New Sister School and Teaching Professional Learning

Indonesian Sister School

I am pleased to confirm that our proposed Indonesian Sister School relationship with Bina Cita Utama (BCU) will officially begin next Term; BCU’s new school year commences on 10 July and we return from our mid-year holiday break on 25 July. BCU is a Year 1 -12 School of approximately 150 students, situated in Central Kalimantan, Borneo.

It is appropriate that, as I write, it is World Environment Day. The focus of BCU is an environmental one. The School was built on land that was originally cleared jungle and had sandy soil that could not sustain plant growth. The founders carted in rich soil and regenerated the forest. Their aim now is to lead the way in the protection of forests and organic, sustainable farming.

A part of their curriculum for students at all year levels includes permaculture, aquaculture, hydroponics, chicken raising, kitchen garden, eco bricks and much more. These students will become the leaders in these areas when they graduate and the intention is that they will teach these principles to the wider community. Already, local farmers are learning that organically grown produce commands higher prices.

Some of the teachers have already begun to communicate with each other and we will begin our collaboration next Term in the areas of:

  1. Environmental Education
  2. Bahasa Indonesia

Our first student visit to the School is planned for September/October 2018, to attend the GIN Kalimantan 2018 Student Conference. This Conference will be jointly organised by the very famous GIN BALI (Kayti Denham and Robi Navicula), the Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) and our Sister School, BCU. We will be invited to send up to 10 Secondary School students and we will circulate more details as they become available to determine the level of interest. At this stage, the conference fees would be approximately US$200 for the three days, accommodation will be available at the Resort or Eco-Village within the School compound, and flight costs would need to be added.

The School is sited in a sparsely populated, rural area in a little village about 45 minutes from the city of Palangka Raya. It is located within a compound that is guarded 24 hours per day and is accessible without having to commute through Jakarta. A full risk assessment will be completed prior to the visit, carefully observing the travel warnings to Indonesia at the time. When I visited the School three weeks ago, I felt very safe in what is a very close community of people who share common values similar to our own.

This is a very exciting opportunity for our students. This collaboration will assist their development as global citizens and understanding that people around the world face similar issues and share many similar values.

Teacher Professional Learning

For continued development of our teaching staff, half will be commencing the Educator Impact program, which is an innovative 360-degree feedback tool. The remaining half will participate in 2018.

The features of this program include:

  1. Use of behaviour change methodology
  2. Self-reflection
  3. Feedback from students, peers and supervisor
  4. Individual feedback summaries
  5. Evidence-based goal setting
  6. Professional development plan
  7. School aggregate report
  8. Focused feedback
  9. Mapped to the AITSL Teaching Standards

The trial that we completed in 2016 indicated that the program promotes pedagogical knowledge, professional dialogue and skill development. From the School’s view point it opens up classrooms, increases collegiality and collaboration, and creates a culture of feedback. It also assists in aligning personal development goals with School improvement goals. Student agency is also enhanced.

The majority of teaching staff will be involved in some way this year in one of the roles of participant, peer or supervisor.

Cheryl Bauer