The Walker Learning Approach underpins and supports the schools Vision and pedagogical beliefs. The school engaged with the Early Life Foundation 10 years ago as part of our work exploring the need for change in modern education systems. What our research found was an increasing rate of disengagement for students, as well as growing complexities around Social Emotional Wellbeing.
The school investigated a wide range of options for tackling this and the decision was made to work with Early Life on developing our pedagogical approach to better match the needs of our students.
The school has a student centered approach to teaching, this means that we start with the child in front of us and their current learning and emotional needs, before going to the curriculum. This work is further supported through our Professional Learning Communities and our use of student data to identify needs.
Rather than assuming all grade 1's need the same lesson the school tailors learning experiences to the current point of need of its students.
In Juniors (F-2) there is a focus on oral language and developing collaborative skills and behaviours, (this is particularly critical following the pandemic and extreme isolation many families have experienced) students begin their day with a tuning in session where they discuss what is happening in their lives and have opportunities to make links and connections with one another around common experiences.
Tuning in is follow by Investigation time in which students engage with a wide range of provocations focussed on developing key identified skills. This typically involves, fine & gross motor, literacy, numeracy as well as social emotional and problem solving. Investigations are designed to develop students skills in a familiar, play like environment and greatly ease the transition from Kindergarten to Primary School.
At the end of investigations students return to the group and reflect on their experiences and learning, with the teacher paying particular attention to our developmental outcomes.
In the middle and senior classrooms students are working to develop their skills of agency, as well as self actualisation and emotional regulation. Students are provided with opportunities to manage their own time tables, set learning goals and identify clinics or workshops that will support their learning (in addition to teacher directed sessions that run daily) Students have the opportunity to engage in passion projects where they can take an in depth look at particular topics, spending multiple weeks working on their chosen area. As part of this work students produce an 'artefact' and host an expo to showcase the learning that they have undertaken. Whilst the finished product is important, the focus on this experience, is the knowledge and skills gained and how these may be applied to other areas.