The Effective Teacher

IGS staff began the year by gathering in the grand Refectory at the University of Sydney for The Effective Teacher Conference.

We welcomed guest speakers Melbourne Graduate School of Education Professor of Language and Literacy Education Joe Lo Bianco and IGS parent and Aboriginal Employment Strategy CEO Kristy Masella.

University of Sydney Health and Policy Brain and Mind Centre Co-Director Professor Ian Hickie, also an IGS parent and inspirational speaker, joined us.

“How fortunate we are to be able to consider, within the tranquil and inspiring environment of Australia’s first university, 2019 and the ways in which we are supporting our teachers so that they in turn can equip our students to be ready for the world,” Principal Shauna Colnan said.

At Speech Night 2018, Ms Colnan quoted John Steinbeck on the impact of a great teacher:

“School is not so easy, but then if you are very lucky, you may find a teacher. Three real teachers in a lifetime is the very best of luck. I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”

“Steinbeck’s words draw us to the connections between the effectiveness of the teacher and the future we create for our students,” Ms Colnan said.

“At the University of Sydney, we contemplated what effective teaching in the context of limitless learning, empowered students and a sustainable future might look like here at IGS this year and as we move toward 2020.”

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Professor Joe Lo Bianco presented on Language Education: A Resource for Learning, Citizenship and Global Skills, sharing that “language is very different from all other components of learning and knowledge”.

“It’s a mechanism through which we discuss other subjects,” he said.

“Language is critical from the perspective that allows us to see another point of view, as language lurks in all knowledge.”

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Professor Lo Bianco shared benefits of language programs:

  • enrichment: cultural and intellectual
  • economic: vocations and foreign trade
  • equality: social justice and overcoming disadvantages
  • external: Australia’s role in the region and the world.

He also shared insights into the benefits of immersion programs, and how students’ knowledge in all areas can deepen by engaging students in languages through all subjects.

“Your school has the virtue of making language serious, and deepening knowledge by using different mediums to teach a language.

“It’s not just about learning French to learn about French, it’s about learning French to learn about English.

“Whatever we want to do in life, learn in life, we have to do it through language, and we are all language teachers, even if we are not aware of it.”

Kristy Masella’s important insights were relevant to all staff as we continue to celebrate IGS Aboriginal students’ heritage and our diversity.

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Kristy shared that effective teachers of Aboriginal students:

  • build personal connections
  • have high expectations
  • engage parents
  • use Aboriginality as a strength
  • cultivate Aboriginal students’ and families’ sense of belonging
  • look for success and identify what led to success
  • Indigenise the curriculum
  • have a general understanding of Aboriginal English
  • identify and address covert racism.

In doing so, teachers can promote “significant contributions to a sense of belonging at IGS”.

“I feel very privileged and humbled that we have such phenomenal teachers at IGS that share their wisdom and knowledge with our children,” Kristy said.

Staff also heard from newly appointed IGS Director of Teacher Effectiveness Lisa Kelliher, who will be working closely with the Leadership Team, Heads of Department, Heads of Stage and Director of Early Learning to enhance our professional teaching practice.

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To close the conference, staff were joined by Ian Hickie to discuss how IGS can continue to promote a safe and supportive environment for all students, as well as give special support and advice.

By utilising the already established microstructures and mentoring connections at IGS, staff will ensure student wellbeing is at the forefront of learning as we commence our journeys into the 2019 academic year.