We know, through experience and research that a high ‘quality’ teacher has a significantly positive effect on student learning and development and therefore, PROGRESS. Through a combination of content mastery, command of a broad set of pedagogical skills and high level communication and interpersonal skills teachers are able to ensure students make excellent progress. Quality teachers are also lifelong learners who teach with commitment and are reflective on their teaching practice. They transfer knowledge and develop the learning process through excellent communication, highly developed diagnostic skills and a clear understanding of how students of different ages and stages of development, learn best. Quality teachers adjust quickly to the changing needs of students and teach in the ‘here and now.’ They create optimum learning conditions for the wide range of learners in their classes and ensure that learning opportunities are authentic where possible and lead to excellent progress.
The quality of our teaching and learning will be monitored in a number of ways including ‘spot checks’ by school leaders, planned lesson observations, peer observations, coaching opportunities, student feedback and teacher self-review. We hope through such monitoring that we will enable teachers and leaders to reflect on the teaching and learning strategies and the process of learning and ensure that learning leads to excellent progress.
When developing the school’s teaching and learning policy we believe it is crucial to establish just what excellent learning looks like and therefore what we will see in lessons where this is evident. Our teachers will be encouraged, through feedback and collaboration to adopt innovative teaching techniques and ensure that learning activities:
• Allow students to use their minds well.
• Have meaning and value to students beyond achieving success in school.
• Ensure that students can apply their learning to new situations.
Underlying Principles (linked to Mission, Vision and Goals)
We believe that a creative thematic curriculum is one of the best possible ways to teach primary age children whilst enabling them to retain knowledge/skills and learn in a flexible and yet organised manner. As students’ progress through the school, we aim to retain the connectedness of a themed curriculum through ‘big questions,’ which enable extended critical and higher order thinking.
Optimum learning spaces provide opportunities for students to engage in interactive and collaborative activities with their peers; such social environments have been shown to contribute to better learning outcomes, including development of higher order thinking skills. We are committed to collaboration in order to maximise learning for all students and know this may only be achieved in a learning environment that promotes this way of learning and thinking. We believe that the learning context needs to reflect the school’s mission, strategic aims and values to create optimum conditions for children to excel in the development of skills, knowledge and understanding.
At OESIS the teachers ensure that high quality learning takes place, wherein students are continuously made aware of where they are now in their learning, where they can or need to get to, and most important how best to get there. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning and to work independently or collaboratively. They are motivated to evaluate their own work and reflect on the outcomes and are stimulated, inspired and challenged to work towards targets that are understood and achievable.
The teachers also ensure that the students are able to apply strategies they have learned in the classroom and transfer their learning to other subjects and situations.
The focus is kept clearly on improving student outcomes; attention is on the learning rather than to the person or to comparisons with others; feedback is mediated by a mentor in an environment of trust and support and an environment of professional learning and support is promoted by the school’s leadership.
Authentic learning means learning through applying knowledge in real-life contexts and situations.
Teachers at OESIS strongly believe in the concept of ‘Authentic learning’. They encourage students by giving them opportunities to solve real-world complex problems and find out solutions.
In this way students practice the skills and knowledge that are relevant and real to workplace situations and learn it at the same time. Authentic learning activities include role-playing exercises, problem based activities, case studies, and participation in virtual communities of practice.
The learning environment of authentic learning is multidisciplinary in nature, for example, designing a container for specific purpose, setting rules, planning a budget, and solving a crisis. Authentic approach of learning differs greatly from traditional “lecture” classes, where teachers give students information and content of a subject discipline that students are expected to rote learn and repeat on tests. It promotes understanding through discovery and doing. Authentic learning is recommended as the best way of learning for students.