Updated: Feb 24, 2022
Hi colleagues, I hope you’re having a good week 😊
"Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true." Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Northern Territory Principals
Last week I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker for a group of principals in the NT who are completing the Emerging Principals in the Northern Territory Leadership for School Improvement course, that is run through the Queensland Education Leadership Institute.
The invitation was from my former mentor, Christopher Thomas, who is the Director of Programs at QELi. I shared my leadership story, what I’m up to nowadays and took any questions.
It was nice to recognise that I had coached some of the participants previously, and while I admire all principals, it goes up a level for some of the people in the NT. It is a challenging (and rewarding) job in any context, but the remoteness can make it all consuming.
There are many schools in Victoria that have ‘Creating A Community Of Readers/Writers’ as their first unit of study of the school year. These units originate from the work of Keay Cobbin, and through Keay’s generosity they have been shared and used widely.
The issue with this can be that educators using the unit don’t have a strong understanding behind its design, and how to best apply the curriculum to their classroom. The purpose of
the unit is to lay the ground work for the way students will work all year in the reading/writing workshop. Teachers and students work together to set the norms and behavioural expectations for working in the reading/writing workshop.
In terms of the ‘Community Of Writers’ unit there are two common areas where schools can often improve.
Trying to teach every mini-lesson in the unit without being responsive to the needs of the students (it is not intended that everything outlined in the unit is taught in every year level).
By the end of the unit the students haven’t engaged in enough writing.
At Camberwell South PS our focus is on writing and the units I’m describing have been in place for around five years. With this in mind we recently discussed how the students are very familiar with the workshop model, and therefore we need to set up the norms and expectations, but also be prepared to move to lessons that are more appropriate for their needs.
While we covered a lot of ground, the other main talking point we had was around getting the balance between setting up the community and getting enough writing happening. Planning for how we are going to publish and celebrate student writing at the end of the unit ensures that there will be enough intent.
It bodes well for the students at Camberwell South PS to have a fantastic start to the 2022 school year.
There are lots of resources online in the numeracy space, some excellent, some not so much. Mathigon is one that I would recommend you become familiar with if you aren’t already.
Mathigon have written a holiday puzzle calendar with 24 daily challenges starting on December 1st. There are also examples of the puzzles from previous years, and here is a sneak peek at the first two:
I recommend having a problem of the day/week across the school for students and families to tackle. Before you know it solving maths problems is part of the culture in your school community.
Article Of The Week
I’m still working on my piece about principal wellbeing. Hopefully it will make out in time for next week’s newsletter.
You can subscribe to my blog to have it delivered to your inbox when it has been uploaded.
I’ve also included links to my previous articles if you’re interested. Report Writing Season Finish Strong Victorian Education Excellence Awards Learning Can Be Life Changing Hate Mail Remembering Richard Elmore Depth Over Breadth Can An Entire Education System Become Coherent? Thanks for reading and see you next week, Cheers Danny.
P.S Feel free to provide me with any feedback regarding the newsletter, or anything for that matter via email. Also, let me know what topics you would be interested in reading more about.
In case someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up for the newsletter here.