Deep Learning Lab 2016

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It is always a great opportunity to sit back and soak in the thoughts and Prof. Michael Fullan, as was the case yesterday at the Department for Educatiosn’s ‘Deep Learning Lab 2016′ day.

With the day being hosted and facilitated by Dr. Simon Breakspear and having Joanne Quinn, Joanne McEachen and Prof. Bill Lucas in attendance, I was always confident that the day was going to be very worthwhile.

The focus of this day was for all school ‘leads’ who were driving and implementing the New Pedagogies for deep Learning Framework into their settings to get together in a collaborative space and share their expertise about how we can ‘deepen learning’.

In true ‘Corrie’ blog post fashion, I’ll recount the highlights of the day and share what I personally took away from it, and how this will drive my work as part of the #NPDL program moving forward.

After a very informative Welcome to Country by Ron Jones, Dr. David Howes (Formerly the VCAA Curriculum Executive Director), the Assistant Dep. Sec., Early Childhood and School Education Group, shared his insights in to contemporary practices in curriculum planning and assessment.

I have heard Dr. Howes speak countless times over the years and like the direct nature of what he has to say and share. In his opening there were quite a few references to the recent OECD Data that has been made available and the impact that this data in particular links to the educational system/s in Australia.

Dr. Howes asked the audience what was different now and why should we as leaders have any real optimism that now is any different to years ago? In answering this Dr. Howes shared his 3 key insights.

  • For the first time, and using NPDL as a clear example, we are now seeing real alignment across educational systems internationally who are now collaborating and sharing expertise. the focus is now starting to shift from content and outcomes to capabilities.
  • That as of 2017 we will have a mandated Vic. Curriculum that contains capabilities which are to be assessed. No other state has this and this is very exciting for Victoria.
  • We also now have Government Targets that are committed to assisting students to become more creative and critical thinkers, and again, via the Vic. Curric. Capabilities.

The challenge lending itself from this is how will schools and settings now assess these capabilities? What will this look like? Dr. Howes urged schools and their leaders to build the capacity in their staff to assess the capabilities and to then enact that new learnt knowledge. Fair call. The point was also made in understanding that the capabilities are to be built into all areas of the curriculum and are not to be a stand alone based subjects.

Up next on the big stage was Dr. Simon Breakspear who lead us in discussion around how we can/could better harness our expertise through greater collaborative practices.

As much as it pained me in having to agree with Simon, his comments in his opening statement about term 4 being ridiculously busy, the fact that we could most likely not afford to be there, that we had most likely already had a call from our schools about an issue that morning, and that the emails were already piling up  – rang very true! In saying all of this, Simon’s follow up comment regarding Victorian Teachers and NPDL schools being true pioneers for driving deep learning practices made me feel somewhat more comfortable in being one of the attendees for the day.

Simon shared his 4 core items that would continue to lead and drive the NPDL work within schools and this was the case for those schools who were either flying along in their journey or those who may have hit somewhat of a wall. These being:

  1. Celebrate the impact.
  2. Share lessons.
  3. Be inspired.
  4. Lead together.

For those involved in the NPDL it is the perfect time to be reviewing current happenings and getting set for 2017 and beyond. As Simon put it, there is a seasonality of change that impacts the nature of our work. Depending on the time of year indirectly affects work that is done and to what level of depth.

A highlight of Simon’s session was the ‘collective collisions’ which pitted attendees into groups of 3 to discus NPDL happenings and to investigate and outline some of the work needing to be done moving forward. To do this we used the clinic protocol, which was a great way to ensure that we stayed true to the time given and allowed those in the group time to speak and be heard but also to simply sit and listen. The feedback that I was able to receive from those in my group certainly gave me a greater insight of the work I am needing to do and for that I am thankful.

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The Clinic Protocol Document that was used during the Collective Collisions activity.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, it is always wonderful to hear Michael Fullan share his insights regarding educational change and the educational leadership component that sits alongside it. A lot of what was discussed revolved around Michael’s latest book, Coherence, and what is coherence is and is not and how this affects change in our organisations. If you have not seen or read this text it is well worth the effort.

Overall, several items that resonated with me that Michael spoke about were;

  • As educators and leaders we are stuck with the policies however we are not stuck with the mindset and therefore we have great opportunities to create chaos, good chaos!
  • That is the responsibility of all to re-culture education as we know it and the two main drivers to have in place to ensure that this happens is to built trust amongst peers and build peer collaboration.
  • As educational systems and improve, so do the people within them, these being people who have the capacity and knowledge however do not highlight thing amongst peers as they are frustrated with the state of the systemic practices.
  • That the moral purpose of an educational setting arises from the collaboration that is cultivated within it.
  • If you’re wanting to lead change, poorly, mandate the change you’re wanting. If you’re wanting that change to be (more) successful, be ‘irresistibly pushy’.
  • All schools and settings need people who are will to both challenge the status quo as no improvement was ever made from doing the same thing over and over.
  • Change requires people to be serious about the work being done.
  • That all humans are innately wired to do three things – connect, create, help.

Lastly, Michael also discussed a new term titled ‘Systemness’, meaning, to be a system player. Systemness revolves around the ideology that those within a successful system will inadvertently require that person to act as a collaborative contributor to which they will benefit from, but also willingly contribute too. I feel that in looking at how PLT’s within schools operate there is an expectation that learning is ‘done’ to and for people without always the realisation of those people knowing that there is an importance, as should be the case, for them to be teaching others through contributing their knowledge.

The discussions that stemmed from the above were quite in depth and challenged my own thinking which is what you’re wanting to get from days like yesterday.

From here the day moved to the concurrent workshops, for which I was one of seven presenters, presenting on Change Leadership (yes, I know, presenting on Change Leadership, on a day with Michael Fullan) – I’ll blog about this separately. The workshops were then followed a great 40 min presentation by Professor. Bill Lucas who structured his talk on the global trends in assessing the capabilities. One of the highlights from Prof. Lucas’ session were to hear his thoughts on the academic vocab used to drive the work educational settings are engaged in based on the work of the capabilities. Something else I would like to extend further on in another post. I have not read any of Prof. Bill Lucas’ work which actually surprised me however two of his titles, ‘Educating Ruby: What our children really need to learn‘, and ‘Expansive Education – Teaching learners for the real worldI will certainly be investigating further.

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Preparing to present!

The day concluded with Michael Fullan and Simon Breakspear sharing their thoughts on where to next and by this stage I had developed a pretty watertight case for what I was needing/wanting to do moving forward in relation to NPDL. Time will tell as to how well I go with this! Michael Fulln was very adamant that thjose schools driving NPDL the world over, including now those in ontario and Finland, are heading towards innovation in education which we have not yet seen. To quote him directly it was, “innovation that will blow your socks off!”. Cannot argue with that!

So there you have it. Another long winded post in a stock standard reflective nature however it was the post that had to be written in order for me to get back on to the blogging wagon, and hopefully now, write more with greater purpose and intent and clarity!

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