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Advice on how to lead change

Preparing your leaders

When preparing to lead change, it is essential to ensure that you have a deep understanding of the process, the implications and the strategies you can employ to ensure a successful implementation of your vision. The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) has provided some excellent resources to help you understand yourself as a leader of change and also empower other leaders within your school by being transparent about the process of change: Interactive Leadership Profiles.

A useful approach to using these resources might be to set aside one or two meeting times to explore them as a team and create individual profiles for each of your leaders to explore. This can generate rich discussion and ensure that all leaders of change are on the same page when implementing your joint vision.

Make sure you provide sufficient time to explore the plethora of resources linked to each leadership statement. Recognise and celebrate this professional learning with your team before you even set out on your journey of transformation.

When leading change in emerging areas like digital technologies, the traditional leadership team may not have all aspects of the necessary skill set and you may look to empower others in the school to lead. Peter Corkill, Principal at John Monash Science School in Melbourne illustrates this when talking about implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum and using Google Apps for Education as a learning platform:

I think there is a really important element here that I need to stress. School leaders don’t have all of the answers to these questions. You must surround yourself with people you trust who can advise you on options. Nine times out of ten you will go with the option they suggest if they are excited about it and they can provide you with assurances that it is going to work. And we did and I think in terms of their leadership development, they have seen what they created really go gangbusters here so everyone is invested.
– Peter Corkill, John Monash Science School

The DT-Hub ran a webinar 'Getting started with DT in schools', covering the following topics:

Auditing technology

Auditing curriculum

Auditing your expert capacity

Download the slides that were presented during the webinar.

Technology infrastructure

Not all aspects of the Digital Technologies curriculum require the use of technology, and there are many examples of powerful learning activities that develop the skills required by the curriculum through unplugged learning activities. However, when thinking about implementing a Digital Technologies curriculum or enriching learning in other areas using digital technologies, it is important to consider the infrastructure of access and devices.

There are many models of technology infrastructure, from fully managed Chromebooks , computer labs with imaged personal computers (PCs), and bring your own device (BYOD). Whichever infrastructure you choose should be a reflection of, and a support to, the flexible learning experiences that you want to see in your school.

Read about the Chromebook program on the McKinnon Secondary College webpage and read a case study here.

The Digital Learning Now! Blended Learning Implementation Guide (face-to-face learning with integrated technology) gives some excellent advice on the type of reflective questions you may wish to ask when thinking about your technology infrastructure.

Here are a small number of questions around technology infrastructure that you may wish to consider:

  • What kind of learning are we designing this infrastructure for – collaborative, creative, consumption of resources?
  • What are the minimum viable and maximum desired device ratios – computer labs, laptop trolleys or BYO(M)D (bring your own multiple devices)?
  • How do we fund access – leasing, purchasing, BYOD…?
  • How do we fund support – external provider, in-house technical support?
  • What level of access to the Internet do learners need?
  • How does our infrastructure help to keep our learners safe online? What else would we need to do?

There are many other aspects to getting the technology infrastructure right and it is worth investing some time in working through the issues, prototyping and trialling, and ensuring that the technology is an enabler to learning rather than a barrier. One approach could be to tackle this work using Design Thinking. An example could be:

  • Immerse yourself in the context – what is the current infrastructure and what is its relationship with learning? Find out by asking questions, observing and gathering information.
  • Synthesise the information into a question. For example: How might we design a sustainable technology infrastructure that enables the kind of learning we want to see in our school?
  • Ideate different solutions without judgement. For example, BYOD with open Internet access, or laptop trolleys with a school image. Refine your ideas against constraints, such as budget or school context.
  • Prototype the solution. For example, ask a small number of learners to bring in their own device, give them Internet access and observe the consequences, or trial one class on Google Apps or Office 365 to see if it supports collaborative learning.
  • Evaluate and adjust, and when you are happy with the model, launch it – but continue to evaluate.

Geoff Hood, Principal at Bertram Primary School in Western Australia, introduced a BYOD iPad program four years ago. With over 900 learners, there needed to be support for those families who could not provide their own device and an iPad leasing program helped to bridge the gap.  Geoff and his team understood four years ago that technology would be a huge part of modern learning and modern life. They started to build their robust infrastructure so that when it came to integrating the Digital Technologies curriculum, they could focus on pedagogy more than infrastructure. This pathway was not without obstacles and ensuring clear communication with the parent community, as well as providing excellent technology and pedagogy-focused professional learning for teachers, were key. To offer on-call support, Geoff sourced a technician to work on-site. During the employment process for prospective teachers, he ensured that they demonstrated a capacity to use technology or a desire to learn about it.

Check out this webinar presented by Chris Harte on Auditing technology.

Mapping the curriculum

The Digital Technologies curriculum is a natural fit for learning where the pedagogy is learner focused, built on developing skills, and combines ‘hearts, hands and minds’. If the Digital Technologies curriculum is infused into learning rather than being seen as a bolt-on, there is an opportunity to tap into the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learning and to encourage holistic learning.

An important step in ensuring a culture where the skills and knowledge of the Digital Technologies curriculum can flourish is to create a map of where the current curriculum offer lies and to look at how it can be ameliorated and enriched by digital technologies and the associated thinking skills.

One helpful technique is to create a physical curriculum map on the wall. By surfacing which standards are being addressed where and when, you can obtain a much stronger understanding of the whole curriculum, and see gaps that can be filled and areas which can be enriched by the Digital Technologies curriculum.

At St Mel’s Catholic Primary School in Campsie, the team have visualised the curriculum in their ‘bunker room’.

Every stage syllabus outcome (is) printed on a hexagon. Teachers come together and collaboratively make natural connections, called ‘outcome clusters’. These links are across all key learning areas with literacy underpinning all clusters. The outcome clusters are then teased out by our innovative teachers who create inquiry-based units of work that inspire both them as teachers and their children to grow as learners.
– Chad Ferris, St Mel’s Catholic Primary School
Hexagonal signs on a notice board
A teacher makes connections on a board

The use of hexagons naturally encourages the development of connections through tessellation – there is an irresistible urge to look for links and the ability to cluster similar ideas together while keeping looser connections visible.

Check out this webinar presented by Chris Harte on Auditing curriculum.

Our goal is to use a rigorous strategy that builds capacity and empowers staff with the freedom and creativity to develop quality teaching and learning programs, whilst ensuring that learning experiences link directly to mandated syllabus outcomes. We are also mindful that learning needs to be relevant, organic and purposeful for all learners. The scope of works for each year is mapped on a wall so outcome clusters are highly visible and tangible from early Stage 1 to Stage 3. This visual learning space is called our ‘bunker room’, where there is a shared language and ownership amongst all staff.
– Steve Borthwick, St Mel’s Catholic Primary School

Teachers planning