Program unlocks meaningful learning experiences for teachers

Program unlocks meaningful learning experiences for teachers

Across Australia’s vast education landscape, teachers and leaders continue to face unprecedented pressures that hinder their roles as mentors and educators. A 2021 Grattan Institute survey highlighted this alarming trend, revealing that 86% of educators struggle to find time for high-quality lesson planning and preparation due to soaring workloads.

As Australian schools, governments and communities explore new ways to address the pressures educators are facing and increase teacher retention, one program appears to be unlocking success.

A unique fortnightly forum for teachers at Loreto Normanhurst, a Catholic girls’ school in Sydney, is having a positive impact on the wellbeing of the school’s teachers by strengthening their professional learning.

The Open Learning Circle (OLC) Program involves professional learning groups, each made up of between five to eight teaching staff, who focus on an aspect of pedagogy each school term, with focal areas including deep learning, leveraging digital technologies, and social-emotional learning.

Since the program was launched last year, it has provided teachers with a holistic peer support group and a forum to engage in pedagogical creative thinking, and has proved highly effective in improving staff wellbeing across the school.

According to the school’s internal statistics, the program has made the learning experiences of 85% of the school’s teachers ‘more meaningful’, with 95% enjoying the refreshingly collaborative approach.

‘A cooperative approach to teaching’

Monica Boardman, Head of Visual Arts at Loreto Normanhurst, has been taking part in the OLC Program since it began. Boardman says it allows her to connect with the wider faculty and has been fantastic for developing innovative strategies for deep learning.

“The program has been instrumental in helping to encourage a cooperative approach to teaching, it is also an extremely useful tool for providing mutual support and mental wellbeing in a professional capacity,” she said.

Some of the many benefits of the OLC Program are that it encourages the sharing of ideas and invites feedback from participants, empowering staff, and fostering mental agility.

“The OLC Program not only allows us to work cross-departmentally but helps us to keep performing to the best of our ability, so that we can continue to educate and guide our students” Clara Marsh, Head of Languages at Loreto Normanhurst, said.

“When you prioritise the wellbeing of your teachers, you are in turn supporting the wellbeing of your students. I am proud that Loreto Normanhurst has developed this initiative and pleased to be part of it.”

Marina Ugonotti, Principal of Loreto Normanhurst said the key aim for the program was to empower the school’s staff so that they feel fully equipped to deliver education that not only provides academic results but prepares students for everything that they will experience in the real world.

“By providing robust support networks for our teachers, we are seeing the benefits in our students.”