Had a great day today learning from Dr Lyn Sharratt about ‘Putting Faces on the data.’ This morning I was worried that the session might focus on sources of data that are not appropriate to us at Adelaide West. However, the whole day focussed on strategies that have been proven to improve literacy in Canadian schools that would work for us. At the core of her thinking is the reiteration that
“Each student can achieve high standards, given the right time and the right support” and ‘Each teacher can teach to high standards given the right asistance.”
So good to be in a room full of people who were able to discuss this at face value even when I described our students and their challenges. But this is a challenge faced by other schools considering students with other challenges – home backgrounds, language issues etc. I was reminded of Kevin Honeycutt and the two Jason’s presentationss at te ILT conference 2014 trying to re-engage ‘lost’ learners.
The research that Lyn presented talked about 14 parameters for schools to use to help them improve students’ outcomes. One of these was the importance of literacy coaches – thanks to Jane Farrall students and teachers at Adelaide West have had quality literacy coaching for a couple of years and we are starting to collect data showing how this is benefiting our students. Enjoyed discussion with a few people about why DECD literacy coaches have not made it into special schools yet – remembering that all students can learn makes it crucial that those who find traditional academic learning challenging should make our system policy makers think about supporting the work in special schools in the same way as schools for typically developing students – or am I wrong here? Surely some of the resources around literacy and numeracy learning should be directed to the most needy of our system’s students.
Lyn talked about the value of student work as data which I really appreciated as that’s a great way for class staff to reflect on learning and look at the way forward for individual students. We can make data walls around this work in a way that reflects our studetns powerful learning without feeling that the data set excludes them – as NAPLAN and other standard data tools seem to do.
The other thing that really resonated for me was how leaders need to become lead-learners, engaging with professional development and learning alongside the teachers and students as part of the learning journey. a great quote from one of Lyn’s students – ‘ You can’t lead where you won’t go!’ Must always remember this – everyone should be collaborative learners or the students lose out. I would love to try to have a showcase day for our school to show the community what literacy learning looks like for our students – any thoughts on whether this would have appeal?