There is clear evidence that purposeful professional learning for teachers is a key factor in improving student learning outcomes. The research asserts that, “in order to be effective, teachers need a deep understanding of their subject area, knowledge of how students learn specific subject matter and a range of strategies and practices that support student learning.” The research also affirms “that engaging teachers in high quality professional learning is the most successful way to improve teacher effectiveness and hence improve student outcomes.” (Greenwald, Hedges & Laine 1995; Guskey & Huberman 1995; Elmore & Burney 1997; Hawley & Valli 1999; Elmore 2002).
Waverley College is committed to providing ongoing professional learning for our staff to ensure they are kept up-to-date with contemporary pedagogical and student wellbeing research. We dedicated time across our two Staff Days this week to address some strategic priority areas.
Professional Learning Day 1
Professional Learning on Day 1 included a session on Enrichment facilitated by our Academic Enrichment Coordinator, Ms Stephanie Boyce. Staff explored high-impact teaching strategies that will assist the learning needs of high-achieving and academically talented students. These strategies are embedded in our learning programs to assist teachers to further extend student knowledge, skills, problem solving, and critical and creative thinking.
The Writer’s Toolbox Program
College staff from Junior and Senior campuses, including Learning Support and Library staff, attended the Sentence Workshop and Online Toolbox Workshop components of The Writer’s Toolbox program. This comprehensive writing program, developed by Dr Ian Hunter, is designed to improve syntax, punctuation, and paragraphing. A range of tangible strategies have been shared with staff to improve writing efficacy, and the interactive software component of the program was well received. Our Literacy Coordinator, Mr Robert Tall, is driving this Literacy initiative, and we look forward to the expansion of this program across all learning areas.
In 2021, Waverley College transitioned to a new Learning Management System (LMS) called CANVAS. Our new staff underwent training on their Induction Day last week, facilitated by Ms Rebecca Gair and Ms Kaitlyn Downey. All staff were involved in additional CANVAS training on Staff Day 1, with a refresher on how to create teaching resources and navigate the various platform hubs, modules and functionality. To date, our staff have been trained in Levels 1, 2 and 3 of CANVAS.
Mental Health First Aid Program
On Day 2, 45 of our staff completed the second component of the Mental Health First Aid Program, to complement the online component that they completed over the summer break. This program is designed for adults working with adolescents to improve knowledge, reduce stigmatising attitudes, and increase first aid towards people with mental health problems.
Throughout the 14-hour blended program, staff looked at a range of topics including common youth mental disorders, depression and anxiety in young people, eating disorders, substance misuse, intoxication, suicide and aggression. Staff learnt about first aid action plans to assist students in these situations, and upon completion of the course assessment, will be accredited MHFAiders.
Thank you to our facilitator and College Psychologist, Ms Tessa Prior, for her ongoing commitment to this important program. To date, Tessa has trained 75% of our staff, and will continue this training annually as additional staff join the Waverley College community.
I would like to thank all staff for their active engagement with our sessions and special thanks to our facilitators, Stephanie, Rebecca, Kaitlyn, Tessa and Robert. I look forward to regularly communicating the Professional Learning of our staff as well as the ongoing developments and achievements in our key strategic priority areas.
Ms Elizabeth Watson
Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning