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insights-and-ideas-issue-3 (1)

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insights-and-ideas-issue-3 (1)

  2. 2. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) provides national leadership for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in promoting excellence in the profession of teaching and school leadership. As a not-for-profit social enterprise we’re committed to using the power of innovation to solve social challenges. LEARNING FRONTIERS IS A COLLABORATIVE INITIATIVE CREATED TO TRANSFORM TEACHING AND LEARNING SO THAT EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS IN AN EDUCATION WORTH HAVING. The project brings together clusters of schools and other interested parties – ‘design hubs’ – to explore professional practices that increase student engagement in learning. Design hubs explore teaching, learning and assessment practices that are built upon four design principles for engaging learning. Learning Frontiers is: A large scale collaborative enquiry, drawing on the collective wisdom, experience, ambition and imagination of participants to develop professional practice that increases student engagement in learning. Teachers themselves are constructing the new knowledge the education community needs to move forward the professional practice of every Australian teacher. High quality professional learning for participants in and out of design hubs. As individuals and in groups, participants are likely to reconfigure their practice – leadership and pedagogic – over time as they observe the benefits of students’ increased engagement in learning. Teachers are learning from each other, from experts and others about what engages learners behaviourally, emotionally and cognitively. A system level intervention, explicitly intended to stimulate the growth of new relationships between schools, and between schools and new partners: families, communities, businesses and non-profit organisations and public services amongst others. These new arrangements – design hubs – are geared to and formed for the purpose of increasing students’ engagement in learning. For instance, by extending learning environments and opportunities beyond the classroom, and for connecting in-school learning with the outside ‘real world’ of students’ lives. A scaling and diffusion program, designed to enable professional practice that increases student engagement in learning to spread beyond the design hub where the practice originates.
  3. 3. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 1 2 4 10 12 22 30 Insights and Ideas is designed to be an informal ‘research journal’ for Learning Frontiers. It provides a place to share learning, evidence and emerging practices from within and beyond the program, and supports design hubs as they develop and test their own approaches to engaging learning. In the first two issues we set out the case for change in education, explored in detail the concept of engagement in learning and began to share the early work being undertaken within design hubs. In this issue we are focusing on leadership opportunities and challenges. We also look specifically at how design hubs are developing and the leadership and governance arrangements that seem to be working well. INTRODUCTION TO THIS ISSUE CONTENTS FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE CREATING A CASE FOR CHANGE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES Leading your school and leading the hub Leading innovation GETTING INVOLVED IN LEARNING FRONTIERS
  4. 4. 2 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 FOCUS ON LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE In this issue we explore how different leadership roles and requirements are manifesting through the Learning Frontiers program, and the implications of this for school leaders. We started by conducting interviews with school leaders who are actively involved in the development of design hubs, and also with colleagues from Innovation Unit working alongside them. We wanted to explore the following dimensions of leadership: • System level leadership i.e. creation and development of design hubs for learning • School level leadership i.e. design and implementation of new practices for engaging learning • Innovation leadership • Challenges for school leaders in new roles • Strategies and approaches for developing leadership capacity and new skills Throughout this issue we draw heavily on the insights that came from the interviews. We have also made explicit connections with the Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the associated leadership profiles ( As in previous issues, material in the form of evidence from research and practice is included. 2 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 KEY Insights from principals we interviewed Evidence from research and practice Program learning Extracts from AITSL Leadership Profiles
  5. 5. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 3 Tiffany Mahon LF DESIGN HUB: Canberra SCHOOL: Amaroo School LOCATION: Amaroo, Australian Capital Territory TYPE: Public (government-maintained) AGE RANGE: 3-15 (kindergarten to year 10) STUDENT NUMBERS: 1670 Tiffany has 16 years experience of teaching in the Canberra area. She has also worked in curriculum development, writing for the education department and The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), before becoming deputy principal at Amaroo School in 2013. Tiffany is committed to and passionate about student voice and personalised learning and her vision for the school stems from the belief that true engagement comes from feeling completely empowered in what you’re doing. Her work at Amaroo School has focused on shifting the approach of teachers away from a focus on content delivery and towards the creation of an engaged and enabled learning community that effectively harnesses the power of technology to support learning. THE SCHOOL LEADERS WE INTERVIEWED LF DESIGN HUB: Adelaide SCHOOL: Birdwood High School (BHS) LOCATION: Birdwood, South Australia TYPE: Public (government-maintained) AGE RANGE: 12-18 (secondary) STUDENT NUMBERS: 500-600 Over the last five years, as principal Steve has led a team of high school educators who, bound by the moral imperative of providing every student with an education worth having, ‘sat back and dared to imagine’ what an engaging school would look like. The team and the wider staff have transformed what was a very traditional Adelaide Hills High School by deliberately moving away from old structures for organising learning, towards those that more accurately reflect the world in which young people live. They sought to engage students in learning that is flexible, and genuinely personalised, integrated and connected. LF DESIGN HUB: New South Wales SCHOOL: Campbelltown Performing Arts High School LOCATION: Campbelltown, New South Wales TYPE: Public (government-maintained) AGE RANGE: 12-18 (secondary) STUDENT NUMBERS: 1135 Stacey has been a passionate educator for 20 years, beginning her career as an English, History and Drama teacher, then moving to be deputy and now principal at Campbelltown Performing Arts High School in south-western Sydney. Stacey sees herself as the ‘lead learner’ within the school and is committed to empowering students as active participants in their learning. She firmly believes that education has the power to provide a more equitable future for young people and transform lives, and she is passionate about creativity and innovation in education. The school is known for its sophisticated approach to teacher professional learning. LF DESIGN HUB: Brisbane SCHOOL: St Paul’s School LOCATION: Brisbane, Queensland TYPE: Private (Anglican) AGE RANGE: 3-18 (kindergarten, primary, secondary) STUDENT NUMBERS: 1425 Paul began his career as a primary school teacher and in 1999 was appointed as the founding principal of Burgmann Anglican School in the Australian Capital Territory, a pre-school to year 12 co- educational school. Paul became headmaster of St Paul’s School in Queensland in 2008. Paul is passionate about creativity and innovation in learning, and the school vision is to lead in educational thinking and practice. He has led St Paul’s through a major restructure to create a unique middle management model designed to coach and develop teachers in key 21st century pedagogies and in 2009 the school opened The Centre for Research Innovation and Future Development. The Centre provides comprehensive, high quality, targeted professional development opportunities for teachers based on the coaching model. Steve Hicks LF DESIGN HUB: Melbourne SCHOOL: Wooranna Park Primary School LOCATION: Dandenong North, Victoria TYPE: Public (government-maintained) AGE RANGE: 6-12 (primary) STUDENT NUMBERS: 346 Ray has been a principal class member of the Victorian Department of Education since 1978 and has been principal at Wooranna Park for 29 years. Ray is a firm believer that if young children are to maximise their learning, then schools must be a place of optimism, excitement and challenge, where students and teachers see each day as a journey that is full of purpose, and where intellectual engagement and connectedness to the real world are priorities. Breaking out of the straight-jacket of conventional ‘box-like' school planning is part of a continuum of radical change that has taken place at Wooranna Park. Ray Trotter Stacey Quince Paul Browning SCHOOL: Hilltop Road Public School LOCATION: Merrylands, New South Wales TYPE: Public (government-maintained) AGE RANGE: 5-12 (primary) STUDENT NUMBERS: 740 Natalie has worked in NSW public schools as both a classroom teacher and in leadership positions, including executive teacher, assistant principal, deputy principal and now principal. Natalie believes that relationships and trust are essential for students, teachers, parents and the community to learn together and promote positive, authentic and engaging learning environments for all. Students are encouraged to be responsible learners who are actively engaged in the learning process. At Hilltop Road Public School students learn about leadership and supporting each other through Peer Support, Buddies and the Play Leader programs. The school works hard with, and is held in high esteem by, the local community - instilling a strong sense of belonging and pride amongst students, staff and families. Natalie See
  6. 6. 4 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 CREATING A CASE FOR CHANGEA case for change is a compelling story designed to build commitment and prompt action. In previous issues of Insights and Ideas we set out elements of the ‘case for change’ in the Australian education system. We wanted to: • Create a clear starting point for Learning Frontiers schools and hubs • Indicate the level of ambition driving the program • Spark debate among leaders, teachers and school communities • Provide a powerful, framing narrative to motivate and guide professional practice School leaders within Learning Frontiers are using this case for change material, often alongside their own articulations, to engage staff, students and the wider school community on both a rational and emotional level. Learning Frontiers is helping schools and individuals confront issues that might have traditionally been avoided, and to engage together in honest and open debate about what is wrong with how things are, and what needs to change. Powers of Persuasion More than 2000 years ago Aristotle wrote ‘The Art of Rhetoric’ in which he described three modes of persuasion: • Ethos: the source's credibility, the speaker's/author's authority • Logos: the logic used to support a claim (induction and deduction); the facts and statistics used to help support the argument • Pathos: the emotional or motivational appeals; use of vivid and emotional language. The Heart of Change Building on his 1996 8-step change model, in ‘The Heart of Change’ (2002) John Kotter worked with Dan Cohen to look into the core problems people face when leading change. They concluded that the central issue was changing the behaviour of people and that successful change occurs when speaking to people’s feelings. They advocate that, rather than using detailed analysis of a problem - which has the effect of ‘putting the brakes on’ - leaders should mobilise solution-finders by using compelling narratives that include; ‘Honest facts and dramatic evidence — customer and stakeholder testimonies — to show that change is necessary’. The Heart of Change: Real-life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations, John P. Kotter, Dan S. Cohen, 2002 4 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3
  7. 7. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 5 A REMINDER OF OUR LEARNING FRONTIERS CASE FOR CHANGE Our case for change argued for a different kind of education that emphasised the need for young Australians who were successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens (as set out in the Melbourne Declaration). “When my students are deeply engaged in learning they experience flow. They are just there. They don’t want to leave. Time is not an issue at all.” In Issue 2, we explored the concept of ‘engagement’ in detail, looking at different definitions being used around the world, and the evidence that linked engagement to student performance in school and success in later life. We introduced the idea of ‘deep engagement’ as focused on not just intellectual engagement in learning tasks, but also on the development of a strong learning disposition that lasts beyond school. Learning Frontiers values both short-term engagement in worthwhile learning tasks and the development of a lifelong identity as a learner. By looking at data gathered through the Learning Frontiers Engagement Survey, we began to build a picture of the ‘state of play’ with regards to engagement within Learning Frontiers schools. What is an education worth having for St Paul’s School? Throughout 2014, a team at St Paul’s School, Brisbane wrestled with the question ‘what is an education worth having?’ as part of the development of their new Strategic Plan. They asked themselves what the world would be like in 2028 when a child in kindergarten in 2015 graduates from Year 12. Thirty global leaders across various fields collaborated to help answer the question and created a film series as a result. “We’re in a world that is changing so much that you can’t stand still. Some of my staff complain to me in very subtle ways, but you can’t slow down because the world is ever- changing - we have to adjust otherwise we are not preparing our children for the future.” (Paul Browning, Principal) In Issue 1, we asked the question ‘Are Australian schools providing an education worth having?’ and set out an argument for why we believed the answer to be ‘no’. The key focus of that argument was that many education providers (schools and systems) are not meeting the needs of young people - that schools were created at a different time, for a different set of purposes, and that it needs to brought up to date. Fundamentally, much of education is disconnected... • From young people’s needs and their likely future • From the demands of employers • From the digital age, modern communication and participation And these disconnections mean significant numbers of our young people are not fully engaged in learning. Both students and educators recognise disengagement as an issue and see the need for and potential of learning that is engaging. Tim Smith, Mt Alvernia College, Brisbane 38% I am usually bored at school 31% I don’t try to do my work again if I’m not happy with it 21% I don’t think that school is helping me become the person I want to be We discovered that… • At a glance, students’ attitudes towards school work and effort at school are highly positive • However, digging deeper, there is a significant minority of students who do not have a positive attitude to school or the learning that takes place there • This results in some poor learning outcomes and, as students get older, they are less likely to be engaged • Nearly a quarter of students didn’t believe school was helping them become the person they wanted to be • There were some clues in the survey results about what might be causing a lack of deep engagement in learning, for example: activities in school are not ‘hands on’, learning seems irrelevant to real life, and students don’t receive useful feedback.
  8. 8. 6 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 THE CREATION OF DESIGN HUBS Learning Frontiers is a collaborative initiative. It brings clusters of schools and other interested parties together into ‘design hubs’, through which they are learning about and testing professional practices that increase student engagement in learning. Why design hubs? Meeting the challenge Schools taking part in Learning Frontiers are at the vanguard of a growing number of schools and education systems around the world that recognise the need to radically rethink their approach to learning. Collaboration and risk management Practitioners need explicit models and processes to give them the skills and confidence to innovate in their practice. In addition, school and system leaders need to ensure that schools become environments that are culturally and practically conducive to the development of new practices. Mostly this is about creating opportunities for collaboration and helping practitioners to accurately calculate and manage risk. Sharing the load Schools working together to develop and test new practices generate a more robust evidence base about their impact and effects than schools working alone. Such schools are also in a position to share around the activities and distribute responsibilities, which might otherwise prove too difficult for individual organisations. Trusting and productive partnerships Social capital and trusting relationships develop in successful partnerships between schools and are essential for effective collaboration in innovation processes. There are complexities associated with schools working in partnership, but also considerable experience to draw upon to address these. New opportunities and new players New players in the education scene include philanthropic organisations, social entrepreneurs, the creative and cultural sector and for-profit businesses. These new entrants represent a great opportunity for schools hoping to expand their capacity to be creative about how to better meet the needs of their students. Facilitative governance for design hubs Current models of governance in education are focused, almost exclusively, on individual schools. While school governors are drawn from amongst stakeholder groups and act as agents of the community and the wider system, their main role is to govern the single school to which they are appointed. They set school policy, manage its resources, appoint and manage the performance of the principal and hold the school to account. In the design hubs that comprise Learning Frontiers, the collective endeavour and shared accountability to which principals have committed requires, in addition to good governance at the level of individual participating schools, a governance arrangement for the hub that: • sets vision, values and direction • creates an authorising environment for innovation by granting permissions to act in new ways • sets boundaries to focus the hub on what’s important • holds participating individuals and institutions, including schools, to account • allocates and manages resources to deliver the hub vision.
  9. 9. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 7 Critically, hub governance needs to ‘walk the talk’ and reflect the aims and constituency of the hub it seeks to govern. So when we think about hub governance we must attend to: Emerging features of hub governance arrangements A Learning Frontiers design hub typically comprises a diverse group of schools (cross sectoral and cross phase); individuals and organisations other than schools (cultural institutions, businesses, faith groups, parent groups) often with quite different governance arrangements and priorities; and external consultancy or facilitation (higher education, AITSL, specialist independents) whose job is critical friendship and to supplement the expertise of the hub membership. Add to this teachers, students and parents; mix in the radical ambition of the design hubs, occasionally in tension with how things are currently done in schools; set all of this within the context of high stakes accountability frameworks, and the hub governance challenge emerges as complex and demanding. COMPOSITION: • Democratic - emphasising representation and voice • Inclusive - involving people beyond traditional leadership roles and institutional boundaries • Non hierarchical - prioritising talent and commitment over positional power or seniority OPERATION: • Informal - relational rather than transactional in their internal processes • Flexible - using online and distance methods as well as face to face meetings, and convening ad hoc when work requires it • Permeable - connecting with other groups and individuals to engage with their ideas and invite them into decision making PURPOSE: • Learning - gathering intelligence from the hub and beyond to inform decision making and direction • Problem solving - initiating positive action to overcome barriers to progress • Equitable - ensuring that all learners have the same access to new opportunities developing in the design hub For these design hubs to work, their governance arrangements need to facilitate decision making and actions that are coherent with the overall vision and goals of the hub. To achieve this, an explicit design process has been undertaken in each hub to agree the optimal, most fit-for-purpose arrangement that enables the hub to make progress. As with any innovation, there has been a certain amount of trial and error to arrive at the current models, and these models may not hold forever as the hubs evolve and new challenges require new configurations. System Leadership & Governance: Leadership Beyond Institutional Boundaries, Innovation Unit, National College of School Leadership & Demos, 2007 C O MPOSITIO N OPER ATION PURP O SE Who leads and why, and who chooses? How leaders act The specific role and remit of leaders
  11. 11. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 9 “I see my main role as connecting people and building positive relationships. We make good use of technology, but we also understand the importance of regular personal contact too. I connect directly with two schools in the hub, making sure that the principals get rich and up to date information, so they can influence and be part of decision making. We are in a very real sense learning from each other as we experiment with different organisational forms and work out how to establish frameworks for appropriate challenge. All the time we are building trusting relationships.” Design hubs are still developing, but they are working towards a structure which typically comprises the following features or characteristics: Participation • Between 7 and 10 schools are typically involved • Schools represent all sectors, sizes and age ranges Hub engine • Involves the principals from all participating schools • The decision making body of the hub - makes key decisions and sets the direction of travel • Meets once per term Enabling leaders • A subset of the hub engine • Take hub engine decisions and are charged with making them happen Enacting leaders • Those working within the hub schools who are taking activity forward Hub activities • Hub activities are focused on exploring, identifying and evaluating the impact of ‘promising practices’ and finding ways to share them within and beyond the hub, through the development of tools and resources, and the collection of data and evidence • All schools are involved in all hub activities Partners • Hubs broker relationships with a number of non- school partners who can support the work being undertaken • Examples include; universities (evidence gathering and research input), technology companies (resources to connect schools and build digital tools), design experts (specific support on use of innovation methods, e.g design thinking, prototyping) “It took a while to get off the ground. We developed the leadership and governance model after about 6 months, meanwhile schools started doing the work. The governance model has been critical to getting things moving, but is still at an early stage. Everyone has a really clear understanding of their role - they can go away and do the work knowing they have permission.” “We were nervous about being singled out as a lab site. The distinction created some issues in our hub, but we have tried to communicate it as a level playing field. We very quickly broadened the Enabling Leaders group and half the schools are on it now.”
  12. 12. 10 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES 10 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 Within Learning Frontiers, school leaders are being required to lead at both a system level, through the creation and development of design hubs, and at a school level, as they support the design and implementation of new practices that will lead to engaging learning. In this issue we set out to explore and learn how opportunities for different leadership roles and approaches are being stimulated through Learning Frontiers, and how these are similar or different to what school leaders usually do. In particular, we wanted to understand the challenges school leaders are facing in carrying out these new roles, and the strategies they are using to develop their own capacity and skills to overcome these. We asked the school leaders we interviewed a series of questions designed to understand: • The leadership roles they have in their schools and design hubs, and the connections and/or differences between these roles • Their greatest challenges and achievements in relation to school and hub leadership • Whether Learning Frontiers had resulted in any shifts in leadership roles or expectations within their school • As school leaders, how they set expectations and challenge practice that falls short of those expectations • How new ideas are introduced into their schools and what role teachers play in leading the development of new practices or approaches • Their approach to risk and the most ambitious things they have done within their schools • Who else leads in the school. The following sections set out some of the leadership challenges and opportunities that emerged from the interviews, along with supplementary evidence and insights.
  13. 13. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 11 LEADING YOUR SCHOOL AND LEADING THE HUB COLLABORATION ACROSS SECTORS >> New & different relationships >> Getting on with the work ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL IN ESTABLISHING THE WORK OF THE HUBS >> Permission-giver & enabler >> The problem & power of influence LEADERSHIP OF LEARNING >> The principal as ‘Lead Learner’ >> New kinds of leadership within hubs IN THIS SECTION: LEADING INNOVATION LEADING INNOVATION WITHIN A SCHOOL >> Embracing uncertainty and learning from failure >> Setting out a bold vision >> Enabling structures & systems INNOVATING TOGETHER THROUGH DESIGN HUBS >> What are we going to learn? >> Building trust & sharing risk >> Broadening engagement in the innovation process
  15. 15. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 13 NEW AND DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIPS School leaders working within Learning Frontiers design hubs describe a longstanding tradition that sees Australian schools working very much in isolation, especially across sectors. So the cross-sectoral nature of the collaboration taking place through these hubs is presenting a groundbreaking opportunity in which schools and professionals from three diverse sectors (government/public, Catholic, independent) are working together for the first time. As many entirely new relationships are being formed through Learning Frontiers, participants in the hubs are revealing that it is the particular nature of these fledgling relationships that is so potent. Hub leaders are seeing them as qualitatively different from the more transactional relationships they’ve shared in the past because they have come from a unique starting point. These relationships are developing from a locality or system level commitment to educational improvement and an openness to shared learning. Creating these new relationships is not simple, but leaders within hubs recognise that openness to the ideas and practice of others is absolutely key. They understand the need to model what they expect from the collaboration; visibly sharing what they do and know with a spirit of generosity and expectations of reciprocity. But with this kind of openness comes increased vulnerability as schools and their leaders admit publicly that they are not getting everything right - that they have a lot to learn from others. Collaboration within the Australian education system: what makes Learning Frontiers different? There are many examples of initiatives that recognise the value of collaboration is not new in Australia. In higher education, the Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) brings together educators, industry providers, researchers and policy actors interested in integrating workplace experiences in educational practice (such as internships or placements). Meanwhile, since 2001, the coalition of Knowledge Building Schools has brought together 12 Sydney schools from multiple sectors to develop, practice and share inquiry-based professional learning, centred on a commitment to student voice. At practitioner level, Project Learning Swap Meet has held a series of DIY events for and by educators to share resources, experiences and questions about Project Learning. Learning Frontiers is unique because, unlike these and other collaborative initiatives, schools from across sectors are working together to establish the Hub’s enquiry priorities, rather than gathering around a pre-established agenda or the interests of a specific school. The scale of the Learning Frontiers network (currently around 50 schools in five regional design hubs), and the focus on involving non- education partners (businesses, wider community and specialist organisations), is also unique and holds great promise for creating changes at a system level. “This is very unusual. We traditionally see ourselves in competition. Normally it’s about trade secrets and retaining intellectual property. But we as a school are changing our thinking. We know that collaborating across sectors and schools is the route to a bigger and more amazing impact for children.” “We’ve worked in communities of schools before but not across sectors. In Learning Frontiers the purpose is not to showcase but to build trust and expose the messy business of learning. This is challenging. We know learning in our own school - but at the hub level the student profile is massively diverse. Getting a shared understanding of what engagement or disengagement looks like is critical, and the more we work together the more the differences are falling away.”
  16. 16. 14 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 GETTING ON WITH THE WORK Where old barriers to this new kind of cross-sector collaboration exist, leaders are finding ways to minimise or completely remove them. They are recognising that, ultimately, the hub exists only when individuals and groups of people connect. The best way to build trust and good relationships between these people, and in turn strengthen the collaboration, is to get them together to do work that they value. Of course there are practical barriers to this new collaborative work. It is taking time to establish new ways of working - organising how and when people will come together, and what they will work on. But as achievements are made, trust is built and relationships develop as the hub develops. Michael Fullan believes that when principals connect with and learn from others beyond their own school, this leads to a willingness and desire to also make a wider system contribution. “Our own leaders at the school and district level must have an awareness that, not only should they be thinking beyond their individual districts to the province, but they should also be extending their thinking beyond – to other provinces, other jurisdictions and other countries. And when you define things that way, there’s a greater sense of identity – the leader’s commitment gets larger. It’s not only your school but also other schools, not only other schools but also your district, not only your district but also the province, and so on.” 21st Century Leadership: Looking Forward; An interview with Michael Fullan and Ken Leithwood, 2012 KNOTS AND THREADS: THE POWER OF NETWORKS The image of a net made up of individual threads and knots is used by Madeleine Church as a metaphor for how networks work. Members of the network are connected together by threads of communication and relationship. And these threads come together in knots of activity, which hold the participant members in a web of activity and communication, out of which grows the purposeful work of the net. The strength of the net comes through the work that the members do together and the trust that is built through the communication necessary for the work to happen and to connect with others in the network. The threads tie members to each other through joint activity and create the strength to hold the network together as a whole. Knots and Threads: The Power of Networks, Madeline Church, 2005 14 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 EVIDENCE
  17. 17. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 15 ‘Principals encourage staff to contribute to education networks, support the learning of others and develop pedagogy. They model collaborative leadership and engage with other schools and organisations to share and improve practice and encourage innovation in the education system. They develop an innovative and outward focused role as a leader influencing school excellence across the system.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles EVIDENCE COLLECTIVE TEACHER EFFICACY (CTE) Collective teacher efficacy is ‘conceptualised as the level of confidence a group of teachers feels about its ability to organise and implement whatever educational initiatives are required for students to reach high standards of achievement’. Where levels of CTE are high, teachers are more likely to persist in the face of initial failure because it creates opportunities for a confident group to learn its way forward (rather than giving up). Studies show a significant positive relationship between CTE and achievement by students, and several have found that the effects of CTE on achievement exceed the effects of students’ socio-economic status (e.g., Collective Teacher Efficacy: Its Meaning, Measure, and Impact on Student Achievement, Roger D. Goddard, Wayne K. Hoy and Anita Woolfolk Hoy, 2000), a variable that typically explains by far the bulk of achievement variation across schools, usually in excess of 50%. “We are a small primary school in a relatively deprived area and we are working with big high schools and affluent private schools - and there is a genuine respect that could be long lasting. We each bring a different set of expertise and each wants to learn from the other. For the first time you have some people that share some of your values, you feel as though you are not by yourself and you are playing a role in something larger.” CTE increases when leaders clarify goals by, for example: identifying new opportunities for the school to develop (often collaboratively) articulating and inspiring others with a vision of the future promoting cooperation and collaboration among staff towards common goals • encouraging their staff members to network with others facing similar challenges in order to learn from their experiences • structuring their schools to allow for collaborative work among staff School Leaders’ Influences on Student Learning: The Four Paths, Kenneth Leithwood, Stephen Anderson, Blair Mascall and Tiiu Strauss, 2010 in The Principles of Educational Leadership & Management, Tony Bush, Les Bell, David Middlewood, 2010 • •
  18. 18. 16 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 ‘Principals build capacity by creating a culture of empowerment, responsibility and self-directed research that leads to the development of a professional learning community.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles ROLE OF THE PRINCIPAL IN ESTABLISHING THE WORK OF THE HUBS PERMISSION-GIVER AND ENABLER Principals have a crucial role to play in the setup and development of design hubs, and, unsurprisingly, securing their involvement is proving difficult. Irrespective of how distributed a leadership model principals may utilise in their schools, or how practically involved they become in the activity of the hub, they are the gatekeepers for their school. Initially principals must give permission for the commitment of time and resource to the development of new innovative practice through the hubs but, ultimately, they also control the level of impact these new practices can have. Learning Frontiers as a program has ambitions for whole-school and whole-system change. Individual teachers can create small movements in practice within their schools, but only ever implement them in a limited way without high-level leadership engagement. The real potential of design hubs is to provide legitimacy for a wide range of professionals in schools to create and test changes to practice, but the potential to successfully ‘land’ new practices and take them to scale just doesn’t exist unless principals endorse and promote them. In practical terms, variation exists in the different roles being played by principals across the hubs. There is however a necessary level of contribution for the hubs’ work to progress. Every principal must demonstrate high-level commitment through input to strategic decision-making, and seek to empower others to lead working groups and discrete strands of activity. “It becomes increasingly difficult to commit the necessary time to really engage in this program because there are too many demands on the school’s and principal’s time. I am the only principal in the hub engine, the others are mostly vice principals. At times perhaps the commitment to the program isn’t as strong as my own. We are considering an ‘associate’ status for those wanting to stay engaged but not ready to fully take part.”
  19. 19. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 17 Program learning: influencing strategies issues one and two of Insights and Ideas. These materials were used well at regional workshops, where participants explored, discussed and adapted the content. How could they be used on a wider basis within individual schools participating in the hub? “The practices involved in building this collaboration are, to a certain degree, very similar to within my own school. We need to focus on building a high degree of trust, allowing people to share and build ideas, and take risks together. But we also need to understand that these people aren’t our own staff, and the implications of that.” “Leaders and the teachers who are engaged in the work of the hubs need to find different ways to influence others and secure wider involvement and participation. People focus on one or two influencing styles rather than trying out new ones and this relates to marshalling a really compelling case for change that is both emotional and rational.” David Albury, Innovation Unit THE PROBLEM AND POWER OF INFLUENCE Leading a design hub is fundamentally different from leading a school. Within schools, hierarchy and organisational structures give positional authority to key individuals, and the principal is clearly in charge. Within the hub, where no positional leadership power exists, leaders are confronted with the challenge of leading through influence and persuasion. Although the business of the hub is very similar to the school - development of engaging learning and associated professional practices - all hub leaders, irrespective of their capability or experience, are struggling with this challenge. Within a school, where participants are bound together through organisational structures, principals know ‘what levers to pull’ to make things happen. Within a hub, where this bond is missing and all participation is voluntary, how should leaders respond to the task of earning legitimacy for their leadership? “At school I am declared by the government as the leader. But within the hub I can be influential, but I can’t dictate the direction - I am one of many leaders. The kind of people that are in the hub aren’t the kind of people that will be dictated to.” Hub leaders and, to a degree all professionals involved in hub activity, need to understand how to influence the thinking and actions of others. This is how new practices and approaches will spread within schools and across local systems, and is particularly important when securing the engagement of principals and senior leaders. One of the most important approaches to influencing others is to marshall and share a really compelling case for change - one that seeks to engage others both rationally and emotionally. In the early stages of Learning Frontiers, a clear program level case for change was set out in the form of a short paper. It was then reproduced within
  20. 20. 18 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 ‘A critical determinant of the success of the school is the quality of its principal. Learning to lead is at the heart of a principal’s daily practice and great leaders never stop learning.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles LEADERSHIP OF LEARNING EVIDENCE The Importance and Impact of ‘Learning Leadership’ Teachers stay in teaching or a particular school for many reasons, but evidence suggests that, ‘The factor that explains the decision to stay or not - by a long way - relates to the nature of leadership. Learning leadership is the most powerful incentive to stay in teaching’. Hattie goes on to explore the role of the learning leader - ‘To give permission to teachers to engage in evaluating their impact and then using this evidence to enhance their teaching requires leaders who consider that this way of thinking and acting is valuable. The core lever with which to create schools that lead to enhanced impact is the leader’s belief about his or her role.’ John Hattie, Visible Learning for Teachers, 2012 THE PRINCIPAL AS ‘LEAD LEARNER’ Most of the school leaders leading design hubs describe themselves as the ‘lead learner’ within their school. Their commitment to leading learning stems from high levels of personal passion for, and professional expertise in, education and pedagogy. A propensity for learning is a recognised characteristic of great leaders. Where leadership of innovation is concerned, leaders are demonstrably curious; they continually look beyond their own organisation, their sector and country for sources of insight, inspiration and evidence. They look not just at what others are doing but why they have come to be doing it and how they are able to do it. They are adept at uncovering the story behind the approach or the innovation and the journey those leaders have been on. Crucially, they are able to relate that to the journey they and their organisation is embarking on. Within design hubs, these learning-oriented leaders are finding a new arena for deep exploration and assessing the impact of ideas and practices, as well as extending the boundaries of their vision by recognising a wider canvas for learning from beyond the hub. “I focus on modelling what I expect others to be doing. I still teach, I am part of the moderation process around marking, I help write project-based learning units of work. I try to model very clear expectations.” “We have created momentum around a rigorous approach that uses action learning, practitioner learning, feedback and evidence gathering. When you’re working in this way staff set their own high expectations. Every teacher has a professional learning plan which is based on their own performance, they self assess and identify what strategies they need to employ and what evidence they need to gather.”
  21. 21. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 19 “Being dictatorial will only take you a certain distance - at some point you have to take on a distributed leadership model. Leadership becomes less about who you are and what position you hold in the school, and more about what expertise you have. We wanted to create a situation in which staff can’t pass by things that aren’t right and think, ‘I’ll leave it to the leaders to sort out’.” NEW KINDS OF LEADERSHIP WITHIN HUBS Successful school leaders also share and distribute responsibility for the leadership of learning - to teachers and other professionals, and increasingly to students themselves. At the centre of their approach is the creation of a culture of collective responsibility for the success of all children and young people. Principals within Learning Frontiers describe cultures that are ‘self-managing’, where the majority of staff are able and willing not only to reflect on and push their own practice, but to challenge and help develop the practice of others. When this culture is embedded, positional leaders become ‘opportunity creators’; spotting the times and places when others can be supported to step up and lead specific activities, projects or programs. Crucially, this is about distributing leadership widely and sometimes unexpectedly; for example to young and less experienced members of staff who demonstrate passion or expertise in a specific area, e.g. digital technology. ‘Principals seek leadership potential in others and provide opportunities for their development. They embed a culture of continuous improvement, ensuring research, innovation and creativity are core characteristics of the school.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles Learning leadership is about setting direction and taking responsibility for making learning happen. It is exercised through distributed, connected activity and relationships. It extends beyond formal players to include different partners, and may be exercised at different levels of the overall learning system. Leadership for 21st Century Learning, OECD, 2013 EVIDENCE “Involvement in the hub has supported new leadership across our school - teachers have stood up and taken on leadership roles which have influence across other schools and there is a broader understanding that we have a responsibility for students beyond those in our own school.” “Learning Frontiers is now guiding some of the work of the enabling leaders in my school - informing their work as educational leaders on our site.”
  22. 22. 20 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 Within the emerging hub structures, Enabling Leaders are the group charged with taking the strategic direction from the hub ‘engine’ and making decision about action. They are expected to ensure the learning work happens within the schools. Enacting Leaders are people who lead activity on the ground - there is some crossover with Enabling Leaders. For the schools and principals actively involved in design hubs, their contribution to Learning Frontiers is a natural extension or continuation of their approach to professional learning and the development of practice. But through hub activity new kinds of leaders and leadership are emerging. These leaders (called ‘Enabling’ or ‘Enacting’ leaders within the hubs) are setting up and contributing to work groups focused on the exploration and testing of innovative new practices on behalf of all hub schools. We are beginning to see how collaborative work taking place through the hubs can develop a new kind of leadership that is distributed and not dependent on positional authority, and which is characterised by professional generosity. These leaders are recognising that, within the hub, it’s not only about me or my school. ectTeam sign S PRINCIPAL ENABLING LEADERS ENACTING LEADERS EVIDENCE In Building and Connecting Learning Communities, Katz, Earl and Jaafar (2009) argue that “joint work” (Little, 1990), which they say includes deprivatisation and a collective commitment to change, may be at the heart of the power of networks and other forms of teacher collaboration. These structures can provide the opportunity for colleagues to address genuinely new and often difficult ideas in a safe environment, away from risk of censure. Once the ideas are more fully developed and stabilised, these colleagues can stimulate and lead the same discussions in schools with confidence and make the ideas practical and personal so that they are more likely to be considered for action in the school. Building and Connecting Learning Communities: The Power of Networks for School Improvement, Steven Katz, Lorna M. Earl and Sonia Ben Jaafar, 2009 The Persistence of Privacy: Autonomy and Initiative in Teachers’ Professional Relations, Judith Warren Little, 1990
  23. 23. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 21 ` ` EVIDENCE ‘Building the capacity for leadership may be the most under-studied aspect of networks, yet it might just be one of the most profound indirect impact measures for networks. Networks grow leaders – and not just that, but leaders with values that relate to wider system effects and who care beyond their classroom or their school.’ System Leadership in Action: Where Do System Leaders Come From?, Ann Lieberman, 2006 Program learning: leadership capacity In the early stages of development, design hubs have struggled to secure the leadership capacity required to get decisions made and activity moving. There is significant potential or latent leadership capacity within wider communities and partners, how should relationships be developed to ensure this capacity is harnessed? Dimensions of 21st century system leadership System leaders in education around the world are expanding their leadership practice to meet the new demands of leading in networks, in ways that resonate powerfully with the skills and experience of Learning Frontiers hub leaders • ●Knowledge diffusion: 21st century system leaders are outward facing in their orientation, seeking to learn from others and promulgate the circulation of new ideas. • ●“Social” networking: System leaders in the digital age build strong horizontal linkages across sectors and even across countries, which engage government leaders, social entrepreneurs, business executives, researchers and civil society leaders as partners in building innovations for education and learning. • Cultural competence: 21st century system leaders move with ease beyond their comfort zones. They recognise the need to develop cross-cultural literacy to access the learning of others with different orientations from different systems. Redesigning Education: Changing Learning Systems Around the World, Global Education Leaders’ Partnership, 2013
  25. 25. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 23 EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY AND LEARNING FROM FAILURE Perceived risk can create fear that inhibits behaviour change and innovation, and this is especially true in public service organisations such as schools. Leaders of public services are required to respond quickly to external pressures and deliver ongoing change, whilst also balancing the need for security and continuity, and ultimately they must be transparent and accountable. Learning Frontiers design hub leaders are different. They show a pronounced ability to deal with risk - embracing the uncertainty that comes with developing, testing and assessing the impact of new professional practices in their schools. Rather than seeking to minimise risk at all costs, these leaders of innovative schools understand, and help others to learn, how to manage it. They recognise that developing and testing very new practices will lead to at least as many failures as successes, but they see failure as an opportunity to reflect, learn and, eventually, to succeed faster. ‘Principals maintain their values whilst adapting flexibly and strategically to changes in the environment, in order to secure the ongoing improvement of the school.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles EVIDENCE Recent research has shown a number of different forms of fear arising from perceptions of risk: • ●Fear of failure – of what happens if things go ‘wrong’. • ●Fear of departing from the norm – ‘best practice’ can discourage fresh thinking. • ●Fear of freedom – becoming too dependent on rules and procedures, and losing confidence in your own judgement. • ●Fear of the new – of not being able to cope in unknown situations. • ●Fear of friction with colleagues – that not everyone else is ‘up for this’. • ●Fear of ‘the other’ – being used to working with colleagues like oneself (such as other local authority professionals). Public Sector Innovation and Local Leadership in the UK and The Netherlands, Robin Hambleton and Joanna Howard, 2012 Program learning: de-risking through design thinking ‘Design thinking’ approaches allow school leaders to alleviate some of the innovation challenges around managing risk, scaling new practice, and creating teacher and learner autonomy. Adopting the maxim ‘fail earlier and often to succeed sooner’ is countercultural in a traditional school environment, but a widely held view among the principals who are leading design hubs. “We have lots of small teams to trial things, to really interrogate the problem that this is trying to solve. We have been using this ‘design thinking’ approach for years without knowing it was called this. We do a lot of ‘piloting’ without seeing it as a failure. We are very transparent with the community about this - and this means that they know they can believe us when we say it is working. But initially, we had no clear communications plan for the community, we were just so busy doing the doing.”
  26. 26. 24 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 School leaders know how important it is to recognise individual and team successes (even in the context of project failure) and to make sure that compelling narratives around successful risk-taking are created and shared widely. But they are also assertive about the nature of the change they are leading, intentionally making it difficult for teachers to return to practice that falls within the ‘old paradigm’. It is this attitude; progressive, boldly and relentlessly ambitious, tolerant of risk and experimental, yet discerning, that equips a great school leader to become an innovative ‘system leader’. And it is within networks, like those being established through design hubs, that system leaders do their work. Hubs create opportunities for system leaders to extend their leadership influence and to lead beyond their context. EVIDENCE In 1982, Peters and Waterman offered the metaphor “ready-fire-aim” to capture the action bias of high performing companies that they studied. Michael Fullan built on this idea in Motion Leadership: The Skinny on Becoming Change Savvy, describing leaders who “strive for small early success, acknowledge real problems, admit mistakes, protect their people, and celebrate success along the way...They love genuine results that generate great pride in the organisation. They have their finger on the energy pulse of people, knowing that it will ebb and flow but will be spurred by positive results.” Motion Leadership: The Skinny on Becoming Change Savvy, Michael Fullan, 2009 Principals describe a balancing act between spending time planning innovation (as far as possible identifying potential problems before they occur) and implementing it. Crucially, what these leaders demonstrate is the confidence to know when is a ‘good enough’ time to move forward. They recognise the key moments when the risk of doing nothing is greater than the risk of doing something new and they visibly take responsibility if things do go wrong. Principals working as hub leaders make clear their commitment to continual renewal and innovation through both their own ‘learning leadership’ approach and the systems of support for professional learning and development they put in place for others. SETTING OUT A BOLD VISION Leaders of innovative schools create a vision for the change, or changes, they want to see and energise all staff around this new future. They specify and share a bold and ambitious vision, making clear why it is important and that everyone bears responsibility for making it a reality. The realisation of a bold educational vision takes a whole school community and likely involves professionals making changes to their working practices. Leaders recognise the need to make risk- taking and innovation attributes that are central to the culture of the organisation, and to ensure that all those who work within the school also see these attributes as part of their professional identity. Through an understanding of the importance of intrinsic motivation, leaders find ways to unlock the passion, talent and focus of teachers in pursuit of the shared vision. They provide teachers with a certain degree of autonomy and agency in defining how that vision is achieved. “It’s crucial to have an openness to failure - recognising that if you fail you’re one step closer to knowing what does work. If things fail terribly, then we’re ok with setting things aside and changing tack. When testing new ideas through a design process, trusting the structure enables that.” A teacher from a successful hub school described their principal’s approach to innovation as follows: “You carefully shape your message through your use of language. Language that describes a vision, but does not dictate or prescribe how we will get there. This allows for teacher buy-in, empowering others to follow up on an initiative to further explore - the Action Learning approach.”
  27. 27. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 25 EVIDENCE: ‘When thinking about how to motivate public servants to innovate, it’s not enough to just rely on incentives for individuals, we must also think about the culture of the society, organisation, institution and profession in which they are working… This is not to say that people in organisations have no agency, but rather that how motivated an individual is will depend on the organisational context that they are working within, and how easy it is to find the spaces to exercise inventiveness. This is the ‘wiggle room’ within organisations in general, and bureaucracies in particular, where individuals can exercise their intrinsic motivation.’ Why Motivation Matters in Public Sector Innovation, Casebourne, J., 2014 ENABLING STRUCTURES AND SYSTEMS High expectations for improving and developing practice need to sit alongside facilitative organisational structures and systems. Leaders of innovative schools provide their staff with much more than ‘wiggle room’ in which to exercise their creativity. Within their schools there are clear and embedded approaches to professional learning and development which elevate enquiry and research, data and evidence gathering, along with reflection and coaching. The generation, development and testing of ideas sits within this wider evaluative framework, and provides a supportive backdrop for innovation. At the level of the design hub, school leaders’ contributions to Learning Frontiers are a natural extension or continuation of their approach to professional learning and the development of new practices within their own schools. They are bringing their experience of successfully managing the risks involved in practice- and school-level transformation to working with others who are seeking to do the same. ‘Principals build a culture of trust and collaboration where change and innovation based on research and evidence can flourish. They embed collaborative and creative practices in the school, allowing everyone to contribute to improvement and innovation.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles “All teachers see themselves as leaders and do take risks. We’ve been very careful that when things haven’t gone well we don’t stifle innovation in the future.” “And so, you transform the climate in such a way that the norms of risk taking and support for learning are recognised as “what the organisation does.” And you find that when people adopt that attitude toward making mistakes and learning, they do better. And they want to do more and more.” 21st Century Leadership: Looking Forward, Michael Fullan, 2012
  28. 28. 26 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 Principals ‘encourage staff to contribute to education networks, support the learning of others and develop pedagogy… They evaluate the personal and organisational effects of change through regular feedback from stakeholders and evidence of impact on student outcomes.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles EVIDENCE Amabile (1998) highlights a number of managerial practices that affect creativity: • ●Challenge, the right level of stretch. • ●Autonomy to choose one’s own way of working towards stable goals. • ●Resources, allowing time for exploration. • ●Work group features, such as having diverse teams rather than homogenous ones • ●Supervisory encouragement, and organisational support for experimentation and creativity. How to kill creativity, Terese Amabile, 1998 Use of data and evidence to support change Birdwood High School carefully utilises data to help build the case for change around their new approaches: “From the start we collected an enormous amount of data and we had comparative data from the two different systems. After three terms the picture was so stark that we made the collective decision to completely move to the new system. We lost some enrolment for the following year as a result. But we thought ‘we have a moral imperative to stop offering a system that we had proved is inferior’.” St Paul’s School (Brisbane) created The Centre for Research Innovation and Future Development. Its focus is on research into pedagogy fit for the 21st Century. For St Paul’s, evidence is critical: “That doesn’t mean we don’t take risks and have a go, but whole scale innovation across the school needs a pretty secure approach. We encourage a lot of research - it’s an important part of our decision making. Staff come forward and identify specific areas of foci, for example, single sex classes, and we would ask those people to come back with evidence and present it to the senior leadership and we would make a decision based on that.” EVIDENCE Ken Leithwood describes ‘mastery experiences’ where staff are enabled to learn new things within a low-risk environment, building their skills and confidence as a result. Leaders should provide: “opportunities to master things without a huge amount of risk, by being there to help them through it, or putting them in low-risk situations where they can practice.” Evolving Perspectives: Leaders and Leadership, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010 Drive by Daniel Pink (2011) describes powerful examples of why carrot and stick approaches often don’t work, as the desired behaviour tends to disappear once incentives are removed. Instead people need autonomy, to work towards mastery (striving to get better at something), and purpose (feeling they are contributing to a purpose greater than ourselves). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel H. Pink, 2011 26 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 EVIDENCE
  29. 29. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 27 WHAT ARE WE GOING TO LEARN? Leaders of innovation face a challenge. How to create protected space, time and capacity to work on the next successful product or service they know is needed, recognising that in the short term it will likely take more energy and effort. Some schools in Learning Frontiers are just starting out on this journey of service transformation, departing from a highly traditional school design. Others have been testing innovations and creating disruption within the system for decades. Similarly, schools from different sectors face a range of different pressures. This means that, when we look closely, the innovator’s challenge does not appear the same within all design hub schools. As school leaders in design hubs identify the differences in the challenges they face, their level of ambition and their relative positions on the ‘innovation journey’, they are identifying the work they need to do together to ensure there is real quality and depth of learning for all. Where leaders and teams from hub schools have taken the opportunity to co-create shared lines of enquiry and to study each other’s practice in detail, they have developed a much deeper understanding of what constitutes student engagement and engaging learning. Joint work that is focused on specific questions about learning allows teachers and leaders to see beyond surface differences in context and levels of experience, and to engage in the crucial work of identifying powerful changes to practice. “What are we going to learn? That is a challenge when people are at different points in terms of the development of practice. We need to think about co-creating, not just sharing practice. When you’re co-creating you’re designing something that really meets your needs.” INNOVATING TOGETHER THROUGH DESIGN HUBS Principals ‘lead educational networks by trialling and exploring new ideas for the system, acting as a guide to staff and a coach and mentor to leaders.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles
  30. 30. 28 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 BUILDING TRUST AND SHARING RISK Principals point to cultural shifts within their schools as their most crucial achievements to date. Creating an environment where teachers and leaders have a deep trust for each other, and are united by a compelling organisational vision, releases huge amounts of energy and creativity. Without trust, changing practice feels too risky and high-stakes, so leaders employ a number of strategies to develop trust within their schools and also in design hub relationships. One tactic school leaders describe is the creation of insulated ‘safe spaces’ in which new pedagogical models and approaches can be developed, tested and the impact assessed. Within such spaces new ideas are explicitly welcomed, no matter how disruptive they are to the status quo. If the design hub structure itself is seen as a ‘safe space’ for idea development on a bigger scale, then the role of hub leaders is to convene and facilitate these opportunities. Within the design hub structure diverse groups of leaders and teachers are having new, creative conversations about how they can work together to make changes to practice and try out new approaches. Hub leaders consistently value the relationships they are developing through hub interactions and the wider program and they are seeing increasing levels of trust develop between participating school leaders. As more collaborative work is being undertaken within the hubs, the quality of relationships, and in turn levels of trust, are developing further. In some instances we are seeing collaborative work between design hubs span across geographical areas. EVIDENCE “Control, discipline and the alignment of goals are extremely important, but not to the extent that they sacrifice creativity. A certain level of failure and a great deal of trust is the price that has to be paid for innovation.” Leading Change, Changing Leadership, Pat Collarbone, 2012 ‘Practitioner networks provide an interplay between developing relationships with one another and developing ideas that form the basis of the ‘work’ of networks. Collaborative relationships build trust, which is essential to the development of ideas – and ideas build network interest and increased participation. It is this cycle that eventually builds commitment to these flexible, borderless organisational forms and begins to provide a foundation for leadership learning.” System Leadership in Action: Where do system leaders come from?, Ann Lieberman, 2006 “When creating our new models of pedagogy and alternate school design, we asked staff and students to opt-in to these different pathways (including extending the choice to all feeder schools). Staff working on the old model were excluded from meetings with those working on the new model. This created complete psychological safety for new ideas. The downside is it created an ‘us & them’, with students and with parents.” Principals ‘establish innovative processes to gather regular feedback from families and the local community that is systematically used to review school practices and inform decision-making.’ Australian Professional Standard for Principals and the Leadership Profiles
  31. 31. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 29 “Students have lots of involvement in the learning process - but particularly in the space of co-created learning we have been really explicit about the role of students in co-designing learning. Students are able to talk about learning concepts, including design principles. We took our students to schools in other design hubs and worked with them around project based learning. The result was that students wrote their own units of work over two days and are bringing that back to their own classes to deliver with support of teachers.” BROADENING ENGAGEMENT IN THE INNOVATION PROCESS Hub leaders talk of the challenges they face in engaging more people in the innovation process and the scaling of new practice beyond the ‘pockets of innovation’ that currently exist. They value the introduction of specific innovation methods and processes provided through the program, which are helping them to create the enabling conditions for other people to ‘play in the innovation space’. Design-led methodologies in particular have been strongly adopted by some hub leaders who are now looking to spread the approach both within their own schools and across the hub. For example, the use of prototyping to develop and test the feasibility of ideas helps teachers move from abstract to concrete in a ‘safe’ and controlled way. The approach allows the swift development of ideas in practice and, unlike traditional ‘piloting’, can be used to test multiple hypotheses at once. As hubs are developing, leaders are exploring ways to involve more staff (and students) in iterative testing processes, thereby generating more widespread understanding, commitment and capacity for innovation and the development of new practices. Leaders stress the importance of transparency in this kind of work. They engage a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, local community members and hub colleagues, to generate and validate ideas, seeing this as central to the long term goal of school transformation. Some schools have extended enquiry into and prototyping of new practices with the help of their students; demonstrating a genuinely co- productive approach to teaching and learning. Program learning: focus on Adelaide and Sydney Design Hubs Leaders of the Adelaide and Sydney Hubs are using design-led approaches to enable all hub members to engage with the key ideas and content that support the work of the hub. Ultimately, this supports all hub members to see each other as worthy learning partners in a process of joint practice development. • ●Within the Adelaide Hub every school that attended their recent two-day conference has been through the Exploratory Questions and Design Thinking workshops. • ●In the Sydney Hub, Campbelltown Performing Arts High School has worked directly with a design company to help teachers turn design thinking into practical prototypes. Around 40 teachers have developed and pitched ideas for new practice, and now have the licence to test and improve them in their classrooms. “Some of what we are doing in Learning Frontiers is really new. There is influence in both directions, and one builds on the other. The work we do feeds into the hub, gets elevated and challenged, then feeds back into the school.”
  32. 32. 30 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 GETTING INVOLVED IN LEARNING FRONTIERS 30 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 Learning Frontiers wants to make sure that engaging learning practices are available in every school and to every student. We need to design a system that supports teachers and principals to focus on student engagement both as a valuable end in itself and as a route to improved learning outcomes. If Learning Frontiers is going to successfully develop and spread engaging practices, it will need to work with learners, their families and communities, with professionals in schools, and with partners in business, voluntary, creative and cultural sectors.
  33. 33. LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 31 How can you participate? Schools, individual teachers or principals, and other organisations can participate in Learning Frontiers by: • providing expert advice to schools working within design hubs • participating in research activities with your students, such as the engagement survey • suggesting, trialling, evaluating and iterating new promising practices for engaged learning in your own school context • working with schools to share practices with the profession and the wider community outside of design hubs • convening a network of peers to discuss student engagement and consider how to apply practices emerging from Learning Frontiers in your own contexts. If you are a student or a parent, you can participate in Learning Frontiers by: • sharing your story about engagement with the Learning Frontiers community (see ‘how to connect’ section) • bringing together a group of parents, students and teachers for a conversation about student engagement and the role you might each play in deepening it • partnering with a teacher to develop or trial a new practice. Connect with Learning Frontiers Join our Google+ community to share resources, ideas and conversations Follow us on Twitter through @LFrontiers and #learningfrontiers Email the Learning Frontiers team at Please email us if you would like to access a text only version of this publication.
  34. 34. 32 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3 NOTES
  35. 35. 34 LEARNING FRONTIERS Insights & Ideas 3