Principal's Blog - 23 March 2017

20 Mar 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

You have probably heard me say before that the most important and effective factor affecting student learning and outcomes is the classroom teacher. Research carried out by the likes of Professor John Hattie state that this is particularly true for boys. From a meta-analysis of over 50,000 studies, Hattie suggests the following when it comes to statistics denoting the influence of factors in the life of a student:

Major sources of variance in student achievement:

  • Student: 50%
  • Home: 5-10%
  • School: 5-10% (principals, other leaders of influence)
  • Peer Effects: 5-10%
  • Teachers: 30%

Now of course these figures may vary from student to student however regardless of variation, the numbers suggest that the role of the teacher is vital for a successful outcome for the students in their care.

Some researchers and educational thinkers believe that for a teacher to support students in achieving the results of which they are capable, he or she needs to form strong, respectful and supportive relationships with them. University of Melbourne Professor Brian Caldwell, would go as far as to say … “Teachers need time and flexibility to get to know kids as individuals because teaching is one thing and one thing only – getting to know the child.” (Caldwell 2006).

I do agree with Professor Caldwell to a large degree, however I’m sure that he would agree that good learning and teaching also requires people who are experts in learning pedagogies, assessment practices and theories, child psychology and differentiation, amongst the many other skills of an educator.

The teaching staff, and those who support them in their roles, are highly committed to developing their skills and knowledge in order to provide the best possible learning environment for the students of this College. Many of our staff model life–long learning through their commitment to formal study at Masters and Post Graduate levels. Many teaching staff also engage with in-service opportunities to maintain pace with the latest in pedagogical thinking.

In my experience, some of the most valuable and lasting learning that we undertake in schools does not always come from the ‘experts’ who are external to our College environment. It comes from the colleagues who we work alongside every day and who share their knowledge and skills with their peers.

This is precisely the type of professional learning which takes place on a fortnightly basis at our Day 3 Staff Professional Learning afternoons. It is very encouraging to witness the passion and commitment our teaching staff have toward the goal of providing vibrant, innovative, creative and engaging learning environments. It is equally heartening to observe the level of collegiality and generosity of staff who spend many hours developing initiatives, programs and presentations, which they willingly and enthusiastically share with their colleagues. I am grateful to these people and specifically to our Learning For Tomorrow team – Joshua Di Pietro, Sandra Hanson, Clive Haese, Kalli Koniaras and Melissa Mackellin who provide the vehicle, wisdom and support for the dissemination of these valuable pedagogical learning opportunities.

Developing exciting new learning spaces only goes a part of the way in promoting worthwhile and pioneering learning environments. A commitment to providing best practice in learning and teaching in an atmosphere of collegiality and generosity are the most significant keys to success in supporting positive student outcomes in the classroom.

Mark Murphy