After a conversation today with one of our ‘critical friends’ about our school’s participation at an upcoming Digital Technologies Conference, I started to reflect on the key factors that have made our learning ecosystem an effective one in terms of our progression with the effective use of ICT and Digital Technologies.
- A culture of learning
Upon Education QLD mandating that each school would have their own pedagogical framework, Oakleigh State School decided to create our own. By drawing upon best research and forming into learning teams, our staff researched, curated and created chapters of a digital book that demonstrated key aspects of good pedagogy that we believed should be visible in our teaching and learning.
By doing this, we displayed our belief that active learning which is inquiry driven is a key part of the culture of our teaching team.
- An acknowledgement that context is key
We understand that for our school, we are in a good place and that our journey has been an appropriate one for our school and for our community of learners.
We understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model of professional learning. For our context, we provide face to face professional learning, various coaching models, online modules within iTunesU, opportunities to attend out of school sessions and voluntary opportunities which are onsite and free.
- The introduction of a framework that values new and innovative ideas
We started working with NoTosh and Tom Barrett at the end of 2015. Using the NoTosh model of design thinking, we introduced to our staff a model of inquiry which was titled ‘Practitioner Inquiry’. This model provided to teachers a number of professional learning opportunities to adopt a certain mindset, skillset and toolset to enable us to work collaboratively on a key area of school improvement – writing. Using design thinking as a framework, the teachers delved deeply into writing data and developed empathy for the students in terms of their thinking, preferred ways of working and mindsets. We then reflected on possible strategies and used different modes of thinking to select a strategy which we would trial with our students. Importantly, the results were then shared with the rest of the staff.
- A collaboratively designed vision for learning
In 2016, our community undertook an ambitious task to design a vision for learning that would take us through the next 4 years. The resulting vision is one of which we are quite proud and one which now drives us in decisions we make about learning. Importantly, skills learned in the point above (re design thinking), supported us to extend our thinking beyond our own existing paradigm and to be ambitious in the design of our vision.
So, there is much still to do. In a time of rapid change however, our school has gradually and strategically placed our teachers in situations where we have demonstrated our belief in the value of developing a community of learners.