Leading Numeracy Case Study

Steven Donohue

Expert teacher, Auburn Primary School

When given the opportunity by his principal to select a professional development course, Steven Donohue chose the Leading Numeracy course at Bastow for two key reasons.

“Because of Bastow’s reputation I was pretty sure that the course would provide me with greater insight into how to improve the school’s numeracy policy, and hopefully I would also be able to apply the knowledge to other areas of my work,” says Steven.

​​​As an expert teacher, Steven has an important leadership role at his school, including responsibility for developing a whole-school approach to numeracy - two essential elements that the Bastow course specifically addresses.​

“We are a small school so we don’t have maths co-ordinator,” explains Steven. “However, there is a still a strong focus on numeracy, so the course really was a good fit with my role.”

 

 

Leading Numeracy courseaVOQfcV4INAhttp://www.bastow.vic.edu.au/Lists/Videos/DispForm.aspx?ID=27Leading Numeracy courseSteve Donohue, Auburn Primary School, describes his experience attending the Leading Numeracy course at the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership./captions/aVOQfcV4INA.vtt<div class="ExternalClass8521662766CB4802871B2C82770FB29F"><p><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">-My name is Steve Donahue, and I just finished the leading numeracy 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;">I'm part of the 1/2 team at Auburn Primary, and I work in Hawthorn in Victoria.</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 did the course at Bastow this year because I felt that when offered the opportunity to do one of a plethora of courses that was offered to me by my principal, I thought that it had a great reputation.</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 I knew that by the time that I'd finished it, it would have allowed me a greater insight into how to create a new numeracy policy, and perhaps apply that across other parts of the 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;">So in order to construct a numeracy policy, the first thing I had to do was find out whether or not one had been in existence, whether it was out of date, or whether we'd ever had one.</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 course allowed me to understand how to go about finding the information through a filter of what I needed in order to construct a policy, look for the bits that were already there, and create the bits that I needed.</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 course entailed three forms of assessment.</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 reason for each form of assessment was that you were focused on finding parts of numeracy policies that existed in a school, presenting them to people in your course in order to show people where your school was at, which helped you to understand what you needed to do next.</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 great to listen to different people from different-- from secondary, from primary, from schools that went from P to 12.</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 found that there were many people who were obviously really good at what they do, coming to learn more about what they do, and how to improve it.</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 I was witness to many presentations, and many people in front of a group of people using skills that I would never have thought of before-- unexpected benefit of being able to see people do what they do really well in front of you.</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;">To be able to implement what I learned at this course would be far easier because I've done the course.</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;">If I was tasked with the same job without having done the course that I did, I'd be lost in a morass of, where do I go from 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;">If I was to go further along the track than what I am now, I'm more able to do 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;">Because I'm equipped with the tools the Bastow enabled me to recognise, utilise, and practice while I was there.</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;">An unexpected benefit of the course was being able to engage with so many other people who were along the same journey, but at different points upon that development.</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;">To exit the course knowing that not only was I pushed at defining, clarify teaching strategies and policy development tools of my own, but also exited the course knowing that I had a whole group of people around me that I could call upon that I didn't have before I started the course.</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 would recommend the course to others teachers.</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's not something you would take on lightly, because it does involve a lot of work.</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 a lot of work that I found very useful for what I do every day.</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 learned things that I wasn't expecting to learn.</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 I came out a far better equipped professional than I did when I went in.</span>​</p></div>

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As part of the course, Steven had to conduct an audit of the school’s current numeracy policy, which meant “trawling through an awful lot of documentation” to understand how numeracy is taught and implemented at the school.

It was at this point that Steven discovered the lack of a dedicated, comprehensive numeracy policy, making the audit and the course “… even more relevant and useful”.

To present his audit findings to the Bastow group, Steven decided that a game show format was the way to go, “rather than power point people to death and present it as a real numeracy co-ordinator might”. This innovative and imaginative approach is definitely part of Steven’s success as a teacher and a leader.

“The presentations really helped to loosen people up and to get over that initial anxiety of having to present in front of a group,” says Steven. “It also meant that everyone was in the same boat and understood the process.”

This opportunity to network, engage and collaborative with other teachers “on the same journey” was an important element of the course for Steven.

“Having conversations with people who are all at different stages of their numeracy policy development and from different schools was really beneficial,” he says.

For Steven, the chance to “define and clarify his own teaching strategies and policy development tools” were crucial to him being able to develop a “well-researched, highly effective and sustainable” numeracy policy.

As it turns out, Steven was right about what the Bastow course could do for him - he not only gained valuable insight into the policies and procedures at his school, but he also discovered that he could apply his new knowledge to other aspects of his work, including “strengthening and highlighting” his leadership skills.

“In the end it’s not really about the maths - I could transpose what I learnt at Bastow to create a policy for any subject area. What you learn about is a process - understanding what process will work and then how to implement it.”