Archive for June, 2014

Waking up thinking of Greg Whitby

June 6, 2014
Sometimes you need to fly to Queensland to Listen to a person from NSW to remind you what is happening in your own system.

Waking up at 4:00am Perth time because I am still running on Brisbane time and I am super keen to get to School today to work with the students and teachers I have a sudden though “Greg Whitby”.

Not the usual thoughts I have waking up on  school morning, but now I know why. Going to sleep last night I had just written my previous post about the inspiring keynotes I had heard, what things I wanted to do in the class, changes I wanted to work with others. But there was this nagging thought of the administration I needed to catch up with, the reporting process we are in the middle of how could I change anything with such constraints.

So why did I wake up thinking of Greg Whitby. In my last post I was super keen about getting the message from all the speakers to my school. Ewan McIntosh, Sugatra Mitra, Dan Haesler, Ken Robinson and Ian Jukes, these are people who professionally work with schools for change and do a fantastic job and in a heartbeat I would want to visit my school is only for 5 minutes.

But then there was Greg Whitby, and I realised he is the Executive Director of 78 Catholic Schools in Parramatta, He spoke with such fervour in regards to pedagogical evangelisation and on a daily basis he is responsible for all these Schools. Now to my friends who teach in Government Schools we are seen in the Catholic Schools as Stuffy Traditional Schools but remember when your mandate from the bishop is to see Gods miracle in every child and find each child’s gifts and allow them to grow and be nurtured, there is a little bit of pressure to be student centred in your education.

So to get a better understanding I went off to youtube to find more from Greg Whitby, This talk very much centred around the goal of re-imaging schooling which is found mentioned at 12;10 of this talk. This reminded me of the strategic direction that the catholic Education office of WA has put central to our teaching. We have a new Director Dr Tim MacDonald and he has put change and improvement front and centre. With this statement in the vision – Developing a hunger for the learning adventure. Sometimes you need to fly to Queensland to Listen to a person from New South Wales to remind you what is happening in your own system in Western Australia.

LEAD – Defining our Strategic Direction

  • Learning – is what we do. We are committed to learning at every level.
  • Engagement – is essential. We are committed to Catholic Education’s mission through positive relationships with all.
  • Accountability – is not optional. We have personal and collective responsibility for our systems’ success
  • Discipleship – is our calling. We are committed to deepening our relationship with Jesus.

Here are the 8 strategic goal from  Greg Whitby’s talk  12 minutes into his address to the System Leadership Day 2014. This was not his address to Edutech. At Edutech he was very passionate and talked on the change and centrality of the child and using technology and imagined schools to enhance the

  • Renewing Faith Formation
  • Precision in Leading Learning
  • Building Leadership Capacity
  • Building Corporate Knowledge Capability
  • Database integration
  • Strategic resourcing
  • Reimaging Schooling
  • Reviewing Religious education
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Too Long away EduTECH the most important week of my teaching career.

June 5, 2014

It has been over a year since my last post like all teachers I got busy at work and unfortunately I got busy with busy work. Working with a new administration system for the College which while a critically important step for the college, it is not inspirational or transformation but is a crucial incremental step.

But now I have just arrived home after attending the EduTECH conference in Brisbane 2014. Soon I hope the videos will be available but I need to talk to teachers now and start today. Now a good deal of people will write a lot better and please go and search for these people in twitter #edutech. There were so many great presenters in both the large stage but also the break out rooms, at the teach meet, and just talking to some in the hallways, but if you want to start, here are my thoughts on 5 of them you can google and find books or talks to help you. And the most inspiring were a couple of students.

Yes as a tweeter that was not at Edutech tweeted:

Yes the Echo Chamber does look like a love-in but with the pace and engrossment of being there all you can do is punctuate the out flow from passionate presenters with the factoids, text grabs and images the discussion, decomposition and critical analysis will come later and we will have these “Public Notes” from twitter to put all the crowd gathered interesting point to the blowtorch. No critical analysis here by the way just some reflections.

Like most PD sessions there was nothing new, it was all stuff we had had before, but to be there with all those leading teachers and being able to be inspired then discuss and decompose right there makes it so powerful. The one thing I have now to carry with me is:

I AM AWARE

Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra, wove a delicate story of his journey and really breathed life into his work. If you haven’t followed his amazing story from Calcutta to the world his TED talks are the place to start. There is no doubt he really deserved the 1 million dollar TED prize.

I have tried to use the SOLE learning practice using the toolkit a couple of times but I will now retry with much more passion. To sum it up in one line it is truly incredible what students given internet access and a small collaborative environment and encouragement can do. A great example is how Juárez Correa facilitated 2-year-old Paloma Noyola Bueno at José Urbina López Primary School.

Some Brilliant Students

I wont name the school or the students as the teacher presenting did not use the schools name and I am always cautious in identifying students. But the best possible way to follow Sugata, was to have these two students who with the support of the teachers at the school had taken their own creativity to the next step.

The Young lady had taken her musical skill, while they are fantastic music skills compared to my music ability I would not say you would have any trouble finding any number of such talented. Using only her time and garage band on the iPad she entered tripleJ Unearthed. If you want to connect here is her facebook.

Then there was the Young man. Yes people will say he was a little bit of a try hard presenting like he was Steve Jobs, but if half the teachers I had to watch could present with this confidence and engagement I would be happy. The Young Developer can be connected with also on facebook his development company AppApp&away has a Phonics App, other apps and a iBook Published.

Once again Students you could find in any School, Technology you could find in any school or home just needed support from the teachers. So why have I not done this for my students, because I have been too busy on curriculum and administration.

Ewan McIntosh

No need to say much here Ewan has the runs on the board when it comes to supporting school development and progress. Anything I could say here has been said better by him at his website. Or in one of his talks but the one thing he clarified here was that we had seen up to that point 97 things we could do tomorrow in our class by the speakers, all we have to do is choose one. Yes as teachers and learners we will fail but that is good as:

F   First
A   Attempt
I    In
L   Learning

Dan Haesler

A fantastic talker and really important counterpoint to the pedagogy and technology talk. Don’t get me wrong Dan has plenty of salient advice on pedagogy and technology but he really brings the focus back to where it should be, The Student. But not the student as a product to be trained and taught but as a living breathing human who needs to be educated in a environment of wellness.

Even more exciting now for me is after skimming over his website I see there is a chance to see him in Perth and get some of the Leadership to see him. I know I need to be reminded in the high school setting. It is not just the amount of content I can squeeze in during the next 40 min for this class to prepare for the upcoming test/assignment. Compliance does not equal engagement.

Sir Ken Robinson

Seriously what more can be said, watch his videos (every one you can find) Read his books (Make sure the revised version). His first 10 videos have had combined over 20 million views (20 223 731). But still the original Schools Kill Creativity and the RSA animate Changing the education Paradigm are a good start.

I did not think anyone needed this message anymore  at my school; Yes we have a 1:1 technology program so we must have embraced technology in the classroom, yes we have a Dean of teaching and Learning so we must have a focus on improving learning and teaching. Yes we have elevated the Heads of year to Deans of Year with Deputy Principal Status so we believe in the importance of a pastoral program. We participate in the Quality Catholic Schools program which benchmarks us against other schools to show strength and weaknesses. Do not forget we also have built as our last major works a multi-million dollar performing arts centre so it is <pun>centre stage </pun>. But during this year I was shocked to hear that the following statement could be made by someone in a leadership role at a meeting  and no one, including me (to my great shame) spoke up to challenge it. I have paraphrased here but this person was incensed that a course councillor had suggested that their child  should consider the Stage 3 (University Entrance Level) Drama course, “Because what use would that be, they were made sure to be enrolled in a proper course”.

Please understand that the person making the statement is a brilliant manager of the Learning area, Fantastic leader of curriculum pedagogy, Oversees the pastoral needs of the students wonderfully. The issue is that all leaders including me can allow a statement like this to go unchallenged as we have “business to attend to” in the administrative meeting.

So for that reason I will be pushing out Ken Robinson talks to people in response to triggers I see from teachers and Leaders for the foreseeable future.

Ian Jukes

Wow, Boom there it is in my face. I am the reason for the problems at my school, because as I sat there listening to all the other talks I WAS AWARE (39min 41 sec into Ian Jukes video this will make sense) yet I had not done what was in my power to affect change. As Ewan McIntosh had said all I had to do is choose 1 thing, every speaker had given me many things I could do. Before EduTECH I was on the reform Bus, I had drank the 21C KoolAid, I was a technology evangelist. I was not UNaware I was not UNable and I was not UNWilling but Ian Jukes has shocked me into action. I was in the lucky position of travelling with a group that had not attended EduTECH before and had not seen all the people before. These people were Principals and Assistant Principals. They were crying watching Ian Jukes speak. I was not. I shed a tear when the young girl early the day before showed me what students are capable of with only support from a teacher, I shed a tear when Sugatra Mitra showed video of the students in such poverty enabling themselves, I shed a tear when Dan Haesler read then ripped up the poem the 9 year old had written. But during Ian Jukes I just had that uncomfortable feeling, here I was a supposed “change agent” in my school sent to events like this knowing all this but really what had I changed?

As you have noticed this is the only video or image I have directly embedded here. Do not watch it until you have Watched all the other videos I mention here and read A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink 

UN aware Unable,