My entry into Moriah College has been filled with pleasure, meaningful engagement and the opportunity to hone best practice when educating the fertile minds of our young charges.
My high-level participation in Jewish and broader Education for over 30 years has intensified my passion for enabling children to be the best version of themselves by addressing their socio-emotional, academic, physical and spiritual self.
The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) analysed 2.7 million job adverts across a range of professions and identified 4600 skills which could be categorised into seven job clusters. They also identified 21st-century key skillsets which had to be developed in today’s students. These included:
- enterprise skills (which respond to workplace change and finance)
- creativity and innovation
- critical thinking and problem solving or computational thinking
- presentation, communication and collaboration skills
- digital literacy
These introductory research statements are important because of what they mean for today’s students. Based on the prediction that the current body of students attending Moriah Primary School will have to move through 15 jobs across seven industries, our young people will need the above-identified skills to respond to change purposefully, collaboratively and strategically. Ultimately, their natural thought process will be to locate opportunities and determine solutions.
Moriah Primary School has honed a common narrative in its approach to all key learning areas. Underpinning this narrative are five practices:
- Teachers use data to inform and shape the teaching and learning that occurs in our classrooms. The data gathered relates to students’ behaviour or the skills they demonstrate in each learning area.
- Learning is developmental and a sequential, targeted, carefully developed narrative shared by all members of the Primary School team is being finalised with all staff from Years K-6. This ensures that teachers refer to what students should have acquired during the prior academic year whilst accessing the pathway towards the requirements of the following year. Students are taught to think about their learning and can explain how they learn. This is called metacognition.
- Children who are happy and feel good about themselves are able to learn effectively. The range of behaviour management programs and socio-emotional skill-building programs mandated across the school ensure that children learn against a baseline of wellbeing. They also are protected from the negative feedback of children being mean on purpose (bullying) and more importantly, they carry a toolbox of skills to respond to challenges and increase their personal resilience. Resilience is simply knowing what to do in order to respond to a setback or challenge experienced socially, academically or physically.
- The voice of the child is valued and enabled as a priority. Explicit teaching is prioritised when skills and understandings are required to complete a task (how to complete an addition algorithm or how is a narrative structured) but child agency (their own decision to pursue an aspect of the question under investigation) and the encouragement to inquire, ask questions and challenge ideas to access meaning and create or innovate on them is key to effective practice.
- Teachers work harder than ever as they move beyond being the sage on the stage and facilitate learning by responding purposefully to students during their learning journeys with feedback and questions or even silence in order to ensure they move into the next zone of challenge or access deeper meaning.
As a result of the five practices defined above, students are coached through the learning pit of today’s classroom. They are encouraged to take risks and confidently jump into learning they are excited about. They learn to make mistakes, to ask questions and make meaning of things that are as important to them as the games they play during their leisure time.
When they work through this learning program they experience a Eureka moment every day of their lives. Eureka is the Greek word for “I found it!” Our students find the answer, instead of their teachers telling them one answer after another that they promptly forget and don’t really care about.
In yesterday’s Peer Support assembly, we celebrated a Eureka moment for our Year 6 students who jumped into the learning pit and emerged the other side as confident Peer Leaders.
The future is indeed filled with promise, and Moriah College is indeed filled with deep thinkers.
About the author
Lynda Fisher is the Head of Primary School at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.