My literacy expertise has been shaped over many years through ongoing reading of research, collaboration and dialogue with other educators in networks and professional associations, and observations of teacher practice and children’s learning. It’s about being intensely curious about literacy teaching and learning and what is working and for whom, under what circumstances and why?
As a teacher, school principal and now in a system leadership role, ensuring those with literacy expertise steeped in classroom experience are listened to and called upon to guide decisions at the school and system level is paramount if we are to serve all children and young people well along with the teachers and school leaders who shape their learning experiences.
Leaders in schools, systems, universities, and professional associations must spark this curiosity in teachers and nurture the development of their literacy expertise. One of the greatest achievements in my career of four decades has been developing the expertise of hundreds of teachers at all career stages. I like to think I have ignited that spark of curiosity in each of them. I’ve deliberately done this by modelling high expectations of myself and every teacher and every child, by reading and sharing research, by aligning classroom practices to the research, by learning with them, and by providing time and space for teachers to inquire, collaborate and continually improve their practice ensuring every child’s needs are being met every day in every classroom. I have believed in my teachers and trusted their professionalism. I have believed in every child and worked to ensure they had meaningful, rich and engaging literacy and learning experiences so they can all ‘have equal access to information, employment, enjoyment and further educational experiences.’ (Touchstone 1)
Jo Padgham Co-convenor of the Foundation for Learning and Literacy