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Quality Teaching Relies on Relationships and Expertise

NEWS 17 June 2021

Students excel in all areas of school life when they are provided with opportunities and respectful teaching relationships.

Ms Melissa Allen, Head of Teaching and Learning (Middle School) at Haileybury, believes these are the core elements of quality teaching, regardless of the school, the subject being taught or the year level.

“Relationships are the foundation of quality teaching,” says Ms Allen.

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“US President Theodore Roosevelt said: ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’. In the context of teaching, I change that quote to directly refer to students and say: ‘Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” says Ms Allen.

“Once you have a solid relationship built on trust and on honest and critical feedback, then students can engage in their learning and get the most from the teachers who are experts in their field. But if they don’t know how much a teacher cares about them, then there is no engagement and learning.”

Ms Allen says other signs of quality teaching are teachers giving appropriate formal and informal feedback to foster growth and providing students with challenges to consolidate learning.

“At Haileybury, formal feedback for each student outlines what they did well, what can be improved and how to make that improvement. That feedback is visible for parents so they can have follow-up conversations at home and support their child,” says Ms Allen.

From the Early Learning Centre (ELC) to Year 12, quality teaching provides challenges and tasks along the learning journey. Ms Allen says those challenges should be relevant, practical and relate to real life to fully engage students.

For example, Year 8 students participate in the Haileybury Startup course that encourages entrepreneurial flair and develops work-ready skills such as digital literacy, critical thinking, design thinking and teamwork. The course culminated last year in students pitching their business ideas to parents and community members at a live event.

“Students are on an individual learning journey, so challenges are based on identified strengths and are in place to scaffold their growth and to explore what they are interested in,” says Ms Allen.

Another essential element of quality teaching is recognising that each student is an individual who brings their own strengths to a classroom.

“Whenever a student walks into a classroom at Haileybury they are seen as an individual with their own strengths and areas of growth and their own story,” says Ms Allen.

“We also respect that our students have their own opinions and that learning is two-way. Our students allow us teachers to grow too.”

Just as students are encouraged to be lifelong learners, Haileybury teachers are too. Schools that are committed to quality teaching support the continuing professional development of educators. Being part of professional networks and participating in professional learning programs are integral to quality teaching, says Ms Allen.

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Earlier this year, Haileybury launched the Brilliant Series Professional Learning Program to support Middle and Senior School staff to deliver ‘brilliant’ teaching in the classroom. The Program, developed by Ms Allen, identifies six areas that contribute to best teaching practices.

The areas focused on were Purpose, Feedback, Differentiation, Assessment for Learning, Assessment as Learning and Collaboration. In 2021 and 2022, educators will take part in sessions, discussions and workshops with experts in each of these fields to enhance their classroom performance.

The ongoing professional development of staff reflects the commitment of Haileybury CEO|Principal Mr Derek Scott to maintaining the School’s reputation for quality teaching.

“Haileybury continues to support teachers in their development and our ongoing Teacher Coaching Program is an important part of this,” says Mr Scott.

“The quality of teaching is the single most important in-school factor influencing student achievement.”