This year our NITS (Ngaere, Inglewood, Toko and Stratford Schools) Cluster are really fortunate to be working with Heather Bell from Massey University . Our cluster wide focus for all teachers across all four of our schools is:
“In 2016 we will be bringing classroom teachers from across our cluster schools together to work collaboratively on their Teaching as Inquiry each term. These collaborative workshops will enable deep reflection of teachers and further support them to develop their approaches to critical reflection in and on their practice, that leads to change in practice.”
So what does this mean and what is Teaching as Inquiry?
This means that our teachers are inquiring into their practice with a specific school wide focus and in 2015 and 2016 this is on Mathematics.
Our overarching question is:
How do we create a challenging curriculum in Mathematics?
With teachers focussing on:
How do I make tasks engaging and accessible to my students?
Teaching as Inquiry involves all our staff videoing themselves taking mathematics lessons, at least twice per term, sharing their videos with all the staff at staff meetings, and receiving feedback about their teaching practice. From the feedback and collaborative discussions teachers then create their next steps and plan actions for their teaching. All teachers keep a personal inquiry blog and their learning and reflections are recorded as an online reflective tool where they receive ongoing feedback from myself, Miss O’Brien, who is our Inquiry Leader and other staff members. This Inquiry Blog forms a large part of each teachers appraisal cycle which also contributes to their teacher registration which has to be reviewed and renewed every three years with the New Zealand Education Council.
All schools in our NITS Cluster were really fortunate to be accepted into the Ministry of Education, Mathematics Professional Learning and Development Contract this year. This means that all our staff are supported by a specialist Mathematics Facilitator, Raewyn Gainsford, to assist with answering our questions above. To date Raewyn, who mentor’s Sue Fergus our Maths Leader, has observed and provided school wide feedback about the teaching and learning occurring in all our classrooms, has run Math’s workshops focussed on number sense, taught alongside teachers in their rooms and has provided one on one support to all our teachers.
Raewyn and Heather are challenging our teaching practices in Mathematics. We are being supported to read and review the latest research focussed on teaching and learning, in mathematics in particular and to use this research to inform our teaching decisions. This is challenging our staff so I can imagine that some of these practices may also challenge our parents in our community who have a particular view about how mathematics should be taught. We are going to work really hard to keep you informed and up to date about what we are learning and how your children are being taught.
We will do this via our school newsletter and we intend to run some open afternoons where parents can come into all our classes and look at maths in action. As always if you have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to come in and see your child’s classroom teacher.
Teachers are using data to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching. This process is supported with regular classroom observations and feedback. Teachers meet to critique their strategies and share good practice.
The well-developed culture of collegiality helps to extend their professional learning and that of students.
Toko School ERO Report 2014