Focus on students

By Greg Whitby, 12 June 2019
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

We know from research that the most powerful form of learning comes from students being able to talk about what they learned, why it is important and how they know when they’ve learned it. This is often referred to as ‘visible learning’, a term used to describe whether the teaching process has been effective. It becomes an important part of the student-teacher feedback loop as well as encouraging more confident learners.

Another way in which students make their learning visible is through student-led conferencing (SLC). Many schools have introduced SLC, which allows the student to walk parents through their individual learning goals, achievements and to highlight where extra support is needed. This often takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour – it is different for each student.

SLC is one strategy for empowering students to take greater responsibility for their learning by placing them in a position where they have the support and encouragement of their teachers and parents. It also encourages them to find personal meaning in what they are learning.

Many schools are also encouraging visible learning through the use of electronic portfolios. E-portfolios in particular allow students to reflect on their learning and progress in real-time. They allows students to make decisions on the work they wish to showcase to a broader audience. In some schools, Year 12 students are given the opportunity to present their e-portfolios to a public audience. The design of contemporary schools now includes designated areas for students to showcase their work to small and large audiences.

All of these strategies represent a shift away from schools as ‘one-size-fits-all’ to schools to learning studios where students are seen as active participants in the process.

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Schools - Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
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