Woke up this morning.
I suddenly realized
We’re all in this together
I started smiling
Cause you were smiling.
And we’re all in this together.
– Ben Lee
In my second year of teaching I took a leap, out of the comfort that I had somewhat become accustomed to (as much as you can in a year and a half!) and let go of what I thought I’d learnt about teaching.
“ St Luke’s is a Catholic learning community establishing the ‘new normal’ for preschool to post school learning within an extended school day, 6am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. In a place where Learning = Infinite Possibilities, St Luke’s provides each student with inquiry experiences which are relevant to their real world. By providing a flexible and diverse curriculum, learning experiences will progressively be self-directed and increasingly personalised.
Within a safe and secure environment, literacy, numeracy and faith formation are viewed as strong foundations to assist young people identify and solve problems. With each person taking responsibility for their own learning, all learners participate actively in a changing world where they are called to:
- WITNESS by living the Good News as revealed through the Gospel of St Luke
- MANAGE self
- RELATE with others
- COMMUNICATE and COLLABORATE with peers and experts
- THINK CREATIVELY and CRITICALLY through deep and rigorous reflection
- Be DIGITALLY LITERATE ” (http://www.stlukesmarsdenpark.catholic.edu.au/the-four-schools)
I’ve joined the St Luke’s Marsden Park community as a Stage One teacher. While teaching is still at the core, the learning journey of our students looks vastly different. In any given day students move throughout our learning space to a range of teachers to suit their various needs, work collaboratively in groups or deciding to work independently. The key being student choice. Very early on we knew that the key to student choice was going to be knowing our students and how they learn.
Wrapping your head around something new isn’t going to happen in 6 weeks and I definitely do not have my feet firmly on the ground yet. Our focus for our first few weeks had to be getting to know our students. Knowing our students means understanding what they like, how they learn and what drives them within the classroom. We put assessments in the passenger seat and we set out to learn 45 names (90 across the stage), what their passions were and a catch a glimpse of how they learn. What is the best way to do that quickly and efficiently? I knew I had to get in their “quality world” very early on and on the first day that started with questions. “What school were you at last year?” “What do you do for fun on the weekends?” “It’s interesting how you always lie on the floor to learn, do you think that helps you learn best?” With every question I was getting into their quality world just a little bit more. How do you get to know your students?
From there we could then begin to know them as learners and the data could drive what we had already come to know about each child. The data was no longer our starting point it was a mid point along our learning journey. We reflected on the data and what we knew to then group students based on needs. The groupings are not set in concrete, they are flexible, just like our space. If a student moves up two levels in reading then we can adapt to that on any given day. The beauty of having such a flexible learning space is that (hopefully!) the students have never seen it as a physical divide but more a space for all of stage one to move freely across based on their needs at any given moment in time.
On our first day together as a staff Ben Lee’s ‘We’re All in This Together’ was played. There was something about that moment that has stuck with me. I’ve always loved thinking of a cohort as a “team.” I’m not there yet with knowing everything about every child – but I’m on my way. I greet each child with their name and a smile and I’m getting to know their learning traits. I’ve started the year with getting to know my students and I’m looking forward to a year where “we’re all in this together.” (cheesy, I know!)