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Archived June Principal Message

Reflections on the 2016-2017 School Year

“We should focus on the greatest source of variance that can make the difference – the teacher. We need to ensure that this greatest influence is optimised to have powerful and sensationally positive effects, but they must be exceptional effects. We need to direct attention at higher quality teaching, and higher expectations that students can meet appropriate challenges – and these occur once the classroom door is closed and not by reorganising which or how many students are behind those doors…”

’Teachers Make a Difference: What is the research evidence?”  John Hattie (2003)

How Can Learning in the Company of Others Support Effective Teaching?

As teachers begin finalizing report cards and start their planning for the next school year, June is truly a time of reflection.  

As we reflect upon our work as teachers this year, one can’t help but wonder, what does the effective teacher do that makes the most difference in student learning?  Historically, being effective meant that teachers were simply content experts.  As Professor of Education at the University of Melbourne, John Hattie would suggest, the evidence doesn’t support that content knowledge on its own makes a teacher effective.  Hattie proposes that knowledge of superior teaching instruction is not just a matter of becoming more experienced.  Conversely, his research emphasizes that one of the most important factors leading to effective teaching is the ongoing cooperation between teachers (Hattie, 2003). I believe that our experiences at Glendale School this year would wholeheartedly support this suggestion.

This year, we have made incredible leaps and bounds in our work to learn in the company of others through a highly effective Professional Learning Community (PLC) model each Friday afternoon. As teachers, we embrace that cooperation between teachers makes a significant difference in professional learning which in turn positively impacts the learning of all students.  This year I have had the pleasure of watching our incredible teachers embrace the importance of teaming, sharing ideas and supporting each other to determine what the “next right thing to do” is for our students.  As a result we are not only observing new approaches to higher-quality instruction, we are also benefiting from changing relationships between teachers and students and content (curriculum).

As a small school, we have an opportunity to create an intimate learning environment that is better able to address the needs of each student and teacher. The size of our school enables staff, students and parents to be part of an effective communication strategy to support the needs of each student.  As a result, many meaningful relationships are fostered and opportunities for collaboration are cultivated.  One of the struggles teachers can have in a small school however is having ample opportunity to broaden our understanding about effective teaching strategies given our size.  Over the last three years, we have made concerted efforts to collaborate thoughtfully with other teachers through a variety of area meetings and system learning opportunities for our teachers. This has proven to have significant impact on our instructional approaches for our students.

We recognize that strong partnerships build trust through shared goals. We recognize that as parents, your continued support of this work and our shared vision for academic success is a fundamental factor in our ability to provide a quality learning environment for your children.

At this time I would like to thank the families of Glendale School for all of your support this year.  We are very excited about what 2017-2018 can offer for our students and we look forward to our continued learning journey together. It is our pleasure to work with your children each and every day.

 

I wish you and your family a safe and enriching summer together. 

Sincerely,
Michelle Speight
Proud Principal of
Glendale School
mmspeight@cbe.ab.ca

Archived Principal Messages