Our Journey Towards Collaboration with Dr Lyn Sharratt Kalbar State School is a Prep - Year 6 campus catering for approximately 212 students in the Fassifern district. We live by our vision 'to provide the best possible educational outcomes to ensure a well rounded student and to support and engage our local community'.
At Kalbar State School, our core business is to improve student learning outcomes. We do this by having Clarity in our work. Clarity is many things including a teacher’s ability to present knowledge in a way that students canunderstand (Simonds, 1997). According to Hattie (2013), teacher clarity is one of the most potent influences on student achievement. Importantly, this research established collaboration as being key to gaining clarity as, “Planning can be done in many ways, but the most powerful is when teachers work together to develop plans, develop common understandings of what is worth teaching, collaborate on understanding their beliefs of challenge and progress, and work together to evaluate the impact of their planning on student outcomes” (Hattie, 2013). Our journey towards collaboration involved creating the structures, climate and protocols for teachers to do the work together, gaining clarity and precision.
Why was improvement needed?
Our initial data analysis revealed a discrepancy between our students’ reading results and their achievement in writing. Prior to 2019 our curriculum delivery was guided by Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C). As a result of our engagement with the Leading Learning Collaborative we aligned our 2019 Annual Implementation Plan to prioritise a collaborative approach to reviewing the whole school curriculum framework. The focus became building teacher knowledge of all subjects of the Australian Curriculum to meet the expectations of implementation by the end of 2020. A collaborative, team approach was vital to our success.
What is the focus of improvement? We are proud to say that our school is no longer at risk of random acts of improvement or choose your own adventure. Our work, as a leadership group, is to be intentionally collaborative with a relentless focus on this in the years ahead. I, as the Lead Learner, commit to the pursuit of intentional collaboration through encouraging and providing opportunities for all staff to engage together to improve student learning outcomes for ALL students.
We are using the 14 Parameters linked with the School Improvement Hierarchy to ensure an intentional approach to improvement. We aim to ensure every student receives the support needed to learn, every teacher receives the support and resources needed to teach and our leaders use a collaborative approach, setting the right conditions for teaching and learning.
How did we get started? Being a small school in the Scenic Rim, our first step was to establish a teacher as a Knowledgeable Other to attend the training and be included in our action planning.
Our team chose the word 'Collaboration' as our watermark. Whilst we have kept this to one word, we must add intentional otherwise our collaboration has the potential to become consulting, discussing and not moving forward. The journey is about every child and every teacher learning. We see that through collaboration we can all be accountable for each student and for each other.
We commenced with reading and writing data walls that created a platform for collegial discussions. These walls are updated regularly throughout the year and we have scheduled once per term meetings connecting the FACES on the wall with the English unit plan and assessment task for the next unit.
What has been the impact so far?
Through our partnership with the Leading Learning Collaborative and Dr Lyn Sharratt, class teachers have restructured their literacy learning spaces and added 'Bump It Up Walls' with clear success criteria.
Our journey continues towards quality assurance of our Australian Curriculum including aligning our unit planning, developing data informed practice and differentiation of teaching and learning in all classrooms. Through continuing work with Bump It Up Walls, the Assessment and Instruction Waterfall and the five questions, we will work to develop assessment literate learners who identify and work towards personalised learning goals.
What are our next steps? We will continue using data walls and professionally challenge each other’s thinking around what joint accountability means to us and celebrate the direct impact that we have on learners.
Our journey continues towards quality assurance of our Australian Curriculum including aligning our unit planning, developing data informed practice and differentiation of teaching and learning in all classrooms.
Through continuing work with Bump It Up Walls, the Assessment and Instruction Waterfall and the five questions, we will work to develop assessment literate learners who identify and work towards personalised learning goals.
What leadership lessons are we learning? In light of our work in 2019, we know our students, understand our context and make success a core focus for every student. Through Data Wall conversations and Case Management Meetings, we are sharing our beliefs and committing to being precise and improving outcomes for every student. Just as making learning visible in the classroom is important for students, we have created a learning wall as a visual reminder of where we are going and why this is the right work. We have created a ‘Third Classroom’ that helps us to be precise, keep our focus and stay the course. This is not a sprint. We anticipate the journey toward collaboration to be an important one and that embedded change will take time. Now that we have started, we must review our effectiveness and maximise our time together!
Principal: Angela Chant
Hattie, J. (2013). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising Impact on Learning. London, UK: Taylor and Francis Ltd
Sharratt, L. (2019). CLARITY: What matters MOST in Learning, Teaching and Leading. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin
Simonds, C. (1997). Classroom understanding: An expanded notion of teacher clarity. Communication Research Reports. 14(3).
“...we cannot continue with the thinking that got us by in the past.” - KSS Teacher