Too often in professional careers, what we know to be important is often set aside to address what is most urgent. Professional development is a key example – leaders know it is critically important for the development of their staff, but still it is one of the first things cut as budgets shrink and schedules tighten.
For educators, professional development cannot be treated as a luxury, as something ‘nice to do’ when funds and time are available. Staying current with the latest research and pedagogies has never been more important, as the education field faces incredible staffing challenges coming out of the pandemic.
A recent study by Monash University of Australian primary and secondary school teachers, found that a shocking 41% only intend to stay in the profession, citing reasons of heavy workloads, personal health and status of the profession (Heffernan et al., 2022).
This dissatisfaction is a great cause for alarm in a sector so critical to our society. At The Hatchery, our mission is to connect people with knowledge to inspire change. We do this through online events and digital platforms that bring leaders and peers together to share ideas and inspiration.
When working in the education sector, we witnessed teachers struggling to balance their day-to-day teaching commitments with professional development. Speaking to schools and educators around Australia, we found that over 80% of schools we engaged with were struggling with the resources and time to provide staff with the time they needed to upskill.
Here at The Hatchery, we seek to be a solution. Our team of experts identifies the ever-evolving challenges schools are facing and supports educators with the information and skills they need right now.
We spoke to one teacher struggling with 8 different students in her year 2 class with 8 different levels of learning needs. Having the practical tools to help her prepare for 8 learning plans are vital in delivering the student outcomes. We know this scenario is playing out in classrooms across the country. Our ultimate goal is to help teachers easily learn and apply strategies and tools like differentiation and formative assessment to help improve student outcomes and efficiency immediately.
In order to do this, we provide a variety of live and on-demand learning content, ranging in format and length, to fit in with educators’ busy schedules. Content topics are presented by keynote speakers and industry thought leaders who provide ‘need to know’ information through real-life case studies and examples from schools. Previous speakers and facilitators have included education experts Dylan Wiliam, Dr Selena Fisk and Carol Ann Tomlinson.
Members are able to seek feedback on their learnings, ask questions and share ideas with their peers, leaders and the community through our live events, interactive workshops and discussion groups hosted on the platform.
Matthew Vallis, Staff Development and Innovation Leader at Mount Lilydale Mercy College, spoke of challenges they faced with professional learning this year. ‘The impact of teacher absences and a lack of casual relief teachers (CRTs) has been a significant challenge, especially in Term 2, as teacher absences increased in relation to ongoing COVID infections,’ said Vallis.
‘Unfortunately, it was necessary in Term 2 to place a hold on professional learning that created a large number of replacement classes – we just did not have the staff to cover extra absences. However, professional learning that occurred outside of scheduled class times, that didn't require CRTs or that was considered essential for other reasons, was still accessible to staff. Interestingly, this saw people looking for more creative ways to engage with their professional learning and led to some new discoveries and moments of enthusiasm.’
During the past 10 months, more than 90% of Mount Lilydale Mercy College staff members have utilised the on-demand content on the Schools Learning Community for their professional learning needs. The on-demand platform has given them flexibility to learn at their pace, allowing them to continue to upskill at a time when resources are stretched.
Despite the significant difficulties that teacher shortages have caused for professional learning, schools like Mount Lilydale Mercy College have managed to find new approaches like The Hatchery’s Schools Learning Community that supports staff with professional learning whilst minimising the impact on classroom schedules.
Whether it is a simple membership offering covering individuals or all-school access, schools can customise a membership that meets their needs.
When considering the professional development needs of yourself or your staff, what’s ‘important’ doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the ‘urgent’. Here at The Hatchery, we are proud to play a role in supporting educators across Australia and beyond.
We are parents ourselves and have had a front row seat to the struggles within our education system over the past two years. If we can play a small role helping educators advance their own learning and growth, we can truly be satisfied that we are delivering on our mission of inspiring change. We hope you’ll join us.
To find out more, visit The Hatchery Schools Learning Community Website.
Heffernan, A., Bright, D., Kim, M., Longmuir, F., & Magyar, B. (2022). ‘I cannot sustain the workload and the emotional toll’: Reasons behind Australian teachers’ intentions to leave the profession. Australian Journal of Education, 66(2), 196–209. https://doi.org/10.1177/00049441221086654