A semester has passed since I commenced as the Head of Moriah College Primary School, and I am delighted to say that, for me, this has truly been an instance of time flying when you’re having fun. The Moriah Product is one that is constantly evolving and responding to the ever-changing needs of students and education.
The secret of an effective educator in the high speed, stimulating and noisy world of today is being able to make the right space at the right time for children to think and explore in order to learn. This is the essence of what happens with every Moriah child as they step into their school world on a daily basis.
Allow me to give you a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes of a Moriah child’s education in order to make it a positive and meaningful journey for everyone involved…
Happy, secure children who are ready to learn
I frequently refer to the fact that children need a healthy baseline of security, belonging and happiness in order to commence learning. At the start of every school day, we greet our students with a warm welcome at the multiple entry points of our ‘go with the flow’ system, bus ports and gates to provide them with a smooth transition into the classroom.
Our teachers take the time early on in the day to tune in to their students, collaborate with them and engage in activities that prepare our students for learning.
Targeted teaching happens when we understand the students in front of us
Each child is unique and has his/her own way of learning, which means that a “one size fits all” approach to education is fundamentally flawed. Over the last semester, our Primary School teachers have been using a number of digital technology platforms to assess and collect data about student learning across the Primary School. Brightpath is one such platform. This data is crucial as it allows us to understand each child in front of the educators at Moriah in order to adapt our teaching and personalise student education.
In key learning areas such as English, Maths, Jewish Studies and Science, we create a seamless developmental continuum for students – a consistent narrative – so that as they progress from Year K to Year 1 and so on, they are continuously building on their knowledge base and not going over old ground, starting totally from scratch or following a different pedagogy.
Thanks to data mining, we can group students according to their entry point into the learning experience and know exactly what they need in terms of teaching for them to be able to build upon their current level of skill and understanding.
Fine-tuning consistent narratives across the Primary School
A consistent narrative throughout education helps to produce well-rounded individuals with a lifelong love of learning.
Consistent narratives emerge when educators collaborate and communicate in shared professional learning experiences, as we do at Moriah. I am infinitely proud of the educators across our Primary School and their commitment to growing their practice.
This semester, Facilitators were appointed to each grade. Their role is to ensure that all narratives and initiatives determined at a leadership level are implemented effectively across the College, and to maintain a reciprocal flow of communication between teaching teams and leadership regarding challenges and successes. Teams meet every week to analyse data and respond to patterns that emerge, creating best practice strategies for the various levels of performance.
Moriah College thriving, not surviving
The common practice of what Elon Musk terms the all “important feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better” filters every educator’s discourse as they engage with their students. They understand the impact of their teaching and see learning through the eyes of their students. They enable their students to understand what breeds success so children see their own learning through the eyes of the teachers.
John Kotter, who is a thought leader of note, says that analysing data can elicit two neurological responses. The negative response is to “survive”; fearing that the data is revealing what is not working causes the brain to shut down and look for protection, to survive.
However, if the brain accesses data frequently and learns to interrogate it positively then it activates the “thrive” response and pursues a growth trajectory. I am happy to say that, here at Moriah, by interacting with student learning so purposefully and powerfully we are most definitely thriving. The secret is out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lynda Fisher is the Head of Primary School at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.