High Impact Teacher Development

As teachers, it is important that we grow with our students. To this end, Santa Maria College provides many professional growth opportunities in teaching and learning. In our Monday afternoon session this week, we learnt about high impact teaching practices and further developed our understanding of teaching the three Cs: Collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.

High Impact Teaching Practices

Over the course of the year, five of our teachers have been working with the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA) in the area of high impact teaching practices. The teachers are Jennifer Jansen, Ben Walker, Callum Tilak, Ciara Boyle, and Latha Plandran. On Monday, these teachers joined forces to present to the whole teaching staff the techniques they have been exploring in theory and in their own classrooms.

The high impact teaching practices shared by the group included:

  • Setting goals
  • Engagement norms
  • Cognitive load theory
  • Structuring lessons
  • Daily review
  • Explicit teaching
  • Questioning

An understanding of cognitive load theory was perhaps the most powerful lesson communicated. It is the understanding that students retain very little of what teachers say. This is because of the overload of information their brains absorb from not only the lesson but also the class environment and the other stimuli in their lives.

The strategies given to help overcome the impact of cognitive load included:

  • Tailoring lessons according to students’ existing knowledge and skill
  • Using worked examples to teach students new content or skills
  • Gradually increasing independent problem-solving as students become more proficient
  • Cutting out inessential content
  • Presenting all the essential information together
  • Simplifying complex information by presenting both orally and visually
  • Encouraging students to visualise concepts and procedures that they have learnt

The Three Cs

After the presentation to the whole group, the teaching staff divided into smaller groups of a few learning area teams per room. In these groups, each learning area shared a couple of examples of the ways they have been developing students’ collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.

As well as new information and reminders of great teaching strategies, it was a pleasure to learn from other teachers what works well for them in their classes.

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