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Learning and Teaching

Since mid 2018 the Tuesday school day has ended a little earlier in order to provide Professional Practice Time (PPT) for our Siena staff. This time has been invaluable to us, providing the opportunity to develop ever improving methodologies and refine our skills in order to help enable our students to become empowered young women.

The sessions are hosted by our own staff who offer a wealth of professional skill and experience that we are able to leverage during these training sessions.

In the area of Wellbeing our expert counsellors have shared best practices with regards to anxiety in the classroom: how to recognise what is normal versus something of a more serious nature, what staff can do to assist and also how staff can assess their own personal wellbeing. In a time where expectations and pressures weigh heavily on our students, it is our goal to ensure that anyone in need of support is afforded that opportunity.

In addition, the Wellbeing Team ran a Professional Learning session for teachers about Fixed and Growth Mindsets.  The learning is based on the Berry Street Educational Model that educates schools about specialised strategies to address student needs for healing, growth and achievement. It educates schools and their leaders to reinforce and sustain cognitive and behavioural change, thereby reengaging young people and progressing their academic achievement. We learned about the identifying traits of the two mindsets and how to foster a growth mindset in our students. There is more information on this approach in the article from Antonella Rosati. 

This year’s introduction of the Pedagogical Model embodies our rich culture of learning. A number of sessions have been dedicated to assessing in details the learning environment and process. The focus is on identifying what best helps our students in the transfer of knowledge and skill and how the lesson structure can best facilitate learning.  Our staff share their most successful learning methodology and work in collaboration towards the goal of developing a highly successful and engaging Pedagogical Model that embraces the changing needs of our students and targets the most effective and proven learning processes.

During the last PPT session, we were lucky enough to have Sr Sheila Flynn OP run an activity linked to the Middle of the Lesson, called ‘The Protective Nest’. Staff had to work together to build a nest designed in such a manner that the raw egg inside would not break when dropped; all done with limited resources, time constraints and no talking during the construction! It was a fine demonstration of the various challenges our students face when working in teams, and a soft skill that is vital to master in our collaboratively oriented work ethic. 

Two PPT sessions were allocated to the National School Improvement Tool (NSIT) review of Siena College. Over the course of Term 2, at the invitation of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), ran a diagnostic utilising the NSIT. As it states on their website, ‘Using an evidence-based framework, the NSIT supports school-wide conversations about aspects of current practice, areas for improvement and evidence that progress is being made.’ 

Evidence and data was collected and collated by our staff and NSIT, in order to quantify and verify that we are meeting our mission goals and adopting best practices in order to ensure the continued progress, innovation and improvement in our quality of teaching and learning and to plan a focused approach to school improvement appropriate to the context of our College.

 At the completion of the assessment of the nine interrelated domains of effective school practice, which together provide a comprehensive framework designed to facilitate school improvement, NSIT assessors Tony McGruther, Jan Hayes and Christina Rogers presented their findings. Siena College’s dedication to the improvement and growth of both its staff and students was in evidence. Our students have flourished, as seen by the steady improvement in our VCE results. And our staff are constantly evolving and expanding their knowledge and skills. 

 

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