In the spirit of our Kildare Ministries value of courage, this year we launched the first stage of creating a new narrative for learning beginning with our Year 7 students. This new narrative is our response to the international conversation around the purpose of education that was amplified by the disruption of the pandemic. The question being asked internationally is what do our young people need to thrive intrapersonally, interpersonally, at a societal level and at a planetary level?
At Clonard our Learning Charter, co-created by the Clonard Community, articulates our principles for how we think about learning. This has given us a compass for rethinking what, why and how we want students to learn and our teaching community to teach.
Our partnership with the University of Melbourne New Metrics for Success and New Pedagogies for Deep Learning has positioned us alongside schools and educational thought leaders from Australia and the global educational community who are at the forefront of addressing these challenges.
We recognize that this is a long game and a journey that requires culture shifts and changes which is why we have commenced with our Year 7 students and their families. Many shifts have already commenced. Our Year 7 teachers have designed deep learning units that have brought learning to life in more challenging and relevant ways and provided a context for learning, practicing and demonstrating complex capabilities (the focus of our work with New Metrics).
This week I visited a Year 7 Science class where two classes were working together with their two teachers designing, constructing and testing the flight of their model planes. Alongside this they were evaluating refining and data collecting related to the performance of their flying machines. What I noticed was the engagement and energy in the room – learning alive. Along with explaining to me what they were learning about light and engineering, they were also able to articulate what they had been learning and practicing in relation to the capability of collaboration.
On Monday afternoon the Year 7 teaching team shared with me some of their reflections on what they had noticed so far with the work they had been undertaking. Their responses included:
- This is challenging us as it is a different way of teaching
- The students are showing more resilience as learners with the focus on student agency
- We are holding the bar up rather than bringing it down if they are finding the learning a challenge
- The students are more actively engaged
- This learning is more relevant and better for me too as a teacher
- The students are using each other and not just relying on me
- We are so excited about what might be possible for these learners by Year 10 if they continue down this style of learning
- The students are really engaging with the pre learning (this will prepare them for a flipped learning model in the later years)
- By integrating more curriculum areas we are gaining more time to teach deeply
- This really needs to continue on into Year 8
Next week we are very excited that our Year 7 parents will be invited into being partners in sharing the assessment around one of the competencies in focus at Year 7. This recognizes that learning takes place beyond the school walls and parents have a vital role to play in the process. They know their children. During the Tri Talking sessions we will explore the litmus questions that are relevant and assess jointly. We feel that this will result in greater ownership of the data, particularly when we ask students and their parents/carers to provide evidence of that learning. During the next Year 7 Growth Day, where they work independently on a self-directed project, teachers will process the rest of the litmus questions on Student Agency and Collaboration with the goal of producing our first ‘rocket’ reports on the competency of agency by the end of Semester 1 – warranted by the University of Melbourne.
Thanks to all those from our community who attended our Mother’s Day breakfast last week. A special thanks to our students who performed and our leaders including our College Captains Ava and Charlotte who led us in prayer and a reflection on the importance of mothers and the mother figures in our lives.
Our second group of Year 10 students returned from camp today after enjoying some time by the ocean down at Anglesea embracing the opportunity to connect as a community and engage in a variety of workshops and activities. Thanks to the staff who spent time away from their families to make this possible. Next week our Year 9 students will take part in their three-day Beach, Bush and City experience. I look forward to joining the Bush group on one of the days.