The mandala model - teacher quality and its impact on student learning and positive school culture as demonstrated at a new independent school in Queensland and contextualised within a framework of the current national professional standards for teachers

Year: 2013

Author: Simon, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Hattie's research (2003) into the difference quality teachers can make to learning outcomes of their students clearly demonstrates evidence from myriad research studies on the topic. Research undertaken in a new school in Queensland, Australia, where over 100 staff members were appointed in its first four years, echoes Hattie's findings.  My major focus as Foundation Principal of St Andrew's Anglican College, Peregian Springs, from 2002 onwards was the development of a new school culture and how this is influenced by selecting teachers demonstrating specific qualities.  Chosen as outstanding practitioners and as potentially highly effective team members, these teachers helped nurture our vision of a positive, happy and successful learning environment for all students. Research conducted after four years of successful expansion and development examined this strategy and whether it demonstrated an impact on the emerging learning culture at St Andrew's. A hypothetical Quality Teaching and School Culture model emerged, depicting the correlation of staff selection criteria with aspects of culture as determined by House et al (2004). Qualitative research undertaken through focus group sessions with representatives of all stakeholder groups was aligned with these aspects of culture. The Mandala model - aptly likened to a mandala because of its shape - reflects a mandala's representation of the universe (whole school culture) with a central point (the selection of quality teachers) and its radial balance (the emergence of a positive learning culture). Under the guidance of its second and current Principal, St Andrew's has reflected on the continued development of its unique culture and celebrated its learning successes over its ten years. The original data and model from St Andrew's is now observed through a teacher education pedagogical lens due to my current involvement in teacher education at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Consequently, this research aligns the Mandala model with the current National Professional Teaching Standards (AITSL, 2011) and other external accreditation requirements, in order to ascertain whether additional aspects of teacher quality should be considered in order to further impact students' learning outcomes and contribute to a positive learning culture.