Our school had a Student Free Day today and while the program planned for the day would make most teachers groan and go searching for the caffeine – in reality it was an interesting and productive day!
The theme for the day was the Melbourne Cup! – albeit a day early and while the persistent references were at times corny, it made for a fun day! Whilst most staff chose to wear a dress and adorn their hair with a fancier -there is always someone that pulls out all stops!
All frivolity was quickly pushed aside when the bell went and our NAPLAN data was pulled out. We were given the time to deeply analysis our 2014 NAPLAN results at a individual question level, student, year and gender level and compare these to previous years. This lead to interesting discussion and at times debate, as to what the data showed us and the trends that were occurring compared to the National results. This is where NAPLAN data is most effective and there really needs to be improvements in getting this data back to schools before the end of the year, so that current teachers can analysis them.
We have done a lot of work on The Australian curriculum at our school and it was timely then to take a step back and look at the big picture. The biggest concern many teachers have when looking at how many instructional hours each subject has, is ‘how do I fit it all in?’. The reality is that we need to do things smarter. We also need to be aware that “For any year of schooling, R-10, the Australian Curriculum is written so that it should not take up more than 80% of total teaching time available in schools.” (see DECD Guidelines Attachment 3) This leaves room for schools to run localised programs and class based activities such as class meetings, etc. The recommended timeline for familiarisation and implementation of the F(R) – 10 Australian Curriculum means that we will be programming, assessing and reporting in all Learning Areas in 2016, so we can expect a lot of development of our professional knowledge of this resource over the next three years.
One great resource recently developed to support teachers in the development of the Australian Curriculum is the Leading Learning Website. This website has a broad range of stimulus materials, posters, and workshop materials including short videos to support teachers in implementing the Australian Curriculum in a way that enables our students to become engaged, independent learners. I particularly like the Bringing It To Life (BITL) section, that includes a tool to support teachers in engaging their students to become powerful learners. I think the one statement from this website that had the biggest impact on me today was this one taken from the “Into The Classroom” section;
In South Australia our primary years research shows us that there is an unintended outcome from our strong support of learners. We can be so supportive of our learners, that we inhibit their intellectual struggle with the unfamiliar and the complex. In other words, we rescue them from thinking. Learning about what to do when you don’t know something and not being thrown by new contexts is at the heart of learner resilience needed for academic and future life success.
Our school recently launched the Kids Matter Framework at our school and this was a chance to celebrate our movement into the program with our wider school community. My students wrote a recount of this launch on our class blog.
As teachers we have been training in The Kids Matter modules throughout the year and this training continued today as we developed our understanding of the skills students need to be socially and emotionally strong. We explored the five micro-skills of Self-awareness, Self-management, Social awareness, Relationship skills and Responsible decision making. I am quite excited to be involved in this program and can already see the positive benefits for our school as a staff we are beginning to have a a better understanding of why mental health and well being for everyone in our school community, especially our students, are so important. The program is giving us both the tools and language to talk about the mental health of our students and how we can better equip them to become positive, emotionally strong and responsible people. I am looking forward to implementing the framework more formally within my class program next year.
Throughout the day we were encouraged to write our thoughts, ideas and questions on our brightly colored plastic tablecloths – a great way to record our day and I think we did a great job! (see below)