Each Tuesday afternoon, instead of traditional meetings, teaching staff at our College engage in either an individual or collaborative Learning Project.
Learning Projects in our context are defined as an embedded form of action research where staff strive to learn something new, deepen their knowledge base, stay current with new developments in learning or experiment with an innovation that aims to improve student outcomes. All Learning Projects are underpinned by a big idea or driving question that is relevant to the individual. Staff then present their progress to their peers on our staff learning day at the beginning of term 4 each year.
With this year being the third year of the concept, I have noticed the transformation in the way many of our staff now position themselves within their own profession. The democratisation of learning and knowledge in many ways is seen across a broad landscape of ideas and practice. Shifts in confidence and identity are matched by the increasing depth and breadth of discussions focused on learning.
The way we structure the day is similar in format to a conference. We start the day with an address from the Principal, followed by three mini-keynotes or spotlight presentations from our staff that exemplify quality learning projects across our three schools. To kick start the day this year we had the following three spotlights:
- Junior School – Using iPads to Enhance Learning within a Reggio-inspired Classroom
- Middle School – Thinking and Learning in a Maker-Centred Classroom
- Senior School – Different ways of Teaching Mathematics: A Perspective through Emotions
After this, our staff selected breakout sessions that they could attend for the remainder of the day with sessions including a diverse range of topics such as;
- Developing a Collaborative Learning Culture
- War of the Worlds – Interdiscplinary Learning in the Secondary Years
- Cultural Diversity – Multiculturalism or Transculturalism
- Bringing Reggio Emilia into the Music Classroom
- Cultures of Thinking in the Primary Years
- Introverts and Learning
- Team Teaching in Year 7&8 Science
- Investigating the Design Process
- MOOCs for Professional Learning
The positive outcomes of such a concept are many, not least making professional learning an active instead of a passive pursuit. One success that we are particularly proud of is the fact that we have seventeen teaching staff from across the College now interested in starting postgraduate research in 2017 with our partner, Deakin University.
Our Vision for Learning really comes to life when we have our staff leading and modelling for our students what it actually means to be a lifelong learner.