Thank you to all the families who have sent or conveyed kind messages to me over the last week. It is always pleasing to hear one’s work is appreciated.
In the interim, there is much work to be done if I am to hand the school over in ship-shape order. Things move quickly in schools and there are always many pots on the boil. This leaves little time to dwell on what the end of the year holds.
At present, the school is using a strategy called Teaching Sprints to build our expertise in teaching numeracy even more effectively. This approach is quite new and, after trialing it last year, we decided to implement it across the whole school this year. Each term, the teachers on each Year group meet to identify an area to work on that is difficult to teach and difficult for students to learn. We then examine research that relates to that focus to find strategies that can be incorporated into our teaching practice. Next, we plan a learning sequence around that focus and pre-and post-assessments to measure how effective the approaches have been. Each year group meets weekly during the sprint to check –in about how things are going and at the end of the sprint, we review the process and share the results with the rest of the staff at a staff meeting.
We will finish our third sprint for the year next week, just before Showcase. What we learn from each sprint can be generalised and applied to teaching other areas of mathematics and even other areas of teaching.
Education is like other fields, in that it needs to be responsive to changes in society and what current research is telling us about what works best. Most schools, including Stanmore PS, are approaching this challenge in several ways at once. As well as using the Teaching Sprints approach, we also have a major focus on thinking and inquiry-based learning – teaching children how to think and to find and evaluate information, rather than the more didactic ways of teaching that many parents would have experienced when they were at school.
Another strand is refining our methodology for tracking student progress and making point-in-time adjustments to teaching programs and groupings through improved use of assessment and assessment data.
This new learning requires training and planning time to make it happen and to embed new practices across the whole school K-6.
There has always been change in education but the pace and extent of change is greater than it has ever been. It is truly an exciting time, but not without its challenges.