Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
Loreto Crest

Teaching & Learning Policy

The rationale underpinning this policy document is that Teaching and Learning ought to be at the heart of Loreto College Coleraine.  As a school we will therefore promote professional dialogue and strategies aimed at improving the art of teaching and the complexities of learning.

There are certain fundamental principles which lie at the centre if this policy document:

• good relationships are central to our ethos
• self-esteem is central to learning
• pupils want to learn
• pupils can learn to the highest level
• pupils respond to appropriate challenge and high expectations
• pupils learn in different ways
• learning is active involving thinking, doing and feeling
• formative assessment/guidance/feedback is very powerful in the learning process
• pupils should increasingly become autonomous learners

Teaching and Learning
Learning is complex.  An awareness of multiple intelligences, learning dispositions and the need for differentiation is central to the learning process.  Learning has tended to focus on knowing and thinking to the exclusion of doing and feeling.  We need to encourage our pupils to question, think critically, discuss and reflect.  They should be encouraged and facilitated in becoming independent learners.  Individual, group and whole-class teaching that encompasses exposition and explanation, practical activities, investigations, discussion, reflection and problem solving will promote independent learning.

Structure and Planning
Continuity and progression are essential to the learning process.  We need to plan for the short-term (lesson/s), medium-term (topic/s) and long-term (course).  The pupils should be made aware of these and should be familiar with the ‘bigger picture’ - pupils like to see the path or route ahead.

For the above to be effective at the pupil level we need to structure our lessons.  The following model will contain elements that we all probably can address to some degree:

• classroom environment - create best learning environment.
• receptive pupils - initially calm, settled.
• make links with last lesson(s) - progression.
• address lesson objectives - pupil outcomes.
• lesson variety - pupils thinking, doing, feeling.
• lesson pace - challenging.
• pupil reflection - time to take in, summarise, conclude.
• pupil follow-up - relevant, related homework/assessment.

The learning environment
We can create an environment most conducive to learning in a variety of ways.

Temperature, ventilation, natural light, arrangement of desks, the seating of pupils, the position of the teacher are elements of the physical classroom that we can quickly alter to enhance learning.

The organisation of our classroom, the resources we use, the displays of pupils’ work inside and outside the classroom can all make a very significant contribution to teaching and learning.

As teachers we ourselves can create a climate of enthusiasm, challenge, motivation and high expectations that benefit all our pupils.

Homework and assessment will be most effective when it is a natural extension of classwork, when it is made relevant for the pupils and most importantly, when feedback is consistent, positive and indicates how improvement can be made (formative).  * See homework policy.

Evaluating Teaching and Learning
As teachers we are constantly trying to improve, constantly trying to be more effective.  This requires us to reflect on how we teach, what we teach and how well our pupils learn.  This is best done with colleagues where best practice can be shared, ideas pooled and practices and policies adjusted accordingly.

‘Good teaching is not just a matter of being efficient, developing competences, mastering techniques and possessing the right kind of knowledge.  Good teaching also involves emotional work.  It is infused with desire, pleasure, mission, creativity, challenge and joy’.
A Hargreaves (1995)

As a learning-for-all school the College is committed to promoting and facilitating relevant training for both the professional and personal development of staff enabling them to carry out their duties and responsibilities more effectively.