G.E.R.R.I.C Professional Development Day

Latest News Thursday, 21 July 2022

The Monday and Tuesday of this week were very beneficial for staff (all secular and Jewish Studies) as each completed their mini-COGE (Certificate of Gifted Education). The professional learning equips staff further and ensures the continuation of quality teaching and learning. I also spent a fair time talking to the presenter (from UNSW) who works exclusively in the area of Gifted and Talented. It is always pleasing and interesting to hear the objective comments from the researchers and presenters when they come to the school. And to be honest, the comments are consistent. She was very impressed with the energy and positive culture within the school. She was also making comment on the vast depth of collective knowledge and how this has translated into teaching practice she found very impressive. I am often reluctant to report back on these conversations but on the other hand, these objective perspectives give confidence that everything is in order.

It was also good to reaffirm the ways in which we manage our differentiation by means of streaming, grouping, accelerating, curriculum compacting etc – all done without fanfare. We don’t make a big deal about children being in one class (Mr Black or Ms Sussman for example) or another and this reflects our culture of humility whilst catering to the diverse needs of all learners.

Education is still a fascinating and challenging (in a positive way) profession. I am fortunate to work with a very talented leadership team where we have extensive knowledge and experience. I have often mentioned my frustrations in the past as teaching can be full of trends and fads. However, we have consistently been guided by research and driven by what works. I think we all feel that a degree in education is like going to culinary school. You learn the basics, a few cool party tricks and by the end you can cook a gourmet meal. Teaching, however, is like waking up each day on an episode of Masterchef where the ingredients are completely random, you’re expected to do something amazing with whatever you are handed while people watch and provide running commentary – and occasionally something catches fire!

In education parlance, we have to find the ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) in each child whether s/he is gifted or challenged. 

This is quite a skill in itself and is but one small aspect (albeit and important one) of what preoccupies the teacher each day as s/he enters the room. Targeted teaching is the key to increase student progress. If I had to reduce all of educational psychology to just one principle, I would say this: The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly. - David Paul Ausubel, American Psychologist, 1968

Educational researchers have known for decades that a student learns best when teaching is targeted to what she is ready to learn. If the material is too easy, students can become bored and disengage. If it is too hard, students will flounder and may choose to misbehave or give up rather than face continued failure. In either case, little is learnt. But if teaching is targeted at what students are ready to learn, powerful progress can be made.

This idea is not new – psychologist Lev Vygotsky first proposed it 90 years ago. Since the 1970s it has been incorporated into mainstream educational theory. Today, it is widely recognised that teachers should target teaching based on reliable evidence of what students know and are ready to learn. This approach – often described as differentiated teaching, evidence-based teaching, clinical teaching or visible learning – is now built into our expectations of both teachers and schools.

Book a tour today!

Contact Us