Launch of book that puts focus back on student learning

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10 May 2017

The job of a teacher is not easy to define. Teachers constantly work to ensure they are moving in the same direction as their community while responding toBook launch at the Catholic Leadership Centre many external systemic and political demands, yet remaining focused on the needs of each individual student in their care. These competing agendas provide an overwhelming amount of pressure; teaching is hard work. We know that teachers have a high level of professional knowledge, but taking time to write about their experiences and their professional thinking would never factor into their to-do list.

Dr Kathy Smith and Professor John Loughran, from the Faculty of Education at Monash University, began working with St Joseph’s Primary School in Hawthorn to help teachers share their professional knowledge about learning and teaching. Their aim was to produce a book that provided insights about the conditions that enhance meaningful learning and this publication has finally come to fruition. The book, titled Quality learning. Teachers changing their practice, is a culmination of an ongoing school-based approach to professional learning which has taken place over the past five years.

The book comprises chapters written by different primary school teachers at St Joseph’s, academics from Monash University and staff from Catholic Education Melbourne. It demonstrates how learning and teaching can be enhanced through teacher self-directed professional learning and highlights how, through a whole school approach, teachers’ professional knowledge of practice can be developed, enhanced and effectively communicated to a wider audience.

The importance of focusing on student learning as a way of supporting pedagogical change and development is a key aspect in this book. One of the authors, Kristin Baynton, said that it was an amazing experience and she can now not only call herself an author, but a better teacher. She said that after writing her chapter she ‘now considers the why, instead of only focusing on the who, what, when and how’.

On Thursday 20 April everyone involved came together to officially launch Quality learning. Teachers changing their practice at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne. For the teachers involved, it was a chance to celebrate their work and recognise their achievements. Executive Dean Professor John Loughran said ‘it is refreshing to see teachers talking about pedagogy, it’s rare to have teachers writing about their practice in such a meaningful way.’

Gilbert Keisler, Principal of St Joseph’s said ‘Kathy and John have been inspiring to work with and I think we have learnt to challenge the status quo. To question personal perspectives of learning and teaching and place students at the centre of their own learning. This reflects what St Joseph’s is all about and the book is a true celebration of the journey we have been on together.’

Quality learning. Teachers changing their practice is available to purchase online.

This article was originally published on the Monash University website 2 May 2017.