I hope this week’s edition finds you well.
“… experienced teachers of beginning readers teach phonics within rich, multifaceted literacy instruction. It is neither book reading and writing instruction nor phonics instruction, but both. You cannot have one without the other. If you teach phonics without reading and writing, children cannot and will not use their knowledge.”
Letter Lessons And First Words Phonics Foundations That Work, Heidi Anne Mesmer, pg. 42
The first interaction I had with staff at Cobram SC was through an intake of Leading Literacy in 2019. I had been working a lot with Cobram PS, and so there was some sort of connection between us from the get go.
I had heard on the grapevine that the school had done an excellent job of implementing their reading program, Illuminate. I was impressed with how the principal, Kimberley, had maintained the school’s focus until the practices were embedded, despite their being pressure to move on to other areas.
To highlight this success, in 2019, the school was featured in a podcast by the University of Melbourne called Talking Teaching, hosted by Maxine McKew. In the podcast Leading Teacher Penny Jones discusses Illuminate and why it has proven to be so effective.
You can catch the episode by clicking on the link below:
My direct work with Cobram SC started in December 2019. We had two great days in the last week of the school year where we focused on Writing to Learn, and it was exciting to hear and see what 2020 and beyond would look like.
If you had have told me at the time that it would be 27 months before I would be back onsite I wouldn’t have believed you in a million years.
Most of this has been COVID related. Every time Kimberley and I booked in days it seemed to coincide with another lockdown. It was almost as if they were related somehow.
Since working for myself I’ve only missed 1 week of work due to being sick, and yep it was when I was due to be at Cobram SC. It was from food poisoning, and yes it was a very long drive home!
So, as you can see, it is as if our work together was jinxed.
Anyway, it was good to be back and see staff again, as well as the impressive new buildings.
In my absence from the school Kimberley has employed a number of new staff via Teach For Australia and Nexus. This was predominately who I worked with on the day.
Without knowing much about either initiative, I was so impressed with this talented group. We focused on gradual release of responsibility, Workshop model, writing to learn, and I modelled a lesson which we were able to debrief over.
My background as a secondary teacher is English and Maths. In last week’s newsletter I shared that modelling lessons was one of the favourite things I get to do. In my secondary work this often translates to modelling lessons in subject areas outside of my methods.
This time around I taught a Year 8 Science class with a focus on the circulatory system. Now, my knowledge of the circulatory system is on the shallow side, but what I’m able to demonstrate is how important pedagogy is.
All of the staff present were excited by how much learning happened within the lesson and how it connected to the work we were doing together.
Thank you to Caleb for allowing me to have his class, and sharing his planning and resources.
On my first visit to Kyabram this year we had learning walks in the morning, the opportunity to work with each team, and after school we used writing samples using my take on how to effectively use a PLC cycle.
The learning walks demonstrated that the excellent work around reading has been maintained, and this is transferring to writing nicely. Now, despite it threatening to be a wet summer, this never really eventuated. We were due for some rain, and it was steady for most of the day. Chris and I should have brought our umbrellas for the learning walk!
One of the flagship initiatives as part of The Education State agenda has been the focus on Professional Learning Communities. There are fantastic resources attached to this, but I do encourage the schools I’m working with to use the core principles and make it their own. This is something I’m thinking of writing about in the near future, both from a primary and a secondary perspective.
The vacancy for the AP position at the school, which is highlighted in the job board section below, is because Kate Whitford has picked up the substantive principal position at Rochester PS. Kate will be sorely missed at Kyabram, and will be a huge asset to Rochester PS. Good luck and all the best Kate!
There are two exciting Assistant Principal job opportunities that I’ve shared in the last 2 newsletters. One at Cobram PS, and the other at Kyabram P-12 College. Both positions are closing soon.
I work directly with both schools, and if you’re interested, feel free to get in touch.
If you would like me to share a job you have going, let me know and I will include it in the newsletter.
Study Group is going ahead online in term 2 and it’s free (you will just have to buy your own copy of the selected text). I should also clarify that this will be suitable for any and all educators.
If you want to join the talented group who have committed to learn together you will need to let me know asap.
Thanks for reading and see you next week,
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.
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