Reflection from the Head of Junior School

As the proverb says: just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it turned into a butterfly.

With a wonderful new building and student facility, a new leadership team, new families, familiar families, new staff and our PYP evaluation year, we are presented with the perfect opportunity to grow and embed our culture and our climate. To embed our learning community with our learners through our teaching and learning approach.

Our Junior School has started well in 2018. We are seeing exciting changes within, whilst being aware of the opportunities that lie ahead. During our first days we have been discussing one set goal for us this year. One goal that may best describe how we will continue to grow as a safe, happy and challenging place for all our learners, no matter their age! To do this it does indeed take a “village approach”.

We are looking to “teams engaging and empowering the whole child within our PYP school”.
A worthy goal, but why, and how might this look?

Teams
As Phil Jackson, former American professional basketball player and coach said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team”. In fact research indicates that extraordinary teams achieve extraordinary outcomes.

  • We are working to challenge our students and staff to build their teams from groups, to classes, to year levels, to Stage levels, to Whole School and College levels.
  • We are challenging current trends where teams seek to work as friendship groups only, instead we seek different perspectives, opinions, voices and personalities, professional learning teams.
  • Above all, we seek to retain and develop a community sense of belonging, of being known, within an age-appropriate approach.

We are working together, co-teaching, assessing, sharing, supporting, continuing to meet individual needs within a team.

Engaging and empowering
When we tell learners to complete an assignment or worksheet, we get compliance. In our setting, when we engage and empower our learners to investigate and follow up, we can impact upon tomorrow as we inspire thinkers and problem-solvers.

  • To enrich and personalise learning, we must engage today’s students, scaffold deep teaching and learning.
  • We build a sense of belonging when students are engaged and not just compliant.
    Our wonderful teaching staff must be challenged to catch those ”aha” moments, critical individual teaching moments.

With tremendous learning spaces we must continue to develop how we teach to develop within our spaces, and not simply focus on a factory approach.

Whole Child
Educator, author and musician Elizabeth Barkley states, “Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either element is missing”. We must continue to develop both soft and hard skills.

  • Our wellbeing program continues to grow, continues to support the whole child.
  • A focus upon individual development can build a sense of belonging.

Educator Lyn Sharratt in her book FACES reminds us that we are a community of individuals. We must always put faces to our data, make it real and personal.  We can never forget to celebrate intrinsic growth. We must hold to “Colour Runs” when Reading Challenges are met!

Our PYP
We have a talented teaching staff, as I strongly acknowledged in our 2017 Awards Afternoon. In 2018 we are moving to promote a stronger understanding of protocols to support our program and goal.

  • We have developed a “Learning Sequence” where teachers ignite curiosity and lesson intention, before moving to explore further in appropriate groupings and critical teaching moments, before coming together again to review and reflect a common understanding.
  • We have further protocols to support our behaviour, collaboration and class agreements to best allow a sense of belonging, of being heard and of challenging ourselves.
  • We will seek to observe and support the above from a student eye, rather than a teacher focus.

You can’t help but be excited about our year ahead.  Welcome to being a butterfly!

 

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