I had always imagined how exciting it would be to be apart of the foundational years of a school. My former position was at a school on the south coast of NSW, established in 1952. What I have discovered is that though some schools are more ‘established’ in relation to procedures, policy, resources and furniture, schools are constantly evolving to meet the needs of students in a changing world. In many ways having a ‘clean slate’ makes transitioning to the future of education an easier process. There are no set or stale ways of doing things and staff are open to ideas and innovation.
At my previous school, we went through a transitional period from Grade Learning to Stage Learning in a more open learning space. This was difficult for a community with set ways of viewing what education looks like. An initial meeting was held for parent community members with a majority of staff in attendance. Staff positioned themselves at tables with groups of parents so that after the main address, the school community were able to ask questions in a small ‘safe’ group. Whilst staff, including myself, felt challenged by the new structure, everyone embraced the change.
Most parents ended up supporting the new school structure. Each year, at parent information evenings, time was allocated for further discussion about Stage Learning.
This has been no different for the newly established St Luke’s community. At our recent Open Night and Parent Information Evening, parents and prospective parents had many questions around Stage Learning. Our St Luke’s community come from different educational contexts. Parents had more questions related to Stage Learning than the Pillars. I believe that an understanding of our Pillars, or more questions surrounding the Pillars, will evolve as parents experience them through student led conferences and SeeSaw. Conversations between our school and parent community will need to be a continued process in order to understand our shared vision of the new normal at St Luke’s. Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm, and the enthusiasm of staff present on the evenings was the best promotion for our school.
Whilst I have had many years of experience with Stage Learning, St Luke’s has opened my eyes to how working as a Stage team in an open and flexible learning environment can allow educators to truly cater for student needs in all aspects of Literacy and Numeracy.
Teachers are now grouping for Reading and Writing across Stage One. We have between four and six teachers working during this time to support students at their point of need. Students enter the classroom after recess and move straight into their reading space for Independent Reading, when I am able to complete one to two Running Records. We then have a modelled or shared focus on a text specifically targeting needs. This is proceeded by Guided Reading and independent or group tasks related to our shared text, as well as tasks focused on consolidation of skills.
Students then line up and move straight to writing groups for Modelled/Shared, Guided and Independent writing experiences. The structure is working efficiently, maximising purposeful learning time.
As a Stage, we have started discussing how this process will work in Mathematics. We have placed students into groups according to the result of their MAI Counting Growth Point. We will work with these groups for our warm up activity.
I am new to both St Luke’s and the Diocese of Parramatta, and whilst this change is a little overwhelming at times, I am excited and enthusiastic for the journey I am undertaking. Rather than becoming ‘stale’, I like to challenge myself to become the best educational practitioner that I can be and make a difference to the lives of the young students entrusted to us.