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Continuous feedback and progress

Chris Ivey / Academic

We made it to the end of Term 1

01 April 2021

From Our Principal - Continuous feedback and progress

Dear St Andrew’s community

We made it to the end of Term 1 and despite a few final  COVID-19 challenges this week, what a positive and productive term!

The end of a school term has traditionally meant the time for some form of formal student report card.  As many parents may be aware, rather than not knowing anything about your child’s learning and progress until the end of a term, we have moved away from the more formal ‘point in time end of term report’ to the notion of continuous feedback.  As research will attest, the most valuable way for students to improve on their learning is not actually through a result or grade only but through feedback, which must be timely, with things to work on and relevant comments.

I acknowledge that this transition hasn’t been the easiest of journeys, particularly as we have tried to get the balance right between effective feedback to students and ongoing communication with parents about how your child is going.

In our Primary School, we know that Seesaw is a valuable platform where parents can see the learning that is taking place and, in many ways, ongoing feedback and communication is easier in the Primary setting with a daily relationship with one or two members of staff.  As students move into their secondary education, the number of subjects and subsequently teachers increase and this makes it a little more challenging for parents to be aware of what is happening. Our Learning Management System, Canvas is the central place where all this knowledge and information is stored. 

As students move through our Secondary School towards the Senior years, we do expect the student to begin to take responsibility for their own learning, seeking feedback and clarity from teachers. What I want to stress however, is that in saying students begin to take responsibility for their learning, this is not a chance for parents to take a back seat or to ‘lean out’. Not at all. It’s like teaching your 16-year-old to drive a car. We simply swap seats, we don’t get out of the car! – the process means we encourage, and guide and we enable them to start driving on their own with us right beside them, but we are fully focused on their performance. It’s the same for their learning at school. We encourage the student to receive and respond to the feedback from teachers, we expect the student to follow up with the teacher if something isn’t clear. However, if they are unsure what to do, parents are effectively ‘still in the car’ with their child, talk it through, guide, teach them what to do, how to problem solve, proof read the assignment, draft the email and how to have the conversation with the teacher.

So as the end of the term comes to a close, I really want to encourage parents to take the time to sit with your children, whatever year level they are in and ask them to show you how the term has gone. There is no formal report, with a mark or a comment; however, there is rich data that our teachers are providing through Canvas (or Seesaw).

You can log in as a secondary parent and navigate through Canvas. I’ll be honest, this is not the easiest of things to do and requires a pretty sound knowledge of the platform. Mr Grant Harbour will be producing some helpful videos which we will release next term to enable parents to better navigate Canvas through the parent access.

However, one of the best ways to see how your child is going and to get a feel for their development is to sit with them, ask them to log in and get them to share with your their subjects, some of the assessments and the feedback they have received from teachers. This way, you will hear firsthand how they are going, you will see the sort of feedback being provided by our teachers and with a couple of simple questions, you will begin a good conversation.

  • How would you summarise the feedback from your teachers?
  • What are you most proud of this term?
  • Do you know what you need to do to improve and if not, how will you resolve this?

As parents, never underestimate the power of rich conversations with your children about their learning journey. If, after this process, you should have concerns about how your child is progressing, or they themselves feel stuck and not sure how to move forward, then I encourage you, as always to make direct contact with their teacher.

The St Andrew’s staff and community wish you all a very blessed Easter break, stay safe if you are able to travel, have a wonderful time of rest and refreshment and we shall see you all back in two weeks for another full term of ‘Diamond Strong’ learning and opportunities!

Best wishes,
Chris Ivey

Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

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