Do you feel part of a learning community?
What teams exist within your school?
How do you build a culture of learning within and across your school teams?
We start the year with a whole school gathering, an address by the principal in which he welcomes new staff, shares achievements from the past year and outlines goals for the next.
Moving inwards to the next circle, we have a two hour workshop for P- 6 staff across our three campuses, facilitated by the Teaching and Learning team.
- Get to know each other across teams and campuses.
- Develop a shared understanding of the primary school goal for the year.
Almost a hundred teachers are seated at tables in groups of 6. Constantly moving between groups will allow opportunities to meet and talk to a range of people, while engaging in educational dialogue.
- Choose one of the chocolates on the table and say how it represents you. The ice is broken and everyone is laughing before we go any further.
- Examine the visual (above) and discuss what it says to you. The responses are varied and interesting, questions are raised and discussion is animated as we consider the purpose of each of the teams.
- Explore the goal: Use data to inform teaching and improve learning.
What is data? Teachers are asked to classify a dozen items under the headings of data or not data. Some groups debate whether informal, subjective information counts as valid data. Others question how much information we get from formal testing. Watching Peter Reynolds’ The Testing Camera reinforces that testing is a snapshot, not necessarily representative of where the student is at. The conclusion is reached that everything is data. Observing students and listening to the learning, analysing their thinking and questions, watching them play and learn and interact will provide much more data than testing alone.
- Traffic light protocol (adapted). Teachers highlight which types of data they are already using, which they are uncertain about and which they haven’t yet considered.
- Hopes and Fears protocol (adapted) This provides an opportunity for teachers to share what they hope to achieve in terms of our goal and where they might need support. (We are gathering data too!)
The activities have given everyone the opportunity to clarify what data is, consider how they already using it and how they might in the future. They have engaged with the big idea that everything is grounded in evidence. We don’t just plan lessons and teach them. We build our planning around responding to the individual needs of every learner. (We are ready to take this further as the year unfolds.)
- Individual and group reflection time. Did we achieve our objectives? A ‘Plus Delta’ protocol (with which we try to conclude all our meetings) returns these amongst the popular responses:
- Opportunity to meet and talk to different people from different campuses.
- Clearer understanding of what data is and how we will use it.
- What does the school value? Each group brainstorms a list, based on the workshop we have just had. Responses include some of the following:
- Each child reaching their full potential in all areas. Student centred learning. The wellbeing of every child. Holistic development. Individuality. Meeting all children’s needs. Targeting teaching to student needs.
- Collaboration and communication. Collegiality. Teamwork. Community. Relationships. Each other as colleagues. Staff input, ideas and initiative.
- Deep understanding of learning. Educational dialogue. Teachers as learners. Critical and creative thinking. Different perspectives. Reflective practice. Purposeful PD which models purposeful teaching and learning.
Our workshop has been successful.
Moving inwards to the next circle…