This is a post I made to a discussion forum for my university studies. The question posed was: How do policies shape literacy practices? I share it here now so you can see the process we use in my school.
At my school the flow from policy to practice is evident though at times a lengthy process. The School Improvement Cycle has an important role in this, providing the initial impetus for the development of a new school plan.
School Improvement Cycle
As part of the School Improvement Cycle, we reflect on our effectiveness in meeting our previous school goals. We then consider data from School Satisfaction Surveys, NAPLAN, PIPS and other school assessments and the goals outlined in national and state strategies. We use these to determine areas of need for the new cycle. This information is used to develop a school plan with identified goals in each of the domains.
Our school plan outlines our goals for the domains. The goals for Teaching and Learning are then taken and explored further to develop individual plans for Literacy and Numeracy.
Our Literacy Plan outlines our beliefs, goals, current practices, priorities and actions for the duration of the new school plan. If necessary, a Literacy Committee is established to support the implementation of the plan. Professional Development is selected to meet the identified needs and is listed in the action plan.
In our current literacy plan, some of our priorities related to the incorporation of First Steps Reading and Writing into our literacy programs. In 2008 Professional Development was provided with First Steps Reading and in 2009 Professional Development was provided with First Steps Writing. All teachers were supplied with a copy of these resources. To support the incorporation of these into literacy programs, we used some of the time in our Professional Learning Teams (PLTs).
Professional Learning Teams
In these teams we reflected on our current practice and considered how we could use First Steps to enhance our teaching. We shared suggestions and looked at samples of formats for programming. Teachers were encouraged to use these when programming for the new term.
Teaching teams were given a planning day to work together on their programs for the next term. They were encouraged to use First Steps at this time to ensure that they incorporated the new knowledge, skills and techniques in their lessons.
Teachers used their programs to teach students. They were asked to collect samples of work for presentation at a Professional Development session outside of the school.
In theory, the process works and policy flows to practice. In reality, it still requires shared vision and the commitment of teachers to bring the change to fruition. Enthusiasm, encouragement, follow-up and time are all essential ingredients in this process.