Working in a Stage 3 classroom at St Luke's Catholic College in Marsden Park, New South Wales, is quite different to anything beginner teacher Kelly Bowden has ever experienced before.
When chatting to Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta in his latest Teacher video, Bowden shares her school's unique approach to teaching and learning.
To begin with, the college is structured into four schools: Early Learning (Preschool, 3-5 year olds), School of Foundations (Early Stage 1, Stage 1 and Stage 2), School of Leadership (Stage 3 and 4), and School of Entrepreneurs (Stage 5 and 6).
‘Because I'm a beginning teacher, I've found that I'm constantly learning as I go and this has become my new normal,' Bowden says. ‘…I haven't had to adjust too much but it is very different to my primary school experience, my high school experience and even the practicums I went on for university.'
At St Luke's, classes are taught in groups of 60 students to two teachers, and Bowden says she's enjoyed the collegial support this has afforded her.
‘Even the delivering of lessons, so we team teach, so then we're bouncing off each other, or we might have masterclasses running, but at all times we're completely aware of exactly what all the students are doing and what's happening in the classroom,' she shares.
‘…We have times when we plan together and might meet after school and then we're able to construct our programs and we talk about those. We evaluate on them regularly as well and it's a working document with our program so we're continuously adding to them and adapting based on the needs of the kids.'
Students are required to self-direct their own learning, come up with their own ideas and contribute to the structure of the lessons. While teachers design the course, students get to choose which activities they participate in, depending on their interests.
‘It was very broad and they were able to really explore what they wanted to do and how they wanted to learn the content, so I found that was really good. From parents' feedback with that, they were so excited because their children were coming home and explaining different things they were learning based on what they really wanted to learn about,' Bowden says.
Kelly Bowden says team teaching allows her to bounce ideas off her colleagues. Think about your own school setting: how often are you afforded opportunities to collaborate with your colleagues? Is this something that helps you to consolidate your own ideas?
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