Natalie – Developing and leading others

classroom natalie
“I am not a principal, but I am a leader of education.”

Natalie is the Learning and Teaching Coordinator at St Johns College, a Catholic, co-educational high school in Dubbo, NSW.

As a member of the college leadership team, she works collaboratively to enhance the learning experiences offered to teachers and students to drive greater growth.

In particular, Natalie plays a significant role in developing teachers, providing strategic leadership that promotes innovation and excellence in teaching practices across the site.

I have sought to create a positive culture in which our teachers are challenged by new ideas and supported to embrace them.

Throughout a typical day Natalie demonstrates many of the Professional Practices described in the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (Principal Standard). Here, Natalie illustrates how she leads teaching and learning, develops self and others and leads improvement innovation and change within the college.

Natalie starts her working day by meeting with a group of teachers to prepare for an instructional round, a classroom observation strategy used to build a shared understanding of effective teaching practice. They discuss the focus for the round and the classrooms they’ll visit

Instructional rounds, which Natalie introduced across the college, is one way she leads teaching and learning. Initially introduced as part of the induction program to support early career teachers to develop their teaching practice, these are now available for all teachers. They provide opportunities to learn collaboratively and draw on the expertise within the college.


Following the instructional round Natalie sits down with the teachers to reflect on the observations made and to discuss what they’ve learnt and how they can apply this in their own teaching.The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Teacher Standards) are used to structure these discussions, connecting the practice observed to the Teacher Standards.

“When we’re discussing observations, we focus on student learning as opposed to other elements of the teacher’s interaction in the classroom. And it generates very professional discussions.”

Hear Natalie talk about the instructional round

Natalie is committed to continually developing teaching practice to improve student learning outcomes in her own classes and across the school.

Natalie teaches history across various year levels within the school. Within her classroom, Natalie trials new practices and also uses her experiences, both successes and failures, to support and encourage colleagues to experiment with different pedagogical approaches.


She uses the Teacher Standards to guide and propel her growth as an educator as well as to understand the priorities, knowledge and skills she should have. “They (the Teacher Standards) have worked to orientate my practice and inspire me to stretch and challenge myself to grow in each of the domain areas.” By developing herself and building her expertise as a teacher, Natalie is able to develop others.

In today’s lesson Natalie is teaching a year 9 history class.

In the next session Natalie is team teaching with an early career teacher. This allows her to lead the development of others through modelling practice and providing immediate feedback.

“Team teaching has been a wonderful strategy that we’ve embraced in the last few years to break down the boundaries of individual classrooms. We are finding that it’s an excellent opportunity to couple an experienced master teacher with an early career teacher."


“We’ve been able to work in unison in the classroom, to explicitly build specific content knowledge and the pedagogy required, so that the early career teacher is able to independently and effectively take over those classes from now on.”

Hear from Natalie on team teaching

Hear from Melinda talk about team teaching with Natalie

Natalie has time out of the classroom to work on leading improvement, innovation and change as she is working on the implementation of a whole-school initiative. St Johns is introducing an evidence-based improvement plan that will significantly reform the college’s approach to reporting and assessment.

Natalie has a key role in this process, communicating the need for change, consulting widely, and building knowledge and understanding of meaningful and reliable assessment and reporting processes.

She coordinates and mentors a number of Professional Learning Community (PLC) leaders within the school, guiding and supporting them to implement the new approach. Natalie also uses these sessions to collaborate with colleagues to develop ways to monitor and report on student progress.


“By giving teachers ‘voice and choice’ and then thinking strategically in terms of efficient ‘teaming’ to share responsibilities and maximise impact, we have made significant inroads in our teachers’ perception and practices.”

Natalie grabs a moment with Kerry, the St Johns principal, to reflect on the progress of the new assessment and reporting approach.

She highlights the successes and the improvements they are starting to see in teacher practice and student outcomes.


It also provides the opportunity for them to reflect on Natalie’s leadership of this initiative and her ability to gain teacher support for the change, helping the teachers to better understand and assist their students to grow.

I believe the best way to develop yourself professionally is to develop others.

The day ends with Natalie leading a learning time session.

Teachers are presented with contemporary research then given time to collaborate, to think about the research and how it can be applied in a way that’s going to be beneficial for them and their students. Topics are connected to the Teacher Standards, school priorities and the identified needs of the teachers within the college.

Natalie continues to refine the learning time sessions, which were developed when she - along with the leadership team - identified that teachers were looking for opportunities for professional learning relevant to their context.


Natalie explains: "The learning time sessions provide teachers at all levels with collaborative opportunities to learn from the expansive wealth of experience in our own school community. Not only have all teachers been supported in their development but a wonderful by-product has been the positive effect that the opportunity to be a part of other teachers’ growth has on experienced teachers’ own growth.”

“They (the Teacher Standards) have empowered leaders like myself to say, ‘If it cannot be aligned meaningfully to the Teacher Standards, we shouldn’t be focusing our professional learning time and energy on it.’ ”

Hear Natalie talk about the learning time sessions.

As a teacher and school leader Natalie demonstrates her enthusiasm and commitment to continual lifelong learning to inspire others.

She uses every opportunity to improve the outcomes for students. Her other aim is for the teachers she works with to “venture from their comfort zones and experiment with new collaborative ways to share the responsibilities of how we face the challenge of helping all our students, from every position on the learning continuum, to engage and grow."

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