I had the chance to attend a MasterClass for leaders presented by Teaching Australia, a group who have produced documents detailing professional standards for teachers and leadership. The session was led by Professor Mike Gaffney, and the MasterClass was a sort of face to face entree for a book "Leading Schools In The Digital Age", co-edited by Mal Lee and himself. What follows in this post are my notes from this MasterClass.
Mike Gaffney (Australian Catholic University) opened with a warning for us to beware of ICT gurus, as most educators fall between these people and those who are referred to as "technological luddites". He then introduced the main speaker for the morning.
Graham Speight is the principal of Rosetta High School in Tasmania, an innovative school embracing the digital age. His school have never had problems getting computers (referred to as "boxes"), has turned everything into a "project". Can't have a five year plan for technology integration because everything moves so fast - it needs to be person-to-person, with interaction and the technology follows behind. Staff have to be comfortable with the concept that everything is constantly moving.
Referred to the concept of space - virtual space, intellectual space and physical space for students. Talked about three stages of implementation - ADAPT > ENHANCING > ACCELERATED LEARNING. Key quote "It's all about thinking." Referenced the use of Renzulli's Triad. Talked about the concept of personalised learning, in their case through the use of StudyWiz (Tasmanian company online learning system), students demonstrating their achievement through exhibition. School also established a partnership with Dataworks. Interestingly, Graham mentioned the use of interactive whiteboards, but that most teachers have moved through and past IWB. Maths and Science teachers were still the biggest users but others have moved onto other ICT possibilities. He also said that this year is the last time his school are doing printed reports - through StudyWiz they are reporting all of the time.
The big focus is Project Based Learning where students participate in one of two programs - "Make It Big", a program that is diverse to capture kids who may normally have dropped out of school and "Make It Real" for the majority with focus on community service, personal challenge and future work related. When new staff come on board, they are very daunted so it is important to have good induction processes. Why projects? Because projects have an END - a timeline, responsibilities and outcomes.
Graham listed issues that need to be dealt with in his school environment (including others!)
- technology access for kids at home
- teacher burn out
- never getting to finish anything
- unblocking YouTube and MySpace
- cyberbullying episodes
- network management
- keeping it all heading in the right direction
When dealing with cyberbullying, it is important to have a protocol with police. As far as personal student technology or any other emerging issue, if it's a reality - we must deal with it.
Mike Gaffney wrapped up the session with a look at Michael Wesch's "Vision Of Students Today". (Still am surprised at how many leaders in our system have never seen or heard of this or any of the Wesch videos). Final parting point - our schools have pockets of innovation with some teachers for some students - how do we approach the goal of systemic transformation?