The project was applied for by the Ministry of Education and Research, funded by the European Union via the Structural Reform Support Programme and implemented by the British Council in cooperation with the European Commission. Time: September 2020 to August 2021
- An analytical tool for teachers, which helps teachers analyse their professional development needs, select specific action steps and practice them with their learning partners.
- A guide for developmental conversations, which allows school leaders to analyse their leadership and agree on specific action steps with their learning partners in order to practice instructional leadership.
- Educational policy recommendations for improving the system of professional development of teachers and school leaders to accredit training programmes, assess their impact on teaching and learning, create a clearer career model for teachers, specify the decision-making processes, etc.
Analytical tool for teachers
- The analytical tool for teachers allows teachers to analyse their teaching, select specific action steps and practice them with their learning partners.
- Role of the learning partner. The role of the learning partner is not to criticise or assess the teacher. The main role of the learning partner is to support the teacher’s professional development. In the pilot project, learning partners were master teachers.
- Lesson observations. In the pilot project, lesson observations took place once a month, but it is recommended that learning partners observe teachers’ lessons twice a month. If cooperation is constant, a 15-minute lesson observation is sufficient. Lesson observations can be longer where needed.
- Planning meetings. Each lesson observation is followed by a 30-minute meeting for discussing what went well, how the action step selected last time influenced the learners and how to further improve the use of the action step. This is followed by the selection of a new action step. The learning partner demonstrates how they use this action step. The teacher practices the new action step under their learning partner’s guidance.
- Content of action steps. The preliminary action steps with exercises and success criteria were prepared in the UK by the Steplab team. Grete Arro and Kati Aus (Tallinn University) and Sandra Järv (University of Tartu) have adjusted the content of the action steps to reflect the Estonian context. Over the summer, we prepared new action steps to support a self-regulating learner.
- Online platform. The platform at www.steplab.co supports focused lesson observations, provision of useful feedback, selection and definition of action steps, modelling and practicing of new skills and coordination of the entire programme in school.
- Support for learning partners. The webinars that took place twice a month were conducted by Josh Goodrich, Harry Fletcher-Wood, Eva Hartell, Grete Arro, Kati Aus and Sandra Järv.
Guide for developmental conversations
- The guide of developmental conversations focuses on instructional leadership in an educational institution. This allows school leaders to analyse their leadership and agree on specific action steps with their learning partner.
- Role of the learning partner. Learning partners are other school leaders. Their task is to support the development of school leaders by guiding their learning rather than criticising or assessing.
- Developmental conversations. Learning partners meet once a month over a period of five or six months. The conversations are based on the action step planning guide. The conversations have a specific structure: describing the situation, learning (1-2 page reading materials related to instructional leadership), defining action steps, implementing them in school and evaluating the action step during the next meeting. The conversations are confidential.
- Content of action steps. The conversations focus on the important aspects of instructional leadership: establishing learning goals and resource planning, improving teaching (including defining a best teaching practice) and supporting the learning and development of teachers. The authors of the guide are Claire Stoneman and Eve Eisenschmidt and Kätlin Vanari (Tallinn University). The preliminary draft of the curriculum development chapter is ready (author: Martin Robinson), but this must be supplemented and tested in cooperation with school leaders.
- Support for learning partners. The webinars which took place twice a month were conducted by Claire Stoneman, Eve Eisenschmidt, Kätlin Vanari and Ed Vainker during the pilot project.
Educational Policy Recommendations
Philippa Cordingley, Sam Twiselton and other international experts prepared five specific recommendations for improving the system of professional development of teachers and school leaders. The final report (35 pages) can be downloaded here and will soon be published on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research.
Assessment of project results
The surveys and in-depth interviews were conducted by British independent educational research company ASK Research. Some of the key conclusions were as follows:
- “Participating in the project was useful to me.” 33 respondents, 20 completely agreed, 10 somewhat agreed.
- “Cooperation with the learning partner was useful.” 33 respondents, 13 completely agreed, 17 somewhat agreed.
- “The programme helps improve teaching quality.” 33 respondents, 15 completely agreed, 15 somewhat agreed.
- “The programme helps improve learning outcomes.” 33 respondents, 10 completely agreed, 18 somewhat agreed.
- “The contents of the analytical tools was appropriate.” 33 respondents, 12 completely agreed, 14 somewhat agreed.
- “The policy recommendations are appropriate for the Estonian context.” 12 respondents, 5 completely agreed, 5 somewhat agreed.
Big thanks to everyone who participated in the project!
Authors of the analytical tool for teachers: Grete Arro, Kati Aus, Josh Goodrich, Sandra Järv, Oliver Lovell, Ernesto Panadero, Harry Fletcher-Wood. Adviser: Eva Hartell.
Master teachers and learning partners: Anne Aasamets, Sigrid Melts, Kirsi Rannaste, Merike Sepp, Liia Vijand-Lind.
Authors of the analytical tool for school leaders: Eve Eisenschmidt, Martin Robinson, Claire Stoneman, Kätlin Vanari. Adviser: Ed Vainker.
School leaders and learning partners: Karin Lukk, Karmen Paul, Mari-Liis Sults, Sirje Toomla, Haana Zuba-Reinsalu.
Head of local team of experts: Priit Jõe.
Schools that participated in the pilot programme: Ilmatsalu School, Järveküla School, Jüri Secondary School, Raatuse School, Rocca al Mare School, Sakala Private Secondary School, Tallinn Secondary School of Science, Tallinna Õismäe Russian Lyceum, Tsirguliina School, Võnnu Secondary School.
School managers: Kastre Municipality, Rae Municipality, Tallinn, Tartu, Valga Municipality.
Authors of the educational policy report: Philippa Cordingley, Bart Crisp, Evangelia Araviaki, Loic Menzies, Bart Shaw, Baz Ramaiah, Sam Twiselton, Emily Perry, Chris Tweedale, Josh Goodrich, Harry Fletcher-Wood, Ed Vainker, Anne Maisvee, Artur Taevere.
European Commission: Thomas Pritzkow.
Ministry of Education and Research Ingar Dubolazov, Terje Haidak, Tatjana Kiilo, Liina Põld, Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts.
British Council Gaelle Croisier, Margit Maar, Anne Maisvee, Victoria Pevitt, Ursula Roosmaa, Artur Taevere, Airi Uuna.