‘Dalton lays an amazing foundation for you to be a life-long learner and to become an independent, responsible young adult,’ says Old Girl and current Ascham teacher Catherine Crawford (Crouch 1974).
Mrs Crawford speaks with the unique experience of someone who attended Ascham as a student, experienced Ascham as a parent, and has now taught at Ascham in the Junior School for 25 years. Her current role as Ascham’s Junior School Curriculum and Dalton Coordinator is perfectly suited to her, given her depth of experience. Mrs Crawford understands Dalton teaching and learning inside out!
For Mrs Crawford, a growth mindset is a key attribute to becoming a successful Dalton student. ‘If students are open to trying new things and are receptive to a teacher’s advice, then they are better able to adapt to planning and taking responsibility for their learning,’ she says. ‘When you take responsibility for your learning and reflect on it, in the process of that reflection you are really taking your learning to the next level.’
Reflection and Responsibility are two of the four pillars of Dalton learning. ‘Dalton and its pillars are embedded into everything that is done in the Junior School,’ Mrs Crawford says’. ‘For example, at the start of each term our students set goals. This experience includes planning how to achieve your goals and then reflecting on them at the end of the term to work out “where to next”. Throughout this process Junior School students are conferencing with their teachers and learning how to take responsibility for their own individual learning.’
Mrs Crawford reflects that many of Dalton’s principal skills apply to teachers too—planning, organisation and time management are key, as is the ability to collaborate with colleagues as well as students. Time management is important as teachers need to ensure completed work is returned to students early in the week so gaps are identified, and students can move forward with their learning. Dalton teachers, she says ‘have to be on top of students’ learning, on top of their workload, and be organised.’
Undoubtably, collaboration between students and teachers is one of the greatest joys of a Dalton education. Speaking of her own experience as a student at Ascham, Mrs Crawford says, ‘I loved the discussion, especially in Latin with Mrs White and Ancient History with Marie Daley. Broadening your horizons on a subject and learning about it through open discussion with teachers was so memorable.’
Mrs Crawford also loved the independence that Dalton gave her. Spreading her work out over the week, completing her favourite subjects first and then the least favourite on Monday nights (before Tuesday morning deadline!) suited her perfectly. Mrs Crawford even fondly remembers Assignments that ‘had to be tied together with a ribbon at the end of the month—and never before that!’ While the principals of Dalton and its teaching methods remain the same, some things at Ascham have moved with the times!
Skye Barry (Edwards 1994), Community Relations Manager
Catherine Crawford (Crouch 1974)