Last year two new important positions were established at Kew Primary. Most primary schools of our size have some form of leadership team which normally includes the Principal, VP and some senior teachers with specific roles. Sally Marsh and Andrew Wood were appointed Leading Teachers.
So I thought it would be good to meet our two new Leading Teachers and find out exactly what their roles entail. Sally Marsh comes to Kew from Alphington Primary where she worked for the last twelve years. Sally has her own Grade 2 class, is Coordinator of the Prep-Grade 2 Team and a member of the school’s Leadership Team.
Welcome to KPS, Sally. How have you found your first few weeks?
I’ve had a really enjoyable time. I was at my last school for a long time so I was a little apprehensive about moving, but everyone has been really supportive and friendly which has made the move very easy.
Can you tell me a little about what you did at Alphington?
During my time at Alphington I worked with children from every year level apart from Grade 6, and I was a Learning Leader. I was lucky enough to be involved in a project set up by the Northern Metro Region to bring about improvements in literacy and numeracy. I worked with a number of senior academics from here and the UK who are leaders in this field. I developed skills and expertise through working with them, and then my job as a Learning Leader was to pass on that knowledge to other staff. The ultimate aim was to improve outcomes for our students in these two very important areas.
So you bring that expertise to Kew?
My job here is to work with staff to develop consistent curriculum across the entire school. I want to create a detailed document that covers everything the students learn from Prep to Grade 6 and beyond – including Grades 7 and 8. It won’t be a description of what they learn day-to-day, but more an outline of what will be covered in the curriculum; it’s almost like building blocks. So if a Grade 5 teacher has a student who is operating at Grade 7 level in literacy, that teacher can look at what is appropriate learning for that student or, similarly, if the student is operating at Grade 4 level in numeracy.
My sense is that there’s a lot of great work being done here – the school is above average in reading, for example – and it would be really good to bring all that together, to make everything very consistent.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for a school like ours?
I think catering for difference is a huge challenge, especially for kids operating at a higher academic level.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into all this; I have one day a week specifically for this work which is fantastic. And I’m also looking forward to getting to know the kids and staff so it all feels more familiar, and that takes a little time.
Thanks Sally. We’re very happy to have you and I hope it doesn’t take too long for you to feel completed settled at KPS.
Andrew Wood first came to KPS in 2010 as an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) teacher and last year taught Grade 4 so will be familiar to many of you. This year, Andrew has a Grade 6 class and is our other Leading Teacher, specialising in Teaching and Learning.
Andrew came to Melbourne from New Zealand where he taught at both primary and secondary level, as well as at University. In 2009 he graduated with a Masters of Education with a thesis that focused on indigenous educational leadership.
So what does being a Leading Teacher, Teaching and Learning involve exactly?
In my role as Leading Teacher I’ll be working alongside the fantastic and very knowledgeable staff of Kew Primary School to ensure that the teaching practice in each class is informed by the most up-to-date research. Most importantly, I want to ensure it is a teaching practice that maximizes the learning capacity of all our students.
So… okay…how do you do that?
Well it will involve staff undertaking a range of professional learning opportunities to increase our own teaching knowledge and capabilities especially in literacy and numeracy. We’ll be encouraging staff to share their own knowledge and expertise in a mentoring/coaching role with other staff at KPS.
And we’re hoping to develop guiding principles for teaching at KPS in collaboration with our Professional Learning Team (PLT) Leaders. This year our PLT leaders are Sonia Hocking for Literacy, Clare Connor for Student Engagement and Well-being, Clio Williams for ICT and Jaclin McCombe for Numeracy.
While there are many examples of great teaching practice already happening here at KPS, I believe that great teaching practice recognises and caters for the different learning styles, strengths and needs of children in the class. The teaching needs to be student centered and differentiated, that is, the teacher ensures he or she provides different resources, support and materials as and when needed, therefore maximizing the learning of each child: ‘There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequals.’
Thanks Andrew, and good luck with all that.