A part of our strategic plan is to increase student voice and agency.
So what is it?
At Lalor Primary School we have divided this into two definitions.
We define Voice as students having a vote or an influence on what happens at school.
We define Agency as students having autonomy over their learning.
Let's have a look at Voice.
Earlier in 2021 staff decided that we needed a whole school understanding of the behaviours we’d like to see our students exhibit. We used a model from the School Wide Positive Behaviour Program and integrated our school value of respect.
The easy option would be for staff to come up with the rules. Instead, every class filled in their own matrix. These were then merged together to create a ‘Community’ overview.
The community overviews were then given to the Student Representative Council, led by Bec Thorpe , the council created a whole school document merging the thoughts of all 3 communities.
Staff then had their say on the document. With the staff suggestions added the matrix went back to the SRP who in turn took it back to their communities for approval.
Community 3 Remote Learning
Community 3 teachers asked their students about the start times for their sessions. Two classes decided on a different start time and the teachers immediately instigated the change, while the other two preferred to keep the start time the same.
Inquiry Learning Subjects
All Inquiry Learning investigations this year have come from the students’ interests. Each Community goes through a process where students list what they are curious about? What are the concerned about? What do they want to create? Staff then sift through this information to link the curriculum to the responses the students have given them.
Below are examples of the process from Community 1.
Now let's have a look at Agency...
Community 3 Student Learning Matrix
Community 3 have used a matrix for English and Mathematics based on the Victorian Curriculum Achievement Standards. Students self-assess themselves against the standards, whilst the teachers did the same thing against the same standards in Compass. Teachers then compared their assessment of the students with the students own assessment of themselves. The conference between teacher and student led to the development of goals based on the achievement standards that the students wanted to improve in.
The next step for students is to define what success looks like building a success criteria against the levels of Blooms Taxonomy. Student's have autonomy over which achievement standard they want to improve in and how they are going to achieve it. Unfortunately the lockdown has delayed the next part of the process.
Community 2 Fractions
The picture shows a success criteria that has been constructed between the teacher and students that targets fractions over level 2 and 3 of the Victorian Curriculum. Students have had a say in the creation of the criteria (voice). Students then have autonomy to choose which ones they want to do (agency).
Community 2 Term 4 Inquiry
Community 2 has done the same thing here with their Inquiry Unit. Success criteria is co constructed against Blooms. However this time they have extended Blooms with different levels from the knowledge domain: Factual, Conceptual, Procedural and Metacognitive.
Community 3 - Term 4 Inquiry
Here is an example from Dwain Barakat's class. Students were given the achievement standard "students understand that Earth is part of a system of planets and can use models to describe key features of the solar system".
Students worked in groups to create their own success criteria against Blooms (voice). Dwain then collected them all into one document.
Both Community 2 & 3 examples were co-constructed with the students (voice). Students now have the control to choose the activities that are of interest to them (agency).
In both of these examples you can see that not only does it use voice and agency, it enhances differentiation. All students, at all levels can engage in the activities that suit their learning needs that demonstrate success against the achievement standard.
Some students have gone beyond the inquiry, creating their own success criteria answering the questions that they are interested in.
Now and Beyond
There are many more examples that I could of used from across the school. We still have a long way to go, but considering the obstacles that have been in our way over the past two years I am encouraged by what we have been able to achieve and excited for the future.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Feel to use the comment section below.
I was recently interviewed for the educational consultancy group Wabisabi learning...
When did you decide that Education was for you?
The thing is, I had no idea what I wanted to do! As it turned out, I really enjoyed the people I was with at university and eventually I finished and found myself in a 6-month teaching contract in a school. It was a low socio-economic school and I enjoyed working with the kids there and the positive influence I could make on their lives.
I started to wonder about my pedagogical approach about 5-6 years into teaching. I started to really think about what I was doing, and what I wanted to achieve. I got some pretty stunning results and then the opportunities began to become clear. I felt ready for something else and I became a team leader.
Was that an intrinsic thing that you felt ready, or do you think someone else saw a leadership quality in you?
When I became a team leader I went from being someone in the pack to being recognised as someone who was leading great work. Some of the things I did started to really work and this was noticed.
The real opportunity for leadership came after 6 months of my son attending a local primary school. I began to think that something was wrong there, something just wasn't working. A leading teacher position became available at that school, and I applied.
I was asked at the interview about how I felt about taking a position in a school that my son attended, and I responded honestly, “What better motivation to help a school than to help a school your own child is at?” I got the job.
The school grew, and I moved to a new Assistant Principal position for a few years and eventually I became a Principal.
How do you define success for yourself?
I used to think it was about results. I look back now and I’m almost a little bit embarrassed. I was a bit too blunt—sometimes I would get the result, but I didn't have the people on board. It really made me think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’
Then I began to realise it is all about people. Results are great, but you're not going to get sustained success unless you have people on board. At the same time people have different things going on in their lives. I’m more inclined now to look at what is in people’s way, at what is going on for them, to the point that some of my long-term colleagues now say, “What have you done with the real Trevor Robinson?” Not everyone is going to be at the same point at the same time. You will have people at different levels and that's okay.
What is the most important skill you have learned on your path?
My emotional intelligence. I’m definitely calmer; not much flusters me these days. Also the ability to recognise my own emotions and how that makes me think. That has helped with relationships at work and being able to help other people. You can be content and data driven all you want, but if you can't reach people there is no point. I like that people tell me that they can come to me about anything.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I’m someone who sees what’s next. My challenge is to slow down because I would just go there, then arrive and turn around, and find I’m all by myself. So learning to play the long game.
What has been your greatest reward in the choices you've made?
The feedback you get from the school council or a parent who sends you a random email or stops you in the street and says thank you for what you or your staff have done for their children.
Joyful Curiosity is our theme for July. How do you or will you approach work with a sense of Joyful Curiosity?
I think next term that will be a real theme. This term has been about survival, but in the same way the joyful curiosity came out in people. It's really about creating the environment for people to just have a go. Here are my expectations, but it's okay to do things differently. It’s okay to get it wrong and talk about that.
Some quick questions, just for fun:
Are you an early bird or night owl?
I’ve reinvented myself. I'm an early bird now. I’m too tired to be a night owl.
What’s your morning ritual?
I’ll get up, have a shower first, then a coffee and a piece of toast and I read the news. I get to work early and take some quiet time to settle with my own thoughts and then I can be present for people.
What are five fun facts about Trevor?
What a great evening! It was wonderful to see the our student's creativity on show.
A special thank you to our wonderful teachers and our Visual Arts teacher Jo Elhage.
You don't have to be inside to learn.
Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play.
It is estimated that only 30% of children today play outside. Outdoor play develops social skills, enhance problem solving and teamwork and most importantly...it's just lots of fun!
Outdoor Classroom Day is a world wide initiative with over 3 million students participating
2019 NAPLAN for Lalor Primary School shows that our learning programs are having a significant impact on the outcomes for students.
The school can now track student data from year 5 to year 7. In 2019 we increased the amount of students in the top 2 bands of NAPLAN in Reading, Writing and Numeracy and outperformed the state in student growth in reading and numeracy.
These results are the product of our hard working and dedicated staff, students and parents. Together it is amazing what we can achieve.
There is always room for more improvement…but for now let’s celebrate!
All students will be looking at aspects of "Sustainability' through our this terms inquiry.
The community is very excited about our new chickens!
This term we have focussed on building the students resilience and strengthening our anti bullying strategies.
This week students will participate in “Bully Bull Ring” a Meerkat production that explores different strategies that students can adopt to combat bullying.
On March 14th staff and parents heard our guest present Chris Daicos speak about the importance of building resilience in our children. It was a great presentation that was very well received.
Here is what some of our parents had to say.
"The Building Resilience in Children workshop with Chris Daicos was very insightful and made absolute sense. It truly did exceed my expectations!
I would enthusiastically recommend this workshop to all parents".
“Such a positive, motivational and amazing evening. Chris was engaging and funny whilst being truly honest and helpful in arming our kids, and us as parents, resilience and problem solving skill sets. A wonderful and worthwhile learning opportunity”.
Giulia De Vincentis
“Found the evening far from boring very engaging and entertaining. Informative session with helpful tips and information on instilling resilience in your child”.
I have attached some of the resources that Chris has left for us including her presentation. If you have any concerns or questions about increasing your child’s resilience please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Daily school attendance is important for all children and young people to succeed in education and to ensure they don't fall behind both socially and developmentally. Children and young people who regularly attend school and complete Year 12 or an equivalent qualification have better health outcomes, better employment outcomes, and higher incomes across their lives. It is important that children develop habits of regular attendance at an early age.
We all want our students to get a great education, and the building blocks for a great education begin with students coming to school each and every day.
If students miss school regularly, they miss out on learning the fundamental skills that will set them up for success in the later years of school.
There is no safe number of days for missing school – each day a student misses puts them behind, and can affect their educational outcomes.
Each missed day is associated with progressively lower achievement in numeracy, writing and reading.
“Being away from school for one day a fortnight equals missing 1.5 years over 13 years of school”
If you are experiencing difficulty in getting your child/ren to school I have attached a link to the Department of Education and Training website that is dedicated to assist parents with attendance.
Please don’t hesitate to call the school on 9465 3037 and we can discuss strategies to help.
This terms focus is on Creativity.
Prep students will explore the universal appeal of fairy tales and guides students to think laterally and creatively about common tales. Students create a customised theatre and puppet to depict their topsy turvy tale.
Grade 1/2 will will work in groups to design and build their own robot buddy. They will be scaffolded through selecting materials to construct their robot and will work at programming their robot to do chores in their bedroom.
Students in grade 3/4 will be scaffolded through the creative process of developing interesting characters, settings, and stories as they build a story. They will develop storyboards, design and build props for purpose and photograph moments of their story.
Our senior students will gain a real-life understanding of the design and production process when creating a brand new product. Each student produces an item that is marketed and then sold at a market called ‘Bizarre Bazaar’. The item that is produced must be original. Proceeds of the market are then directed to the students’ charity of choice.
This unit will also involve a Creativity Expo on November 22nd 4.30pm - 6.30pm where all the student's work during the unit will be on display. This will also include a display from our fabulous Visual Arts program.
We look forward to seeing you there!
In Term 2 Lalor PS focussed our inquiry units on Sustainability which has led to student action involving the vegetable garden, fruit tree orchard, whole school composting, chickens and recycling program being actioned by our student leaders.
In Term 3 we will be looking at Social Justice. Below is the overview of the Prep to 6 program.
Fairness and Friendship
This unit explores the importance of students in their first year of school to understand how to make and keep friends. They learn about the importance of rules and ways in which to accept differences of opinion. Listening skills are a focus of this unit.
Students will learn about the traditions, celebrations, music and cuisine of groups that make up multicultural Australia. They consider the importance of acceptance, understanding, respect and fairness as they create mobiles. Your students will work as a class to collate an 'Embracing Multiculturalism Book'.
In Their Shoes
Students learn about social justice issues experienced by people with disabilities and those suffering financial hardship. They learn about the role that rules and laws play in our community as they share their opinions about existing laws. Your students will research a disability and write creatively about an important day in the life of someone who has the disability that they have researched.
Care for the Kids
Students explore the rights of children and ways in which organisations help children around the world. They will research social justice issues and learn about emotive language as they prepare and perform slam poetry. Your students will produce a multimedia presentation to support an organisation that helps children around the world.
We look forward to the student action that comes from this unit and to having a great term!