Wednesday 24 May 2017

Study awards transform careers

The best teachers are always learning – from students and colleagues, and from research and study. Study awards, sabbaticals and study support grants are a key part of professional learning and development for schools’ teachers and leaders. Three 2011 study award recipients spoke to the Education Gazette about how their recent learning has influenced their teaching practices

Anne Kenneally, from St Mary’s School in Mosgiel, was awarded a TeachNZ Primary Teachers’ Study Award last year. She didn’t hesitate when asked about the impact her 2011 Study Award had on her teaching practice.
“My teaching career has transformed,” Anne said. “I have developed exponentially in my leadership capacity, and have returned to the classroom with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.”
Anne used her Study Award to complete her Masters in Educational Leadership, and to undertake a self-designed Twitter Tour 2011, which involved her visiting teachers, classes and schools across New Zealand through her Twitter Professional Learning Network contacts.
“This travel was the best possible way to experience the wealth of innovative practitioners around New Zealand,” Anne said. “I have an extensive network of teachers and classes to collaborate with, through weekly Skype sessions and regular blog contact.
 “Our classroom programme is now a blend of current best practice research and a mash-up of the fantastic ideas I learned about through my travels – like keeping a student blog, and holding student-led conferences for families and whānau.”
Emma Cunningham, from Blockhouse Bay Intermediate in Auckland, also took up a TeachNZ Primary Teachers’ Study Award in 2011. She completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Literacy Education with papers that focused on teaching and assessing students with diverse literacy needs.
“I learned so much about literacy difficulties,” Emma said, “and evidence-based research on how to help students who are struggling. It could be a decoding issue, it could be phonological processing. I’m much more focused on the importance of having these skills firmly in place for successful comprehension.
“I’m also aware of students with literacy learning needs needing extra motivation from me, so they don’t label themselves as ‘failures’. Rather, their successes or failures when reading need to be directly attributed to using, or not using, a particular strategy I am teaching.
“Being able to focus completely on my study was an amazing experience,” Emma said. “I’m now starting my Master of Education degree, so I continue to develop my knowledge and contribute to education.”
Study Awards are for school leaders as well as classroom teachers. Mike Bonisch, Principal at Christ The King School in Burnside, Christchurch, also used his 2011 Study Award to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Education, endorsed in Leadership with Distinction. “I’ve become far more focused on the leadership of learning, what constitutes effective practice, and how leaders should go about enhancing learning in their schools,” Mike said.
“My leadership style is now far more distributive. I make much more use of teacher expertise on my staff, harnessing their knowledge and leadership. I’ve also developed a stronger focus on the highly rated influences on successful learning, like learning intentions and strategies, success criteria, feedback, and making students take responsibility for their own learning.
“The study leave recharged my batteries, made me appreciate our education system more, and gave me theoretical knowledge to go with the practical side,” Mike said. “To have the leave to study like this was a real privilege.”
More information
Applications for the 2013 TeachNZ study awards, sabbaticals and study support grants are now open.
Information on the Māori Medium Bilingual Education Study Awards and the Guidance Counsellor Study Awards will be available on the TeachNZ website from late June.
Application dates and criteria differ for awards, sabbaticals and study support grants. Visit www.TeachNZ.govt.nz/studyawards to learn more about the awards, timeframes, criteria, and how to apply.