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Schoolwide teaching and learning philosophy at Rototuna School

13:50 min

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Developing a school-wide teaching and learning philosophy

From the time of the school's establishment in 2003, Rototuna Primary School has held a strong belief that quality teaching practice – with a focus on formative assessment – is one of the foundations for good learning.

As a rapidly growing school, Rototuna had to adjust the learning and teaching programme to meet the needs of a growing staff with diverse skills. They have also recently begun to consider the sustainability of a highly successful professional development model.

The Rototuna Learner

In developing the school vision, values, and beliefs, the staff felt it was essential that everyone in the school community had a clear understanding about quality learning.

Staff worked with a facilitator and developed the model of the “Rototuna Learner” to illustrate the school’s learning vision. The Rototuna Learner is characterised by a number of key dispositions, and is part of the everyday classroom life of the school, with teachers and students talking about their learning in the context of the Rototuna Learner. The key competencies are a critical aspect of the model, and classroom lessons focus on one of the dispositions from the model, which is then developed into a learning intention and a set of related criteria.

Rototuna staff also developed a school-based learning and teaching professional development programme, based on the school vision. This programme has been constructed around reflective teaching practice and formative assessment, with a focus on school-wide professional development. It closely resembles the Assess to Learn (AtoL) advisors’ programme, but is an in-school programme that has been designed specifically by the Rototuna teachers for their own use.

One of the features of this programme is a two-day induction at the beginning of the school year, where teachers with similar professional goals are provided with time to meet and discuss their progress as a group. Professional learning needs are also supported by appropriate readings and research. Teachers also visit other teachers in the school who may be able to provide them with support and possible next steps.

Engaging with the community has included the use of learning journals, where evidence of children’s progress and work is recorded, as well as the 10-minute reflection time at the end of each day, when parents are invited to be present in the classroom while children reflect on their learning for the day.

“I feel I learn at reflection time too, it helps provide a shared language about what the children are doing at school.”

A Parent commenting on attending reflection time.

The parent community is encouraged to be involved in the school life of their children. There is an expectation that the children’s daily school life can be shared with parents and wider family in a variety of ways. This gives the work done in class extra meaning and has helped to construct a shared understanding about school life and reinforces the notion that learning is something that involves everyone in the community.

The staff at Rototuna believe that good teaching practice crosses all learning areas and is a critical factor in the success of their students, they have a commitment to ensuring that their programmes and practice reflect this belief and that this should be a priority when inquiring into professional practice.

Review questions image.

Rototuna School has a learning and teaching vision that reflects the values of their whole school community. They have made a commitment to ongoing school-based professional development and have incorporated this into their school philosophy and classroom practice.

Discuss these questions with reference to the Rototuna School story; in particular looking at the Rototuna professional development model.

Is our vision for our students and their learning clear and shared?
Does it express what we want for our young people?
How might our vision be reflected in the design of our school's curriculum?
Have we identified and agreed on those values that we believe are important for everyone involved in the life of our school?
Do our values support and complement those in The New Zealand Curriculum?
Does our curriculum explain how our identified values will be an integral part of teaching, learning, and the daily life of our school?

Published on: 01 Dec 2008