The first week of Term 2 for 2021 saw all 56 schools in the Archdiocese participate in collective professional learning. Schools engaged in one of five professional learning initiatives where over 1,000 teachers and leaders immersed themselves in Catalyst Professional Learning to better understand how they could embed evidence-based teaching in their schools.
In line with our NSW schools, ACT schools had a student free day which was entirely dedicated to teacher professional learning and planning. Each school elected to participate in the sessions based on where they are in their Catalyst journey, and in the format that best suited them.
On the first day of Term 2, more than half of our schools launched High Impact Teaching Practice (HITP) Theory and Practice, led by education expert Dr Tim McDonald.
The session clarified the theories underpinning the HITP program, including a deep dive into research papers, notably the Deans for Impact The Science of Learning and Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction.
Julie Wiley, Principal of St Thomas More’s, Campbell said the session was a great opportunity to revisit the knowledge acquired at Catalyst System Day and reinforced the importance and application of Cognitive Load Theory.
“The discussion points were a valuable exercise to clarify our thinking as a staff and to talk about what the theory and practice means for our school community.”
Dr McDonald was on the ground to see exactly how teachers and Principals interacted with the Catalyst learning materials.
“It was wonderful to be welcomed by Julie and her staff. The staff engagement and questions on Catalyst were positive and challenging.”
Dearne Bassett, Assistant Principal from St Francis Xavier College said the session helped her school’s staff understand why implementing HITP in every classroom was a critical goal for the system.
“It makes sense. As teachers, we have a professional obligation to improve classroom practice adopting high-quality teaching strategies. The HITP session highlighted that evidence-based practice has the greatest impact on student learning.”
During the day, Catholic Education (CE) Leadership members visited various schools across the system to participate, alongside school staff. CE office staff also worked through the session, to better understand the evidence-based teaching practices and how their service areas could contribute to and support the implementation of Catalyst.
On the same day, Dr Lorraine Hammond facilitated a full-day HITP In Action session with 20 Leaders and teachers from St Michael’s, St Bernard’s, Holy Spirit, St Thomas the Apostle Primary Schools with CECG Director Ross Fox, Deputy Director Dr Tony Bracken, CE Leadership members and office staff in attendance.
This session provided a deep dive into teaching practices that will be implemented into classrooms and introduced the concept of Daily Review across all year levels.
Dr Hammond said she could feel a strong sense of momentum and collegiality in the room during the session.
“In my experience and research, when teachers in a school take up high impact instruction, improved student achievement follows.”
“The collective efficacy of staff when a group of schools implement this instructional model provides a greater opportunity for staff to learn from one another and work collaboratively towards a common goal.”
“I look forward to working with staff from Holy Spirit, St Bernard’s, St Michaels and St Thomas the Apostle again at our next professional learning day and providing a forum for celebrating the changes that will now follow.”
Jo Wain, Principal of St Bernard’s Primary School Batehaven, said the session was highly engaging and valuable for her staff, and enjoyed working collaboratively with the other schools.
“Today’s input was both affirming and empowering for teachers. We look forward to continuing to develop our classroom practice under the guidance of Lorraine.”
Annie Brearley, graduate teacher from Holy Spirit Primary School, said she was able to already apply the knowledge into her teaching program.
“I had some great learnings around incorporating a ‘Daily Review’ in the classroom and the power of teaching reading through Explicit Instruction.”
Brooke Wardana accompanied Dr Hammond to demonstrate how the high impact practices can be used in a classroom setting.
About 100 participants across all Secondary and Central schools commenced their HITP In Action journey in online sessions with Catalyst Presenter Ingrid Sealey from TeachWell.
The interactive online session explored the key principles of Cognitive Science, Practices of Master Teachers, Individual Teaching and Learning strategies.
Kerryn Hopkins, teacher from Carroll College Broulee said Ms Sealey was high-energy and enthusiastic, which made the session engaging and inspiring.
“We thoroughly enjoyed the day at our end – very productive, relevant and worthwhile.”
Kelly Candy, Leader of Learning and Wellbeing at St John Paul II College said the session provided valuable knowledge that helped staff at her school build a shared understanding of HITP.
“We are creating a real team focus and building a sense as a group as the people who will be leading others in the changes ahead.”
Dr Jennifer Buckingham and Alison McMurtrie from MultiLit visited St Thomas Aquinas, St Gregory’s and St Francis of Assisi to explore how the Catalyst K-2 Literacy program was being implemented in classrooms.
With 228 teachers now trained in InitiaLit across 27 schools, Dr Buckingham and Ms McMurtrie were pleased with the progress they saw in the teaching of high quality, evidence-based instruction.
They were thrilled to hear feedback from our teachers on how the Systematic Synthetic Phonics program has revolutionised the way they teach.
Dr Buckingham said “it was a great pleasure to observe the teaching and learning taking place in Canberra Goulburn Catholic schools, and to see how the use of evidence-based instruction is creating successful and happy readers.”
In the first week of Term 2, leaders across 9 schools met with Catalyst Presenter, Michael Roberts to support the planning and implementation of HITP in their school.
The leadership sessions provided understanding and context to Mr Roberts, so he can provide the support required for each school’s journey and assist with teacher selection for HITP In Action.
Earlier this year, 10 other schools had planning sessions with Mr Roberts, with five schools having commenced their HITP In Action journey in Term 1.
This term, Mr Roberts and Toni-Hatten Roberts will commence the HITP In Action journey 19 schools.
To learn when your school will participate in the various professional learning sessions, speak with your Principal.