By setting the tone and the expectation from day one, your students and you as teachers can set the stage for students to be empowered in their learning.
Assistant Principal Carly Pluck shares how Canterbury Primary School works with both staff and students to make sure everyone is empowered to do their best and take control over what they want to learn and achieve.
Top tips for working as a team, so you can understand your students and their abilities
Like almost every Victorian school starting this year, Canterbury Primary School teachers are looking to student achievement data to gauge their students' abilities, but also taking the time put the curriculum aside and get to know them as learners.
Collect your data and identify your goals
'To get to know my students as a classroom teacher, one of the first things I do is access their tracking sheet. We keep a document on excel that keeps the data of the whole school in one spot and really helps you get an understanding of where your students are academically and the story behind their progress in school over a number of years.
'We have our AIP which is linked whole school assessment – so teachers will know what the common areas of assessment are, even if you don't dig too deep into your class you can still know what will be beneficial to the whole school and some of those expected goals that our Principal, David Wells shared with staff at the beginning of the year.
Work as a team to map how you can best support each individual student
'Each team will also have a data analysis session every week with a member of the leadership team.'
'This is where we look at student data in detail, and we focus on the individual child and how we can support them to progress.'
'It's a targeted approach that has helped our teachers personalise learning experiences and maximise potential for growth'
Take the time to know them as people
'We take a lot of time in Term 1 to really listen to our students,' explains Carly.
'We ask what they want to work on and what they're interested in, because then they're empowered to move forward and most importantly, they feel like their teachers value them.'
In action: a whole school approach to building engagement
Give students a targeted intention and then let them brainstorm their learning
'We have different approaches to how we co-design work with students. But we always have a project launch, where we immerse them into whatever the topic is that term be it entertainment, finances, government, etc.
'And this is just a day of fun, play and experience. It can be anything (excursion, incursion, etc) which allows students to think broadly about what this topic could include and how big it could become'
'For example, last year we were setting up for our whole school production and rather than just telling them what the theme was, we actually took them to the cinema to watch the 1995 film
Jumanji – which was the theme, and then let them return to their classes and brainstorm where they wanted to take this.'
'They got such a kickstart for planning what their obstacle was, how it was going to look on stage and then write the script for their class.'
Constantly reflect on their ideas and what's working to find the next lesson
'This buy-in in the beginning, this experience-based approach can really give them a head start. Our teachers then draw out their ideas through skilled questions, activities and reflections.
'And if you build reflections into their classes, each day, each week, you can really get a strong understanding of how they are feeling about the work they're doing and it's powerful feedback for you as the teacher.'
'With that understanding, you can modify what you're doing and how you're teaching it to help students move from compliant, to engaged and hopefully to empowered. This is where students take ownership of their learning.
'Students can take a project anywhere once they are empowered to do so.'