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Teachers are Learners

If you ask your son what makes him successful at school, you probably won’t hear about an online platform or a glossy new textbook. No, more than likely, you will hear something along these lines, “It’s Ms Wonderful, she never gives up on me.” Which is why schools need to invest in their most valuable and influential resource, their teachers.

How Do Teachers Learn?

Teaching and learning are processes that are inseparably linked together. Teachers are professional learners. Good teachers can motivate students with a desire to learn.

This year at Ambrose Treacy, we have been taking a closer look at the forms of teacher learning that supports student learning: How do our teachers learn best? One of the most powerful strategies to improve student learning is collaboration. John Hattie (the go-to-guru for all things education) explains that schools must create the structures and cultures that foster effective educator collaboration – collaboration that focuses on factors to influence and impact student learning in a positive way. The key message is clear – educators should not work in isolation.

If you ask a teacher what the best learning is to support their teaching, they will invariably say, ‘learning that is connected to my subject’. In 2021 we have made some deliberate attempts to do just this, with subject-specific professional development.

Developing Communities of Practice at ATC

A community of practice is a group of people who share a common concern or an interest in a topic and come together to fulfil both individual and group goals. Communities of practice often focus on sharing best practices and creating new knowledge to advance an area of professional practice.

Through a Literacy Community of Practice, represented by a teacher from every subject in the school we are connecting teachers with learning that is subject specific and transferrable across curriculum areas. Our teachers are learning how to embed transferrable literacy strategies in all curriculum areas. The members of the CoP are then teaching their own departments how to use High Impact Literacy strategies in their unique subject.

What are our teachers learning about?

Based on an analysis of our student data, it comes as no surprise, in a boy’s school that Literacy continues to be a high priority at Ambrose Treacy College. High quality implementation of educational approaches to teaching literacy can have a significant impact on improving students’ outcomes.

Teachers at Ambrose Treacy College recognise that Literacy is not just about being successful in an English class, it is an approach to improving literacy across the curriculum. We recognise that literacy skills are both general and subject specific, emphasising the value of supporting teachers in every subject to teach students how to read, write and communicate effectively in a variety of subject areas.

This year our teachers are teaching one another High Impact Strategies to develop our boy’s literacy skills. The high impact Literacy Strategies our teachers are learning about in their CoP include Tiered Vocabulary, Text coding and Modelled Writing.

Over the course of this year our teachers have the opportunity to build a collective understanding of research-based practices in literacy instruction. By using these strategies, we are building our pool of knowledge, professional learning communities and evidence-based practices to increase the probability of literacy intervention effectiveness for our students at ATC.

Staff at a Recent Teacher PD Session

Lisa Holohan
Assistant Dean of Learning – Teacher Growth and Development