Principal Marc Light looks at the camera, he is wearing a grey suit and smiling. The King David School's logo is behind him, silver on a wood background.

Working together for continual improvement

Educational expert, Professor John Hattie has identified that among the many variables that affect student learning, the one that has the most impact is teachers.

In his new book Visible Learning: The Sequel, Hattie has explored 2100 meta analyses drawn from 130,000 studies which involved 400 million students. He found that a focus on impact is the key mindset in ensuring that teachers are effective practitioners. In an article about this in The Conversation he writes that “this describes teachers who focus on the impacts of their teaching and who work together with other educators to critique their ideas about impact – about what was taught well, who was taught well, and the size of the improvement.”

At The King David School we understand that facilitating conversations with our teachers and a collective focus on interdependent growth supports optimal learning. As such we ensure that our teachers are provided with exceptional professional development opportunities to explore high impact teaching strategies and are also equipped with appropriate data that allows them to evaluate what is working and where new approaches might be applied. Our school also has an understanding that learning is a holistic process and that students are primed for success when their academic, emotional, physical and social needs are all met.

At the start of this new term we had a professional learning day in which educators across the School were exposed to new ideas and strategies.

The Early Learning Centre staff spent the day working with a range of early childhood experts. Firstly they benefited from a session run by Robyn Gamsu, a speech pathologist and audiologist, focusing on optimal strategies for communicating with children. As our youngest students can reflect a vast range in their language skills development, it is vital that our educators are able to adapt their strategies to meet the particular communication needs of each student.

The ELC educators also heard from Elise Donath, a continence physiotherapist, who talked through tips and sensitivities around supporting children going through toilet training. 

The educators also heard from Rhiannon Perlus, a child psychologist, who presented on anxiety in young children. Building our staff’s capacity to address the needs of our youngest students in this regard can only help to ensure that our ELC classes allow for thriving learning.

 The Junior School teachers spent their day working on a literacy model called The Writing Revolution which is aimed at supporting student writing capacity. The evidenced-based model teaches explicit and structured writing sequences which build on students’ capacities to develop mastery over their writing. It is focused on enhancing students’ abilities to write with structure, clarity and coherence. Additionally, the model develops related skills of speaking fluency, reading comprehension and organised thinking.

The Middle and Senior School teachers were privileged to hear from Tom Sherrington, a highly accomplished educator from the United Kingdom, who has developed a powerful professional development model called ‘Walkthrus’. The model aligns closely with Hattie’s assertion that teachers should be working collaboratively to contemplate the effectiveness of their teaching methodologies. 

The Walkthrus model will support our teachers to work through a range of strategies that support optimal learning across a number of categories including Behaviour and Relationships, Questioning and Feedback, Explaining and Modeling, Practice and Retrieval, and Curriculum Planning.

Sherrington explained his model and the research base that substantiates the approach. 

After the presentation, the staff worked in faculty groupings to develop area-specific plans to adopt collegial models in implementing the new strategies in our teaching.

Overall, the professional learning day was highly successful and provided a valuable opportunity to focus our educators on how to build further on our skills and methodologies.

We are so blessed at our school to have such an enthusiastic, engaging, warm and professional staff body. We know that through providing meaningful opportunities for our staff to grow together with a communal focus on what is working well for our students and what new approaches should be tried, we can continue to perpetually strive for school improvement.

Shabbat Shalom,

Marc Light