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    Personal Story

     Learning-and-Teaching 

    Catherine Scheffer
    Year 12 Siena College, Camberwell

    Along with six other Siena students and two teachers, I embarked on an immersion to South Africa for two weeks last year, living with a host family while learning of the history and culture of the country. 

    I noticed that despite all the hardships of the women of Kopanang, they were some of the happiest people I had ever met. The children stood out in particular for me; happy over the slightest of things. 

    For example, the other students and I brought balloons, pencils and stickers, which had them ecstatic for days on end. 

    This ability to draw happiness from poverty and quite often, hunger and pain, motivated me to produce a series of drawings under the title Happy Sadness which will be featured in the 2015 Visual Arts Display during Catholic Education Week. 

    A young boy named Tyron, who was a member of my host family, personally inspired me as he was always happy despite the conditions he lived in. I grew very close to Tyron, as well as having a strong connection to other children I encountered.

    It was after my time at Kopanang that I realised how much we take for granted; food, water, safety, education and much more. 

    Without knowing the children it is impossible to depict their current state of poverty. These children’s facial expressions show us that money is not the key to happiness. 

    It is my duty to tell my Siena school community that ‘happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’  

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    Literacy

    General Overview

    The Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM) Literacy Team provided services in 2014 that were strategically designed to build the capacity of schools to continuously improve the literacy outcomes of all students P–12. The services included diverse professional learning opportunities, differentiated to best meet the needs of leaders and teachers in schools.

    Foundation to Year 2 Literacy Assessment and Teaching

    The key focus of the project was to identify the assessment capabilities necessary to lead, promote and support continuous improvement in student learning. Schools worked through an inquiry process to develop shared practice reflective of a sophisticated understanding of student-centred assessment.

    Teachers in the project:

    • evaluated their current assessment policies, practices and initiatives to determine how effectively they supported improving student learning
    • built understanding of how to use student-centred assessment data together with achievement standards as a way to discern and monitor student progress
    • worked with assessment as an integral part of their curriculum design
    • used student assessment data to modify teaching practice
    • established collaborative relationships to expand professional learning opportunities.

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    Project Outcomes

    The F–2 Literacy Assessment and Teaching project outcomes included 10 Guiding Principles for F–2 assessment and a ‘Telling Insight’ that captured the essence of the assessment learning from each school in the project. 

     St-Anthony-of-Padua-Melton-South 

    F–2 teachers from St Anthony's School, Melton South. 

    Mentoring

    Participation in the mentoring service enables leaders to be active in the professional learning of their peers, within and beyond the individual school context. All involved, both mentor and mentees, are supported to build their capacity to implement leadership practices, identified as having a significant impact on learning. The aim is for leaders to develop the confidence to contextualise their leadership through learning opportunities involving:

    • professional learning for emerging leaders and school teams (mentee/s) supported by established leaders (mentors) who represent existing expertise within the system
    • mentee engagement in a sustained relationship with an experienced mentor
    • literacy leadership succession planning in literacy mentor schools
    • support structures for mentors such as professional learning, collective problem solving and networking
    • use of key CEOM documentation and frameworks
    • active reflection and review of leader practices, such as including reflective journals
    • CEOM support via school visits for mentors and mentees.

    In 2014, participants were from a range of areas including:

    • three primary literacy leader partnerships
    • one secondary literacy leader partnership
    • two Reading to Learn partnerships
    • three Science mentor partnerships.
     

     Reflection from a mentor:  

    Some of the most significant learning has been the notion of empowerment, through reflection and effective questioning, by receiving feedback through trust not assessment, by fostering a non-judgmental and relationship-orientated partnership, and by having the coaching conversations supported by evidence. (2014 Literacy Mentor)

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    Other Initiatives

    • Communities of Learning:
      • F–8 Learning Literacies
      • Collaborative Literacy Learning communities.
       
    • Scaffolding learning:
      • Reading Recovery
      • Reading to Learn.
       
    • Leadership for learning:
      • F–6 Regional Clusters
      • new Literacy and Mathematics leaders
      • Curriculum Literacies Network.
       
    • Assessment capability:
      • Literacy Assessment project.
       
    • Whole-School Improvement:
      • School-Improvement Literacy
      • Secondary Literacy-Improvement project.
       

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