Looking back on 2011

Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending a graduation ceremony at The University of Notre Dame and witnessed 100 young student teachers graduate. Other than feeling very old, I was amazed by their enthusiasm and energy which was clearly evident in their demeanour. To see this gave me great hope in the future of the profession and it caused me to reflect on how professionally rewarding the past year has been.

I hear a lot of talk about the pace of change and how we are living in a fast paced world.  To this I say welcome to the 21st century and all the marvelous opportunities that change brings not only to how we live and work but how we learn.  In the past twelve months I have seen great innovation in the schools I have visited, and I am increasingly astounded by, much of the contemporary practices happening in schools that is based on sound education theory and practice.

I believe we are at the tipping point of wide scale change. I see teachers talking, working and sharing their practice in physical and virtual spaces. This is about leaders and teachers taking control of their learning and harnessing a range of tools. Our principals’ masterclass this year was one example of how communities are building the collective wisdom and expertise to not only improve one class or one school but entire systems. What started as a sharing opportunity for leaders has now morphed into a professional learning community.

All of this influences what happens in the learning spaces between teachers and students.  I think of the remarkable story of one of our students who was labelled as ‘special needs’ throughout most of her school life.  But through the dedication of her teachers and her school, produced the most remarkable HSC artwork, which will be featuring in the ArtExpress exhibition.

I think of my visit to a group of kindergarten students, and how I sat with them so they could teach me how to use an Ipad.  I was talking to a colleague who shared a story about how she caught a photo of her four year old daughter with two other four year friends all sitting down in a row playing quite comfortably with their dad’s smartphone. This is probably not an uncommon scene these days, and is a snapshot of how early on our children are exposed to technology.

What stands out for me is how comfortable our children are with whatever new gadget comes their way, how much they embrace it and how they are making the most of it. We simply cannot ignore the capacity of technology and if we do so, it is to our peril.

I think of all the Building the Education Revolution (BER) projects which have taken place across many schools and how the investment has provided so much value, pride, joy and gratitude for our school communities. It reminds us of how important the learning environment is and how it must always respond to the needs and interests of today’s learners and teachers not last century’s.

As this is my last blog post for the year, I would like to thank all my contributors who have written posts and made insightful and valuable comments.  Thank you for being part of the learning conversations and I look forward to many more in 2012. Crowdsourcing is the learning tool of the future.

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

2 thoughts on “Looking back on 2011

  1. Greg, apologies for the late comment, however, I was also present at a grad ceremony from Notre Dame for my daughter who graduated in teaching in 2011. Often I have sat with her and her friends discussing teaching, their praccs, and come away knowing the profession is in good hands. What they want is leadership to show them the way and support. Sure they will make mistakes but we need to walk the walk with them because they will only grow from this relationship.
    As John Hattie’s research indicates the relationship between teacher and student is fundamental in their achievement however so is our relationship as Principals and our beginning teachers in their early years. Many years ago you asked who is our class, my challenge as a Principal is at both spectrums ,my beginning teachers and my leadership team.
    The dialogue between the two is inspirational. One of our meetings in 2011 as a leadership team was to discuss education in all it’s forms with our leadership team and beginning teachers.
    Great passion and feeling.


    1. Peter, you are spot on. Some years ago Richard Elmore wrote that you get a high performing system when you invest in the skills and knowledge of teachers at every stage of their career whether beginning or expert. Every teacher and school leader needs the support to continue to grow, take risks and continually improve on their practice. We cannot afford to lose beginning teachers because they don’t receive either the support or mentoring needed for what Elmore says is a profession more complex and challenging than rocket science!

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