From the Principal
“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” Nelson Mandela
The ‘good head and good heart’ Mandela quote inspired teachers at our recent Staff Meeting and prompted considerable thought to the importance of developing literacy skills and knowledge. Literacy is at the heart of a student’s ability to learn and succeed in school and beyond. It is essential we give all students from Prep to Year 12 every chance to master literacy to maximise the opportunity for St Catherine’s girls to meet the challenges of 21st century life.
This year, as a component of our strategic direction, the School has identified the development of literacy across the School as a key focus area in 2017. Shaping much of the Professional Learning that will be undertaken by our staff this year, the School recognises it is essential to ensure teachers have the knowledge, skills and support to enable quality literacy teaching to be embedded in all subject areas. Literacy is identified as integral to all areas of learning, art, maths and science included.
This week, our staff were led on a journey from phonemic awareness and fluency taught in our Prep class to teaching Senior English and Literature students to distinguish between analytical text types, the components of language analysis and the importance of thinking routines and reading comprehension. The expertise of staff members, Mrs Glenda Lingard, a qualified Speech Pathologist and teacher, and Head of English Faculty, Mrs Ceri Lloyd, was evident at our Staff Meeting this week when they both provided clarity for increasing the explicit knowledge used when teaching literacy. Building on each teacher’s repertoire of approaches for the teaching of literacy includes understanding the strategies adopted to emphasise literacy skills as well as adopting intellectually challenging and connected learning opportunities that account for rapidly changing communication practices.
Research reveals that children raised in homes that promote family literacy, grow up to be better readers and achieve better in school than children raised in homes where literacy is not promoted. While family literacy activities are often based in reading, there are many ways families can conduct literacy activities for young learners at home through picture books, songs, poetry and storytelling.
Arguably, the most important goal for literacy instruction with adolescents is to increase their ability to comprehend complex text. Further, the goal is not simply to enable students to obtain facts or literal meaning from text (although that is clearly desirable), but also to make deeper interpretations, connections, generalisations, and conclusions.
I hope at St Catherine’s we raise girls with “good heads and good hearts” but with voices that speak with conviction, (whilst knowing when to stay quiet as well) and pens that have courage to express with wisdom. It is this very combination, that as Mandela says, creates something very special.