Sharing best practice

Conference at La Trobe Bendigo explores best practice in education

On Saturday, February 18, Professor Pamela Snow and Associate Professor Tanya Serry, Co-Directors of the School of Education Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) Lab, hosted a highly successful Sharing Best Practice (SBP) Conference on the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University. The  SBP phenomenon was recently written up in an EducationHQ article by Sarah Duggan and is often described as a “grassroots movement” that brings current best practice knowledge and skills directly to teachers in a low-cost, no-frills way, through events held on Saturdays, normally at school locations. The SBP Facebook page now has over 12K members and SBP Conferences are being held in a wide range of locations around Australia, with the first New Zealand event planned later in the year.

The La Trobe Bendigo SBP event was a little different in the sense that it was held on a university campus but its commitment to high-quality and accessible professional learning was threaded through presentations across the day. The conference was opened by Professor Joanna Barbousas, Dean of the School of Education, who addressed delegates on ways in which La Trobe University is reconfiguring Initial Teacher Education (ITE) with a strong emphasis on learning sciences, impactful pedagogies and social justice. The work of the SOLAR Lab aligns closely with this re-alignment and La Trobe ITE is strategically positioned to ensure that graduates are “classroom ready” on both reading instruction and classroom management.

The keynote presentation, on school transformation, was delivered by Ms Sue Knight, who is the principal of Canadian Lead Primary School in Ballarat and a co-founder of Read Ballarat.  Sue spoke on the imperative to “know better and do better” with respect to initial and ongoing reading, writing, and spelling instruction and described the complex and sometimes challenging process by which change is achieved and sustained in schools. Her presentation addressed both the urgency of optimising instructional approaches and the need to care for staff in the transformation process.

In addition to hearing from five La Trobe SOLAR Lab PhD students, other presenters across the day included the always popular and provocative linguist Lyn Stone and educator Ollie Lovell from the popular and heavily subscribed Education Research Reading Room Podcast.

SBP Bendigo was attended by 250 delegates from across four states. The day provided a wonderful networking opportunity for teachers and education support staff keen to better their understandings of the science of learning and reading and to continue to refine their instructional and support practices.