Learning driven by students’ interests
In his latest Teacher video Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta speaks to Katherine Stennett about how learning at Mother Teresa Primary in Westmead is driven by students and their interests, and how staff work together to develop units of work based on this approach.
Stennett explains that when the school was established eight years ago, it was decided that inquiry-based learning would be a major focus. Students are given choice about what they’re learning and how they’d like it delivered. For example, they have indicated that they enjoy hands-on learning, particularly in Science, so staff try to incorporate it into their planning.
‘We look at the outcomes that we’re about to teach for a particular term and we actually then talk to the students about “this is what we have to get to”, how would you like to do that?”’
The staff work collaboratively to deliver these lessons, drawing on the range of skills that they collectively bring to the classroom.
‘…I don’t know everything and neither [do] my colleagues necessarily, but together we actually complement each other and we can support each other,’ Stennett says. ‘So not only do we plan together as a grade and then as a stage, we also then teach that way.’
According to Stennett, this approach to learning is having a positive impact on engagement in the classroom, on student learning and on staff. ‘The students actually are engaged in their learning and they want to know what they can do to improve.
‘I’ve seen a lot of personal success from the students with their growth and them taking ownership for their learning … and what better way to learn ourselves [as teachers] than to use the same model that we expect our students to go through.’
How often do you ask students for feedback on what they’re learning? How do you ensure that you’re able to embed that feedback into your lessons?
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