Principal of Roseville College, Deb Magill, discusses how Roseville College develops a personalised approach to learning for each and every student.
“We learn not for school but for life,” said Latin philosopher Seneca the Younger more than 2000 years ago.
As adults, we know this to be true. It would be rare for any of us to refer to high school grades, results or rankings. Of value now, of great value in the future. At often unexpected times, we discover connections between our learning experiences, drawn from our school days and other life lessons. These moments reinforce the accumulated power of learning. We continuously draw on, build upon and refine what we have learnt.
The ancient statement of Seneca the Younger continues to inform modern educational pedagogy, guiding the purpose of educators in the classrooms of school and colleges: that
the HSC is not the end destination for our students, it is just the beginning.
The role of school is foundational, in the true sense of the word. It is where the bedrock of learning character and knowledge are formed, enabling her to realise her purpose in life. How, then, is this achieved?
Personalisation in learning
This is the challenge, and the joy, of contemporary education. Personalisation in learning allows educators to better appreciate and leverage the wonderful breadth of talents, abilities and gifts of their students; be they academic, social, cultural, sporting and/or creative. At Roseville College, we know each girl is unique and is already her own person, as those who know her best can testify. As we get to know her – and value her for who she is, we discover her potential is revealed in what she knows and who she is.
However, her potential is unfulfilled without purpose. To realise her purpose, each girl benefits from guidance and care as she develops her identity, including her values and sense of self, and her faith. At Roseville, we do this in a caring, intentionally Christian environment, where each girl finds her place and purpose, and is equipped for meaningful service. These shared Christian values are important to our community of families, who often liken Roseville to ‘a second home for their daughters’. Our school’s strong, enduring reputation for knowing each girl underpins our rigorous curriculum and quality teaching, too. Roseville Alumni speak of teachers who go above and beyond to truly know each girl in their class, and to really equip and empower each girl to do her best. Personalisation is already at the heart of our culture. And to succeed, that is where personalisation in any school must first be anchored.
The quality and effectiveness of teaching is a result of how educators are equipped, resourced and encouraged to make connections between each student’s learning at school and the pathways relevant to her. As trust grows between teacher and student, so does the ability to provide personalised academic challenge.
At Roseville College, with more than 110 years of realising purpose in the lives of young Australian women, our educators combine the advantages of technology with the benefit of hindsight and the insight of experience. Effective educators do not define personalisation in learning as simply creating individual instruction – this would actually cause them to be less effective. Instead, personalisation in learning is about empowering students to be partners in their learning experience by providing choices that allow and equip them to make their own customisations to education, and by leveraging data-based technology to inform the teaching and learning experience. Educators are the active link.
Our teachers are valued as experts; professionals who value their own professional development. Staff training and professional growth plans share and endorse the school’s culture for personalisation, extending that to expand professional expertise, teaching pedagogy and crafting curriculum. The result is a flexible, innovative education that breathes with the students, as opposed to providing a one-size-fits-all template to which each child either conforms or fails.
Our educators understand that each student:
• Wants to be known and understood by those who influence her.
• Wants a sense of ownership and control about how and what she learns, according to her talents, her interests and her aspirations.
• Grows and performs best in an environment they trust; that is when challenge and rigour is embraced.
• Benefits from being equipped with skills particular to how she learns well, incorporating the effective use of technology to enable and facilitate the process of inquiry and learning.
• Feels a sense of accomplishment and reward from self-discovery in learning, which is deeply motivational.
• Values the journey of learning; identifying a sense of purpose, through the accumulation of experiences and knowledge.
Dispositions of learners
Vital to the process of preparing students with an education that serves her for life is to extend the definition of education beyond the curriculum, and to equip each girl with a progressive, robust attitude to learning through responsibility, challenge and curiosity. Transferable skills, like these and more, enable learners to carry a healthy learning disposition into any situation – higher education learning, workplaces, foreign cultures, and so on.
At Roseville College, the importance of learning dispositions is ingrained in our strategic vision. Through the College’s academic leadership team, driven by the Director of Teaching and Learning in partnership with the school’s Head of Personalised Learning, Roseville College launched a ground-breaking research project on learning dispositions in 2018, gaining input from the College community of staff, parents and students, which has potential for incredible student outcomes that are practical, genuine, meaningful and personally rewarding to how each girl will ‘learn for life, not just for school’.