Innovating Education 101: From hierarchical to collegial leadership #innovatorsmindset

Just like the shift from the factory model of schooling, leadership in education (and in life) is transitioning from command and control, centralised power to shared and collegial model. The innovation trajectory of Atlassian, originally an Australian start-up, is remarkable and it has topped the BRW best place to work. Atlassian understands the idea of change and agility:

“When I hear companies say they want to preserve their culture, I get worried because those things will always evolve with the people you add,” said Jeff Diana, the chief people officer.

IMG_1990Nothing stands still. Innovate or perish, or at least kill-off that spark of curiosity within every child starting school.

I’m enjoying reading George Couros’ book The Innovators Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, published just a few months ago. He wrote:

If we want innovative students we need innovative educators

And add to that, if we want innovative educators we need innovative leaders.

Past (and even present) practices and approaches are unsuited to future aspirations. Think about successful companies and ideas that have broken or disrupted existing models:

Uber vs Taxi monopolies

Airbnb vs Hotels

Netflix vs Pay TV & Free-to-air TV

itunes vs Video stores

Kodak vs digital/phone cameras

Disruption often takes most of us by surprise. 10 years ago free-to-air TV schedules dictated our viewing choices, quality drama was meted out on a weekly basis. Today, networks are struggling with the options available (realistically, to capture the advertising dollar) and need to rely on sport and reality/game shows to keep the populace tuning back each week.

The Collins Dictionary word of the year 2015 is binge-watch and aptly describes our viewing habits today. We no longer wait for the TV networks to tell us what and when to watch it.

The age of innovation therefore, requires new leadership. In Australia, our public broadcaster, the ABC, has just appointed a new General Manager -Michelle Guthrie. For many the ABC is a much-loved and culturally-protected public institution, TV without advertisements, supported by taxes and accountable to the Australian people. Ms Guthrie comes from Google and before that other commercial pay-TV networks. While the ABC has been a leader in streaming its digital services, it’s ongoing competitive prospects are not so certain. There is likely to be disruption in order to innovate, she did work for Google after all.

Whatever the industry, leading innovation requires a new mindset to be able to cast the vision, chart the course and bring people along. But what is essential is shifting thinking and, as Couros calls it, embrace the innovator’s mindset.  Innovative students, taught by innovative educators require innovative leaders to kick start and maintain the forward -thinking culture. It requires educational leaders to leave some things behind and to embrace a new way of working, thinking and relating. 

So with respect to Bill Ferriter’s What do kids want to do with technology? graphic (along with Couros’ own iteration), I’ve further hacked concept:

Slide1.jpg
@anneknock

 

Innovating Education 101

(This has been prepared to share as a resource for a talk I recently gave.)

The key to change is developing strategy by asking three simple questions…

  1. Where are we now?
  2. Where do we need to be?
  3. How do we get there?

When I was in school it was like this:

  • One teacher for each class
  • Everyone facing the frontSlide23
  • Students grouped according to chronological age
  • School day chunked into 40 minute slots
  • Bells and schedules to organise the day
  • Teacher and textbooks knowledge authority
  • Command and control to maintain order
  • Stand and deliver to impart content
  • Limited computer access

But wait, isn’t that the experience of many children today?

It is true that for many young people their school experience is much the same as someone who finished school in 1978. This model of education was designed for the industrial era. Pragmatic thinking, preparing students for that ‘job for life’ with a finite set of skills. The 21stC is a different era altogether – it’s open, shared, collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial. The OECD report mentioned below says that the kinds of skills that are “the easiest to teach are also the easiest to automate, digitise and outsource”.

Changing the nature of an institution like school is the same as turning around an ocean liner, but if that vessel was headed for danger, no matter how difficult, how long it took, it’s worth turning it around for the sake of the passengers.

In the same way, turning around education is also worth it for the passengers – the future of our young people depends on it. The world has changed. Life outside of school in connected, it’s in real time and, while there are risks and concerns, there are also immense opportunities. If we can provide the optimal learning environment, if we can engage young minds in the joy of learning.

A new set of skills and rethinking the learning environment is necessary. Here’s what others say what is required:

None of this underplays the need for a rigorous curriculum and an emphasis on literacy and numeracy remain a priority. It is not so much the ‘what’ but the ‘how’. Engaged learners are hungry to acquire skills and seek out the resources they need, especially when the learning coincides with their passions.

What we do need to focus on, as Sir Ken Robinson has pointed out in his most recent book Creative Schools: Revolutionising Education from the Ground Up, we need to focus on the art of teaching and identify what is worth knowing (not just for the test). He also outlines eight competencies: curiosity, creativity, criticism, communication, collaboration, compassion, composure, citizenship.

At Northern Beaches Christian School we have embarked on this journey, under the visionary leadership of Stephen Harris. We are seeking to create a learning environment that is relevant to a changing context. Like many schools around the world, we see the need to radically disrupt the existing paradigm. We think about school as three spaces: cultural, physical and virtual.

What is normally associated with “school” is put under the microscope to determine its relevant in a changing world. Not everything goes out the window, after all, we still need to prepare our students for an external 3 hour handwritten exam. The basics of education matter. NBCS has 1300 students and the academic achievement of the 2015 final year students has exceeded our expectations.

At NBCS the disruption includes:

  • Rethinking the school day – 4x 75minute learning sessions
  • Shared learning spaces – about 80% across the school
  • Shared staff and staff-student spaces. Even the principal shares “an office” with 10 others
  • Cross-curricula learning
  • No bells
  • Non-typical school design and furniture
  • Focus on quality relationships – everywhere!
  • Professional-like spaces for creative subjects

FullSizeRender (1).jpgIt’s a school that in many ways doesn’t look like a school. (Click the pic to see a video).

 

Where to start? One simple thing is to start to change mindsets. Stop saying I have taught. Instead change the focus, ask…

Have they learnt?

@anneknock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 reasons why cultivating creativity in a crazy world is a non-negotiable

 


Slide1Many have watched Brene Brown’s TED talks on the Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame. Last week I was travelling down the rabbit warren of finding a new e-book on Amazon, when I came across Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, a guide to wholehearted living. It deals with the cheery topics of shame and vulnerability
Each guidepost addresses things like letting go of: what people think, perfectionism and the need for certainty, and cultivating: authenticity, self-compassion and, intuition and trusting faith. I’m about halfway through… yet to face letting go of “Being Cool and Always in Control and Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance – I guess she left that guidepost as last for a reason.

This morning “Cultivating Creativity/Letting go of Comparison” stopped me in my tracks, enough to pause and reflect here. Brown writes:

Let me sum up what I’ve learned about creativity from the world of Wholehearted living and loving:

 

  • “I’m not very creative” doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t.
  • The unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born out of creativity.
  • If we want to make meaning we need to make art. Cook, write, draw doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, act, sing – it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.

Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared.

I realised that to make a difference in the world, or at least in my small part of it, cultivating creativity is essential. Yet in the busy-ness of life, it seems like a luxury. If I want to find solutions to big problems and become my authentic self, I need to stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared.”

5 reasons why cultivating creativity in a crazy world is a non-negotiable:

  1. Not just for arty-types, it’s unique within all of us
  2. Enhances our leadership to bring new ideas to old problems
  3. Helps us to live without comparison – therefore no meaning to ahead or behind, best or worst
  4. It is the essential ingredient of design (and design-thinking)
  5. Brings us closer to our authentic self

So what now? I guess there might be a bit more mess around the house. Just don’t tell the other half!

@anneknock

10 ideas to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset at school

What the future holds

There are immense opportunities for this generation of students. Demographer Bernard Salt found that the development of new technology also creates new opportunities for entrepreneurs: Connectivity will impact on all types of jobs, even those not strictly in the technology space – but they will make greater use of technology.

According to  Salt a culture of entrepreneurialism is being driven by the rise of new technology and digital disruption. Over the last 10 years in Australia 3.3 million jobs have been created and 300,000 jobs have been lost. (Jobs of the Future: How safe is your occupation? SMH 6 Sept, 2015). The job growth areas:

The care givers

The technocrats

The specialist professions (Including teachers, phew!)

The doers

The creatives

Becoming future-focused at school

Are schools taking advantage of the breadth of career opportunities for young people?

Is there a fixed mindset in the structure and organisation of school as if nothing has changed?

Who is making the choices for technology? The educators, the techies or the persuasive sales-people? 

NBCSThe key is being open and willing to embrace the opportunities of a changing world. Creativity flourishes within the context of constraints. There are conditions that must be maintained, including: academic rigour, standards, student safety and the joy of learning.

So rather than see the world either/or, how do we embrace the both/and to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset? To meet community expectations AND create the context for entrepreneurs to flourish.

10 ideas to encourage entrepreneurs at school – creating the context

  1. Skills – Rethinking the timetable and schedule
  2. Time – Ideas take time to mature.
  3. Creative spark – Knowing and applying the conditions that encourage creativity (and avoiding what kills it)
  4. Drive and determination – There is a necessary stick-to-it-iveness for success as an entrepreneur
  5. People-oriented – Collaboration and empathy are essential
  6. Marketing mindset – Shaping ideas/products/services that people need
  7. Space and environment – Inspiring creative work through considering the physical space
  8. Savvy – Thinking ahead of the curve, anticipating needs and opportunities
  9. Technology – The enabler to for so many opportunities
  10. External expertise – Engaging mentors and specialists to help shape ideas

We are not doing our students any favours by insisting on maintaining a model of learning and method of assessment that reflects past expectations.

The world is open.
Opportunities exist.
Learning will always matter.
Great teachers are essential
But school may need to look a little different.

@anneknock

Innovating school: Mapping the change journey – 5 priorities identified by the OECD

According to the OECD, these are the three ingredients for innovating schools and systems:

  • Leadership: strong leaders who establish optimal conditions in their schools
  • Teachers: Confident and capable in their practice
  • Culture: An openness to innovation

Schools for 21stC Learners

OECD Report: Schools for 21st-Century Learners: Strong Leaders, Confident Teachers, Innovative Approaches (2015) by Andreas Schleicher,

This document draws from three sources: evidence from TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment); and the OECD’s ILE (Innovative Learning Environments) project.

Innovating to create 21st century learning environments (Chapter 4)

Innovative Learning Environments- How do you rate on the five key criteria-

Are the environments in which student learn sufficiently innovative?

Innovation in education is not just a matter of putting more technology into more classrooms; it is about changing approaches to teaching so that students acquire the skills they need to thrive in competitive global economies. (p.63)

Preparing young people for this rapidly changing world means that they are required to be continually learning and are adaptable to change, with the commensurate set of skills and competencies.

The OECD report outlined five key areas that strong leaders need to develop in their schools:

1. Regrouping teachers

  • Collaborative planning, orchestration and professional development
  • Collaboration as a tool for sharing best practice
  • Development of professional learning communities
  • Team teaching to target specific learners within a large group
  • Enhanced visibility, to learn from one another, not hidden behind a door

2. Regrouping learners

  • Learners of different ages, encouraging diversity and enabling peer teaching
  • Smaller groups within larger groups
  • Mixing abilities in small working groups

3. Rescheduling learning

  • Flexibility of time and timetabling, fewer and longer sessions in a day
  • Move from the standard subject-based curriculum
  • Establish new routines and rituals
  • Learning outside of regular school hours – face to face and online learning options

4. Widening pedagogical repertoires

  • Inquiry-based learning, acquire knowledge while practising skills
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Real life and hands-on experiences
  • Technology-rich environment provides the necessary tools
  • Integrating a menu of teaching and learning options

5. Culture and policies

  • Create communities and build capacities
  • Collaborate and communicate, wider partnerships and connections
  • Create conditions conducive for innovation, strong leadership is essential
  • Ensure coherence, less top-down, more engaging those most involved with teaching and learning

What is your most pressing priority to move toward innovation?

Innovation transition


@anneknock

From the 3Rs to fast-tracking the 3Es: Entrepreneurial Educational Experience in 4 key steps

AusYearEach year on our national day, there are several categories of award for the Australian of the Year. It is an important event, highlighting significant Australians who have made a difference to the lives of others. The Local Hero Award was presented to Juliette Wright, who founded Givit: Goods for good causes. She is described as a social entrepreneur.

Juliette created the portal to ensure quality goods get to where they are most needed by safely connecting and inspiring an online network of givers. Juliette’s vision, hard work and determination have resulted in donations of more than 126,000 items to disadvantaged members of the Australian community. (Australian of the Year: Local Hero testimonial)

As I listened to Juliette’s story on the televised the award ceremony a couple of months ago, I thought about how technology has enabled so many positive initiatives in our society. The scale of the project could only be achieved through technology facilitating this social enterprise.

Educating our students in entrepreneurship to make a difference needs to be a priority for their future, the World Economic Forum: Global Education Initiative: Educating the Next Wave of Entrepreneurs encourages:

Embedding entrepreneurship and innovation, cross-disciplinary approaches and interactive teaching methods all require new models, frameworks and paradigms. It is time to rethink the old systems and have a fundamental “rebooting” of the educational process. Incremental change in education is not adequate, especially in today’s rapidly changing society. We need schools, colleges and universities that are entrepreneurial in their approach to preparing individuals for the future. (p.10)

This quote sums up what we have been talking about for a number of years – Incremental change in education is not adequate – we need big change. It’s more about taking a running jump across a chasm, than going step-by-step down one side of the gully and clambering up the other side. Then I looked at the date of this report – May 2009, six years ago.

What were the tech trends in 2009

  • Apps take off for iphone [v.3] and ipods
  • Twitter goes mainstream
  • Netbook sales climb
  • Mobile phones get satellite navigation

This report was released the year before the iPad and without the saturation of technology and growth in opportunities that we see as everyday in 2015. So what happened? Six years later we are not seeing sufficient widespread change in the entrepreneurial educational experience of a generation of young people. As the report states,

Innovation and entrepreneurship provide a way forward for solving the global challenges of the 21st century, building sustainable development, creating jobs, generating renewed economic growth and advancing human welfare. (p.7)

It is time to make up those six years – 4 key steps (as outlined in 2009):

1. Transform the educational system

It is not enough to add entrepreneurship on the perimeter – it needs to be core to the way education operates…This requires a fundamental rethinking of educational systems, both formal and informal, as well as the way in which teachers or educators are trained, how examination systems function and the way in which rewards, recognition and incentives are given. (p.9)

2. Build the entrepreneurial ecosystem

Entrepreneurship thrives in ecosystems in which multiple stakeholders play key roles.. the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships is critical for education and even more so for entrepreneurship education (p. 11)

3. Strive for effective outcomes and impact

The purpose and goals of entrepreneurship education need greater clarity. They should be based on a broadly defined set of outcomes… Entrepreneurship education is about developing attitudes, behaviours and capacities at the individual level. Inherently, it is about leadership. (p. 11)

4. Leverage technology as an enabler

Throughout the report, the role of technology in delivering entrepreneurship education is evident, particularly in terms of creating greater access and scalability for entrepreneurship education. (p. 11)

In 2015, school education has the capacity to provide a context where the school-age Juliette Wright may have been able to develop her idea. Yet, a commitment to entrepreneurial education is limited to the individual schools who recognise that it is essential to the future of our young people. It needs a systemic response.

“Preparing today’s students for success and eventual leadership in the new global marketplace is the most important responsibility in education today. … Entrepreneurship education is an important tool to achieving these objectives [and ]… should be universally available to provide all students with opportunities to explore and fulfil their potential.” Stephanie Bell-Rose, President, Goldman Sachs Foundation & Thomas W. Payzant, Harvard Graduate School of Education (2008)

Let’s start. There is a bit of time to make up.

@anneknock

#FutureSchools depend on getting better with #PresentSchools. Learning from boulders, pebbles and breakfast cereals

pebbles and bouldersTwo seemingly unrelated articles caught my attention this week. A great piece by Stephen Heppell on the “School of the future”

“In preparing our children for that uncertain future, we inevitably need schools unlike the ones that prepared their parents”. (Article here)

And the demise of another “boulder”: Kellogg posts $379m loss as consumers cut back on cereal

“Simple food, clearly less refined, if you like – that’s what I think consumers are looking for…”

I think that before we get too caught up in future schools we need to think about present schools, strategically moving on from the (seemingly still evident) industrial paradigm to growing a community that meets current and future needs of this generation, considering the big shifts that have seen the disappearance of Kodak, Borders and now possibly breakfast cereals.

There is nothing special about technology or what it can do – it is a normal expectation of life. An interactive whiteboard, ‘funky’ furniture, iPads/tablets and large open spaces are not necessarily indicators of a future-focused school. It is about shining a light on everything and disrupting practice to better serve the present, as well as the future.

In 2010 Charles Leadbeater a leading voice on innovation and creativity wrote We Think.

Imagine surveying the media, information and cultural industries in the mid-1980s, industries that provide most of our entertainment and so filter access to the world around us and shape how we make sense of it. The scene would have resembled a large sandy beach, with crowds organised around a few very large boulders. These boulders were the big media companies.

These boulders came into being because media had high fixed costs… They were closely regulated and resources… were scarce… Anyone wanting to set up a significant new media business could be seen coming from a long way off. Rolling a new boulder onto the beach took lots of people, money and machinery.

Do you see where we are going, here? (I don’t buy processed breakfast cereal anymore, I make my own.)
Looking again at this text five years later and Leadbeater words ring true:

Now imagine the scene on this beach in five years time. A few very big boulders are still showing, but many have been drowned by the rising tide of pebbles. As you stand surveying the beach every minute hundreds and thousands of people come to drop off their pebbles. Some of the pebbles they drop are very small: a blog post or a comment on YouTube. Others are larger… A bewildering array of pebbles in different sizes, shapes and colours are being laid down the whole time, in no particular order, as people feel like it.

Pebbles are the new business. The new kinds of organisations being bred by the web are all in the pebble business. Google and other intelligent search engines offer the locate the pebble we are looking for:

Wikipedia is a vast collection of factual pebbles

YouTube is a collection of video pebbles

Social media…allow us to connect with similar pebbles…with shared interests

There is still a lot of business in serving the boulders that remain, providing them with content, finance, advice and ideas… The information and media businesses are right at the forefront of the transition from boulders to pebbles because the web so directly affects them.

And education? Leadbeater continues,

Schools and universities are boulders, that are increasingly dealing with students who want to be in the pebble business, drawing information from a variety of sources, sharing with their peers, learning from one another.

Why are schools and universities boulders? Perhaps because as “institutions” they seem to be fixed immovable objects made up of large cumbersome buildings, rigid standardised testing, fixed regulatory and curriculum requirements and research evidence that looks back without considering rapidly changing future context.

If we could smash-up this institutional boulder and enable school to be more like a collection of learning pebbles, what should it look like? A place of broad opportunity and quality relationships that enables the future.

Ultimately, future schools, or even present schools, provide an education that is not only content-rich, but is meaningful and engaging, focussed on providing the best opportunity for this generation of young people.  It fully utilises the tools and resources available, in a way that ignites a passion and sets them on a path of lifelong learning.

@anneknock

What if school was like Uber? 5 critical disruptions for educating children of the #ubergeneration

UBERUber, on the one hand, under siege from the taxi industry, on the other hand, every second person I speak to seems to regularly utilise the service, whether it’s in Sydney, London or New York. Of course, the under 40s have definitely embraced it. This generation embraces disruption. They don’t watch scheduled TV, they don’t own a CD, and less of them are even bothering to get a driver’s licence. Late Gen X and early Gen Y see the world differently, travel, lifestyle, balance and fair remuneration are their drivers (McCrindle Research).

This is the emerging generation of parents with children starting school in the next few years. The big question is: Will they consider disruptive thinking about the learning environment and context of school for their own child, or will nostalgia inevitably kick in?

In 2011 I was asked to write an ed-op-ed piece for the Sydney Morning Herald. At the time I had raised the issue of nostalgia playing a part in parent’s view of the education they seek for their own child, I wrote:

“Outside the school gate, our young people experience a dynamic, innovative and creative world, yet so often it is a foreign environment… Nostalgia often paints a picture of the school that parents may seek for their children. This picture can be informed by happy memories or the sense that ”it didn’t do me any harm”…” (Knock, SMH, 2011)

I’m curious to know how the Uber-generation will think about school, once they are parents.

This morning, I read an article by James Valentine, a late baby-boomer and technology embracer on his recent experience of Uber:

This is where it started: Saturday night Christmas Party, beachside suburb of Sydney. 1am. Time to go home. Or time to stay and get ugly. We decide to go. I use the m2 taxi app. I enter the address. I enter where we’re going. I book. A tag comes up reading “WAITING FOR DRIVER TO ACCEPT”. Nothing happens.

I wait 10 minutes. Nothing happens. (Valentine, SMH, 2014)

The so-called ‘tried and true’ methods, those with a monopoly on service no longer cut it.

I open Uber. The address I’m at comes up instantly. I tap in the destination, it figures out I want my home address. I book. Instantly I’m looking at a map showing an animated swivelling school of Uber vehicles. Seconds later I get a message from a driver who says he’s three minutes away. His vehicle separates from the school and starts heading to me. His phone number pops up. A little portrait of him arrives. I get  a countdown. Two minutes away. One  minute away. At the moment of arrival, he rings me. We’re already at the front gate.

At the end of this journey, I paid $14. I haven’t paid $14 for a cab journey anywhere in Sydney for 20 years

(Valentine, SMH, 2014)

This is the kind of service and connection that we are now expecting. It’s why AirBnB has revolutionised the accommodation industry and Spotify-like services, the music industry.

So if we are educating the children of the Uber-generation, what might they expect from a school experience for themselves as parents, and their child, that reflects the world we live in. Here are five critical disruptions for educating children of the Uber-generation

  1. Communication: relevant, timely, meaningful and intuitive. Not waiting until the formal reporting schedules for parent-teacher interviews, but setting in place a system for feedback that is manageable and helpful.
  2. Tracking: Following from the previous idea, providing a progress monitoring mechanism that enables real-time information flow.
  3. Breaking the monopoly: While defined outcomes, NAPLAN and formalised testing aid in the big picture, these have now become an industry themselves, rather we need to focus on authentic and purposeful learning.
  4. Relationship: Student to student, student to educator, educator to parent, parent to parent – all these relationships matter. The desired outcome of the clear relationships and roles will reap benefits not only at the individual level, but as a community.
  5. Destination: Taking the students where they want to go, achieve their identified goals and aspirations.

There isn’t a single industry in the world that doesn’t have to deal with this kind of rupture. If the new thing doing the rupturing is better, then the old thing needs to improve. Fast. (Valentine, SMH 2014)

@anneknock

Happy New Year!

My top 10 challenges to become an innovative school #revisited

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about my top 10 ideas for an innovative school, its been the most viewed post.  Although it’s not definitive, it’s helpful to have a guide that can shape strategy. This time I’ve added a few challenges.

Revisiting the ideas, and updating for 2014:

1. A vision for learning is incessantly and clearly communicatedOrestad Gymnasium

  • What is your vision? Make sure you know where you are going.
  • Find ingenious and relentless ways to communicate it.

Who are the keepers of the vision?How do you empower the carriers of the vision?

2. Learning is future-focused

  • Shape the learning context for change
  • Observe the students, see how they work and communicate

How can you have less fixed and more flexible features?
What is happening in the world of work that can directly relate to school?

3. Culture takes time and persistence to embed

  • Once you have the vision – prioritise your steps. Change will take time and strategy
  • If you believe it, be resolute. Help those who are struggling to change, but stick to your guns.

Do you have a shared language?
What are the non-negotiables of culture?

4. Engaged and motivated students are the goal 2011-03-03_0088

  • Put current practices through the ‘learning’ filter – do they still belong?
  • Think about your own conditions for productivity and creativity, maybe it’s same for students

What strategies will make learning relevant and authentic?
What practices
disengage and de-motivate students?

5. Equipped and supported staff are essentialIMG_1218

  • Vision + ‘Learning’ Filter = Regular PD to support through change
  • We can’t change the way teachers teach until we change the way teachers learn

How much teacher-talk is OK?
What is the baseline expectation for IT proficiency?

6. Technology is an environment for learning, not the driver

  • This is not about who has the most bright shiny toys
  • Students live in a world of technology – the school-world needs be relevant

Is technology almost invisible?
Are you embracing the opportunities that the cloud opens?

7. Relationships matter

  • In the midst of all the learning, technology and activity nothing matters more than quality relationships
  • Students need to belong, be known, valued and accepted. This is only achieved through relationship

What activities deliberately get your teachers working (and playing) together?
Is relational learning seen to be important in your culture?

8. Learning is authenticNEMO

  • Set in a real-world context, skills will be learnt readily when there is purpose
  • Provide opportunities for students to be world-changers

Are your teachers passionate and infectious about their subject matter?
Does school feel like the real world or school-world?

9. Spaces for learning are welcoming and comfortable2012-10-03 13.27.20

  • This is not about bright shiny spaces and colourful furniture, it is about aesthetically pleasing environments where students (and teachers) will want to come to learn
  • Not all spaces (AKA classrooms) or furniture need to look the same

 

Have you visited a workplace that shows new ways of work?
Have you looked beyond the school furniture catalogue?

10. Creativity and innovation have expressionThe Zone

  • There will always be barriers to innovation, find ways to break or go around them.
  • Make this your culture, give it voice, take risks, embrace failure

 

 

 

What’s blocking innovation in your school?
What’s your next step?

@anneknock

What’s in the ‘secret sauce’ of an innovative school? The SCIL story

The ZoneNorthern Beaches Christian School (NBCS), on the suburban fringe of Sydney has gained a reputation for innovation. There are many components that make this so, including, engaging learning programs, the physical spaces and places around the school, passionate and engaged students, and motivated and inspiring teachers.

For the many hundreds of educational visitors who come to the school each year these things are clearly evident. They visit NBCS hoping to learn from their experience, keen to implement ideas into their own teaching practice in their own school.

TofflerYet, what they are experiencing on any given day is the result of years of dedication to the vision to reinvent ‘school’ accompanied by a dogged determination to grow the capacity of educators with, as Toffler described the it, the ability to “learn, unlearn and relearn”.

In 2005 the principal at NBCS, Stephen Harris, began to think deeply about the impact of technology on the future of school and learning. The journey of innovation started in a couple of key ways. Firstly, he put the building blocks in place to enable online learning, and secondly,  established Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL), a ‘place’ where teacher innovation and professional learning could have expression. Each of these weren’t just good ideas, but seen as essential parts of the vision of education for the future.

As the vision and culture of NBCS was embedded and the learning spaces transformed, the school started to attract attention from across Australia and around the world. It started with educators who wanted a tour of the school, then the SCIL team shaped the innovation as professional learning packages for other educators. From 2010, SCIL began to broaden its reach, PD programs for teachers and school leaders, international study tours and executive consultations began to be developed.

Innovative teachers often feel the constraints of those who fear change, they may have great ideas but are regularly told, “No, we don’t do that here.” or “No, the government won’t let us”. The original iteration of SCIL provided a place for innovative educators at NBCS to bypass potential discouraging responses and play with their great ideas.

Professional learning can even be fun!The culture at NBCS gives permission for innovation to flourish. This is accompanied by professional learning that empowers teachers to embrace change. It is one thing to cast a big vision, and another to maintain it. On a weekly basis, all staff at NBCS participate in PD, with content and delivery sourced from the wealth of internal capacity. An important part of growing a great staff is their ability to share with and to equip colleagues. The beginning of each new school year time is set aside for whole staff PD – to cast vision and set priorities for the year.

This experience has had the added benefit of enabling the teachers to lift professionally. When visiting groups spend time talking to teachers, it is fascinating to hear them articulate and re-articulate their approaches to learning, how they use the spaces and engage with students. It is second nature for the teachers to use the language of innovation, as they are surrounded by it on a daily basis.

The secret sauce? When educators come to NBCS they often make the comment, “I thought I was coming to see buildings, and now I know it is so much more.

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That “much more” is the seemingly intangible element, how the vision for an innovative school is continually cast by the principal and then lived and breathed across the school. Essential to this, however, is continual professional development that is focussed on current and future learning needs of the educators, addressing the identified priorities. The educators at NBCS have the responsibility to equip a generation of young people who are independent, engaged and passionate about making a difference to their world.

A responsibility they do not take lightly.

@anneknock