It has been an honor to work with the teachers at Northcote College recently. The school set up a Year 9 class at the end of last year, which families and children indicated an interest in being a part of. This class is taught by 3 core teachers of Science, English and Social Studies, who have committed to altering the pedagogy in their classes.
Following a visit to my class at the end of last year, these three brave teachers decided to embark on a journey towards more future focused pedagogy. They really took a risk in trying out a model that hadn’t been used in a secondary school before, which I commend them for. I have been working with these teachers for about two terms now, so it was a good opportunity to stop, reflect and take stock. Below are the teachers’ thoughts so far.
Why did you want to be a part of this initiative?
- It provided me with an impetus to change my classroom teaching.
- Seeing what was happening at Willow Park got me excited about the possibilities for our students – the students in Year 6 were independent, responsible for their own learning and supportive of each other.
- I felt I needed to change and having a model there to help was useful. Otherwise I would not have known where to start.
- I thought we would be building on what happened at intermediate and primary.
How has your teaching changed?
- I have passed more control over to the students and I’m putting the onus back on them. They need to be responsible for their learning.
- I am giving the students more choice.
- I am having more 1:1 conversations.
- I use workshops in the class more.
- I know the kids better.
- I have begun to make learning more personalised and I am more explicit about feedback and students’ goals.
- I have opened up assessments more, so students have more choice about what they inquire into. This has resulted in more buy in because kids are more interested.
- I have started getting the kids to co-construct the marking schedule.
- I have worked to explicitly teach the students to be more independent.
- I have given the students lots more trust, which the kids haven’t really broken because the focus is so much on the learning.
- Little tweaks to what I do have made a big difference (eg. I changed the name of SSR to independent reading, which implies to the kids that they are taking responsibility for their reading). These little tweaks have been taken up by other teachers in the department.
- We (the 3 teachers) are connecting more and in a more meaningful way – talking about individuals, skills to be developed and how we can back learning up across the curriculum and between classes.
- I am better able to cater for different needs and extend those students who need it.
- There is a common language of learning across the three classes.
- There are common goals across the three subjects
How have the students changed?
- The kids make goals based on learning in general, not just subject specific goals.
- They are more mature and more engaged than other Year 9 classes.
- They are achieving better than other Year 9 classes.
- There are hardly any behavior issues.
- These students will question things in class (eg. to alter a lesson slightly to suit their learning needs), which other classes wouldn’t.
- The kids are more interested and passionate about their learning.
Impressive changes have been made already, as you can see. I can only imagine what’s possible!