From Acting Deputy Principal – Teaching & Learning, Ms Gabrielle Smith
2020 was a year like no other for teaching and learning at Waverley College due to COVID-19. As a team we had to be agile, adjusting to NSW Health requirements on a daily basis whilst ensuring we were still providing our students with an extensive educational experience.
There were many learning opportunities to come from 2020 including evolving learning spaces to fully support student learning. We have worked closely with the English faculty and when the boys return in 2021 the English classrooms will be transformed into more flexible, comfortable, and collaborative learning spaces that support contemporary and innovative practice.
We continue to engage with our Strategic Plan (2019 – 2023) and have ensured that these principles focusing on positive relationships, teacher excellence, student agency, collaboration, creativity, and citizenship continue to guide our vision for the students at Waverley.
We have spent the year embedding our Teaching & Learning Framework that was launched at the end of 2019 across all facets of the school. A framework that encompasses visible learning, dynamic learning, and lifelong learning with strategies embedded to develop resilient learners who set SMART goals and embrace a growth mindset. A framework that encourages our students to be active, curious, critical, and reflective learners rather than passive receptors of information. This framework enables us to move our students through to the higher order levels of thinking of analyse, create, evaluate, and predict.
EREA Liberating Teaching and Learning Conference-Creating Alternative Futures
Over 100 educators from across EREA nationally gathered via Zoom in September this year to attend the EREA Liberating Teaching & Learning Conference.
I attended, along with the Director of Curriculum, Ms Lynsey Porter, and Acting Director of Junior School, Ms Gaby Bransby. The conference was organised by Waverley’s Ms Elizabeth Watson, who is currently Acting as the EREA Director of Learning. The theme for this year’s gathering was ‘Our Voice in Learning – Creating Alternative and Preferred Futures’.
Throughout the conference, we had the privilege of hearing from students across the EREA network. They shared their off-campus learning experiences with us, reflecting on the opportunities, challenges, and uncertainty that they’ve been faced with this year. Our young people focused on the role of technology, as well as explaining how they stayed motivated, managed distractions, and remained connected with teachers and peers. Jethro Jenson (Year 6) and Henry Goldrich (Year 5) represented Waverley College and their insightful and wise contributions not only served them and the College proud but were a catalyst for continued conversation throughout the conference.
We actively participated in a session called Futures Thinking, which asked delegates to reflect on the nature of change in our schools during the pandemic, around four paradigms:
- No change
- Marginal change
- Adaptive change
- Radical change
Reflecting on change led to planning for alternative and preferred futures in learning with Professor Sohail Inayatullah, a professor at Tamkang University, Taiwan (Graduate Institute of Futures Studies).
Professor Inayatullah is the Inaugural UNESCO Chair in Future Studies. He worked with us to realise, as educators, we need to reflect on – and evaluate – this year from the following angles:
- The pandemic disrupted our thinking and has forced us to be agile.
- The issue is not what’s happening now, it’s what we do with this opportunity.
- Do we go back to what we’ve done or do we use this as an opportunity for radical change?
Learning Management System
2020 saw the launch of Waverley’s Learning Management System – CANVAS.
The CANVAS platform allows teachers to engage their students with video-based learning and collaboration tools where lessons can be accessible anytime, anywhere. It is well regarded for its ease of use and open architecture, meaning it integrates extremely well with other web technologies that teachers use every day. Currently, CANVAS is in an early stage of evolution and growth at Waverley.
We anticipate students and teachers will gain confidence and skills with CANVAS over the next year, allowing each faculty and classroom teacher to experiment with many of the resources available on the CANVAS Learning Management System providing another valuable learning tool for our students.
A message from our Innovation Coordinator – Ms Kaitlyn Downey
2020 has been an unpredictable year for our Innovation Team consisting of Ms Kaitlyn Downey (Coordinator), Ms Rebecca Gair, Mr Kyle Newbury, Mr Daniel Kroll and Mr Tom Mitton. Our Innovation Leaders have been working on a variety of initiatives ranging from innovative practices around the school to implementing new learning management systems.
A major focus of the Innovation Team this year was building staff capacity in the area of technology. The Innovation Team was responsible for the upskilling of staff before and during off-campus learning so that we were well prepared as a College to tackle the teaching and learning challenges that COVID-19 threw our way. The Innovation Team was also responsible for the training and support of staff in the implementation of our new learning management system, CANVAS. This involved a number of curriculum design and training sessions ranging from support staff training, student training, and individual teacher support.
With restrictions starting to ease, Term 4 became a busy time for the Innovation Team. We chose to utilise the expertise of our senior staff and our excellent senior campus facilities to enhance the learning experiences of our Year 5 and 6 students. This cross-campus collaboration saw students participate in a lesson on agriculture and cooking with Mr Kyle Newbury which would be followed up with a maths session in their normal classes.
Another project involved a cross-curricular initiative in Year 8, where students worked across subject areas to deepen their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. This occurred across three different subject areas (TAS, Art, and PDHPE) and gave a number of staff members a unique experience of working together to support student learning. This project ran during the last few weeks of Term 4 and resulted in some excellent student boomerang projects.
I’d like to thank the Innovation Team for their tremendous efforts this year. Preparing and transferring successfully to off-campus learning would not have been possible without their expertise, guidance, and support of staff.