Students are academically challenged and intellectually nurtured
A Jesuit education promotes intellectual achievement and encourages its students to pursue strong academic results. It also inspires each student to discover his unique gifts and develop them fully. St Aloysius’ College is committed to graduating young men who seek understanding and the truth, who are intellectually curious and possess a lifelong love of learning.
St Aloysius’ College keeps class sizes relatively small (capped at 28) so teachers can form a relationship with your son and understand his best way of learning.
An essential component of the teaching and learning cycle, assessment is the broad name for the collection and evaluation of evidence of a student’s learning. At St Aloysius’ College, assessment strategies provide opportunities for teachers to gather evidence about student achievement in relation to the syllabus outcomes. Regular assessment allows students to demonstrate what they know and what they can do, clarifies student understanding of concepts and promotes deeper learning. It also provides evidence to teachers that each student’s current understanding is a suitable basis for future learning.
St Aloysius’ College students will be exposed to a variety of types of assessment, from informal classroom observation, to oral, research or practical tasks and examinations. This approach allows for all learning styles to be targeted across the Senior School.
Feedback is also an essential component of the teaching and learning cycle. Teachers at St Aloysius’ College provide regular feedback to students in the classroom. Teachers will also provide both written and verbal feedback on formal and informal assessment tasks. This feedback, ‘aims to reduce the gap between where the student ‘is’ and where they are ‘meant to be’ (Hattie 2012). Students should use this feedback and carefully consider the areas of improvement noted by their individual teachers.
Good study habits are not acquired overnight and regular home study is one way of developing a student’s ability to use his study time constructively. Sound study skills lead to self discipline and organisation. It is the expectation of the College that all teachers will set homework on a regular basis. The form this will take may vary according to the skills and content material being assessed at the time. It is also true that some homework tasks may be completed at the College during the school day.
Below is a schedule of approximate daily home study times for various years, bearing in mind the nature and style of home study set will vary between subjects. The times suggested below are a guide only.
Year 7 – 60 minutes written work; 30 minutes revision
- Year 8 – 60 minutes written work; 30 minutes revision
- Year 9 – 90 minutes written work; 60 minutes revision
- Year 10 – 90 minutes written work; 60 minutes revision
- Year 11 – 2 hours written work; 3 hours revision (6 hours on weekend)
- Year 12 – 3 hours written work; 3 hours revision (6 hours on weekend)
Strong student/teacher relationships
The relationship between the student and teacher is a significant element of teaching and learning at St Aloysius’ and is fundamental to the student’s learning, growth and achievement. The importance of nurturing the teacher/student relationship has now been widely researched and the evidence backs up what good teachers already knew.
Positive teacher/student relationships mean students are more likely to:
- feel positive about school
- work hard
- maintain a growth mindset
- take risks
- ask questions about their learning
The Jesuits have also long espoused the significance of the development of a positive relationship between teacher and student. Fr Richard Tierney SJ has said that, ‘a genuine teacher moves students to action…one cannot possibly exaggerate the need to have good inspiring teachers’.
Allowing teachers the time and space to develop skills in their own teaching is also crucial if we want to promote a positive learning environment for our students and their teachers.
Encouraging students to do their best
High expectations of students is an important element of teaching and learning at St Aloysius’ College. Setting and maintaining, shared, consistent and high expectations in the classroom will result in more engaged learners and stronger academic results. John Hattie’s research shows that when teachers are explicit in their learning intentions and set clear goals for students, this has the potential to ‘influence student achievement both directly and indirectly by affecting the amount of material that the student learns as well as their motivation’. (Hattie 2005)
St Aloysius’ College is an academically rigorous environment. The curriculum provided by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is interpreted by teachers to offer challenge to our students, accompanied by the understanding that every student has a different starting point on the learning continuum.
Academic rigor is applied in the classroom in order to stretch each individual student, encouraging them to pursue strong academic results and personal excellence. Assessment is used as a tool to gather data and evidence on individual students so teachers can apply strategies to discover each student’s point of learning and inform decision making in relation to student learning activities.
Using teaching methods to suit each individual
Teaching and learning at St Aloysius’ College also focuses on offering our students a variety of teaching practices and methods to lift student engagement and commitment to the learning process. Firstly, differentiation strategies are employed by teachers to target individual learning needs. As described by Wormeli, (a leading academic in the study of differentiation in teaching and learning) in 2006, ‘Differentiated instruction is doing what’s fair to students. It’s a collection of best practices strategically employed to maximise students’ learning at every turn…it’s highly effective teaching’.
These differentiation strategies include such things as allowing students to move at their own pace through new material, giving them choice in their learning, instructing work that requires higher levels of critical thinking and assigning activities geared to different learning styles, interests and levels of thinking.
Secondly, teachers use direct instruction and explicit teaching strategies to enable and empower students to master content and engage in deeper learning in a particular subject area. Finally, critical thinking is crucial as they learn to understand and interpret the world around them. Teachers explicitly teach students to think critically and creatively, employing thinking routines in order to generate deep understanding as well as the ability to inquire and problem solve.
Regular, ongoing feedback
Feedback is also a significant element of the teaching and learning cycle. Teachers provide regular, daily feedback to students and both written and verbal feedback on formal and informal assessment tasks. This ‘aims to reduce the gap between where the student ‘is’ and where they are ‘meant to be’ (Hattie 2012). Students are encouraged to use this feedback and carefully consider the areas of improvement noted by their individual teachers. Lastly, always mindful of the teachings of Ignatius, we recognise that it is only through reflection that we continue to discover ways to improve. Teaching and Learning at St Aloysius’ College will remain consistent with this, continually researching, testing and acting on excellent practice so that our students can achieve their best.