Deputy Principal Nathan Collins said QTR was an integral part of the school’s four-year planning cycle under two strategic directions – student growth and attainment, and leadership and innovation.
The link with student growth and attainment has been clearly demonstrated in our recent research and Nathan said the Quality Teaching Model was “marrying in” with other research and “delivering best practice”.
“One of the things our teachers are advocating for is that they need time and want to collaborate, and they want to build their efficacy,” Nathan said. “I really believe QTR is the tool to do that.”
By improving teaching efficacy and student learning, Quality Teaching Rounds had been beneficial to the overall culture and wellbeing of teachers at Thornton.
Teachers say QTR has empowered them, given them direction, increased their collaboration, built positive relationships, and given them a framework to evaluate their teaching.
The school, which has more than 700 students, has been progressively embedding QTR since 2018 when it joined several other schools to form a Professional Development network of 40 teachers.
Nathan said teachers were “thirsty” for the program and the “rippling model” was a sustainable way to spread QTR knowledge, skills, and experience.
This process means that once teachers have completed the QTR workshop or participated in a set of Rounds, they are paired with two teachers new to the process to form a new professional learning community (PLC). After completing a set of Rounds, these teachers then take the lead with two more teachers new to the process, and so it goes.
At Thornton, QTR was breaking down the isolation that some teachers feel and improving wellbeing.
“Often, we come to school, we go into our rooms, close the door and we teach with 30 kids in front of us then we leave,” Nathan said. “QTR breaks that down.”
Nathan said high school teachers had joined Thornton’s professional development network in 2019, allowing “a different snapshot of what teaching is like in different contexts”. For example, a Year 1 teacher observed a high school photography class, gaining experience in framing art lessons for their own class.
Stage 1 teacher Eleanor said QTR brought professional development “right back to the core of what we do, which is teach, ensuring that student learning outcomes are the main focus of each lesson”.
Another teacher Andrew, who teaches Stage 2, said the biggest change he had made to his teaching was understanding that less is more.
“The emphasis of planning to do less, better,” Andrew said. “Going back to basics and planning learning experiences with key QT framework questions at the forefront.
What do I want my students to learn? Why does that learning matter? How do I want students to demonstrate their learning and how well do I expect them to do it?”
Throughout years of research, we have heard from teachers that QTR fundamentally changes their practice by clarifying what it means to teach well. Central to this is an underlying respect for the complexity of teaching.
QTR empowers teachers to take responsibility for their own and each other’s professional improvement, creating change and building collective capacity for quality teaching.
Says Nathan: “QTR gives the students in front of me the best of me and my teaching ability. As a leader now, I love the type of teacher it creates.”
QTR also encourages teachers to become lifelong learners.
“It gives teachers a framework for their entire teaching careers,” Nathan said. “The four days of Rounds is just the start of it. It has this flow-on effect into the school. It really does change the culture.”