The following projects have been ways that we have worked with schools to begin to explore their school communications needs
1: Principals creating ebooks
In this first scenario, I want to highlight why school principals benefit from focusing, developing and enjoying writing as part of their leadership role. This should be so obvious, given how much writing principals are called on to do in administrative tasks such as creating an annual school strategic plan. They are also frequently called on to present papers at conferences and submit articles for publication in professional journals.
What is becoming abundantly clear in the information age, school principals have become the thought leaders in globally connected education systems. Whether they are situated in public or private sectors, it is now well documented how principals serve as key influencers of educational values and practices locally and internationally. Many principals have gone on to careers as academics, consultants and business owners of educational service companies.
So, quite apart from looking at the issue through the impact of digital disruption of education, the strength of a school leader’s writing style, I believe, should be viewed as directly contributing to their effectiveness to create a successful school environment. This is because they are the official voices for their schools so that public audiences pay attention to what they say and write.
2: Publications to support workshops on innovative practices
“Look up at the stars and not at your feet.”
A sizeable part of the time for curriculum leaders is facilitating professional learning workshops and planning sessions with teachers and other leaders. How might self-publish strengthen this work, especially when the school- based curriculum leader is a respected yet unpublished curriculum innovator?
This was the challenge I faced with Assistant Principal Jennie Vine and the inspirational commitment and leadership she shows through ‘Enigma Missions’ at Wooranna Park Primary School.
What are Enigma Missions?
Enigma Missions for Jennie Vine began with the question of how students might be better orientated towards seeking the truth. In the process of her curriculum development of Enigma Mission projects, she shares with her students why truth-seeking might be a challenge. She explains to them how facing the challenge brings with it ‘cognitive dissonance’, because we are wired for comfort and look for ease the moment we feel the tension that our beliefs are being threatened or when we are asked to change.
This, she says, is the kind of moment she decides to create, the uncomfortable in which students work in learning environments where things change. What resulted was viewing students go from feeling hopeless to feeling extraordinarily motivated. And so Enigma Missions were basically conceived to look at the mysteries, conundrums and paradoxes of life.
3.Surfacing School Stories
From the outset, when I began to interview staff to listen to the way they applied the school principles outlined in principal’s article and ebook, I did not want to pre-determine what ‘stories’ teachers wanted to tell. The email I sent can be seen in Chapter 3 as part of my explanation of how I was seeking staff to ‘own’ their pedagogical stories on the back of the principal’s formal article on twenty-one years of curriculum reform at the school.
Nine teachers volunteered to tell me the stories they were passionate about, though I contacted many more staff members who for their own reasons did not respond to my email.
I talked with staff as a ‘subject matter expert’ who had the ability to take the raw interview and carry out a ‘substantive edit’ under the conditions set out in the email invitation. That is, they had access to both the sound recording of our talk, the unedited transcript and the substantive edit.
The more interviews I carried out, the greater sense was being created that we were developing a wonderful mosaic of thoughtful yet exciting classroom practice that was occurring throughout the school. I knew I was listening to the deep commitment that school leaders and teachers held for their students at the School.
Together, the ten staff members (9 teachers and 1 front office staff) created 170 pages of edited text from the’ interview – transcription – editing’ method:
Connecting Big Ideas
Year 7 teacher Anessa Quirrit described a hard-won situation around enabling one student to complete her Enigma Mission project
The Da Vinci Centre Story
Librarian Debra Nugent set out why and how the library, known as the ‘Da Vinci Centre’, acted as the heart of the school;
Prep teacher Jess Waters explained how the initiative known as ‘Prep Professors’ was part of creating an effective kindergarten to school transition by allowing learners to imagine themselves, teachers.
Creating A Learning Community
Year 3 teacher Lizzie Moroney described what it was like to teach in around a stimulating learning platform, an architectural feature of the classroom at the school that highlight how the environment as ‘the third teacher
Year 2s Run The Class Parliament
Year 2 learning team, Mary Boutros, Sapna Vats & Zana Hunt related how they experimented with Class Parliaments For The Very Young and ended up having to change a State parliamentary law which forbade under-12s from attending parliamentary question time
Letting Children Lead The Learning
Year 1 Melissa Brighton told the action-filled story of how her students raised money through holding a Trivia Night in which they controlled all aspects of the event and positioned it an ambitious maths project;
Inspiring Civic Societies Internationally
Year 7 teacher Kim Campbell gave an exciting account of the international visit where she had an opportunity to share her school’s teaching of Civics and Citizenship
Digital Education Is So Much More Than Coding
What is at the heart of all your work as an Education Technologist? What do students need to understand about a distributed network and the implementation of a STEAM centre?