High-Impact Teaching in the Pilbara
An initiative led by the Karratha school Leaders who saw a need to support their teachers to implement high-impact teaching in their classrooms. Evidence-based professional learning, quality resources, curriculum documents, face-to-face coaching, and individual support from teachers who have not just taught in the Pilbara, but who have led school improvement there.
At Shaping Minds, we are honored to collaborate with the Karratha network of schools, situated in the captivating Pilbara region of Western Australia. This partnership began in 2021, and has been well received by teachers participating in the course. In a special model designed to include online learning modules rather than live workshops. Over the school year, teachers are immersed in the science of learning in a sequential model that allows time for implementation. We then visit schools in person to support teachers to implement the strategies in their classrooms. During these visits, we provide instructional coaching with immediate verbal feedback, which is reinforced with formal written feedback about a week later.
Spending so much time in the schools that we work with provides important insight into the day-to-day experiences of teachers and their students. This informs the instructional coaching and resource design components of the course, which is why teachers reach out to us with comments like this one from a teacher at Karratha Primary recently.
“Thank you so much for such informative, positive and helpful feedback… please know the difference you are making to us all!”
Teaching in regional settings like Karratha has often been seen as a kind of right of passage for early career teachers in Western Australia. There are various incentives offered, but many choose to do it purely for the experience. For some teachers the stay is short, while some fall in love with the lifestyle or people, and once it’s in your blood… it never seems to fully leave. Whether you call the iron rich red dirt of the Pilbara home for a year or a decade, we are all shaped permanently by our time teaching there.
When we first taught in the Pilbara, it was in South Hedland, which is about 2 and a half hours south-southeast from Karratha. They are both tough little mining towns on the surface that are home to a diverse group of people. Beyond the red dirt and scorching heat lies a rich Aboriginal history that spans thousands of years. For Karratha, the traditional owners are the Ngarluma people, and for South Hedland it is the Kariyarra people.
We worked hard to lead the implementation of high-impact teaching in the Pilbara more than a decade ago. First at our School Baler, then as lead instructional coaches in a Hedland School’s Network initiative, and then as mentor teachers passing the high-impact teaching strategies on to the endless stream of graduates pouring into the Pilbara during a huge mining boom. We always knew we would end up back in the Pilbara, and it means a lot to us to support teachers who are seeking to refine their practice.
When the invitation from the Karratha Education Network came through, we considered it an act of serendipity and we agreed immediately.
This initiative began during a particularly difficult time for staffing in WA, and relief teachers were in short supply. To adapt to this, teachers completed the Research to Impact coursework online via our video modules. Much to our surprise (and relief) the Karratha teachers and leaders rated the video course on avg. 9.4 out of 10.
As mentioned above, our face-to-face coaching is renowned for being rated as both meaningful and positive by participants. We are teachers and we understand many of the complexities of teaching effectively in the Pilbara.
We have so much respect for the teachers and leaders trying to make a difference for young people in regional WA, and we are really proud to support them through our teacher professional learning and coaching. Every time we visit K-Town, we are blown away by the teaching we see, and the the uptake of the strategies. The teachers there are so keen to learn, and just want whatever the evidence shows is best practice… there is no ego, but rather a deep desire to do what’s best for their students — and we love that.
—Jared and Jordan