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College embarks on new direction to improve teaching quality and student learning Throughout 2011 all teaching staff will be involved in three areas of professional development which have a direct impact on the quality of teaching of your child and will further improve their learning outcomes. The training, and checking of staff understanding on how to teach using a differentiated classroom, will be undertaken by Independent Schools Victoria who have received substantial funding to help us develop this new initiative instigated by our Principal Gary Underwood. It will have a profound change on what happens in the classroom and how teachers teach your child. Each child’s learning is influenced by their literacy skills, the way they relate to their teachers and the way they are taught in the classroom. This initiative has three component programs: 1. Student Welfare 2. Literacy Across the Curriculum 3. Differentiated Learning. Firstly, our teachers will be trained to understand, interact and form stronger relationship with our students. We all remember some teachers from our schooling, mostly we remember those we liked and loved! We usually did better in those subjects. So teachers will be trained to know more about our students, understand their skill levels and what they need to achieve. They will be trained in dealing with our students who have suffered trauma getting to Australia, and from the issues students face from cyber bullying through to drug misuse. They will learn how to form a respected relationship with students where they are not ‘friends’ but rather have that respect and trust that parents have with their children. Secondly, while we have increased the number of literacy lessons in our Middle School, learning literacy is not just the task of the English teacher. Without literacy skills the content of any subject from Grade 1 to VCE is exceptionally difficult. Further, each subject has its own vocabulary. Some words which mean one thing in humanities may have a different meaning when used in a science experiment. We can no longer take it for granted that students understand these changes. They need to be taught. How do students learn subject content? Through language of course. Every subject uses language to teach their content. But not every teacher is trained in teaching literacy, especially in Middle and Senior Secondary classes. This program will change the skills of all our teachers so that no matter what they teacher they become teachers of literacy and use literacy teaching to build understanding.


Thirdly, we are proud our classes are small because a small school has real social advantages for our students as well as academic advantages from each teacher working with fewer children. But our small class size, only one class at each level, means there is a wide range of abilities in each year level class. This can change quickly with a family newly arriving from overseas. Remember 50% of our students were NOT even born in Australia. Teachers have had a long history of teaching to the middle of the class and ignoring students at either extreme. ESL teachers have helped this to some degree, and extension activities and early promotion have also helped in small ways. In this program we are training teachers to teach in a differentiated classroom. It is where learning is differentiated and the teachers may use a number of groups with different learning techniques for the same concept being taught. For example when teaching 5x3, or 5 groups of 3, one group could be identifying the 5 groups of 3 in worksheet, another group may need to physically organize blocks into five groups with three blocks in each group; another group may be able to calculate 5x3 abstractly 5x3=15. The teacher is teaching the same topic to each student but coming to the same conclusion using different ways of learning that suit each child (groups will change depending on the topic or skill). In secondary education, learning to read a map in Geography may have one group able to visualize the three dimensions from a contour map, while another group may need to view 3D cross sections, and another group may not understand it until they physically build a threedimensional model. At the end of the topic they all understand what a contour map represents.

This last point is perhaps the most important program when it comes to how we teach your child. As you can imagine this is a substantial change in the way teachers work in the classroom. It also involves extra work and planning from our teachers. They also need to know the abilities of their students and use evidence of ability when placing students in a group for a particular topic in a subject. So there will be more pre and post testing throughout the year to inform the teacher. The outcome is that your child will learn in a way that suits their learning style and background knowledge. It will allow students with prior knowledge in a topic to advance their understanding even further.

If you would like to learn more about this development, attend the teacher training sessions or view these developments in operation in a classroom please contact our Principal, Mr Gary Underwood on 97863145 or gunderwood@stanthonys.vic.edu.au


College embarks