Saturday, April 30, 2016

St Joseph's Teachers as Learners

I was pleased to receive feedback from a visiting 'teacher coach' today about the openness that our teachers have displayed to learning new ways of teaching which bring about improved outcomes for our students. As life long learners themselves, our teachers are called to always be researching and finding ways to ignite a love of learning in our students.  

Last week, our teachers began the journey of learning about the reasons our education system and teaching methods need revision in order to become more relevant, engaging and purposeful for learners now and in the future. When we understand and accept the ever-changing modern world and what it demands of us all, we can then begin to better provide the necessary knowledge and skills for success. 

"Young job-seekers not getting 'enterprise' skills employers are looking for, analysis shows" was the headline recently on the ABC news. They point out in their article that a large analysis of jobs data shows young Australians are not developing the enterprise skills employers are looking for.

The Key Points from the article were:

This has a direct impact on what we focus on and what we prioritise in education. At St Joseph's we have as our priority English, Maths, Religious Education and Social and Emotional Learning with learning in other disciplines drawing from these. 

We have a duty to ensure strong literacy and numeracy skills so that the digital , thinking and enterprise skills can be better accessed by our students as they develop. For more information about the need for change I invite parents to view this vignette.  

Futures learning   

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Welcome parents to a meeting place of learning together as we continue on our journey of co-creating our great school with the aim of optimal outcomes and well being for our children..

Dear Parents
Many people use blogs to share ideas about topics of interest and travels. They are an online conversation, informal in nature and which are updated regularly. I have begun this blog about learning at St Joseph's, to engage parents in a conversation about our directions and initiatives. Parents will be able to comment and ask questions about what I write which are public and collaborative in nature.

This blog is not a place to raise personal concerns or issues; parents are asked to make an appointment to speak to school staff in this instance.

I hope you enjoy reading and welcome your comments and questions.
Gavin Rick - Principal 

What is Learning in a Modern Context?

As life-long learners in our respective roles of professional educators and parents (first educators), we all have many questions about how to ignite and activate learning for our children. Learning needs to be relevant, functional and interesting to our children and it should unlock their desire for further learning.

Learning has changed dramatically from when we were at school as our world has and will continue to change. Research has revealed to us so much about the functioning of the brain and the conditions for optimal learning for all students. This has resulted in the 'one size fits all approach' of previous education models and schools becoming irrelevant and disengaging for our students. The 50's style of classrooms where each child had a desk, sat in rows all day and the teacher lectured from the front of the room are well and truly gone. Learning in these conditions is no longer considered best practice.

With technology as the accelerator, learning needs to be personalised and process driven so that our students have the skills to effectively acquire, create, collaborate and share like they have never before. Teachers need to be asking deep and rich questions which create curiosity for learning. In turn, students then ask questions and become more in the driver seat. Educational writer and researcher Michael Fullan (2016) suggests about learning, "... partnerships that engage students in co-designing authentic relevant learning, learning environments that foster risk taking and 24/7 connections, and leveraging digital so it accelerates learning."

With the internet, students can access information anywhere at any time, thus reducing the focus of schools on content and instead increasing it on the learning processes and digital literacy. As educational scholar Will Richardson (2015) states, "technology isn't the answer but it is a large part of it".

More than ever, healthy relationships are essential in the learning process. Relationships learners have with themselves, each other, their teachers, their families and with God are an essential ingredient to personal and communal success in the modern world. Students will engage with people before they engage with a subject and this includes both parents and teachers. Our Social & Emotional Learning initiatives and Faith life aspect of our school are but two areas which support this.

I hope that this short introductory piece generates some excitement and engagement of parents in our directions for learning at St Joseph's. I invite comments and further questions.