreement (VGSA) 2017.

Learning specialist roles

Dr Lyn Sharratt describes the impact learning specialists can have, and learning specialists talk about how her ideas provide clarity for their work.

 

Organisational design

Video case studies supporting principals to implement the learning specialist initiative of the VGSA 2017 - incorporating learning specialists into the workforce profile, aligned to strategic goals.

Ballarat High School

Both leading teachers and learning specialists work towards school priorities at Ballarat High School. Learning specialists provide targeted supports, and leading teachers have a broader, whole-school focus in their work.

 

Berwick Fields Primary School

The introduction of learning specialists at Berwick Fields was a catalyst for a review of the organisational structure and how teachers worked together at this PLC school. A learning specialist is paired with a leading teacher, working with an assistant principal to focus on a FISO priority area: Excellence in teaching and learning or Positive climate for learning.

 

Cobram and District Specialist School

This specialist school’s approach to introducing learning specialists has strengthened the focus on teaching and learning. At Cobram the learning specialist is a coach and mentor for teaching and learning, complementing the work of the curriculum coordinator, a leading teacher.

 

Springvale Rise Primary School

Introducing learning specialists required an agile approach at Springvale Rise - a dual campus school. The school wanted to determine the best organisational fit, maintain its strategic direction and provide teachers with access to demonstration classrooms.

 

See also HRWeb: Leading teachers and learning specialists and Organisation Design.

Professional learning opportunities

Learning specialists can access professional learning through the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership.

Clarity professional learning modules use video from Dr Lyn Sharratt’s presentations in 2019, and her book Clarity: What Matters MOST in Learning, Teaching and Leading to guide the learner through reflections and action plans.

The learning is focused on improving teaching practice. It can be used as a self-development tool and for working with colleagues. This resource is designed for learning specialists and those aspiring to a learning specialist role.

Tools for learning specialists

A range of pedagogical resources are available to support learning specialists. These resources can be useful reference points for future planning and improvement of teaching practice:

In this video, education expert Mary Jean Gallagher talks about building trust and respect in your relationships with other teachers:

 

Case studies

The following case studies are examples of how the learning specialist works in a primary, secondary and small school setting.

Gladstone Park Secondary College

Gladstone Park Secondary College is a large school in Melbourne’s North West. This video demonstrates how Gladstone Park has introduced the Learning Specialist role, and how the school’s five learning specialists work together and alongside teachers.

 

Bayside Special Developmental School

Bayside SDS is a small school located in Moorabbin, in Melbourne’s outer South East. This video demonstrates how the school’s learning specialists work with teachers at the school and colleagues from nearby schools in a Community of Practice.

 

Wodonga Primary School

Wodonga Primary School is a regionally based Professional Learning Community (PLC) school with five learning specialists. This video demonstrates how the learning specialist role can work in a PLC context.

 

Canterbury Girls' Secondary college

Canterbury Girls' Secondary College shares its vision for the learning specialist role, the focus of the role and how it forms part of the school leadership.

The learning specialist focuses solely on the classroom, engages with teachers in peer observation and invites others to visit the classroom. This video provides the perspectives of the principal, learning specialist and a classroom teacher.

 

Peter Barbadonis, Learning Specialist at Canterbury Girls' Secondary College, explains why he was drawn to the role and describes his plans to support Canterbury Girls' Secondary College to improve outcomes for teachers and students.

 

Contact us

For further information about the learning specialist role, email professional.practice@edumail.vic.gov.au