Is your school plan sitting on a shelf gathering dust?

I find it interesting when leaders of schools put so much time and effort into school planning yet when you ask their teachers what the main goals of the school are they have no idea! The only way school goals related to teaching and learning can be achieved is by a collective effort from teachers. Leaders are encouraged to consult with all stakeholders when developing their goals but sometimes this is tokenistic, and teachers don’t really engage with the process. The school plan is then submitted and “put on the shelf” for the year, probably revisited by the executive but I wonder how many teachers ever look at it again?

The school plan can be hard for teachers to relate to

Each sector has their own framework and strategic plan which will inform each school’s plan. Unfortunately, some of these do not incorporate a range of teaching standards and sometimes the ratio devoted to teaching and learning is not reflective of that core function. I understand there are other aspects of running a school that require planning, these are the things that allow teachers to get on with their job, but do they really need to worry about that stuff?

So how can we make a school plan more meaningful to our teachers?

It’s quite simple.

It’s essential that your school plan is based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. My suggestion is to create a Teaching and Learning Plan by extracting all things teaching and learning from your official school plan. This is what the teachers need to know.

Focus on everyday teaching practices

I understand that a school plan is a formal document and must be written in such a way to satisfy “the powers that be” but quite often they become too verbose and teachers can’t make a connection between the “words” and their everyday practice. To make it more accessible, you might consider launching your Annual School Plan to teachers with 4 to 8 priorities that reflect and incorporate your goals in a succinct way: “Enhancing Writing”, “Authentic Assessment”, “Collaborative Practices”, “Project Based Learning”, “Differentiation”, “Success Criteria” etc.  You then publish the priorities around the school: common rooms, staff rooms, lunch rooms (even the back of toilet doors!), to raise the profile of what the school hopes to achieve.

Make teachers the lead in their own professional development

It makes a lot of sense if teachers set their own Personal Performance and Development Goals based on the school’s priorities. That way individual teachers become a united force towards supporting the progress and ultimate success of the school. School leaders can then develop a strategic, differentiated professional learning plan to meet both the needs of their teachers and NESA Maintenance of Accreditation at Proficient Teacher requirements. From this point forward, teachers will be able to connect every professional learning session with a school priority, recognise the opportunity to learn, then apply their newly acquired knowledge or practice with the students they teach. Furthermore, those with expertise in priority areas can support their colleagues providing opportunities for them at the Highly Accomplished Teacher level.

The key to success

Don’t forget the point I made earlier. The crucial factor that is pivotal to the success of this approach is to ensure the School Plan is underpinned by the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Stop to think of all that will be achieved by adopting such an approach:

• Progress towards school goals

• Teacher awareness of school priorities

• Personal Performance and Development Goals based on the school priorities

• Quality professional learning based on the school priorities

• Teachers meeting NESA Maintenance at Proficient Teacher requirements

I understand that this all sounds logical in theory, correct? But how does this work in reality I hear you say? Below is an example of the cascade effect that can be achieved from high level planning goals through to individual Personal Performance and Development Plans if the process is set up systematically and based on the correct framework from the start:

“How am I assisting the school to meet their goals on a Tuesday morning after recess while I teach my Year 8 PDHPE class?”

• System Improvement Plan Goal
Measurable improvement in learning outcomes and growth for all students, particularly in literacy and numeracy.

• School Improvement Plan Goal
Over 60% of Year 9 students achieving greater than or equal to expected growth (approx. ¾ of a band) in writing in NAPLAN. (NB. Year 1 of 3 year goal)

• Teacher and Learning Plan Priority Area
Enhancing writing

• Teacher Personal Performance and Development Plan

APSTs Goal Actions and resources Evidence Impact

2.5.2 Apply knowledge and understanding of effective teaching strategies to support students’ literacy and numeracy achievement

 1.5.2 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

 

Incorporate five differentiated, explicit writing strategies into Year 8 teaching and learning programs each term.

 

• Develop my understanding of the aspects of writing through active participation in relevant school-based PL

• Identify opportunities to incorporate writing strategies into programs

• Add explicit, differentiated writing strategies to programs

• Seek out the expertise of Faculty Literacy Team Representative

• Seek out the expertise of Learning and Support Teacher

• Seek out the expertise of Gifted and Talented coordinator

• Access quality resources

• Revised Year 8 teaching and learning programs

• Student work samples

• Student data

• Lesson observation records

 

• Student writing work samples

• Student writing data

Enrich has assisted many School Leaders to establish this strategic approach in their school. Contact us if you’d like some more information on info@enricheducation.org.au.

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