EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP IN TEACHING AND LEARNING
A COVID-19 learning-at-home approach was so successful that one Brisbane school has continued to build on some of the initiatives it introduced, resulting in outstanding academic results and student wellbeing, and its deputy principal named as a finalist in state awards.
Yoga, mental health breaks, virtual cross-country running, positive psychology teacher champions, and support for parents who were trying to help their children learn at home, were just some of the activities that were offered and grew out of Stu@home last year.
Despite it being one of the toughest years for Year 12s, five percent of Stuartholme School graduates achieved the top ATAR score of 99 – five times the state average – and almost half attained an ATAR of 90 or above – well above the state average. All university applicants received offers.
The school’s reinvigorated wellbeing approach and the innovative and deeply caring way it handled the COVID-19 learning-at-home period are just some of the reasons Mr Crump is a finalist for the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award.
“When I arrived at Stuartholme there was a very strong academic program and a very strong wellness program, and there was an opportunity to strengthen the link between the two,” Mr Crump said.
Faced with having just two weeks to pivot their teaching and learning to an online system, Mr Crump assembled a ‘core cabinet’, which looked at research on remote learning in North America. Staff then worked on strategies to ensure students did not suffer screen fatigue, that their wellbeing was looked after and their spirituality was nourished, and that they were still able to participate in co-curricular activities and have a voice in school operations, all while maintaining their academic work.
“We also brought in wellbeing moments – take-five gratitude activities, meditation, those sorts of activities that we have the students engaged in to really still feel as though they are connected. Music students, we actually had them continuing with their ensembles via Zoom. Wellbeing and academics are inextricably linked,” Mr Crump said.
To help parents with the new learning-at-home environment and social disconnection, the school introduced parent-coaching-parent panels which they have continued. It has since built on its parental collaboration with its new Growing to Great improvement plan.
“It focuses on the partnership that we have – the student has to play their role, the parents have to play their role and we as teachers have to play our role, but we can’t do it (achieve success) without all of them working in connection,” Mr Crump said.
Wellness and positive psychology, including having a growth mindset, are now woven throughout academic conversations with students. Students are encouraged to study subjects they are passionate about, are good at, and feel like they can make a difference in. Teachers and middle school leaders are being trained in positive psychology and mentoring, and Mr Crump has reinitiated face-to-face professional learning and networking for Catholic teachers across Brisbane.
As a music teacher who still takes the school choir and believes in the transformative power of the arts and education, Mr Crump said teaching was a “significant responsibility” and “a calling”.
“Teaching is about relationships and connecting. It's through that avenue that you've got the ability to transform pathways … and see these young people go onto great things,” he said.
Winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on October 28, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day celebrations in Queensland. Finalists win $500, and winners $5000, for professional development.