Interview with Steve McPhail, Principal at Daylesford Secondary College, Victoria
Why did your school decide to take a strengths-based approach?
As Principal, I was keen to see and hear about the insights gleaned from introducing Pivot into the school. To bring the conversation about Pivot front and centre with the whole team, we took a strengths-based approach to sharing and celebrating the team’s expertise. This approach aligned well with Pivot’s insights reporting, where an individual’s instructional strengths are highlighted as a launching-off point for ongoing improvement. We’re now into our third year of partnering with Pivot at Daylesford, and we are committed to building the confidence of our staff by using data to celebrate their teaching ‘wins’ and leveraging these strengths to support areas for growth.
How do you celebrate the ‘instructional gold’?
We utilised this simple approach to celebrate staff strengths with the whole team at the conclusion of the first full school survey cycle. We requested all teachers to bring along their reports to a full staff meeting where we had placed a 5×5 grid on the board, with numbers from 1 to 25 in each box. We asked all teachers to place their initials three times on the board, once in each box that corresponded with their Pivot ‘Heat Map’ strengths, which identifies the top three highest individual question scores.
What was the outcome?
Not only was this a great way to highlight the strength of each teacher on staff, it also provided teachers with an opportunity to celebrate their own and their peers’ expertise and identify trends across the teaching team. A neat by-product of this approach was the ability for teachers to be able to identify colleagues who can be a source of contextually relevant instructional strategies. This can support collaboration between teaching partners through short, targeted observations to improve practice in identified areas for growth or through working together to come up with best practices and strategies.
Daylesford Secondary College is home to approximately 450 students, located an hour and a half north-west of Melbourne.