High performing school systems…maintain a strong focus on improving instruction because of its direct impact upon student achievement. McKinsey and Company, 2007, p13
Learning Ethos at Xavier
At Xavier we acknowledge the importance of a common and shared vision to enable staff to work collaboratively in their quest to improve learning outcomes and the learning environment for our students. The learning environment is a dynamic and innovative space that facilitates meaningful student learning opportunities, in which expectations of students and staff are high and because a strong culture of feedback exists. At Xavier we put learning first. Agreed practice will assist all staff in developing best practice for student learning. Agreed practice incorporates planning, programming, assessing and reporting on student learning.
In a world characterised by such rapid change, our students are challenged to achieve their best through forming the values, attitudes and skills to live, thrive and contribute in the world of their futures.
At Xavier High School we agree to the following:
The Catholic ethos of the school, articulated in the Diocesan document 'Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Adults', encourages learning and teaching within a community. A partnership of students, teachers, parents and the wider community is our targetted approach to ensure that every student is connected to their learning experiences here at Xavier, and they have the support from the community to attain what they strive to achieve.
Educational research tells us that student improvement comes from:
- Explicit instruction, teacher clarity and feedback (Hattie)
- Feedback within the learning cycle (Wiliam)
- Instructional approaches & role of feedback (Moss and Brookhart)
- Having a clear understanding of how students are doing, and restlessly striving to create better learning experiences (Knight)
Xavier staff have introduced additional Instructional learning focuses in our classrooms to improve student learning growth. Learning Targets have been introduced into our classrooms this year with the purpose of making our learning visible and evident to our students. As a staff we have shifted the focus from, ‘What are we teaching today?’ to ‘What are our students learning today?’
At the beginning of every lesson the Learning Target is presented to the students, explaining the ‘what’ we are learning today, the ‘why’ we are learning this today and ‘how’ students are able to demonstrate this learning. This explicit teaching focus is aimed to assist students in making the connections to the purpose of each lesson within the context of their learning progressions in each subject area. School leaders engage in ‘Walk through’s’ of classes and speak to students about what they are learning and what they need to do next to meet the goals that they have set.
Staff set explicit criteria for success for student learning. This includes clear and explicit instructions on how students are to demonstrate their learning through formative and summative assessment opportunities to demonstrate their learning progressions in each KLA area. Success criteria are closely linked to feedback opportunities to support students in their learning journeys as check points of the learning growth each student experiences. Schoology, our LMS provides a portal for our parents to access the formative and summative feedback provided to our students to assist them in this progression of learning and as a check in to see how students are progressing.
Feedback for success
Feedback is recognised as vital information in student growth. Professor John Hattie (Visible Learning, 2011) makes it very clear that ‘feedback' includes telling students what they have done well (positive reinforcement), and what they need to do to improve (corrective work, targets etc), but it also includes clarifying goals. This means that giving students assessment criteria for example would be included in ‘feedback'. High quality feedback is always given against explicit criteria. The feedback must be informative rather than evaluative. (Visible Learning, 2011)
Feedback supports student learning when it:
- clarifies learning in relation to outcomes, criteria and standards
- is based on a standards-referenced approach rather than comparisons with other students
- recognises improvements made over time in comparison to prior work samples
- offers alternatives or asks students to think of alternatives
- focuses on the activity rather than the student
- is descriptive and questioning
- values student work and focuses on the quality rather than the quantity
- models how to apply a particular skill
- facilitates self-reflection
- encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem
- is timely and provides opportunities for students to act upon advice.