I jotted down a list of thoughts about 2011 that feel important for me to personally remember about our school and our directions. As you can imagine, it kept growing and is somewhat incomplete. Some are basic, somewhat mundane procedural matters that all schools employ but others are philosophically important, or fundamental, if each student is to engage with learning successfully and staff continue to have a vibrant workplace in which to live, laugh, learn and teach. Often, when the moment arises, these are important matters for us to encourage students and colleagues about; some are very close to our collective heart. Our School Plan reflects these points. Much of my list, not all but much, is here because you have told me, ‘this is important, Darcy’!
In no particular order, as all are part of the jigsaw:
* Eat – Drink – Sleep: encourage students to have a good breakfast, drink water and sleep more than 8 hours every night. We know a disturbingly large minority of our students do not adhere to these basics. Here’s a TED video that reaffirms how important sleep is for all of us.
* Reading: you are very influential – model it, show students what you are reading, make suggestions, encourage kids to read each day for fun. Actively teach skills at point-of-need and formally. Insist on high standards of vocabulary, spelling and communication in class. Remember, every staff member is being asked to visit the library, with each class at least once, as early as possible in the year, to have the librarian assist with the Premier’s Reading Challenge list for your subject, savvy research skills for your assessment tasks and digital citizenship. “Kids who read succeed”
* Creating and encouraging independent, tech-savvy, self-motivated learners: Year 7 especially will be enthusiastic and keen. Try and give them ideas about how they can independently engage with learning in areas they feel passionate about. Talk up the need to pursue your learning passions independently, as well as formally. Great teachers inspire others and know how to connect. They motivate others.
* The welfare of the individual:wellbeing and resilience, in students and staff, has been a huge focus and we are good at caring for each other. Please continue to be alert and follow all our procedures, especially communicating with the welfare team, executive and senior executive about concerns. Remember, many of us have used the Employee Assistance Scheme (EAP) and find it excellent.
* 30 second circles:remember, your ear, a few kind words, empathy and compassion can make a huge difference to a student’s resilience and well-being. We know that 30 second moments make a difference and we do this well.
* Professionalism in Teaching & Learning: seeking to update our own knowledge and skills is at the heart of our professionalism. There are many new tools. The concept of a (PLN) Personal Learning Network is fundamental to learning in our New Times. Read more here about the educator in the 21st century and here is a course you can take online. Yammer is a great place to start for NSW DET staff with almost 9, 000 colleagues sharing their expertise. Here’s how to use Yammer. My blog resources may help with other online tools. Remember, our Tuesday afternoon Teacher Professional Learning (TPL) workshops are scheduled based on your requests for learning opportunities. What do you need in 2011?
* Aboriginal mentors/advocates:each Koori student at our school has a Personal Learning Plan and an advocate. Touch base with the student you mentor ASAP and see how their holidays were. What support does your mentee need?
* 1:1 laptop learning: approximately 500 students from Y9-11 have laptops which has changed your approach to classroom management and lessons. Year 9 receive their new laptops on February 17th. Please follow procedures with and ensure students are independently and collaboratively engaged creating a Personal Learning Environment
* Digital citizenship: the school runs formal courses for students but every teacher needs to be savvy. Courses and support are available and this is highly recommended.
* Adobe and Microsoft Certification: each student and staff member has the opportunity to gain certification this year and become an Adobe Certified Associate and Microsoft Office Specialist. Our Certiport Testing Centre is open every Monday and Wednesday afternoon as part of what the Homework Center offers. The value to a student seeking employment of having these qualifications is high and may give them an advantage over another teenager competing for a job. Encourage students to attend and consider coming along yourself to seek personal assistance.
* Diagnostic Data: please use the NAPLAN diagnostic data for each student you teach, especially Y8 and Y10 who have the most recent information, in a professional manner to improve literacy and numeracy. There are other resources here.
* N awards processes: consult the flow-chart and ensure that any student who misses an assessment task, especially Y10 – 12, is recorded and parents notified. The idea is that all students know this procedure and that all staff apply
* Truancy/attendance procedures: it is very important and many of you know my anecdote about a student who truanted my class. Please alert the DPs via RISC/ESR welfare. It is essential that morning roll call is accurate and each staff member is confident procedures have been followed. It is particularly important that Yr 11 and 12 are in class and focused on their HSC.
* RISC/ESR welfare:professional language, quotes and neutral tone, that record the incidents accurately are essential.
* Laptop and mobile phone procedures: are in place so students can enjoy the benefits of connected, digital technologies safely.
* Out of Bounds and Corridors: please challenge students and follow procedures.
* PGD and litter: please be prompt and assist keep the school tidy. The eco-extenders are available to assist with cleanliness.
* Swearing/abusive language: is not acceptable at our school. If you hear this language, address it positively immediately.
* Learning, Safety & Respect: please use this shorthand when discussing the non-negotiable, basic expectations at our school and model for students.
* IDEAS, COMPLAINTS, ISSUES and CHALLENGES: good ideas come from many places and it is important that you make suggestions formally and informally. The school seeks your wisdom. Also, it is essential all of us receive calm criticism positively as feedback. Please ensure you talk with the senior executive or your head teacher about challenges, perceptions, ideas or seek clarification about a school decision or issue that excites or concerns you. I see it like those signs in restaurants, you know the ones about complaining to the waiter if you have an issue with the meal but telling others if it was good.