Term 2 has arrived. I am enjoying the last few minutes- perhaps an hour before the house erupts and I begin to farewell my 3 teenagers to school and hostel life again.
Over the past two weeks I have thought a lot about the goals for term 2 and vision for NVS over the next few years.
My mind map for the next three years has been made. There is a lot of emphasis on property (painting of the school is due, the new 5YA property money has come in and plans drawn, painting of the school roof and eventually employing a caretaker. I would love to have a caretaker!). Alongside the property, is the focus on making sure NVS grows financially (keeping the roll steady around 105-110, investing in something long term, selling of the school house), bringing the community is another factor we need to keep working on- getting them to be part of their child’s learning journey. To continually look at ways to get them to be involved, getting their feedback and feedforward to the coming years. And lastly moving the goal posts in student achievement (this includes keeping a stable staff).
We are an amazing school. My work is not done; although there are times when I want to move to bigger! At the end of the day I haven’t quite achieved what I set out. I am proud that I am now a U3 principal. The status has changed from U2 due to the roll growth and I want to keep it that way. Plus, my wish is to see the school with 6 FFTE, not the 5 we are funded for at the moment- is also on my wish list.
Sometimes I feel schools are in the marketing business- marketing our special brand of school. What makes us different from the school down the road? NVS can definitely market the country school country values approach. Similarly, that we are small enough to care but big enough to make a difference motto stands well at the school.
To be stable at the early hundreds will help us achieve my goal of U3 status and staff.
In terms of Learning and Achievement- we need to focus on formative assessment (really embedding this), making sure our school curriculum is personalised with the graduate profile and implemented (with tweaks made along the way), habit of mind and thinking skills focus, and definitely work on inquiry and writing is needed. Not to mention updating and using technology effectively in the classrooms and beyond!
We also need to focus on moving our goalposts in relation to student achievement.
This term especially we need to really focus on putting the student in the driving seat, and give them the mindset of driving their own learning.
This concept seems to be the hardest to teach- both for teachers and students. Students because it is new idea after years of worksheets and being told what to do…to suddenly discussing their learning and next steps. Similarly it’s a hard concept for some teachers to learn as well.
Although beginning teachers are taught about it at University; getting them to really drive it, is a lot harder and definitely more experienced teachers seem to struggle (changing ways of teaching after years of a similar style. (Again it links back to a previous blog- making sure we have all elements in place from the vision, to the resourcing to the skills etc then change will happen.)
I think everyone can see the benefits but putting it into practise is harder, more challenging!
So our focus this term 2 is to continue embedding it into our classes (formative Assessment)- through
1. routines- in class and in our planning each week
2. expectations of the staff and by me
3. consistency- that we put into practise things we have discussed at staff meetings (shared actions)
4. Through walk throughs that give 60 seconds feedback (team leaders and me)
5. Teacher only day- visiting other schools and seeing how they are teaching it
6. Alison (the PLD provider)- reflective feedback on our target children
7. checking of students work- e.g. bring samples of self assessment/ peer/ planning
8. sharing time at staff meetings- modelling books/ planning etc/ activities from the class that week
9. Professional readings- John Hattie video clips/ Carol Dweck?( spelling?)
10. working hard at engaging the students- the reflective question- Would I want to be a student in my class? Would I want to be taught by me??
11. student voice….continually checking.
Term 2 will be challenging…I have a teacher away already on the first day, and another battling bronchitis, plus, it’s winter- colds and flus, and last but not least an 11 week term!
Relentless consistency on the fundamentals is the pathway to #mastery.