Principal builds ‘a common language of learning’

Principal builds ‘a common language of learning’

Rosny College is a school that has seen a significant transformation in teaching and learning over recent years.

Prior to the arrival of the school’s principal, Deb Day in 2015, there was a teaching and learning audit which recommended that the school should develop a common language of teaching and learning.

Day spent the first few months “scanning and assessing” to look at the validity of such a recommendation and discovered that there were silos of exceptional practice.

However, there were no avenues or structures in place to facilitate the sharing of such good practices and a systematic way for all staff to engage in professional learning that collectively focused on improving teaching and learning.

To turn this around, Day and her executive implemented a feedback model created by Dylan Wiliam – an internationally renowned education researcher.

“The decision to implement the Wiliam model was a collaborative senior staff decision [at subject leader level and a team of 22] after they were exposed to a variety of models through participation at a three-day national conference,” Day told The Educator.

“It was felt that the Wiliam model would gain the biggest buy-in from staff as it capitalised on some of the good things some staff were already doing, was a good fit for the Year 11/12 context and enabled a way forward to develop that common language of teaching and learning as suggested in the 2014 audit.”

Day said this was implemented by forming a Staff Team Enhancing Pedagogy (STEP) team, which was comprised of a group of five staff tasked with developing and realising a three-year implementation plan.

“My job as principal has been to assist in removing any potential stumbling blocks for implementation and continue to ensure that time and space are dedicated in the yearly calendar for professional learning and meetings,” Day said.

“We are currently 18 months into our three-year journey with staff still excited about the opportunities that this model provides to enhance their teaching and student outcomes.”

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), which provides feedback resources for schools, has since featured Day’s school in a case study about the effectiveness of these practices on teaching and learning outcomes.

Day said that it has been particularly exciting to see teachers develop themselves professionally as a collective community through the use of research-based methodologies.

“It is most encouraging to see to variety of strategies being used in classrooms that provide the opportunity for students to receive targeted and informative feedback on their learning that will assist both the student and the teacher to work together to achieve improved learning,” she said.

“The model provides a toolkit and ways of thinking to help teachers ‘work smarter and not harder’. Teachers are gaining confidence to trial new things, reflect and modify and share their learning with their colleagues.”