The Importance of our Heads of Learning Areas

The Importance of our Heads of Learning Areas

To be a leader of learning, we must know what good learning looks like and how to bring out the best in our students.

Recently, our Academic Council shared its ideas and vision for excellence in teaching and learning at Santa Maria.

In the coming months, the team will work towards creating a Vision for Learning statement, articulating the qualities and habits of effective learners and the strategies to support successful learning in our students and staff. We look forward to journeying together to empower our students and teachers in their learning.

We sat down with Simone Sawiris, Deputy Principal, Teaching and Learning, to discuss the importance of our Heads of Learning Areas, who form the Academic Council.

Why do we have Heads of Learning Areas?

Our Heads of Learning Areas (HOLAs) oversee the curriculum, teaching, and learning at the College. They are integral to ensuring the courses and programs taught in our school meet the standards set by the curriculum authority and that our students are fully engaged in their learning in all subject areas.

One of the most important roles of the Heads of Learning is that of mentor to the teachers in their team, and this involves caring for their staff in both a professional and pastoral sense. Of course, HOLAs, are also exemplary teachers who model great teaching and leadership across our school.

What characteristics do you believe make a good Head of Learning Area?

  • Flexibility
  • Initiative
  • Empathy
  • Honesty
  • Consistency
  • Vision

What kind of support do our Heads of Learning Areas receive?

Our HOLAs work together as part of our Academic Council, along with myself and the Campus Dean. We meet regularly to discuss important issues and trends in education, review existing programs and policies and share great ideas with each other.

I enjoy working closely with the HOLAs, lending a helping hand and a sympathetic ear when needed. Most of the time, we work creatively together to ensure our students and teachers have all they need to be successful and have a great experience in doing so.

What advice would you give to current teachers who are looking to take the next step in their career and move into a Head of Learning Area role?

One of the most valuable steps is to put your hand up and start leading, even before you have a designated role. This could involve leading a team of teachers to implement a new teaching strategy, mentoring a trainee teacher, or getting involved in an external syllabus committee.

Also, being open to learning from others and taking the initiative to develop yourself professionally. Finally, understand that we are never fully formed as leaders and the only way to know if you are ready is to give it a try and learn on the job.

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