Every now and then I wonder whether other organisations have as many meetings as schools. The potential to run meetings for events, pastoral needs of students, curriculum direction, professional development and strategic & operational activities abound.
In a school of 1100 students and 150 staff, meeting schedules are a part of the life of a school. The key is to make sure these meetings have a purpose, are linked to the strategic direction of the school and lead to action.
Our 2014 Insight SRC data highlighted that the leadership of CCW needed to improve communication and role clarity. With this in mind we established the Combined Leaders Meeting, which runs three times a term. To do this we rationalised the meeting calendar and linked the new meeting to the leadership meetings.
The creation of this team was an attempt at bringing our key leaders together to discuss strategic issues and initiatives. It was envisaged that all of us would be on “the same page” and we had an opportunity to depth our understanding of our roles related to the programs or initiatives we were undertaking.
The membership of this team includes our leaders of learning (Learning & Teaching Leaders; Learning Coaches) our leaders of Pastoral Wellbeing (Learning Community Leaders; Wellbeing Leader) and the College Leadership Team. As many of us know, pastoral wellbeing and learning and teaching go hand in hand. If a student is engaged in their learning, they are less likely to create issues that need intervention from those who work in wellbeing.
One of the key focuses of this combined group of leaders has been the delivery of coaching and feedback program. Over this year we employed the services of Group 8 to assist us in setting up a structure for the coaching of professional performance amongst our teaching staff.
Prior to 2015, Catholic College Wodonga had ventured out on its own to develop a healthy culture of professional feedback via a process called the ‘Feedback Loop’. The move towards the Group 8 structure was to allow all our leaders to take a significant role in developing a coaching and feedback program. A key component of the Group 8 model is the use of student feedback, which each staff member receives. Our leaders and the staff that they coach design feedback and observation protocols, which reflect the needs of the individual teacher.
Each of our combined leaders is responsible for coaching three other staff. In my case I am responsible for coaching our Year 8 Learning & Teaching Leader, MacKillop Learning Community Leader and our VCAL Leader. My initial coaching session with my three staff was a reflective activity that focused us on establishing goals for professional and classroom practice. Each of the three staff selected goals, which were specific to their needs and area of growth they had identified.
Over the past weeks I have been observing each of the three teachers in the classroom. Each teacher has focused on a specific goals related to their teaching. One great benefit of this program, which was highlighted to me by a colleague, was that the observer has the opportunity to not just reflect on the teaching they are observing, but also reflect on their own practice. I certainly have taken away ideas that will enhance my teaching.
This journey into professional coaching and feedback is a commitment that is part of our strategic plan for the next two and half years. As we progress, it is our hope that the program evolves into a process, which reflects the needs and beliefs of our school community. Therefore it would not be Group 8 Performance Development and Coaching program or the “Feedback Loop,’ but instead Catholic College’s own coaching and feedback program which addresses the needs of each individual staff member and our students. The work of the Combined Leadership in shape this will be critical over this period of time.
I was recently reading the Grattan Institute report by Dr. Ben Jenson “Making time for great teaching” in which Jenson (2014) highlights”
“Improving teachers effectiveness outweighs the impact of any other school, education program or policy in improving student performance.”
Clearly at Catholic College Wodonga we are on the right track to developing a coaching and feedback program, which will improve our teachers skills and student outcomes. I looking forward to sharing feedback received from my classes in the future.