Richard – Leading from the classroom

classroom Richard
“I am not a typical aspiring principal or leader. I try to lead from the classroom.”

Richard is a Year 2 teacher at The Knox School, an independent Early Learning to Year 12 college in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

As well as classroom teaching, he is one of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) team leaders in the junior school.


Along with his formal roles and responsibilities, Richard undertakes a number of other activities to support the development of students and colleagues through which he shares his skills and resources.

Richard has a particular interest in professional growth and updating his knowledge through researching strategies to improve student outcomes. He uses the research to inform the development of programs for school-wide implementation. This work helps build and develop his skills in leading improvement and change and developing himself and others, both Professional Practices detailed in the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (Principal Standard).

Richard starts his day by helping a colleague to use the school’s online portfolio system, a tool to communicate student progress in real-time with families and carers

Having successfully piloted the system last year, he presented the program and its benefits to the school executive. He is now leading the implementation of the system across the junior school. This tool is now the primary day-to-day method for letting families know how their children are progressing with their learning.


Richard has a consistent focus on improvement and innovation, and is always looking for ways “to best utilise the program for the benefit of our students and their families." Having initially worked closely with developers to customise the tool for the needs of his school community, he still works with them to enhance and improve the program.

Richard understands the success of the portfolio system relies on developing the skills of his colleagues and continues to lead the implementation by running professional development sessions and providing one-on-one support.

Hear Richard talk about the online portfolios

Next Richard is teaching a literacy lesson, and as in all lessons, he sets high expectations for student learning and behaviour.

As a classroom teacher, Richard seeks to create the optimal learning environment for each of his students and takes time to listen to the needs of his students to achieve this. He seeks to attain “a genuine balance between explicit instruction of skills and content,” informed by evidence based research on teaching strategies that work, to enable his students to succeed and “understand their world.”

Richard “strives for professional improvement every day," and sees value in being connected to professional learning networks, keeping up to date with latest evidence around teaching, using the expertise of colleagues and learning from other practitioners. He uses the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Teacher Standards) to review his own practice. One of his current goals is to use authentic assessments of student learning to inform his teaching.

An important aspect of teaching is the desire to be the best teacher you can be, with a keen eye for evidence-based research.

As co-chair of the STEAM team, Richard has a planning conversation at lunchtime with the art specialist to finalise the agenda for tomorrow’s staff meeting, which is on new resources. Richard will share and demonstrate apps, websites and equipment that staff can use in their lessons.

These meetings are an important forum at the Knox School for building staff capacity in teaching STEAM subjects.

“Our focus is to develop our program of inquiry to the point where we are able to plan ahead and provide resources and professional learning for teachers in order to provide quality STEAM learning opportunities for our kids. This aligns to the schools strategic goals.”

Currently, Richard is working with the team to build skills in using OneNote and other online tools effectively in order to communicate with a wide cross-section of staff.


Richard and Brigitte, both Year 2 teachers, work together and regularly combine their classes for lessons. Today they have joined their classes for maths.

Through team teaching, Richard plays a role in leading teaching and learning, and in developing himself and others. Last year, he worked closely with Brigitte, a graduate teacher in her first year of teaching. Although not a formal mentor, he provided assistance to her around curriculum, pedagogy, classroom management and parent communication.

Richard is able to share his expertise with Brigitte and provide immediate feedback and support in class. In turn, Brigitte can observe the range of strategies that he draws on in his teaching to build on her current knowledge. Richard also benefits from the team teaching environment as Brigitte shares her recent learning experiences and current best practice in teaching and learning.

I reflect upon and refine my practice with pretty much every conversation that I have in a team situation.

Today ends with Richard preparing for an upcoming professional development session for Junior School teachers on a homework initiative he developed.

Richard’s independent research into the effectiveness of homework led him to develop the HomeLearning program. This solution leverages homework to practise important skills, build independence and develop a love of learning. It guides students to set SMART goals for their learning and to choose activities that both engage them and reinforce their learning.

Having explained the program to the school executive and gained their support, Richard has been implementing it across the Junior School. He continues to update the executive about the learning and research he has undertaken, as well as the benefits he finds for the students’ learning.

Richard has a very thorough and thoughtful approach to introducing HomeLearning. He considers the change management implications and compiles a bank of accessible resources to help teachers to successfully use the program.

“I have tried to develop programs and ideas to a point where I can give my colleagues what they need to achieve successful implementation themselves.”

He is currently working to include parents and carers in the process by providing access to HomeLearning resources on mobile devices, so they can be part of goal-setting conversations with their child.

These kids are learning to want to do work at home. They are starting to see the benefits of goals, plans and growth. They are learning to manage their time and they are learning that with greater responsibility comes greater power.

Richard is a dedicated teacher and always looks for ways to improve the learning outcomes for his students and those within the school. Using research on effective teaching, Richard trials new practices and programs within his own class to identify challenges and barriers and ways to resolve them. Using his experiences, he leads change within the school to enhance the teaching and learning of all students.

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