Developing and Sustaining a Culture of Professional Learning within the School
Victoria Shanghai Academy, Hong Kong
May 25-26, 2019

Workshop Outline

Essential Learning Question: How can school leaders develop and nurture a strong culture of professional learning within the school community?

Goal: Participants will explore a range of strategies to develop a more effective internal training model for their staff. Participants will leave with practical tools and a range of options to develop their own internal professional learning models for the following school year.

Target Audiences: This workshop is intended for those who implement and/or support a professional development program: Professional Development Coordinators, Heads of department, School Leaders and Administrators, Curriculum Coordinators.

“Most professional development experiences fail to affect what teachers do in the classroom each day. Traditional professional development provides no shortages of strategies and resources. Yet, these approaches fall short of improving instruction for three primary reasons: 1) Teachers have little say in what they learn; 2) Transferring learning from training to the classroom is difficult; 3) There are few opportunities to practice and refine strategies.” (Grimm, Kaufman, Doty, “Rethinking Classroom Observation, ASCD May 2014)

Teachers prefer professional development that is: relevant to their context, helps them plan and improve their instruction, is teacher-driven, includes hands-on strategies applicable to their classrooms, is highly interactive, is sustained over time, and recognizes that teachers are professionals with valuable insights.

(Perkins, “7 Characteristics of Great Professional Development”, teachthought, Aug 29, 2017)

This workshop theme is born from the belief that we need to make the most of the expertise we have in house, and share this learning; the old models of sending people on courses to ‘tick the PD box’ doesn’t wash any more in terms of impact or value for money. Hence our focus for the workshop – ‘What can we do with what we already have’?

Many experts agree that authentic learning experience is just as important for teacher development as it is for student learning. Additionally, research supports that job-embedded and sustained professional learning matters and makes an impact on student learning.

A model of internal professional learning can be crafted in such a way that teachers have options and opportunities to explore passions while also addressing known student and school learning needs. Teacher agency, including choice, voice and ownership, can empower and sustain an internal professional development program for a school.

As leaders within schools, our role is to find ways we can both support and nurture those new to their role, but also challenge and stretch the experienced, professional educator. An internal professional learning program can become the catalyst of change or a meaningful component of sustaining a change.

Workshop Outcomes:
  1. Participants will explore a range of strategies for internal professional learning
  2. Participants will explore links between operational goals, professional learning, evaluation, and professional learning communities
  3. Participants will share and receive feedback from peers in the field
  4. Participants will draft an action plan for their school
  5. Participants will identify opportunities to collaborate on learning events and share costs

Participant Preparation

Participants should have in mind operational or strategic goals for their school for the coming year, particularly those that focus on student learning and wellbeing, but also any operational changes that will require teacher training or reinforcement. Participants are asked to bring the following:

  • Staff development plan for the current academic year
  • Staff development plan for the next academic year
  • Operational / strategic goals for the next year, particularly those that focus on student learning and wellbeing

None of the above need to be formal or final versions; drafts, notes and working documents will be invaluable during the training in applying learning to your own school.

Participants are also asked to share any events or speakers they have booked, or are considering to, planned for next school year so that other participants can inquire about cost sharing opportunities.

Lastly, all participants are ask to be ready to share one aspect of your PD programme in the Marketplace session, which will take place at the end of Day 2. You will only have 3 minutes so this needs to be a ‘quick win’; something that you’ve done, seen or read about that makes a difference to teacher learning. It can be a whole-school programme or a phrase that helps colleagues be open to feedback - or anything in between! If it would help you, please bring resources or photos.

Speaker Bios

Michael Iannini

Michael Iannini

Michael’s journey in education began 20 years ago as a research assistant at the Arizona State University Child Development Laboratory, where he studied mixed age playgroups and conducted studies of how children retain and recall information. Before moving to Asia in 1999, Michael consulted with the Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona State Government on how to best serve children with special learning requirements. During these years Michael developed an appreciation for and honed essential skills to ensure the best interests of students were being met. Collaboration, consensus building and navigating complicated organizational hierarchies were the skills Michael developed during this period and the experience that he reflects on when consulting with schools that want to improve collaboration across the school and focus all staff, academic and non-academic, on serving the best interests of their students.

Since moving to China in 1999, Michael was first a teacher and then left the education field to start up, grow and sell two successful information technology businesses, which provided services to schools but predominantly serviced Fortune 1000 Companies. One of Michael’s startups was in India, which helped him to learn to reflect on his successes in China and adapt them in India. During these years Michael learned how to satisfy the needs of a diverse group of stakeholders, develop cross-cultural leadership and communication skills, as well as continue his studies in Building Effective Teams and Strategic Planning.

Michael returned to the education field in 2008 and began to work with a number of Not-for-Profit Organizations, International and Chinese Bilingual schools to develop curriculum, train teachers, devise parent engagement strategies and consult leadership on staff capacity building strategies, which has included a long and mutually beneficial relationship with ACAMIS and its network of schools. This period of Michael’s life allowed him to gain greater insight into Adult Learning Pedagogies and he began consulting schools on Board Governance.

Michael’s facilitation experience is a result of his evaluating and training the teams in each organization he has served as well as his passion for education and continual learning. He currently resides in Hong Kong with his wife, an international school teacher, and their daughter and son, all of whom continue to challenge and stretch his understanding of leadership and communication. Michael is an Affiliated CIS Consultant and is contracted by ACAMIS to coordinate and facilitate Professional Development opportunities for its members.

Renee Rehfeldt

Renee Rehfeldt

Renee Rehfeldt is currently the Director of Learning at Canadian Academy, Kobe, Japan, having worked previously at Suzhou Singapore International School in Suzhou, China. She leads workshops around the Asia-Pacific region in the areas of teaching and learning, language development, and professional development and learning. She has worked in the area of professional development and learning for more than 5 years, working closely with IB networks in the Shanghai and East Asia regions. Renee is passionate about supporting and promoting collaboration within and between schools in support of learning for all our students.

Barbara Justham

Barbara Justham

Barbara (Bob) Justham is a UK-based education consultant and also works with the University of Sunderland in teacher training and with NOVUS, the UK’s leading provider of prison education. She taught in schools for 17 years, including a decade in China, during which time her favourite role was whole-school responsibility for staff development. She has also been Director of Studies and held middle leadership posts in both academic and pastoral teams. Barbara has particular interests in developing leadership at all levels, leveraging coaching across the school, empowering student voice, classroom-based action research and excellence in provision for EAL learners. Once upon a time she was a geologist and she still takes any opportunity to travel and climb mountains.

2-Day Agenda

Day 1

8:15 - 9:00Keynote: The Role and Responsibilities
- Michael Iannini
Michael Iannini will present on the 3 predominate organizational strategies International Schools use to Identify, Plan, Execute and Review (IPER) Professional Development and how these strategies impact both the full-time and part-time ‘PD Coordinator’ to successfully provision effective PD. Michael will additional share the importance of maintaining and staying connected to professional networks and lead participants in drafting a Professional Inquiry that they will reflect on over the course of the 2-days.

9:00 - 11:00Evaluating Impact - Barbara JusthamWe all know that we should ‘begin with the end in mind’ (Covey), and that knowing what we want to achieve is vital in planning how we will get there. But actually measuring the impact of our CPD is a challenge. In this session Barbara Justham will share strategies for evaluating what the impact actually was from all the activity we generate and participants will consider how this applies to their own schools in the year ahead. It is our hope that this will lead to more robust planning over the rest of the conference - and perhaps to convincing colleagues that the extra time and money we ask for would be well spent!

11:00 - 11:15Break
11:15 - 12:00Case Study - Assessing impact at our schoolParticipants will be surveyed in advance of the workshop to identify strategies for assessing impact in their school and those results will be shared. Additionally, some participants may volunteer to give 10-15 minute presentations in addition to what they share in the survey.

12:00 - 13:00Lunch
13:00 - 15:00Developing and Nurturing a Culture of Learners - Renee RehfeldtA wealth of information is available that reminds us that job-embedded, ongoing professional learning will have the greatest impact on student learning and school culture. The weekend conference is not transformative. How do we develop an internal, school-driven, professional learning program? Join us as we explore the range of options available and discuss which may fit our school culture and support sustained professional learning.

15:00 - 15:15Break
15:15 - 16:30Peer Coaching and ReflectionParticipants will be grouped based on their Professional Inquiry and breakout into separate workshop rooms. A workshop facilitator will help moderate an exploration of the inquiries. Time will also be used for participants to engage in collaborative planning.

Day 2

Time ActivityPurpose
8:30 - 10:00Turning Observation into PD
- Barbara Justham
Most schools have some kind of observation programme already in place. This session will examine how the work we are already doing can be leveraged to provide greater opportunities for teacher reflection, learning and growth. Barbara Justham will lead participants in assessing their current system and putting together a plan that draws on models of best observation practice as well as elements of coaching, teacher challenges, research on motivation and student voice.

10:00 - 10:15Break
10:15 - 11:00Case Study - Gamifying PDRichard Greaves will present on how Victoria Shanghai Academy has gamified PD to increase peer lesson observation and feedback. Richard will also lead participants in recreating this strategy for their schools.

11:00 - 12:00 Customized Learning Communities - One Size does not fit all (Part 1) - Renee RehfeldtCollaboration is key to moving a school forward. Increasingly, it is at the heart of our work – nurturing authentic collaboration with meaningful outcomes. There are varied models and opinions on how to organize learning communities. How does a school decide which model is best? Many schools will find that an integrated approach, drawing aspects from each to suit their culture and needs is key. Join us as we unpack professional learning community models and data protocols to understand the components of each and how they can work together in support of student learning and wellbeing.

12:00 - 13:00Lunch
13:00 - 14:15Customized Learning - One Size does not fit all (Part 2) - Renee RehfeldtIn Part 2 of this presentation, we will address how Evaluation can be supported through the interweaving of learning communities and internal professional learning within a school.

14:15 - 15:00 Case Study - Professional Growth and Evaluation A school case study on how to encourage Middle Leaders to be accountable for the Professional Growth and Evaluation of teachers within their teams will be given. Participants will be facilitated in assessing their own goal setting and evaluation practices, in particular who ‘owns’ those process and how effective have they been.

15:00 - 15:15Break
15:15 - 16:30Market PlaceWe will finish the conference with a high energy peer sharing speed dating session. Whether you work full time on CPD or struggle to squeeze team development into your middle leader responsibilities, we have all done, read about or seen moments when teacher learning really happened. It can be anything, from a school-wide programme that worked better than you’d expected, something you’ve seen a colleague lead in their team, or just a phrase that you’ve found makes teachers more receptive to receiving feedback. Please bring one example with you and be ready to pick up loads of ‘quick wins’ from your peers.

Host School

Victoria Shanghai Academy
19 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
+(852) 3402 1000
Contact: Michael Iannini - Michael(at)

Hotel Reservation

This school has recommended the following hotel:

Ovolo Southside Hotel
Address: 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Southside, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3460 8100
Contact Joe Chan before April 24, 2019 to ensure reserving one of the rooms we have blocked for this workshop -

If you are planning to stay at this hotel, please download and complete this hotel reservation form and email to Mr. Joe Chan at the above email address.

Room Rate:
Mini Queen Room: HK$950 +10% per room per night for single occupancy

Inclusive of:
* Free daily breakfast
* Free in-room wifi
* Free daily in-room replenished mini bar
* Free 24 hours drinks and snack in Komune Lounge
* Free happy hour from 17.00-19.00 in Komune Lounge
* Free access to 24 hour gym
* Free self-laundry
* Free local calls

Notes with hotel reservation:
  • You need to make your own hotel reservation (or for your colleagues who are going to attend the workshop).
  • Transportation will not be provided during the workshop days. You and/or your colleague who registered the workshop will receive a notification email approximately a week before the conference with workshop information and direction to the host school.

Register Here!