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Teach podcast

Welcome to Teach, a South Australian podcast about teaching and learning. This series is an open discussion about life as an educator and the best educational approaches to drive quality learning. You’ll hear from expert teachers and inspiring school leaders who have tried, failed and triumphed and have the scars and gold stars to show for it.

Episodes will be released monthly. Remember to subscribe via your favourite podcast app.

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Episode 2: building your career in education

7 April 2021

This episode is all about developing your career in education. We travel to Kapunda Primary School where along with career advice, you’ll find out how you can become a highly accomplished or lead teacher and make a positive impact on your school.


Dale Atkinson 0:00:07 to 0:00:16

Hello and welcome to Teach, a podcast about teaching and learning in South Australia. I'm Dale Atkinson from South Australia's Department for Education.

Monique Miller

And I'm Monique Miller, primary school teacher at Westport Primary.

Dale Atkinson 0:00:19 to 0:00:29

In this series we will take you to a different school every month where you'll meet engaging educators who are working hard to inspire our students, and they may have had their own trials and triumphs along the way.

Monique Miller 0:00:30 to 0:01:05

Today we’ve travelled to Kapunda Primary School, which is an hour north of Adelaide on Ngadjuri land, we pay respects to elders, past and present. Are you an early career teacher like me? Perhaps you've been teaching for a while now and wondering what next step you can take. Today we’re talking about building your career in the teaching profession. There are four stages you can go through as a teacher, graduate, proficient, highly accomplished and lead. Shortly we're going to hear from two lead teachers, Belinda and Jemma about their experiences and advice for teachers, plus why you could have a lot to gain from teaching in the country. But before then, Dale, what is making news?

Dale Atkinson 0:01:05 to 0:02:36

Well we’re into April, so there's a lot going on first and foremost, consultation is now open on the next chapter of our workforce strategy. The workforce strategy is aiming to enable every person in the workforce to perform at their best. So together we can achieve growth for every child in every class, in every school and preschool. The focus this year is on designing a workforce plan for educational leaders and teachers. To help us shape this plan. We want to hear from you and your thoughts on the key issues, opportunities and also the barriers that are in the way of achieving our goals. You can have your say by completing an online survey, which we’ll share the link to in our show notes. Or you can submit a written submission via education dot workforce strategy at sa dot gov dot au. The consultation is open until April 30 and while we're talking jobs and developing your career, the department has hundreds of permanent secondary teaching positions available to start in the 2022 school year. Thiss includes positions arising from the year 7 to high school move, So whether you're a public school teacher looking for a career change, maybe you're a graduate looking for your first job or a contracter to seeking a permanent role. And even if you knew to the public education system, you can apply for a secondary teaching position in a South. Australian public school. Applications open soon, so if you're a qualified teacher, keep an eye out for what could be your next great job at www dot education dot dot gov dot forward slash recruitment.

Monique Miller 0:02:37 to 0:02:45

Today we're at Kapunda Primary talking about how you could develop your career in education and why you might want to consider becoming a highly accomplished or lead teacher

Dale Atkinson 0:02:46 to 0:02:47

I reckon before we start that Monique.

Because you're quite an early career teacher at the moment. And I think you've got quite an interesting story in terms of how you got into the profession. So what? What made you want to become a teacher to begin with?

Monique Miller 0:02:58 to 0:03:24

Well, initially, I wasn't always planning on being a teacher but in that sort of important time in year 12, I had a really influential teacher, Anne, if you're listening, she truly made a difference in my life at that time. And then it became my dream to then have that impact on students in the future and yeah, that's when I guess I realised maybe I want to be in school for the rest of my life.

Dale Atkinson 0:03:24 to 0:03:33

That's understandable. But you, in terms of getting your break, your current position, I think essentially, you just made a bit of a pest of yourself.

Monique Miller 0:03:33 to 0:04:16

Absolutely. I was TRTing around the western suburbs at the time and working in some fantastic schools meeting students teachers all around And that's when I fell in love. I fell in love with my school and the culture, the leadership, the kid's effort, when I would go to work at that school, I just felt this magic. And I said, Well, this is where I want to be, went into the deputy's office and said, I want to be here. And if I have to TRT for four years, that's what I'm going to do because I want to be here. I feel a part of the furniture already so, and that's when they sort of said, Well, we’ve actually got a contract for you next year. So that was the best

Dale Atkinson 0:04:16 to 0:05:09

day. That's amazing. So it’s that combination, isn't it of like passion and persistence and really sort of being out there like it’s really about letting it known what you would like to do and demonstrating that to you, to your future employees. Really, which is a great story. You're doing really well out there. I know because I've spoken with your boss. We're also joined by Belinda Ramsey, who’s a lead teacher, national assessor and assistant principal at Roxby Downs Area School, and Jemma Worrell, who's the lead teacher and student wellbeing teacher at Kapunda primary school, which is where we are at the moment. Kapunda Primary in the Grain Belt, home to Map the Miner. I think also the town home to Is it the most haunted town in South Australia? Is that the thinking and we’re in a building that I would suggest is probably 150 years old? So any bumps in the night here?

Jemma Worroll 0:05:10 to 0:05:19

There has been some sightings in this building in particular, people have felt a bit of a presence. I've never seen anything but certainly heard

Dale Atkinson 0:05:19 to 0:05:36

Well, that's exciting. I think we can all feel a little bit more anxious. So away from the spooky bumps and over to Jemma. Jemma Can you tell us a bit about your role as a lead teacher and how it's different from other teaching roles because it's not something I think that's well understood.

Speaker 3 0:05:36 to 0:06:32

Sure. So my job now as a lead teacher and as a leadership member, at Kapunda Primary is to create that magic I guess that Monique was talking about. So making sure that that spark and fire that you want to help spread. So I think it's my job as the lead teacher at this school to help lead mentor, support early career teachers and to help them find that magic. Because we want more of you and Belinda And I were saying last night that opportunities that have risen from becoming certified and like today we've said yes to those opportunities. So I guess it's about constantly saying yes. The other role that I have gained from this lead teacher process is being a mentor for our early career teachers. And there's one particular teacher at the school who I've supported through, and I want to see her become credited as a highly accomplished or lead teacher because she is phenomenal. So that's really rewarding is creating the Moniques in our schools.

Dale Atkinson 0:06:33 to 0:06:39

So Belinda, you're also a lead teacher. What was it that it initially made you want to become a lead teacher.

Belinda Ramsey 0:06:39 to 0:07:36

For me it was about the culmination of my teaching career. I've been in teaching for 23 plus years, and it was kind of the natural progression for me. It was the next step. It was my own personal growth but also my impact on others working in a country site where we have a large number of early career and graduate teachers. I felt that it was a part of my my role and my personal responsibility to ensure that we maintain the high expectations that we have in all schools across all of our sites in South Australia, but also the exemplary practice that we see in classrooms it's so important for doesn't matter which career stage you're in your journey. It's about our impact on others it’s about our impact on our colleagues. It's about impact on every student that we teach. So for me, it was absolutely about supporting those and leading others around me.

Monique Miller 0:07:36 to 0:07:56

And good leadership is really what makes the difference in school as an early career doesn't matter where you’re at, if you've been teaching for 10 years, if you've got good support from leadership you want to go to school every day.

Jemma Worroll

And good leaders learn with, you know, they learn on the floor, on the ground with you. They needed to be modelling out, demonstrating and learning with you not telling you what to do.

Belinda Ramsey 0:07:56 to 0:08:25

Yeah and also the privatisation of the practise. It's about modelling, that exemplary practise and going in and doing classroom observations and the learning and the constant feedback because we're all learners and we're all growers in this profession. And that, to me, is one of the most rewarding parts of my role that I'm really passionate about. We need to ensure that our early career teachers have the opportunity that I guess Jemma and I had when we first came out in our first teaching roles.

Jemma Worroll 0:08:25 to 0:09:00

I think also the process for Belinda and I, we talked about as a lead teacher now, and Monique you already sound like you're doing this. It's just measuring your impact. So not, after teaching a lesson, what worked, what didn’t. How has my impact been measured and you reflect after every lesson. It's not just done and dusted. So you're asking the kids did that work? Did that not work? So you're just constantly reflecting on what you're doing as I guess a live learner. I think that's that's different from other teaching roles and that you're constantly reflecting,

Speaker 2 0:09:00 to 0:09:37

I think too, as a lead teacher, we’re kind of experts in the standards field. We know the standards inside out upside down because we lived and breathed it throughout our certification process. So the 37 descriptors at the league level Jemma and I could we could talk for another hour about those but we won’t. I guess just having that expert knowledge and sharing that with the people that we work with on a daily basis and bringing it to the fore of all of our coaching conversations and mentoring conversations our line management conversation. Because ultimately, our goal is to improve the outcomes of every student in every class.

Monique Miller 0:09:38 to 0:09:56

And constantly thinking about that throughout your practise, not just when it comes to putting together a portfolio or moving to the next level or anything like that. So I am really interested in the difference between a highly accomplished teacher and a lead. What's what's involved in that? And is it? Does it run as a timeline? Do you go to highly accomplished and then lead?

Belinda Ramsey 0:09:56 to 0:10:21

No, it's not fluid. Obviously, we start our teaching career at graduate, and then we moved to proficient. Some teachers might choose to stay at that level. Certification process is voluntary. So depending on what's actually happening in your site and your context, some choose to become highly accomplished or they choose to be lead. Depending on if they are running a lead project in a school again, it just depends.

Monique Miller 0:10:22 to 0:10:27

You might start the highly accomplished, then go to lead. Or, if you are leading in a certain area, you can go straight there.

Belinda Ramsey 0:10:27 to 0:10:36

So for Jemma and I. We both went from being proficient, proficient practitioners in our classroom context to lead.

Jemma Worroll 0:10:36 to 0:11:03

And the descriptors at the highly accomplished level talk about supporting colleagues. So it might be, I'm in my middle primary team and I might support the teacher next door. I'm helping support her, and I'm supporting her kids. At that lead level. It's leading a school, leading a group of teachers and having an impact on that more school wide level, so the difference is highly accomplished might be supporting one or two colleagues that lead is, I guess, leading by example,

Belinda Ramsey 0:11:03 to 0:11:07

which could filter into partnership level as well.

Dale Atkinson 0:11:07 to 0:11:24

Belinda, you're a national assessor, which I think is an incredibly intimidating sounding title. So I guess the first question is, Is it intimidating? And what are the key things that you're looking for when you're assessing teachers for certification?

Belinda Ramsey 0:11:25 to 0:12:24

Interesting question. I don't find it all intimidating. I guess I've been on both sides of the fence, so I've been through the certification process stage one and two and becoming a nationally trained assessor, I guess, it just harnesses more of my ability to know the standards and have that expert understanding off them and that deep understanding of what actually happens at classroom level and what we are saying with our impact widely amongst our teaching crew. Being an assessor has absolutely allowed allowed me the opportunity to network more widely within our department. Having conversations with like minded assessors about what we're actually looking for, and it's a very rigorous process that are aspirants at HALT go through and for us as assessors, we are looking for clear evidence of teachers alining their practise to the Australian professional standards for teachers.

Monique Miller

So what skills have you continued to develop by becoming certified teachers?

Jemma Worroll

One of the criteria to become certified as a lead teacher is we had to provide evidence within our portfolios of leading a whole school initiative that would have looked different for Belinda myself it was leading change, improving the pedagogy of teaching students with autism spectrum disorder. This school have made significant progress and growth with our pedagogies at that consistent level amongst all of our teachers. So in answer to your question, Monique, the skills that I've continued to develop since that time of submitting their portfolio is I've continued to roll out whole school initiatives and some of the things that I've done as a student wellbeing leader at this school is I’ve introduced wellbeing assemblies every fortnight to talk about wellbeing. And I guess, topical concerns within our school, topics such as casual racism, bullying, using great manners, the things that we're seeing in our yard. I bring to the forum every fortnight and speak, and it's a bit of a Jemma show, but the entire school gets the same message, and then we talk about it within the fortnight, which I've introduced. That sounds so it's so powerful. I want more. So those were just some of the initiatives that I think I've introduced, and I think having to provide proof of your lead initiative and that portfolio it hasn't stopped, like you just keep on saying Look, it's a bit scary. It's a bit out of my comfort zone, but I believe in it. I'm passionate and I'm going to roll it out in our school. So yeah, that's one of the things that that I've kept going since being certified.

Belinda Ramsey 0:14:05 to 0:15:27

I guess a skill at lead level and also at certified level is the skill of I guess diving into someone else's practise and knowing what we're looking for and aligning that practise with the standards. Also, I guess knowing our impact, the impact that we have on others, the skill of being able to communicate the language of the standards is really, really important when we're having pre-observation conversations with colleagues. So that's an area of focus for me is having the ability and I guess feeling very privileged, to be on that side and help support other people's practise and move them along and support them with their career. That's really exciting for me, the modelling of exemplary practise, using data supporting teachers to use data to inform their teaching practise is an area that we do dive into quite deeply at our site and consistently again using the language of the standards. Highlighting the importance of national certification as well. You know we want to be the best teachers that we can be and we have some amazing operators in sites across all of our schools in our state. It's really important to keep the conversation flowing about the importance of that. And we have a lot of teachers that are aspiring, aspiring to be highly accomplished and lead teachers. And Jemma and I feel that it's our role and our responsibility as leads to support with that.

And when you have the opportunity and I feel blessed in our site that we do have a large number of early career and graduate teachers, they're the ones that are coming through uni that have already put their portfolio of evidence together. They have a very clear understanding of the standards. They know about the career stages. And just because we're lead teachers, we don't know everything. So we learn from our early career teachers, and I have a really big respect for our early grad teachers that come out to our sites.

Jemma Worroll 0:16:04 to 0:16:05

Well, said Belinda.

Dale Atkinson 0:16:05 to 0:16:19

For those who are kind of on the cusp of this and thinking, God, this might be something that I'm really interested in doing, but well, it seems like quite a involved and detailed thing to get involved in. What's the What's the message for them?

Belinda Ramsey 0:16:19 to 0:17:36

Have a go. It's one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. It's actually the pinnacle and a highlight of my career to be certified at national level. A really big thank you to everyone in the national teacher certification team who supported Jemma and I on our journey. It's something you can't do alone we as teachers are naturally collaborators. We work together, we work as teams. We need to lean in and ask for support. Can you please come and observe me? Can you offer me some feedback on my lesson? How do you think I could do a warm up for this particular lesson?  It's vital that we have that. And for me, I really would like to get the message out there that it's really inspiring the networking that comes with being certified. Being able to attend HALT summits. So Jemma and I have attended two or three of those listening to Professor John Hattie talking about knowing thy impact. We know that that's what we do on a daily basis, and that's what we hope going through the certification process does for everyone that we work with is knowing our impact and that positive impact that we have on not only students and teachers, but also our parents and our wider community. And it filters out again to our partnership.

Jemma Worroll 0:17:38 to 0:18:05

That collaboration is so important. You do need someone to support you. You need to have someone hold your hand and you do it together. And you can do that with a colleague, a line manager, find somebody. But if you're thinking about it, get some support and go for it because there are plenty of pits of despair that you go through because there's a lot of work. But if you're doing it together, you're having opportunities to share with each other. You can get there, but you do need support for sure.

Belinda Ramsey 0:18:05 to 0:18:35

Our department provides that support to the national teacher certification team runs workshops, which Jemma and I both attended. And I think that's when I first met you, Jemma. You were presenting at one of them. So we have day one day two and day three, and that outlines the whole process from collecting your evidence to submitting your portfolio of evidence, annotating the artefacts and that stage one and then moving into Stage two, which requires a site visit from a nationally trained assessor.

Dale Atkinson 0:18:36 to 0:18:56

I don't have a teaching degree, but I'm going to email you about how I could become certified too. It sounds like an incredible thing, and you guys are so passionate about it and such incredible advocates for for all of it, I mean, it sounds like an incredible benefit for the school. It’s an incredible benefit for the teachers, most importantly, an incredible benefit for the kids.

Belinda Ramsey 0:18:57 to 0:18:57

Thank you.

Jemma Worroll 0:18:57 to 0:19:23

And look, teaching is a really busy job and, you know, finding the time to put your portfolio together is tough. You need to dedicate some school holidays to it, but highly worthwhile. And if you've got the support and some time, you've got to make that time happen if you want it enough. But as I said, we're both in leadership roles now. But this certification process and becoming certified as a lead teacher is still my proudest achievement in my teaching career this far.

Dale Atkinson 0:19:38 to 0:20:03

So we're also, I mean, obviously out in the country. We’re speaking to two country teacher's, country assistant principal Belinda on the way up in the car you were talking about working in Roxby Downs and going into work, dodging emus and kangaroos along the way. You’ve been to Kangaroo Island. You've worked all over the country and out in the regions What's the great thing about working in country towns?

Belinda Ramsey 0:20:03 to 0:21:29

There are so many, there really are. Jemma, you would agree, I guess being born and bred in the country for me it just means instantly you are supported and you know so many people that can help you, regardless of where you are in your journey. I remember walking into Roxby Downs Area School in 1999 and we had a staff of about 59 instantly, you know, 59 people, and then when you have your weekend barbecues or whatever you're doing, it's you meet partners and family. So you feel immersed in the community from day one, and that's exactly how I felt in all of the schools that I've taught in. And it's also getting to know the parents. I think they’re pivotal in the daily work that we do having our parents as a part of the process of educating children is, I guess, a number one for me. It's a priority to get to know my students inside the classroom, outside the classroom, what are their interests, who are there brothers and sisters, where they from before Roxby. What's their story? And how can we tap into that? And I think I have seen a lot of early career and graduate teachers come to Roxby that have fallen in love with it. I had a three year plan and 22 years later, I’m still there and still loving it and still a part of the community, so it gives you the option to become integral in the community in a range of different ways.

Monique Miller 0:21:30 to 0:22:26

So that leads me to why should teachers, maybe graduate teachers or experienced teachers consider working in rural and remote areas?

Jemma Worroll

I think that obviously Belinda's context and my context is very different. But we're both country. For KapundaI guess we’re at a gateway to so many beautiful spaces, We’ve got the river 45 minutes away. We've got the Barossa just down the road. The drive to work is where I am able to reflect on my job. I am driving past the vines and I love the vines because without sounding like a poet, you really see the seasons. You've got the stark wood in the winter, you've got the budding green blooms in spring. You've got the fruit in the summer and the beautiful autumn colours of the leaves in the autumn. It's just it's a beautiful space, and we can link into those natural resources,

Dale Atkinson 0:22:26 to 0:22:38

Like the exposure to the range of different great things but different problems that schools face. So the breadth of experience is so much broader than it would be potentially in some of the metropolitan schools.

Belinda Ramsey 0:22:38 to 0:23:48

It is, and I guess we learned to be very resourceful. We don't have the opportunity to attend a training and development from 4 to 6 on a Wednesday night at the EDC, so we tend to tap into our local expertise. So it might be teacher stepping up and running, training and development sessions it might be tapping into Andamooka Primary School or Woomera Area School, depending on what we're doing. But we we really learn, to, I guess, grow our own talent and tap into that. I think that's very, very important living in the country where distance is a factor and distance absolutely comes into it. You know, it could even be if students are going on school camp before we get anywhere. It's a four or five hour trip. So I guess just having that in the back of your mind when you early career or graduate teachers come to I guess when you look at a place like Roxby it’s rural, it's remote, it's isolated and it is in the desert, so, you know, be aware of things like the heat in the summer and distances that need to be travelled. But so many positives, the beautiful sunsets.

Jemma Worroll 0:23:48 to 0:25:11

And, I guess for early career teachers that are thinking about heading to the country, I guess in Kapunda we've got when you move into a school that has so many parents and family members that are involved in the school, those people are so highly invested, their kids and for the community as a whole. So it's like a family around a family approach. And that's what happens here. We asked the why we know the families, as Belinda was saying, it's really invested that family feel.

Monique Miller

Now we don't have much time left, but I do need to ask you, What do you love about your school? Jemma, do you want to start us off? I’m looking around there’s so much, it’s so beautiful.

Jemma Worroll

Yeah, I guess it is about the community. So many people are willing to help for our students with high needs that don't have food. We've got community members that are making meals, freezing them. We've got local businesses that are donating money so that a child in care can get braces, they reach out. We've got local churches that are on hand. If I text her and say We've got a family that needs a meal, she will go to ALDI. She will get the food and she'll drop it off that day. So it's just We've got so many people that will put their hands up to say Who needs help? We're here. We're here to help.

Belinda Ramsey 0:25:11 to 0:26:10

For me, the camaraderie that we have on our our staff. We've got quite a large staff and we all work really well together. It's a hard working team with high expectations and every teacher, educator, parent at the heart of what we do every day, are our students. It's about working hard for them. It's about getting better at what we do every day and ultimately supporting the students and improved outcomes for all of the students from reception right through to year 12. But also we have the luxury of our students quite a few of them stay in Roxby and work because obviously we have the mine at Olympic Dam and for me I'm seeing that next generation come through. So it's really nice walking into Woolies in the afternoon and you get the Hi Mrs Ramsey how are you, and I guess you still have that connection and that contact with the students that you've taught. So I guess it's kind of like a big family in the desert.

Jemma Worroll 0:26:10 to 0:26:19

That’s right, and it's about the soul of the school. And if you've got the right team that are invested in the school like at Roxby, like at Kapunda, then it's going to work for the kids.

Dale Atkinson 0:26:19 to 0:27:15

That's great, thank you very much. Belinda and Jemma, you’re both incredible advocates for I think, working in the country and pushing yourself in terms of professional development and career progression. And I think I reckon we'll get quite a few enquiries and a lot of follow up off the back of this. So thanks to everyone for listening, we hope you've enjoyed today's podcast. Please don't forget you can subscribe to Teach on Apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you listened to your podcast, actually, or you can head to our website, which is education dot sa gov dot au forward slash teach, where you'll also find our show notes and there'll be a lot of them there, including some email addresses and things that you might want to use to contact and find out more information along with your own listening. We encourage you to listen to the podcast during staff meetings to generate some discussion. And we'd love to hear from you. So if you have a question we could all learn from get in touch and send us an email at education dot teach podcast at  sa dot gov dot au

Monique Miller 0:27:15 to 0:27:16

Catch you next time on Teach

Dale Atkinson 0:27:16 to 0:27:18

See you guys. Thanks for listening.

Episode 1: the science of reading

24 March 2021

We visit Pennington R-7 to learn about the Simple View of Reading and how it can help improve student reading outcomes. Plus, special guest Professor Pamela Snow explains the origins of the scientific theory.


Dale Atkinson – 0:00:00 to 0:00:16

Hello and welcome to Teach, a podcast about teaching and learning in South Australia. I'm Dale Atkinson from the South Australian Department for Education,

Monique Miller – 0:00:16 to 0:00:19

and I'm Monique Miller, primary school teacher at Westport Primary.

Dale Atkinson – 0:00:20 to 0:00:30

In this series, we'll take you to a different school every month where you'll meet engaging educators who are working hard to inspire our students and make sure they are prepared for an ever changing world.

Monique Miller – 0:00:30 to 0:00:53

Today we're at Pennington R-7 in Adelaide's northwestern suburbs, which is on Kaurna land. We pay respects to elders past and present. Today we're talking about literacy. Shortly you'll hear from one of the guest speakers at this year's Literacy Summit about the science of reading. Plus, you'll hear from some awesome educators about how they've improved reading outcomes at their school. But before then, Dale, what's making news?

Dale Atkinson – 0:00:53 to 0:01:28

Thank you, Monique. As you just mentioned, the Literacy Summit kicked off last month for the first time ever. It was an online virtual event featuring literacy experts from right across the world. There are 13 presentations you can catch up on. You just have to head over to plink. And while you're on there, if you're a year one teacher you can register for our phonics screening check training sessions.That training is mandatory. There are three options to choose from based on your level of experience. This year's checks will take place in term three between the second and 27th of August.

Monique Miller – 0:01:30 to 0:01:48

Today we're at Pennington R-7 talking literacy. Literacy supports student learning across the whole curriculum and is fundamental to learning. Earlier, I caught up with Professor Pamela Snow from La Trobe University to talk about the Simple View of Reading and how it can help teachers and students.

Professor Pamela Snow – 0:01:49 to 0:04:04

Well, a Simple View of Reading is a theoretical framework. Can I say first of all, that I think the Simple View of Reading, the word simple is a bit of a misnomer. I like to refer to it as the elegant view of reading because it pares the reading process back for the novice to core skills and processes that have to be in play in order for children to achieve the final purpose of reading, which of course, is extracting meaning from text. So the simple view of reading is a formula, really, that's got two elements to it. One is the child's ability to decode or to identify the words on the page. So knowing that the black squiggles are in fact a code, that written text is a code for spoken text. So being able to crack the code that could be coding part of the formula and the other part of the formula is their language comprehension. And that's because we know both of those processes have to be in play in order for children to achieve that in point of understanding text. Importantly, the mathematical operator in between those two elements of the formula is a multiplier, not an addition sign. So it's not decoding ability plus language comprehension ability, it’s decoding ability multiplied by a language comprehension ability because anything multiplied by 0 is 0. So if you don't have skills on either side of that ledger, you're not going to be able to comprehend what you read. Or if you have weak skills on one or both of both sides. That's going to contribute to weakness in the reading process as well. So all children need to have capacities in both decoding and then in understanding what they're reading. It's possible to decode something that you can't understand. It's not possible to understand something that you can't decode.

The best example I can give you of that is the fact that I studied French for six years at secondary school a long time ago. I've forgotten an awful lot of my French vocabulary, but I do still know how French language works from a decoding perspective. I understand French autography, the writing system. So if you gave me a page of French text, I could read it out loud. But I couldn't really tell you very much about what it means, because my vocabulary store now is very thin. On the other hand, if you gave me a page of text in Arabic, I wouldn't be able to decode it. And therefore I wouldn't be able to understand it because I don't understand the autography of Arabic.

Monique Miller – 0:04:48 to 0:04:52

How does it provide guidance for student assessment?

Professor Pamela Snow – 0:04:52 to 0:06:52

Well, it helps us to break down some of the core component skills, and it's important to say to that more recent workers have broken down the simple view of reading into its component parts. A well-known example of that is the Scarborough reading rope that was produced by Paula Scarborough, back in. I think that was published around 2001/2002, and many listeners to this podcast would be familiar with the reading rope. But if they're not, a simple Google search will pull it up. And what Hollis Cabra did in that was to break down really the elements both in the decoding part of reading and in the language comprehension part so that teachers are very cognoscente of processes that they need to be addressing at an instructional level and also skills that they need to be assessing, um, in emergent readers. So if we look at the word recognition side of the rope, we're looking at phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, knowledge of the alphabetic system, the alphabetic principle, the recognition of some high frequency words that perhaps are leaning more towards what we might call less regular and maybe a discussion for another day. But it is generally thought that it's helpful for beginning readers to recognise a small number of high prescience words immediately on site like the word I and my and So that's the word recognition part of the decoding part, the alphabetic principle, technological and phonemic awareness. And then the language comprehension, part of the, um, Scarborough Reading Rope, which is also the language comprehension part of the simple view of reading, are factors such as the student’s background knowledge, their level of vocabulary, the extent to which they can understand their new syntactic structures to represent sentence structure and meaning, their verbal reasoning ability, their ability to grasp the fact that language is sometimes used literally and sometimes used metaphorically. So when we say something like, um, a piece of cake, we're not literally referring to a piece of cake on a plate we’re saying that it's really simple. And then, of course, there's also knowledge about print and print concept.

Monique Miller – 0:07:32 to 0:07:37

How can teachers like myself use the simple view of reading in the classroom?

Professor Pamela Snow – 0:07:37 to 0:08:21

It's been said that we have a language brain, but we don't have a reading brain, and I think if teachers keep that in mind, it helps to reinforce for them the level of difficulty that some children face in getting across that bridge. Some children will get across it quite seamlessly, it seems, and that's fantastic. But we have to have early years classrooms that cater to all children under the curve, and especially children who are packed closer to the tail of the curve and may need quite a specific boost in both of those components of the simple view of reading.

Monique Miller – 0:08:22 to 0:08:33

Absolutely. I can see in my classroom how some students can be fantastic at decoding, but their language comprehension just isn't there. So absolutely.

Professor Pamela Snow – 0:08:33 to 0:08:47

And they're equally reliant, equally important, and they're mutually reliant, so you don't become a successful reader if you've only got one of them, you have to have both of them.

Dale Atkinson – 0:08:47 to 0:08:58

Professor Pamela Snow from La Trobe University there. Let's go local now and hear from two educators who have embraced this theory. Principal Georgina Grinsted and teacher Stasha Andrews. Welcome to you both.

Georgina and Stasha – 0:08:58 to 0:09:00

Thank you for having us. Thank you for having us.

Dale Atkinson – 0:09:01 to 0:09:05

Georgina. Let's start with you. Why did you decide to adopt the simple view of reading at your school?

Georgina Grinsted – 0:09:06 to 0:09:34

Okay, so we had been working on the teaching of reading like everyone else for a really long time. But our results weren't really showing us that children were getting it. And so we knew that we needed to do something different. Two of my staff attended the literacy summit back in 2019, where Pamela Snow and others spoke. And in the process of that, people got really enthused about there's something new and different here that we could perhaps be looking at. We knew that it wasn't working, so why not have a go? So that's really where the whole thing started from.

Monique Miller – 0:09:34 to 0:09:39

And what was your experience with the simple view of reading? When did you first hear about it?

Georgina Grinsted – 0:09:39 to 0:10:19

Okay, so that was that was my first time. I guess some of my leaders, particularly my literacy mentor, had heard about it already and was already doing some preliminary work. We actually started this whole journey, though, on writing. So we started with how language works, and we wanted children and teachers to be able to understand how language actually functions. So we had done that whole as a whole staff, Um, and out of that, teachers started to say ‘I didn't know this stuff. I didn't know all of this information, so how could I teach it?’ And then they started saying, and I went to uni and I never actually got taught how to teach children to read, so we went okay, this is the journey that we need to go on.

Monique Miller – 0:10:20 to 0:10:25

My next question is for Stasha. How did the discovery of the simple view of reading change the way you teach?

Stasha Andrews – 0:10:25 to 0:11:26

Just building off of what Georgina said earlier. I'm an early careers teacher, and I had that same thought of I haven't been taught how to teach reading appropriately at uni. I hadn't been exposed to the Simple View of Reading. I had a pretty limited experience with it. So I've been on the same learning journey as everyone else, familiarising myself with a simple reading and learning about it. So I think for me, I now know the strands required to be a fluent, proficient reader. Through Scarborough's Rope. And I think one of the big learning areas for me has been understanding that vocab is crucial to making meaning, and it's connected to knowledge of the text. Um, so this is definitely changed the way that I teach changed what I teach, how I teach it. I've been focusing quite heavily on teaching vocabulary, one of the strands quite explicitly. So vocab’s been something that we've been working on as a whole school as part of our site improvement plan. It's also been part of our PLT teaching sprints and vocab being part of our teaching sprints has provided me with opportunities to engage in robust dialogue and discourse with my colleagues, with leadership and with our literacy coach here as well.

Monique Miller – 0:11:26 to 0:11:29

I really want to know more about these sprints you're talking about.

Stasha Andrews – 0:11:29 to 0:12:15

Yes. So we started with writing first on sentence structure. And then we’ve progressively made our way into reading. Um, so last year, we focused quite a bit on the vocab instructional routine and how we could work that into our daily program in our daily schedule. Um, so the instruction routine is all about introducing words and breaking it down, teaching it explicitly. Um, I modified the routine slightly just so I could focus on the more forms of the words a lot more. I added more activities to provide students with multiple learning opportunities to actually practice the knowledge that they were learning and actually apply it. Um, so we started with a vocab instruction routine, and now we've moved into a space this year where we're looking at comprehension. Um, and the complexities that come with teaching that.

Monique Miller – 0:12:15 to 0:12:38

I love. I love I've been teaching vocabulary as well, and to see that in their writing. It's just so fantastic and using it, and they're noticing it more and more of a upper primary lens, as opposed to what we think of, um, learning to read in the phonetics of it all. So, yeah, yourself as a upper primary teacher. Yeah, to sort of look at it through vocabulary and that more

Stasha Andrews – 0:12:38 to 0:13:28

sophisticated vocabulary. Yeah, definitely. I used that same term sophisticated vocabulary in my classroom as well. And it's been great because their writing has improved, their sentences have improved. Their vocab choices have improved where, you know, the kids say ‘Miss, I'm using more sophisticated terminology. I'm using more sophisticated words’, which is great. Um, so I've seen that change in their reading and they're writing, but I've also placed an emphasis on oral as well. I said, I don't want to just see it in your written stuff for your reading. I also want you using it in your oral language. Even the other day, I was on yard duty and a student walking around with me, and she was telling me a story about her grandmother, her maternal grandmother and I had explicitly taught maternal as part of my vocab lessons, which was great because she just naturally worked it into conversation so I could see her actually applying what I'm teaching. So that was really good. It makes it all worth it. Definitely.

Dale Atkinson – 0:13:28 to 0:13:41

So Georgina. Here we are. We're at a category two school with a really kind of diverse and interesting group of kids. Can you talk a little bit about the struggles that the students were having before you implemented the explicit teaching of reading?

Georgina Grinsted – 0:13:42 to 0:15:20

Certainly. Like I said, our data was really bad, and I guess we are a very data driven system. So for us as a school, we were putting in lots of effort and it wasn't actually going anywhere. So we really had to question What is it that we're doing? And is it having an impact? And that's really where the sprinting comes from because it's about teachers looking at one very small aspect of their practice and then trialling that for five weeks and then, if it doesn't work, getting rid of it and actually then replacing it with something that does. So for our children who don't have resources at home. They haven't got lots of rich language experiences. They're not being exposed to classic literature and good text materials. Despite the fact we were doing that old immersion concept wasn't working so as Stasha said what we needed to do was actually be more explicit. So the explicit teaching, I guess, was the fundamental aspect of what we changed and what we did differently. I also talked to my staff a lot about the fact that for children, a learning journey in a school should be like a trip around Australia, not a trip around the world, because there should be commonalities. There should be a common currency. There should be a common language. There should be sets of the culture should have things in it that are the same wherever you go, so that every year you're not spending the first term getting to know how this teacher does stuff. So I think for us, that's really been the next part of this is now we've got a consistency. Everyone speaks the same language. Teachers are doing the same activities. The sprinting brings year level groups together, and two and three classes are actually practicing the same technique with their children to see if it’s effective.

So for struggling readers, um, that whole notion now of being accessing the resources they need. So we got rid of all of the P M benchmark books, and we now use the decodable readers. So until a child can read, they don't see any other text other than decodable. And that's made a really, really big impact.

Dale Atkison – 0:15:39 to 0:15:49

What's the, you correctly identified that we’re a very data driven system. What's been the overall shift in those numbers that you've seen since adopting the technique?

Georgina Grinsted – 0:15:49 to 0:16:34

So we've seen improvement across the board, particularly by year three level alongside of all of this, we've also implemented a synthetic phonics program, which is called Red Write Inc. They have a program called Fresh Start, which which we've used as an intervention with our older children, because until children have the letter sound connection, until they have really clear phonological awareness phonemic awareness, until they understand all that, no matter what level they're working at, that was very I guess, that was an aha moment for many of our upper primary teachers. We can keep pushing away at what we've done. But if children have missed those basics, it doesn't matter how hard we push, it's not going to change anything. So that's I guess that's really been one of the biggest direction changes for us as a school

Monique Miller – 0:16:34 to 0:16:42

start of what benefits have you seen for students into using the simple view of reading? And have these had impacts on student outcomes?

Stasha Andrews – 0:16:42 to 0:18:15

Yes, definitely had positive impacts on the ship and incomes. I think the improvement has been as a result of our understanding of how this learning takes place to the science of reading and how to actually address the breakdown. Before I started learning about the simple view of reading, I didn't know much about it. I couldn't address or identify the breakdown, but now I can identify the breakdown. I can figure out the problem. I can figure out what needs to happen next for that child, and I feel that all of us teachers have been on that journey, and we now can identify the breakdown, and now we can give them that tailored program. And so now the kids are actually getting what it is they need rather than some other program that's not really serving the purpose, and I think as well in my class I had groups of students who they could accurately decode what it was they were reading. But they weren't actually understanding the words they were reading. There was there was no meaning there. But then, on the opposite side of the spectrum, I had other kids who were focusing so much on the word recognition side of things that they just cognitively just didn't have the capacity to take in the meaning. And so we've implemented the explicit teaching of reading. We've upskilled ourselves with simple view of reading. We implemented the program that Georgina mentioned earlier for the older students, and so it's worked. They've got the alphabetic code now. I had one student who worked his way through the program. He now has his alphabetic code. He's reading with more fluency. He can decode unknown words, and with that, he's actually more confident now. And he's more engaged in reading. Before, it was like a chore for him and now he’s like ‘Miss Miss Miss, when’s novel study?’

So I've seen an overall confidence changed demeanor.

Dale Atkinson – 0:18:20 to 0:18:29

Have you noticed if that’s had a positive impact on that student’s overall experience at school? Does the confidence kind of expand out into other areas?

Stasha Andrews – 0:18:29 to 0:19:19

Yes, it has. Um, it's definitely helped him being more confident with his writing as well, because he's able to read all of the background knowledge, and his fluency has improved as well with it. I'm just so proud of this child. Sorry. So he's because he can decode the unknown words, his fluency has improved. So when we are doing tasks, he's actually understanding the knowledge and information that he needs in order to write about the topic. So there's more confident with his vocal choices going into his writing. His writing is improving, so it's just it's just been a bit of a flow on effect for him, and it's not that he's forcing himself to participate. He's actually genuinely wanting to engage now, and he's actually excited about reading or his writing. So it's just been an overall kind of positive.

Dale Atkinson – 0:19:19 to 0:19:23

Sounds like the most incredible thing is that something you recognize in your own teaching experience?

Monique Miller – 0:19:23 to 0:19:58

Absolutely. It warms my heart. It really does just hearing other teachers as well, being outside of the classroom and getting to meet you and hear yourself talk about it. I can relate to it so much as well and really understanding what part of reading that they're missing, um, to have good reading comprehension. Is it the decoding? Is it the language comprehension and being able to realise that and fix it really changes, make some outcomes. Georgina. What impact has the explicit teaching of reading had in your school?

Georgina Grinsted – 0:19:58 to 0:21:36

Well, I think first and foremost, it's had a big impact on teacher confidence. So it's not just about children. If teachers know and understand what it is, they have to teach, then they're going to be much better at doing that. So I think fundamentally, it's been about that. It's been about confidence. It's interesting. They've been teachers who've come and have been resistant along the way because as teachers, we get used to doing what works for us sometimes, and not necessarily what works for our children. Other teachers have said, ‘Oh, you know I did university, Why am I doing this again?’ And other teachers have said you've actually made me a better teacher. So that that's rewarding knowing that if you take, this was a risk, you know this wasn't something that just happened. We had to. We had to take a big risk. We we had to get people, teachers convinced that this is going to be better. And in the beginning they had to abandon a lot of things that they had been used to doing. And that takes a leap of faith. So I'm really grateful that I had such an amazing group of teachers who wanted to take that leap of faith with us. Um, and even those who were reluctant in the beginning, like I said, have come to it and realise that they are now more effective in their teaching because ultimately we want, we spend a lot of time and energy. A lot of thought goes into the work that we do. But if we're not having an impact, then why would we keep doing it? You know, that's a bit like banging your head against a brick wall. Um, so that's been a really big change. Like I said, the consistency there we now have the language that we all speak. The fact that the conversations in the staff room have changed, the conversations that I have with teachers are changing, and that's really important.

And then the flow on effect of when you see children for the Read Write Inc program, for example, we've just done a new round of testing because obviously we've got new children into our school for the start of the year. And children who come racing up and go I've moved from the pink group to the, you know, to see little ones really, really excited and know that they're progressing. You know, I think for many of our children they used to come to school and they didn't actually know whether they were making any difference for themselves. Um, so I think there's been just a very positive change to the culture of the school. Um and also that's had a, you know, an outgoing impact on the achievements and the results.

Monique Miller – 0:22:14 to 0:22:30

You’re so right, that consistency is key. And when you find something good, you really want it to run from reception, right through to year 7. Yes, Absolutely, So ladies, what advice would you give to a teacher or a school considering assessing and using the simple view of reading?

Georgina Grinsted – 0:22:31 to 0:23:15

Let's start from the whole school perspective. I think you need to take a risk. You need to say what we're doing isn't working. We need to do something different. And so, as the leader, you need to have that vision. Then, in my case, I've got an amazing team around me. Um, we chose because there was no real training and development we could access externally around this. We chose to do it ourselves. So we chose to upskill ourselves so that we could upskill teachers so that they could up skill children. So it has to be on all of those levels. Um, and basically, you need people who are willing to be learners who are willing to be vulnerable, who are willing to take on the challenge. Um, and willing to say, ‘you know what? This isn't working, so I'm going to try something different.’ That to me, I think is fundamental, Stasha?

Stasha Andrews – 0:23:15 to 0:23:34

I think from my perspective and maybe even the perspective of early careers teacher as well, I think one of my biggest things is make sure that you know and understand how our language works, have a good grasp of the of the language and also have a good grasp of how best the teacher, how students learn at best.

You know, we didn't learn a lot of this stuff at uni. Um, and so go out. Do your homework, do your research. And it's a journey. You're not gonna get it just like that. You've got to keep keep at it and keep learning. Um, you know, we've been on that journey now as a school for the last couple of years, and I think the science and the research is really clear on what we need to know and do to make a difference. It's just a matter of looking at the research. Look at evidence based practice and just give things a go. Just give it a go, trial it out and see how you go.

Monique Miller – 0:24:03 to 0:24:13

I love that. And finally, I have one last question which we're going to ask at the end of all our podcasts. What is one thing that you love about your school?

Georgina Grinsted – 0:24:13 to 0:24:39

Wow. Um, there are lots of things. I don't know that I can name it in one. But I do think going back to what I just said before, I do think it's about the commitment of my staff to make a difference for children, you know. As a category two school these children need all the help they can get. And everybody here I know comes to school every single day to do their very best for kids. And as a leader, I couldn't ask for better than that.

Stasha Andrews – 0:24:39 to 0:25:08

Look, I mean, I can't pick just one thing. I really, really love working here. I really love this school, and I love a lot about it. Um, but I think I would be I think I would agree with Georgina. I love how dedicated how committed we all our staff members. It's just even like Georgina said, the conversations in the staff room are changing. Everything we do is for the betterment of our kids, and that's probably one of my favorite things. Just how hard we're working to make sure that we have better outcomes for our students.

Dale Atkinson – 0:25:09 to 0:26:21

What I think walking in here this morning, like the enthusiasm and the energy kind of really just shows through it. I think it's just such an incredible place you've got here and the way the kids are kind of interacting. It's just such a positive vibe, and I think there's so many great things that are going on. So, um yeah, so thank you very much for your time and taking time out of the classroom. So I'd like to thank Georgina and Stasha for sharing their experience of teaching in South Australia and trying something new in the classroom. It's been fantastic hearing about how you both used and adopted the simple view of reading to improve outcomes for your students. Just a reminder to everyone that the simple view of reading is addressed in the advanced phonic screening check training session, which you can register for on plink. Thanks to everyone out there who is listening. We hope you've enjoyed today's podcast. Don't forget, you can subscribe to Teach on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts or head to our website education.sa.gov.au/teach. And we'd love to hear from you. If you have a question we could all learn from get in touch with us via Twitter or  Facebook or email us at Education.TeachPodcast@sa.gov.au.

Catch you next time on Teach.


Teach Podcast Team

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Email: Education.TeachPodcast [at] sa.gov.au