At Elevation Secondary College, it’s not just students who are always learning. Teachers at our school are constantly reflecting on our practice, learning and looking to improve. As a College, we invest heavily in teachers’ collaboration and ongoing professional development (including, but also well beyond last week’s Curriculum Day). Every week, teachers are looking at how well students have learned, and what they need to do to get better. Each of us will share with you some of the professional learning we have been leading this term.
Curriculum Day – Joining forces with primary schools to improve student engagement and wellbeing
All staff from Aitken Hill Primary School, Keelonith Primary School and Elevation Secondary College gathered in our library to engage Berry Street Education Model training. This is a model of positive education – an approach that combines traditional teaching with research on improving happiness and wellbeing – to support students to flourish at school. Positive education has been employed by many schools across Victoria, from 150+ year old private schools in Geelong to our own brand new schools in Craigieburn and Greenvale. This was our first chance to join with two of our feeder primary schools to evaluate what we had achieved so far and identify next steps. We know how important consistent expectations and approaches are for our students as they transition from primary school yet we rarely have such an opportunity to learn together. We are so grateful to Leading Teacher Kimberly Calder for all of her efforts to make it a reality.
Teachers, principals and support staff engaged with the latest research about the impact adverse childhood experiences, such as COVID lockdowns, can affect students’ focus and self-regulation. We also discussed and practiced strategies to build calmer and positive classrooms. In the final session of the day (this was the first of four trainings we’ll do together over two years) there was an energetic buzz in the room where all three schools shared their plans to better support students.
Professional Learning Communities
Teachers meet in their faculty teams weekly to examine how students are learning in their classes and areas for improvement. For example, teachers in the Physical Education and Health faculty are applying their knowledge of the VCE to evaluate how well students are progressing in a range of question types that are asked in senior years. Having assessed students, their next step is to adjust their teaching plans to include more teaching and opportunities for practice in areas where students require the most growth.
Writing and Reviewing Individual Education Plans
Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are formed by a student, their teachers, family and support staff to set specific and personalised learning goals. During a college-wide workshop, we learned how to locate and use the information we have about our students (this includes everything from Learning Task grades and classroom engagement to medical diagnoses and parent feedback) to form EIPs. We then held Student Support Group (SSG) meetings to define learning goals and will finish the term by reviewing the IEPs and identifying the best strategies to support each student.