Principal’s Blog

Conversations about Learning

Our students will know what they are learning, why they are learning it and how to be successful, is the first of our three Student Improvement Goals for 2020. This goal involves both our teachers and students working together in a partnership for learning success. On Monday 17 February, the Principals’ Association of Victorian Catholic Secondary Schools hosted a day with Professor John Hattie. I was accompanied by Jo Ryan, our Assistant Principal for Learning and Teaching and Natalie Stephenson, one of our new School Improvement Leaders for Learning.

We listened to Professor Hattie’s latest thinking around school improvement. The core premise of Hattie’s work has been based around schools ensuring they focus improvement efforts on what is proven to have the greatest impact. Our goal, stated above reflects what Hattie has found to have some of the highest influences on student achievement, including the use of challenging learning goals as outlined in learning intentions and in naming explicit success criteria for learning. It is a move away from talking about what students are ‘doing’ to what students are ‘learning’. Our teaching staff are currently engaged in ongoing professional learning workshops to build our expertise in developing and using learning intentions and success criteria. It is encouraging to note as I walk through classrooms and staff offices, the increased use and conversation around these two strategies. Hattie also reminded us that learning is hard work. It should not be too easy, nor too difficult but at the right level of challenge. This is often referred to as the Goldilocks principle. This is an area of further conversation with some of our students who might believe that learning should always be easy or fun. Hattie suggested that the conversations around the dinner table might sound something like:

What was challenging for you in your learning today?
How did you get through the challenge?
What was the thrill of learning for you today?

Enhancing Catholic Schools Identity (ECSI) Survey

Every 3 to 4 years, Catholic school communities are invited to participate in the ECSI survey. This year we have been invited to participate. It is timely for our College as this coincides with a full school review year, so the data we collect will be useful for our evaluation of our expression of our Catholic identity. Kildare Education Ministries is supportive of us engaging in this survey. Next week families will receive an invitation to participate in the survey. Families will also receive a letter that explains your daughter’s participation in the survey. If you do not wish for your daughter(s) to be involved please notify the office by next Friday 28 February so that her/their name(s) can be removed from the participation list. Students will engage in the survey during a RE class between Monday 2 March – Friday 27 March. We recognise that families are often time poor, however, your time to engage in this survey would be greatly appreciated as is a way of supporting further improvement in our College’s development as a faith community.

Student Leadership

As I write this blog I am about to head out to our swimming sports. Yesterday I had one of our staff pop into my office to commend the leadership of our House Captains and other Year 12 students and how they have really embraced the opportunity to lead the student body and raise House spirit. I congratulate all those who are stepping up and taking leadership in helping our College be the best it can be. This is an encouraging sign that we will have a wonderful day at the pool, even if the weather looks a little bleak this morning. I also want to acknowledge all those in our community, especially Old Collegians who have shared memories of their time at our College through their House involvement. I have loved reading the memories of Sr Lelia as shared in our Facebook posts. In so many ways these are expressions of what continues to make Clonard who we are today.