Teacher professional leadership in support of teacher professional development

Jan. 15, 2011

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol 27, Issue 1, Pages 85-94, (January 2011).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current evaluation study investigated the results of a professional development initiative for subject specialist teachers seconded to a leadership role in their curriculum areas.

Aims of the research

The aims of this report are to address the following research questions:
1. How did those appointed to roles as senior subject advisers and the teachers with whom they worked view the role of Senior Subject Adviser (SSA); and
2. To what extent did these views support the initiative as a career pathway model for enhancing teacher leadership and development?

This report focuses on data from a larger scale evaluation commissioned by New Zealand’s MOE to evaluate the effectiveness of SSA support for classroom teachers, including perceptions of the pilot initiative overall by the SSAs themselves and the university-based school support service organisations to which they were seconded.

There were three participant groups.
a) 22 SSAs involved for the duration of the pilot initiative.
b) The six managers of the six regional, university-based, advisory services that provide ongoing professional learning services to schools and who hosted the SSAs in their regions.
c) 171 teachers nominated by the SSAs as those teachers who would receive support from them during the pilot initiative.


One of the major findings was that the SSA scheme facilitated new learning for this group of highly skilled subject specialist teachers as a useful route to reinvigorate teacher commitments to teaching. The expert teachers in this study particularly valued enhanced skills in pedagogy and assessment which they mastered in their new role. 

In their results, the authors found that broadening of horizons led many of the SSAs to
re-evaluate their career pathway, along with thoughts of pursuing educational careers beyond the classroom.

The results affirm that providing differentiated professional development opportunities for experienced teachers builds leadership capacity that utilizes and enhances teacher strengths and classroom expertise.
Furthermore, expanded leadership roles offer scope for utilising the wide experiences, interests, and capabilities of experienced teachers who simultaneously serve as exemplary models of the teaching profession for their peers without having to leave teaching.

Updated: Nov. 01, 2011