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.
“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.