Today was our college’s Open Day. We haven’t had an open day at the weekend before, but I have to say it was a great move. There were so many interested and engaged parents and students who visited our school. I was particularly impressed that generally, they were more interested in knowing about the kind of learning experiences that take place in the classroom, rather than focusing on how many band 6’s we got in last year’s HSC, SC and NAPLAN. Whilst I am happy to talk about our wonderful HSC results, I am pleased that parents of young children can see beyond NAPLAN, SC and HSC examinations. Many parents asked about whether we have book clubs and creative writing groups (yes to both) and whether their child’s needs would be met in the classroom (yes of course.)
Parents were particularly impressed with the way we used Edmodo in the classroom, to personalise the learning of our students. They liked the ‘Anchor Tasks’ our year 8 students created and then the film created where they reflected on the process. They were really impressed with my year 9 English students’ campaign to improve the self esteem of teenage girls. They decided that the values embedded in glossy womens’ magazines adverts were in contravention to their own, so they wanted to create a powerful message to the school community. They created their own advertising campaign, advertising how a positive attitude is important and that body image should not define your entire sense of self. They had to use persuasive advertising techniques to create meaning. Some used ‘Photoshop’ or other programs. Parents liked the fact that our positive campaign was created by students for students and will be displayed around the school. They liked the idea that their daughter could learn about how to think critically when it comes to womens’ advertising.
What impressed me most was listening to our students, who took these parents and young primary students through the English room and talked quite openly and casually about how they use Edmodo (and a range of other technologies) and why they like it. No script, no prompt… they used their own learning experiences and for me, that gave the greatest validation for the work that we do in our classrooms. Our students talked confidently about their learning in English classes. They talked about their learning style, how they learn best and what they enjoyed most about coming to English. For me, this was so incredibly gratifying, for when I first began teaching at the college, it was something I feel our students couldn’t articulate. Seeing how the learning culture has evolved and developed in four years has been one of the highlights of my teaching career.
As my esteemed colleagues in my department and I farewelled the last guest to our room for the afternoon, we stopped to talk about how impressed we were with the positive vibe, but more importantly, how far we had come in terms of meaningful integration of technology and really personalising the learning of our students in our classroom. Open Day gave us an opportunity to share with prospective parents and students, everything we value about our college, our strengths and our passion for teaching and learning. Open Day was an excellent visual reminder of the many wonderful things that take place in our department and in our classrooms on a daily basis. Open Day was like one long blog post, reflecting on our teaching practice and the learning gain of our wonderful students.