James Sheahan focuses on teaching quality to boost student learning

Staff at James Sheahan Catholic High School are taking part in a quality teaching professional development program to boost student learning.

Principal Peter Meers said research showed that improving teaching was the best way to improve student outcomes, and new and experienced teachers were benefiting from Quality Teaching Rounds (QTR).

"Teachers of 20 or 30 years and teachers of two or three years are equally excited and learning so much about their own teaching and how they can help each other,” Mr Meers said.

"I can see the light in their eyes.”

He said QTR fitted in with the school’s professional learning community focus on collaboration and using data to inform teaching practice. It could also take place in the school without requiring teachers to travel and was suited to all subject areas and student stages.

QTR was developed at the University of Newcastle’s Teachers and Teaching Research Centre (TTRC). After initial workshops, professional learning communities of four teachers are set up to observe and analyse each other’s lessons using the Quality Teaching Model (QTM), which has three dimensions and 18 elements.

Teachers discuss lessons using the Model considering what is working well in the teaching and learning as well as identifying opportunities for enhancements.

Laureate Professor Jenny Gore, Director of the TTRC, said QTR had been shown to improve the quality of teaching, teacher morale and, importantly, improve student outcomes.

“In research published this year, we have been able to demonstrate that the students of teachers who participated in QTR achieved an additional 25% learning growth in maths, equivalent to two months, in an eight-month period,” Professor Gore said.

QTR is part of James Sheahan’s annual school improvement program, aiming to have all teachers participate by 2024.

Assistant Principal Michael Tilston said QTR recognised the expertise and experience of teachers at the school and gave teachers “a common language” to collaboratively improve their teaching.

He said the end game was to improve student outcomes, including more Band 6 results in the HSC.

“We have great kids and great teachers, but one of our great challenges is student engagement,” Mr Tilston said.

“We are hoping that by focusing on quality teaching we can spur on student engagement.”

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