Schools are a place of learning and not just for our students!
Teacher professional development and learning opportunities are incredibly important in sustaining a quality learning environment.
At Living Faith, our teachers annually undertake their own research projects known as ‘prototyping’. Teachers conduct empathy deep dives with their students each year to determine an area of interest or a challenge. They brainstorm a big question or challenge, immerse in extensive research and then prototype a solution in their classrooms. Each teacher team collects ongoing data to measure the success of the prototype eg student engagement, or achievement. This data then informs the next steps in their research project. Over the year, teachers critically reflect on their prototype before presenting their findings to the rest of the teaching staff. This allows all teachers to learn from the research of others.
This year, our Prep teachers have been focused on increasing student engagement through integrating more play-centred approaches in all curriculum areas. Teachers tracked student engagement in tasks and made observations about students willingness to approach challenging tasks. They found that students became much more engaged in their learning with a play-centred approach, particularly in areas that they found challenging, such as writing. Students’ attitudes also shifted as they viewed learning as fun instead of just ‘work’. This meant students were more likely to persist with tasks and engage in more organic peer teaching.
The Year 1 team haS been focussing on improving reading outcomes across the year level. They began their prototype by looking closely at the challenges students face at this age, such as sight word knowledge, regular practice, decoding difficulties and comprehension. The team created a peer buddy program with Year 5 students to provide greater opportunities for Year 1 students to read out loud. New play-centred approaches to learning sight words were also implemented to improve student engagement. This reading initiative saw significant improvement in student reading achievement over the year.
This year, our Year 2 teachers focussed on furthering collaborative teaching practices. They investigated student attitudes towards different ways of teaching to come up with the best approach to use within the new Year 2 Learning Habitat. The research found that students’ attitudes positively changed once they were immersed in collaborative team teaching. Students particularly enjoyed working as a whole cohort because they could work with new friends and learn from different teachers.
The Year 3 team also focussed on innovative ways to set up and use the new Year 3 Learning Sanctuary. Based on student feedback, teachers set up the learning space based on specific zones rather than set classes. Students come together for explicit teaching as a whole cohort in the stadium and then break apart by selecting a ‘branch’ of the treehouse that suits both the task and their own individual learning needs. Teachers found that students were much more engaged in activities when they had the freedom to choose a working space.
It is deeply encouraging to see teachers developing such forward-thinking, innovative and meaningful projects aimed at enhancing the learning experiences and wellbeing of our students.