From the Principal

Dealing with Change

I hope that the parents in our School community enjoyed their time in school. One of the reasons for that is that I know that when parents have a positive approach to education and value it, this is one of the prime movers in a child enjoying school and doing well.

Parental memories of their schooling can also be an issue that must be confronted by schools who seek to respond to the challenges our students do and will face.

A number of years ago when this school and I were younger, I hosted a Headmaster from a prestigious and venerable Queensland school to a tour and lunch.

Despite our relatively young age and our relatively low fees he was amazed at the success of the educational approaches we were taking in our quest to make St Columba the best regional school in New South Wales.

He observed that, with a strong Old Boys and Old Girls Union presence on his school council, it was always difficult to make changes: “If a change alters what they remember of their time at the school back in ‘66, they don’t want to know about it!”

Even in a young school like ours this can be an issue.

Since our parents left school, laws governing education, regulations, syllabii, reporting processes, digital technologies and post school careers have all changed markedly. And there is more to come.

Then and Now – Ways schools have changed.

  • Today we refer not to the lesson objective but the learning intention and the focus is placed on providing opportunities for students to move beyond knowing and doing to understanding; understanding not only the information, but more importantly the concept. Acquiring conceptual understanding provides a strong foundation for their future learning and life experiences.
  • In modern terminology, the classroom has been ‘flipped’. ‘Back in the day’ the teacher talked for approximately 80% of the lesson and the students worked for 20%. Today the teacher ‘hopefully’ holds the floor for 20%, allowing students 80% of the time to be engaged in their learning by doing.
  • The passive learner sits, listens, answers the teacher’s questions and does as told – this is typical of the learner ‘back then’. Today the active learner not only answers questions but also learns to pose open, fertile questions that will lead to in-depth investigations.
  • Today we focus on repairing relationships and harm through an inclusive practice that includes everyone involved.
  • We’ve gone from the slate, to the inkwell, exercise book, pen, personal computer, laptop, iPad and even to the mobile phone. The classroom therefore is no longer the bastion of learning. Just as the ‘Flipped Classroom’ has changed the relationship dynamics within the classroom, so too has it changed its location.
  • Digital technologies today allow the teacher to reach out beyond their space in the school to be present in the student’s home etc. A lesson taught, recorded and uploaded can be revisited as often as needed. This gives students the opportunity to learn something they may have missed or not understood the first time.
  • Once upon a time the resources available for teaching and learning consisted of books, blackboards, blocks and other basics. Today the list of resources is endless and exciting, and their use is as divergent as one’s imagination. The digital classroom, the robotic classroom are not concepts of the future … they are here today and will only grow in application as the technology itself becomes more readily available and sophisticated.

Our duty, if we are to stay the best school we can be, is to provide our students with a relevant, engaging, future-focussed education.

This is Our Response:

  • We know that the successful people in today’s world are lifelong learners. They have an attitude that says graduation is only a step not an end point.
  • We have identified what all the world’s top thinkers agree are the capabilities and capacities of those who will succeed in the future.
  • Looking for the best schools in the world for our inspiration.
  • Looking at teaching and assessment systems that better reflect the current and future state of play at university and in the workplace.
  • Using educational data to ensure that our foundations are strong (literacy and numeracy).
  • Developing systems of teaching and assessment that enables and empowers our students as they step out into the real world.
  • Having our students spend less time on copying from the board or textbook or on tests, and more time linking their learning to their current and future worlds.
  • Investigating how portfolios rather than examination papers will tell us how far and how fast each student has learnt.
  • Using projects rather than class tests, so that their school learning reflects and prepares them for their future.

This can be concerning to parents who find what their children are doing is very different to their experience at school.

It is normal that something this different may cause you to ask why we are doing what we are doing, and how it will benefit your child.

GOOD!

We want you to be an active part of your child’s learning journey at St Columba.

We look forward to showing you why we have chosen the path we are on.

We know it will work because we let others make mistakes, make mis-steps and we take the good bits and bring them to our students.


Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School
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