After working on a very successful in-school mentoring program with CaSPA at her previous school, Karen Lamarre signed them up again when she took over as Principal at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Primary Caringbah in 2016.
The focus of the new project with CaSPA was in-school mentoring of Kindergarten and Year 2 teachers to incorporate dance and drama into literacy and numeracy teaching and learning.
Ms Lamarre said that sometimes teachers don’t have the confidence to include dance and drama in the curriculum as they are unsure of how to do it.
“With our CaSPA in-school mentoring program, the teachers developed the skills through watching the mentors teach a class and then doing it themselves.
“It was a teach the teacher model. The mentoring wasn’t being done to them; they were learning through doing it themselves. The children responded very positively as the CaSPA mentors – Iris McGill, Roger Wise and Nancy Cincotta – had a can-do, have a go, positive approach which the children really picked up on."
Some of the ways dance and drama were incorporated into the Kindergarten and Year 2’s learning was by re-enacting a book they had read, using their bodies to make shapes and to form letters and make a word.
Ms Lamarre said, all the studies show that particularly in the early years, children learn best when they are active and moving their bodies.
“The children were very excited and engaged in their learning, and their parents said they were talking about it at home. We are a Newman Selective Gifted Education Program school so it also gave us an opportunity to observe the children and see where they excelled in different ways than the traditional learning model.”
Another benefit of the in-school mentoring was that the sessions were filmed so the school was left with a valuable resource that can be shown to other teachers.
Ms Lamarre emphasised that the project was led by the school not by CaSPA.
“In the service agreement we signed with CaSPA, it was up to us to decide what we wanted. We shaped the agenda which made us articulate our needs and aims. The mentors make the teachers accountable and the teachers have to create resources for future use."
Ms Lamarre described the mentoring as fantastic!
“Through the mentoring, the teachers could see what was possible and try it for themselves and the children absolutely loved it. It is very worthwhile in-school mentoring and a great way to provide professional development in this area for teachers.”