Helping our teachers and students of the Primary Years adapt to the NSW Education Standards Authority syllabus is our new Instructional Leader, Reneé Andrews, whose capacity, energy and enthusiasm are making their mark across Del Monte.
With her wide-ranging background teaching students and teaching teachers to upskill, Reneé has come to us most recently from the tertiary sector where she has been upskilling, training and assessing preservice teachers at the Australian Catholic University and Macquarie University. Prior to that, Reneé was a Primary Teacher and is thrilled to have returned to the Primary education sector.
‘I love seeing children grow in their learning’, she says.
‘I had missed the beauty of their creativity and spontaneity. In a school you never know what you’re going to get any day. You can see your goals come to life and see children flourish as they progress each year.
‘At Santa Sabina, I can see a community where the staff and the parents have the same vision for our students – their best interests. This motivates me to come to work each day and keeps me passionate about teaching’.
Yet the role of Instructional Leader involves teaching teachers as well as students. Initially this term Reneé is sharing her expertise with teachers, particularly in utilising the Gradual Release Model, but within the next few weeks will be focused on students as she moves around all our Primary learning spaces – working alongside teachers in partnership to model best practice.
The Gradual Release Model is an evidence based approach which empowers teachers to start their teaching with explicit instruction to support and direct students’ learning. Pearson & Gallagher (1983) call this the ‘I do’ phase. This is followed by the ‘We do’ phase where teachers share knowledge and skills with students interactively, through guided experience and work stations. Finally, the students experience the ‘You do’ phase where knowledge has been transferred and independent progress takes place.
Reneé sees many opportunities in this explicit approach. ‘We have a clear focus throughout our teaching to provide an intentional, individualised, direct and scaffolded approach to learning. Having the shared understanding across the entire campus enhances students’ opportunities with a proven, consistent and high quality pedagogical method’, she says.
Getting the best out of all our students is the ultimate goal. Building the strengths of our ‘amazing teachers’ through giving them the right tools along the way is Reneé’s job.
When she’s not at work, Reneé is a busy mother who loves spending time with her family. She also is a lifelong learner and currently has her sights set on embarking on a PhD. But first there’s much research and reading needed. Before then, there are the simple ways she achieves a work/life balance – going for walks and going to the beach.