The learning leader

Resistance to change is an organizational reality   …   a frustrating reality that scares the pants off me if I stop and reflect too long on the implications of this for schooling today.  I have been lucky in my own professional learning journey – which might explain my passion for change and innovation.  I have been to great conferences, made wonderful friends around the world, and can connect with the best as well as the up-and-coming innovators via my social networks.  I’ve had dinner at various times with people like Stephen Heppell, John Connell, Kathryn Greenhill, Andrew HiskensMarco Torres and Will Richardson; lunch with Ewan McIntosh and any number of cups of tea and coffee with many many more.

At the end of the day it’s not who you eat with that counts!  As Dean so aptly explains in his poster No1 (in a 30 day challenge), there is no glory, no change and no achievement in pure grandstanding. To me it has always been about collaborating, and trying to inspire others around me to take up a new learning challenge. Often they forge on ahead and leave me well behind, which is awesome.

Yeah but! is the theme of another of Dean’s posters, and should be printed out an plastered in a few staff rooms around the country :-)  It’s true – Professional Development; Capacity; Digital Citizenship; Organisation; Sustainability; 21st century skills: – you can wait….but the kids can’t!!!!

So no amount of fine dinners, or friendly conversations matters a fig if we aren’t working in a supportive workplace  that promotes diversity in thinking and innovation in practice. A voice in the wilderness is not a good model for innovation and change within the whole school. So 5 men and Jude have formed a team to get some significant thinking and doing underway.

Actually, the 5 “men in black” and myself spent an amazing two days in Melbourne, attending the launch of PLP followed by visits to schools the following day.  This was indeed an outstanding beginning for us. The program put together by Will and Sheryl, and hosted by Jenny,  was of course full of tactics for easing into the exploration of our proposed journey of change. Thank you for a wonderful start!

I can confidently say that I think I’m pretty ‘eased’ into Web 2.0 and social networking, and learning approaches for students. But it’s the team that is going to act as the force for change in ideas and innovation at our school…building capacity by strengthening knowledge and understanding of how to teach with technology in ways that are not 20th century.

We also visited three schools, and learned a great deal.  Scotch College showed us that professional development is about personalised learning, mentoring, and co-ordination of change.

PLC showed us the incredible value of an integrated Web 2.0 approach. Cloud computing is driving the world, and should be driving what we do in education. Communication, collaboration, and full utilisation of digital environments is essential

Coburg Senior Secondary High School put it all into context with smart thinking and smart learning. The school works on open plan design which incorporates learning commons rather than classrooms. This design and the corporate feel of the school, help create a more university like adult learning where teachers and student learners develop their skills and understandings in a cooperative and supportive manner that has high visibility and high expectations of achievement.

Now our hearts are on fire, and our learning will be intense, but change is definitely underway! Anthony (man in black at the back!) acted straight away first chance! and grabbed the usual boring assessment task that all schools have, with text, text and more text, followed by even more text that spells out the outcomes of learning, and turned it into a student-friendly task.  The result is this and this.

Some students spotted my copy, and demanded to know which class was getting that to do! There were loud groans when they found out it was not for their class.  The kids said “More teachers should do this!”

Given half a chance they would have started on the challenge straight away – and that’s what passionate learning is all about, isn’t it?

So who’s the learning leader then?

WE ARE!!!!!! YOU ARE!!!!!

PS. Don’t you love the idea at Coburg of projecting school images on the landing of the stairway to the second floor!

3 thoughts on “The learning leader

  1. I love the films that the kids are doing. I do a Photoshop thing with my kids (my old PCs and win moviemaker just don’t cut it for editing) and the kids create a movie poster and audio trailer…but like the exploration of genre in this example.

    What a great way to assess skills!

  2. As ever you’ve summed it up so well. I too have 5 teachers, who are at ease with technology, but the challenge for them is to ‘select an appropriate tool’ in any given context to scaffold student knowledge building. To master that in an extraordinary school, using an extraordinary (for Australia) method, in extraordinary times is a huge challenge – but so needed if the school is to start the ”norming’process. Being part of PLP is an incubator for change – and certainly far less ‘wild west’ than a few years ago. I really hope that Jenny’s fear is not realised – that the AUPLP cohort get out the grandstands.

  3. Nice post, Judy – I reckon those meals with people really count, though. Because that’s where you have the genuine f2f conversations. A bit like blog commments in the online environment (pace Will Richardson)…

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