Dividing The Chops
Executive Director of Catholic Education WA (CEWA), Dr Tim McDonald, this week told an interesting story on the early days of schools in WA.
One of the first Josephite Sisters was advised by the local butcher that he 'had four chops' for the Sisters that week.
'Good' was the reply. 'This week we will be able to eat meat'. Admittedly the chops had to be divided amongst nine Sisters.
Tim McDonald's story was very much around the struggles of early Catholic Education and the amazing work of the original pioneers.
Coming back to Catholic Education in WA after a gap of five years I have been excited and enthused about the excellent strategic approach at a system level. The challenge across the state is to gain advantages of being part of a system of 163 schools.
The essence of Catholic Education is to develop ‘highly literate and numerate critical thinkers, who discover their true calling and serve their communities to create the society envisaged by Christ’ (CEWA 2017).
This week I spent time with other Principals and School Leaders considering how this vision can become a reality. Much of the discussion was around strategic initiatives to enable our students to reach their true potential. I was particularly interested in the focus on student learning and on classroom practice. We know from the work of educational researchers that ‘collective teacher efficacy’ is the most important school determinant of enhanced learning outcomes. Our Catholic Education system is helping to define classroom practices that can bring about change. Five practices have been identified:
- Quality relationships – teachers know their students.
- Instructional range – teachers differentiate their instructional approach according to student needs, skill requirements and learner choice.
- Learning Design – Teachers ensure that students have a clear understanding of learning intent, success criteria is clear and effective feedback is required.
- Place, space and technology – the learning environment is used as the third teacher (in addition to students and teachers).
- Engagement – Teachers ensure students’ belonging, wellbeing, motivation and empowerment.
I look forward to working with our excellent staff to further develop these practices.
Together, let us seek justice.