We were attracted to Helping Schools Succeed by the project’s vision: “All pupils are fully and happily committed to learning and manage it themselves,” This outlook transformed our own approach to our school motto and taught us to learn and respond to our pupils’ needs. We have always wanted to be a school for healthy and happy children.
The project’s focus on peer learning and collaboration between every teacher at the school, including school management, the opportunity to learn and develop in all areas of the teaching profession and a deep professional focus on critical literacy have taught us so much in five years that we took the initiative to recruit other public primary schools and share the vision and goals behind the project. Besides motivating us to connect with another 10 schools (mainly from the Liberec region and partially with the Hradec Králové region), we see our current mission as a way of thanking everyone who has accompanied and taught us along our journey in pursuit of the project’s vision... Aware of how we have benefited from the Helping Schools Succeed project, we will gladly support other schools, their teachers, and most importantly, their pupils.
We have set ourselves goals in working towards fulfilling a common vision. Our main goals include:
Every teacher understands the educational needs of pupils.
Educational leaders understand the educational needs of teachers.
The project (catchment) school understands the educational needs of the schools affiliated with it.
Over the years of our involvement in the project, we have adopted – and continue to develop – numerous tools, methods and practices. These include reading workshops, writing workshops, the use of a reading continuum, disciplinary literacy, RWCT methods, formative assessment, co-teaching, and Hejný’s method in teaching mathematics. We believe these are conducive to every student’s learning.
Inspiration has come in from all sides. We have participated in sessions dedicated to sharing experience, disciplinary literacy and formative assessment and have also attended summer reading schools and workshops for professional learning groups for the entire school. Our roles at the Festival of Teaching Inspiration in Kunratice have been active, and our leadership skills have been honed through expert councils and effective school management trips. We have also worked on enquiry-based cycles of professional learning, motivation and mentoring experience of fledgling teachers from other project schools. We have had tremendous opportunities to share with teachers and head teachers, in addition to educational childcare staff and teaching assistants from other project schools.
Through the project, we have increasingly learned to focus our attention on pupils’ learning and how we can meaningfully contribute to it as teachers. We have introduced a Teaching Development Plan for the school as a whole and Personal Teaching Development Plans for all teachers. We are striving to keep these documents dynamic to assist us in assessing our efforts.
All teachers are involved in learning groups. It is an opportunity for them to share the successes and failures they have experienced in implementing the plan. These groups also serve as a platform for giving and receiving feedback on their work. It is also an opportunity for educational leaders to gain insight into the experiences and needs of teachers and provide them with examples of good practice. Learning groups are helping us learn to understand and engage in the practice of developing reading and writing literacy.
The moderators and leaders of selected learning groups include project consultants active at our school. They also prepare and lead learning groups for teachers from affiliated schools and help establish these groups.
To develop the network of affiliated schools, project consultants prepare and hold regular two-day trips, organise open classes with our teachers, and conduct follow-up reflection sessions with visitors to open classes.
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