The Power of the TRIAD

The Story of Koro P-12 College by John Sloan

The New Beginning

Ms Gertie Jones stood in her office, looking at the data of Koro P-12 College. She had only recently taken up her appointment as the new Principal of the College and was thinking about the processes she was planning to put in place to ensure a significant improvement in the school’s data. She had spent a long afternoon discussing her plan with the Regional Director and in his words, ‘It was time to go to work.’

In the staff room, teachers were discussing their NAPLAN data. In spite of all their best efforts, there were still a significant number of students working below the minimum standards. Teachers from the Yr 5-8 Learning Community approached Gertie about their concerns, wondering what else they could do bring about a lift in student outcomes. Gertie quietly smiled to herself. She recognised that this was the perfect opportunity for her to initiate some discussion at a whole staff level around school improvement.

Over the next few weeks, she set up individual meetings with each staff member and unpacked the data. Teachers were hesitant but quickly warmed to the new approach of a principal seeking their input, ideas and understandings of why the school was performing so poorly.

They appreciated the ‘no blame’, but challenging culture being described and modelled by their new principal. Staff room discussion quickly became centred on school improvement options and strategies. Gertie also met with the newly elected student leaders to hear their opinions and gather their support for the journey ahead. A feeling of excitement was developing among the students and a re-emerging sense of pride in their school.

The Principal subsequently met with the leadership team several times to define a process for planned school improvement. All members of this team were requested to read ‘Data Wise’, ‘Instructional Rounds’ and ‘Breakthrough’ after which Gertie outlined the Triad PLT project as the preferred model for improvement.

The Region had been pro-active in developing and promoting the Triad PLT project and had provided an element of funding to support the training and subsequent roll out.

With the support of her RNL, Gertie briefed the School Council. Seeing the potential of the project, the Council enthusiastically agreed to support the initiative. The Principal and School Council president presented their plan to the staff to seek their agreement. All staff agreed to support the initiative.

The Detail:
· The College’s AIP was updated to reflect the revised targets and Triad professional development strategy and all staff including the principal adopted the triad model as an element of their professional learning plans.
· Expressions Of Interest were sort from all staff encouraging them to consider taking on the role of a Professional Learning Team Leader
· Training sessions were conducted throughout the Region for Principals and Professional Learning Team Leaders
· Staff formed Triads, groups of three (composition flexible)with the only requirement being that the facilitation was to be shared equally. The Triads would specifically concentrate on improving the knowledge of data and its impact on teaching, as well as refining pedagogical knowledge.
· Professional Learning Teams (PLT’s) each of 3 Triads (9 teachers) were formed across the learning communities under the direction of a designated leader. In PLT meeting, Triads would be challenged to lift the level of content, improve pedagogical knowledge and develop improved attitudes to learning by the students.
· A Triad and PLT formal meeting plan was established.
· In response to opinion data from parent, student and staff surveys, an emphasis was placed on developing self directed learning skills, raising student voice and having high expectations of student behaviour.
· Summative assessments used were the NAPLAN and On Demand Reading and Writing. Each Triad member was free to use their own diagnostic assessment instruments

The Meetings
· Triads met each week and PLT’s every 5 weeks (twice per term). Gertie cancelled administrative staff meetings on the weeks when PLT’s met
· Triads established their own individual norms and teacher observation protocols and proformas for collecting evidence. Each member of the Triad was encouraged to develop a climate of ‘challenge’ rather than simply sharing data.
· Students performing outside general expectations were provided with individual learning plans.
· PLT’s focussed on holding each triad to account and planning the next step for improvement. An emphasis was placed on closely defining scaffolding arrangements for the next level of learning. This was documented.
· Staff meetings were used to unpack the E5 document with all staff plotting their current level of pedagogical growth.
· The final staff meeting in each term was devoted to PLT reporting sessions. This was video taped for future use.

Gertie ensured that the initiative was well documented so that she could celebrate and share the College’s success. She regularly visited all learning communities, attended PLT meetings and ran weekly leadership team meetings where the Triad initiative dominated discussion and planning. Meeting with school Forum groups, reporting at SRC meetings and whole school assemblies became a focus for Gertie to celebrate improvement and successes.

At the end of the two year period all targets were met or surpassed. The school’s enrolment increased by 20 percent and it has become a school of exemplary behavior and high academic achievement. Through participation in the Triad initiative, Gertie has built a sustainable model of professional learning and collegiate support at Koro P-12 College.