Teacher professional development is most effective when strongly supported by the leadership team but is also driven ultimately by the teachers themselves. This is important for teacher ownership as well as to ensure that the professional learning is relevant and timely. This approach was seen at St Pius X School where the principal felt that his role was in providing strategic leadership and to support to the professional development coordinator:
[The e-Learning research coordinator] runs this programme. I'm just the figurehead... she goes to meetings regularly and meets with Education Officers from the Catholic Education Office on this. I go once a term to a leadership day so yes I work with [her], she meets with me regularly, but [she] drives it. (Principal, St Pius X School)
The e-Learning coordinator indicated that she greatly valued the chance to be released from her teaching and to work with other teachers in developing their strategies in using technology to improve learning.
I'm released every Wednesday and it's funded by the Catholic education office to release me, and what that means is, I work with the teachers to look at technologies and I also get released to go into the city and do professional development on e-learning. (e-Learning Coordinator, St Pius X School )
The fact that the e-Learning coordinator was a fellow teacher coupled with the clearly evident supportive community atmosphere the other three teachers who were interviewed indicated a high regard for her input and guidance.
I was finding it difficult with the students to talk about what they were seeing in the images and Deborah just walked into my classroom and she looked at the posters that we had where the students had talked about or written about the feelings they gained from images and she just said why don't you get them to video and I sort of sat back and thought yeah...it was just a really nice thing to be able to get some feedback off someone else to talk about what you were doing and to offer another idea that you really love and you take it on board. (Teacher, St Pius X School)
Another teacher pointed out that the dual role of e-Learning coordinator and teacher of years 3/4 meant that not only was she able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new strategies but also that her year 4 students would eventually move into the combined year 5 and 6 classes and in that way allow those teachers to draw on the skills of the students but would also mean that the new year 5 students could "mentor my grade sixes" (Teacher 5/6, St Pius X School).
she's tried a lot of the new stuff... I've worked in her room one day a week this year up until this term and she actually does see what else happens and how the technology's used and she brings it back but it takes time for it to filter through to all of us. But what they do in her room is fantastic and then that will flow through again next term... they'll come into grade five and six. (Teacher 5/6, St Pius X School )
The issue of building capacity of teachers in integrating ICTs is seen as an ongoing and never ending process at St Pius X School . While teachers are engaged in professional learning it is recognised that they cannot learn everything or change everything immediately. Consequently, each teacher tackles their own learning as a long term professional commitment supported by the e-Learning team.