Leading Literacy Case Study

Danny Hyndman

Principal, Woori Yallock Primary School

Danny Hyndman’s success to date reinforces the importance of developing strong leaders who have vision, confidence, high expectations, commitment to learning, and who are willing to take a hands-on and collaborative approach.

​​​​​​​​Danny Hyndman’s transition from secondary teacher to literacy coach to primary school principal in 3 years is a remarkable achievement in anyone’s book. But when hearing him talk about his vision for education and his strong belief in the power of teaching and learning to make a positive difference to children’s lives, it is not surprising that his career trajectory has been so rapid.

Danny believes that his Bastow training, specifically the Leading Literacy course he completed in 2010, is a big part of why he has been able to achieve so much in such a relatively short time, including his appointment as principal of Woori Yallock Primary School in 2011.

 

 

Leading LiteracyVVP2EOFIoF8http://www.bastow.vic.edu.au/Lists/Videos/DispForm.aspx?ID=35Leading LiteracyDanny Hyndman's (Principal, Woori Yallock Primary School) success to date reinforces the importance of developing strong leaders./captions/VVP2EOFIoF8.vtt<div class="ExternalClassD2FEE85ECC6540D78770FD546772E4A1"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"></span><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Prior to being a coach-- so 2008-- I probably wasn't the sort of person who got excited about professional learning, and I was probably regarded as a fairly solid teacher.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Becoming a coach in 2009 was a huge moment for me in terms of my learning and in terms of my outlook on education.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">I had the opportunity to enroll in the Establishing Literacy Coaching in Your School course at Bastow.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">It was 16 days, so it was a little bit of a hard sell at first.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">It was like, wow, that's a lot.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">But after my first day, I was like, wow, that's amazing, and I really looked forward to every single day when it was coming up.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And in my case, I feel, yeah, I haven't looked back, and I love all of that learning.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Establishing Literacy Coaching in Your School gave me the confidence to apply for the principal job here at Woori Yallock Primary School.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Then once I was successful, I was keen to continue the learning that I'd received through Bastow doing Leading Instructional Practice, which has then led to me getting a scholarship for the University of Melbourne to do my masters.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">So I guess I've really changed in terms of my outlook over the last four or five years.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And it's hard to think what it was like before that.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Being a new, young principal, it wasn't going to have everyone jump on board with me coming in and saying, these are some things that we need to try and implement.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">So sending a couple of staff through the same course gave real impetus to the changes here.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Those three staff really drove a lot of our school improvement from being at the course that year.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And obviously, because I'd already had the learning, I could work with staff around that, as well.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">The learning that we had in regards to literacy has been really powerful.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">But it's also transferable to all other areas of the curriculum, and the staff benefit from that.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">But ultimately, the students do through common language and common approach.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">As a school here, we're doing really well.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">I've really turned things around in terms of student outcomes, but also in terms of behavior, orderly environment.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">The actual growth that we saw for our kids was really, really quick.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">The turnaround was significant in a short period of time.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And it was really around kids engaged with at the level that they were at and reading books that interested them.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And they had choice.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And they just really thrived from that.</span>​</div>

​​

“In hindsight, the Leading Literacy Bastow course really was the driving force behind me getting this position – it gave me the confidence to apply and it has been a big part of the success we have achieved at this school,” says Danny.

Although Danny says it is early days in terms of measurable outcomes, this success is clearly evident in the radical improvement in student learning and behaviour at the school since he became principal.

“This school services a low socioeconomic community and we have really turned things around,” says Danny. “I believe it all comes back to quality teaching and learning – if you get that right, then a lot of other things just fall into place. And this is a direct result of the training I did at Bastow.”

As a young, new principal, Danny knew he couldn’t “make big changes straight away” and that he had to be strategic about gaining the support of other staff. So in his first year he sent two other teachers to the Leading Literacy course.

“Sending those staff to the same course was the real impetus for the changes we’ve made,” explains Danny. “Their learnings complemented my knowledge and that’s how we really drove school improvement.”

Danny believes that having a “common language” in the way they talk about literacy in the school really benefits the students and staff, together with the fact that what they learnt at Bastow could be immediately implemented in the classroom.

“The students’ growth was significant in a short amount of time,” says Danny. “Because the teaching is individualised, the kids have choice, they have their own goals and they are working at their own level, and so they are confident, engaged and interested – they are really thriving.”

One way of developing a shared understanding of literacy practice and a whole-school approach are the school’s regular study groups. These sessions allow staff to discuss a particular text, trial teaching practices and then agree on an approach.​

“We all have input, there is consensus and it provides great learning for staff, regardless of their level of experience.”

The Leading Literacy course also gave Danny the opportunity to connect with other teachers and principals.

“The workshop days at Bastow were fantastic,” says Daniel. “I could ask questions and get genuinely meaningful and helpful responses, and I met so many people from lots of different schools all with a different focus.”

Danny was also instrumental in developing a network with three other local schools in 2013. Comprising of one secondary and two primary schools, the network joined forces to successfully apply for a DEECD grant. The schools now meet twice a term and are working together to develop a shared approach to teaching literacy.

As well as completing three other Bastow courses since 2010, Danny is also finishing his Masters this year, which was made possible with a scholarship through Bastow and the University of Melbourne.

“I am so grateful to have had access to such high quality training – everything I have learnt at Bastow has just been just so practical – you learn it and you can put it straight into action, and because it works, the teachers and the kids respond immediately – the light bulb goes off!” says Danny.​