Motivated and excited by her new skills and knowledge for teaching literacy, Cathy Davis is now responsible for implementing literacy initiatives across the whole school and is enjoying watching the positive impact on students’ skills and confidence.
Spreading the word on literacy learning
Cathy Davis enrolled in the Leading Literacy program at Bastow in 2012 as part her new role as literacy coordinator at St Kilda Primary School.
With a background in leading mathematics initiatives, the course seemed the perfect way for Cathy to gain more knowledge about literacy teaching and learning. It also linked perfectly with her professional development leave project on the topic of punctuation and grammar in children’s writing.
As it turned out, Cathy did learn everything she needed to know about the structures and models that support exemplary literacy teaching, but she was also so inspired and so enthused by the course that she literally couldn’t wait to implement her new skills and learning in the classroom.
“I took what I learnt each day straight back to the classroom,” says Cathy. “It influenced how I formed my questions and how I structured a lesson, and it just worked a treat.”
So immediate was the impact on her students’ capabilities and attitudes that it didn’t take long for other staff to notice the dramatic changes.
“Everyone wanted to know what was happening and how these changes could be reflected across the school,” says Cathy. “I’m now out of the classroom one day a week to implement and support the literacy initiatives across the whole school.”
The experience has been a great confidence boost for Cathy, both personally and in her ability to share her new understanding and lead the program.
“Conversations at staff meetings have changed as a result – we are able to reflect on literacy teaching and learning, assess how it’s going and also look at where it’s heading.”
After 34 years as a teacher, Cathy has seen many new teaching and learning practices come and go, but she is convinced that the new literacy strategies that are being implementing at her school are definitely here to stay.
“This is the most positive change I’ve ever experienced,” says Cathy. “This approach is already starting to lift students’ attitudes and capabilities, and because we are part of a network of schools, this will definitely feed out.” says Cathy.
She loved “every single minute of every Bastow session” and found the opportunity to discuss her research topic with other teachers extremely valuable. She was also very impressed by the facilitators’ knowledge, expertise and ability to make complex information highly accessible.
“They gave us a broad, well-rounded picture of literacy – it put everything into perspective and all the resources were just fabulous.”
But Cathy’s new passion for literacy is nowhere more apparent than when she talks about the impact on the students.
“We had one little boy who read this most amazing story at the end of last year – the depth that he achieved and just how happy he was with it – I had tears in my eyes,” says Cathy.
“That’s the best thing – students finish the year viewing themselves as writers - good writers - and really believing in their writing.”