10 ideas to help a faculty grow with the new syllabus

faculty development new syllabus pdhpe Sep 10, 2023

When it comes to a new syllabus there is always a lot of work that needs to be done and this provides a great opportunity for head teachers to develop their faculty both professionally and personally.

I remember in my second year of teaching I had a new head teacher come in who quickly delegated the creation of units of work, resources, and assessment tasks to the entire faculty. He included some great resources himself, such as unit scaffolds and how he wanted us to go about this process. We were paired up by stages to check each other's work and collaborate as we went, and he would provide us with exemplar units he was working on and required us to improve what we created to his standard. Needless to say, I grew a lot as a teacher that year.

With NESA just releasing the new Health and Movement Science syllabus and the draft of the K-6 and 7-10 PDHPE syllabuses we once again have great opportunities to grow.


Here are 10 ideas for how a head teacher can facilitate their faculty and get them involved in everything that is happening


Hold a Course Orientation Workshop

This doesn't have to be an entire day workshop, it could be a series of smaller sessions or even a series of videos. It really just requires the head teacher to introduce the new syllabus, and the major changes and highlight what needs to be done going forward. This can be done at a basic level where you share copies of the new syllabus, read through and discuss the content. 

For the current new HMS syllabus, this can be as simple as asking your faculty to read over the syllabus before a faculty meeting and then having a discussion about the new depth studies, the collaborative investigation, and how the content has been rearranged. You might highlight the big changes to the outcomes and then discuss what the next steps are for the faculty as everyone continues to learn the syllabus and prepare for its implementation.


Create Collaborative Planning Teams

Divide the teaching staff into small teams responsible for specific course modules or units. Encourage collaboration among team members to brainstorm ideas, share resources, and develop teaching strategies. Depending on the size of your faculty you may not have to divide everything up between people. You just want them to all be working together in a collaborative manner, which should reduce everyone's workload as well as ensure the units and tasks produced are of a higher quality. If you are going to use these teams you will first want to come up with a process everyone will follow such as the one outlined below.

  1. Everyone reads the entire syllabus
  2. Everyone reads the teaching advice documents
  3. Come together and discuss the new syllabus, what is required, and how we will go about making sure we are ready and prepared to implement it on time.
  4. You will probably want to create your scope and sequence as well as your assessment schedule together with everyone before breaking off into collaborative teams.
  5. If the course is going to be divided up and different modules or sections given to each teacher or a group of teachers, then make a plan for this, or work with your teachers to do this.
  6. Once teachers have their module or section, they should read through any other relevant teaching advice documents and example units of work or assessment tasks.
  7. They should then meet and make a plan for how they want to go forward in creating the unit of work, assessment tasks, etc.
  8. Teachers should then create a timeline for getting everything done and key tasks/objectives to be met along the way.
  9. They then meet regularly progressing through the creation process together.
  10. Drafts could then be shared and feedback provided as a whole faculty or just across different collaborative groups. If your faculty isn't very big, you may need to take on the feedback role as the head teacher.
  11. Have the teachers make the final adjustments and then get them to present what they have created to the entire faculty so everyone is familiar with what has been created. This could include units of work, assessment tasks, exemplars, workbooks, and other resources.


Share Exemplary Resources

One thing everyone is going to need when the syllabus comes out is a good list of resources. These resources could include, textbooks, websites, research tools, units of work, workbooks and more. As you gather these you can easily share them with your faculty and ask them to check their quality. This is a good way to stimulate discussion around both the new syllabus and how to critique resources and identify good ones. Discuss their strengths and weaknesses and then design some of your own resources.


Provide Professional Development Opportunities

There are many PD opportunities around at the moment. Each major school system is providing online webinars, workshops, conferences and more that all focus on the new syllabus. Sending your teachers to such workshops is a great way to grow them and ensure they are getting ready for the new syllabus.

After they attend a workshop or webinar, ask them to present what they learn back to your faculty. The workshop doesn't have to be specific to the syllabus either. It could be a workshop on conducting research, or how to teach using a specific method, such as PBL, flipped learning, or explicit direct instruction. Their presentation would then be applying this method to the new HMS syllabus.


Peer Learning

Another great way to help your faculty prepare for the new syllabus is to have them engage in peer learning. This could be simply identifying one of your faculty who has specific skills and knowledge that would be helpful for others to know as they prepare to teach the new syllabus. Perhaps one of your faculty is an elite athlete and can share some insights into the content around training programs, psychology or periodisation. 

Peer learning could also include a level of collaboration, where members of your faculty are working together to create a unit of work and then share it with others for feedback and discussion. It could be as simple as giving each member a "buddy" who they go to to get feedback on the resources they create.

Basically, anything you might do in a classroom with your students in relation to peer learning, how can you apply that to your faculty learning about the new syllabus and preparing for it?


Create a Curriculum Development Timeline

Establishing a clear timeline for curriculum development milestones can help make sure your faculty is not swamped with extra work when it suddenly becomes urgently needed. Discuss with your faculty what a reasonable timeline might look like, create it together and then hold each other accountable to make sure resources, units of work, assessment tasks and more are all created in a timely manner and not rushed at the end.

By setting new due dates, you are helping to ensure the work is spread out, has time for feedback, and what is developed is of a higher quality.


Regular Check-Ins and Feedback Sessions

In relation to some of these ideas, ensuring you schedule regular check-ins and feedback sessions is key to helping your faculty grow and develop. We can only improve and create our best when we are pushed to do so, with critical feedback and guidance. Whether this all comes from you, through a "buddy" system or simply a collaborative process, in order to improve these sessions are vital. Ensure you put such sessions into your calendar and use them as deadlines by which certain tasks must be completed. There is no point showing up for feedback if you haven't got something to receive feedback on.


Resource Sharing Platforms

Setting up a shared folder with your faculty won't be anything new. I'm sure many if not all of you have a faculty folder to store many of your resources. But, why not take it further and establish a shared folder for your larger network of schools? Consider the benefits that could come from sharing resources and seeing the resources created and found by other schools in your local area.  So set up a Shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder. Collaborating with your wider network has never been easier.


Bring in Subject Matter Experts

I have always enjoyed learning from experts. Whether it was Jay McTighe (Author of Understanding by Design), John Hattie, Janice Atkin, Danielle Simpson, Karen Ingram, Kasey Bell (Google for Education expert), or Trevor MacKenzie (Inquiry-Based Learning expert) I have always enjoyed learning from them. So, why not invite experts, especially of the new course, to provide insights, conduct workshops, or offer guidance? Their expertise can inspire teachers, answer questions, reduce anxiety, and provide valuable perspectives.

Just last week I was up in Coffs Harbor working with a network of schools helping them to better understand Depth-Studies and The Collaborative Investigation. I shared resources, guided them through the processes and set them up to create units of work and assessment tasks. It will cost you money, but the benefits are fantastic. If you are interested in having me come and work with you and your faculty, submit an enquiry by going here.


Celebrate Achievements

Finally, I want to encourage you to acknowledge and celebrate teachers' efforts and achievements in developing content and resources for the new course. Learning and creating brand-new resources can be hard work and can drain the depths of our brains. Recognising outstanding contributions helps us stay motivated, tells your faculty that you value their contributions, and creates a positive atmosphere and collaborative culture. 

Subscribe to the site

Get tips to help you:

  • teach PDHPE
  • reduce your workload
  • save time
  • engage your students
  • enjoy a long-lasting and satisfying career

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.