The following principles form the guide to the teaching and learning practices at both classroom level and school level so as to maximize student learning and support all students to reach their potential. The School Core Committee promotes a shared understanding of these principles at the school community level and work with the school community to enact them in ways that are appropriate for each student.
All teaching and learning should be founded in the belief that, with good teaching, the right support and sufﬁcient time, every student can develop knowledge, skills and understanding to achieve at higher levels.
Teachers need to believe in their students as learners, have high expectations, and see themselves as responsible for improving the learning achievement of their students.
Teachers determine the required learning for students by identifying what they already know and are able to do and how this relates to the intended curriculum knowledge and skills. Teachers provide multiple opportunities for students to learn what is worthwhile and enduring, using a range of teaching strategies designed to promote the learning of each student over time and in different contexts.
Quality teaching engages all students in learning experiences. This involves valuing and responding to the diverse experiences and knowledge that students bring with them to the classroom from their homes and communities. Every child is an individual with unique capabilities which must be maximized. Lowering expectations is not appropriate.
Quality teaching and learning experiences ensure that what is taught closely reflect the intended learning and that what is assessed reflects what is taught.
Learning experiences should connect with what students already know and extend that knowledge through intellectually challenging work. Activities should be purposeful and relevant, and stimulate inquiry, action, reflection, and enjoyment. Language plays a critical role in enabling students to reflect on their actions and knowledge. Students should be taught to use language and meta-cognition as tools to ensure their own learning is deep and enduring rather than superficial and temporary.
Assessment is an ongoing process of gathering evidence to determine what each student knows, understands, and can do so as to inform teaching and support learning of the intended curriculum. Quality teaching and learning programs demand rigorous assessment processes that ensure that teachers assess the learning required of students as indicated in the intended curriculum.
- Analyse whole-school student achievement data (for example, reported achievement ratings in Key Learning Areas) and identify patterns of student achievement across the school population.
- Respond with focused and explicit teaching.
- Monitor the results by analysing student achievement data such as student work samples.
- Provide additional targeted teaching if explicit teaching by the classroom teacher and multiple opportunities to learn are not producing the required results. (This usually involves collaboration with other teaching staff)
- Monitor the results of this additional targeted teaching.
- Provide more intensive teaching in critical areas (in collaboration with other teaching staff) for the small proportion of students who do not respond to targeted teaching.
Balsam Academy is engaged in an ongoing effort to improve instruction in every classroom and to support every student to reach proficiency. That effort, WHOLE SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT, is organized around seven ESSENTIALS, which provide a framework for the work.
EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION: Use effective and culturally relevant instructional practice and create a collaborative school climate that improves student learning, promotes student engagement, and builds on prior knowledge and experience.
STUDENT WORK AND DATA: Examine student work and data to drive instruction and professional development.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Invest in professional development and improve instruction.
SHARED LEADERSHIP: Share leadership to sustain instructional improvement
OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE: maintain high levels of effectiveness, efficiency, and equity in our operations.
RESOURCES: Focus resources to support instructional improvement and improved student learning.
FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY: Partner with families and community to support student learning and engagement.
All this is aimed at CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP.
Strength-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats Analysis (SWOT Analysis) is a tool used in Balsam Academy for investigation and decision making. SWOT analysis is used for a variety of purposes to promote brainstorming. Rather than relying on ingrained or instinctive reactions, SWOT Analysis promotes proactive thinking. The SWOT is conducted at the end of each term and discussion results are shared.