At Firbank Grammar School, principal Jenny Williams is creating exciting new opportunities for her students to thrive in a complex, ever-changing world.
During 2020, Firbank leaders worked with experts and used the latest research to develop their own unique teaching and learning principles. For Williams, the focus was on creating a common language of learning throughout the school, and on articulating the ‘how’ of that learning.
This research culminated in the 7 Principles, which were introduced to students and staff.
“The development of the 7 Principles was the final step in the completion of Firbank’s strategic intent. The process started with articulating the ‘why’ behind what we do – defined by our motto [‘one conquers, who conquers oneself’], vision and purpose. Then we described ‘what’ we do. This is defined by our 4 Pillars, 5 Values and 6 Domains,” Williams tells The Educator.
“The 7 Principles define ‘how’ we do things at Firbank. Learning is at the heart of everything we do, so being able to describe the conditions using a common language that can maximise the learning in our classrooms is essential. It’s the ‘how’ of teaching and learning.”
Williams says a strong belief underpinning the 7 Principals program is that wellbeing is “intrinsically interwoven with learning, within all our interactions.”
“Choosing the right mind frame, acting with kindness and being present are all considered integral to the learning process. Our 7 Principles have been defined using intentional language,” she says.
Over the last two years at Firbank Grammar, the language of these principles has become more ingrained, with both staff and students looking to them to define their teaching and learning, says Williams.
“Consistency across staff and classrooms provide students with certainty and thus the best environment within which they can maximise their development.”
Williams said an ongoing focus in 2023 is to continue the development of the 7 Principles of Practice Series will ensure the program’s success is sustained.
“These are short videos with supporting research and documentation that show what these principles look like in practice. These resources intend to provide a learning library for staff to access at any time,” she said.
“We have been working with teaching and learning expert and educational researcher Dr Sophie Specjal over the past four years as we developed these principles. She continues to work with staff to enable them to develop high-impact strategies for their classrooms that they can also share with colleagues.”
Jenny Williams was recently named in The Educator’s Hot List 2022.