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ending or beginnings?

October 21, 2012

Image design credit Lara Healey

Yesterday’s final workshop at uni for semester 2 once again succeeded in provoking thought and insight to a complex issues: Leading Curriculum Innovation.

For entree, though, what’s your opinion of this infographic calibrating Leadership Through the Ages?

I love the notion that evolution is at play; I also like the ideological framework crediting landmark innovations in human understanding (especially yields from breakthrough-moments); and the historical timeline underpinning this tidal wave motion clarifies seismic tilts in terms of context, along with the political brand of vested leadership. Impressive feat; neat even. The more I consider, the more I really like it.

I am however envious that my Action Research process is nowhere near the readily accessible package of neatened-complexity offered in Lara’s infographic. In other terms – warming to my main meal – my current process as a sequence of initiatives or steps I’m undertaking to improve student learning is still incomplete. I have a beginning:


Turbulent change in a metropolitan secondary school undergoing re-building and relocation yields student attrition, erodes school pride, and garners negative community perceptions;

  • Our Gifted & Talented program is consequently devalued, and apparent loss of faith evident in community attitudes raises questions of sustainability.


How can I lead the renewal of a successful, thriving learning community/ culture?

And I’ve shared the research stages, but this seems an ever-expanding task – not really extra, since the Coordination role requires ongoing monitoring – but it’s doing different, because I wouldn’t normally produce a lengthy assessed report. So the task goal is really to re-imagine the improvement as a conceptual package:

CC image source

And that’s where I seem to be experiencing difficulty in deciding when/ if/ whether this process is finished. Right now, with meetings scheduled for the next few weeks, it still feels like a work-in-progress. This is what we have in store:

  • Inquiry walks around ICT facilities at other metro secondary schools in order to determine best practice for us in the new environment
  • Staff are contributing to a Wallwisher Vision Statement
  • Imagineering Think Tank sessions with G&T students are being conducted by our expert IDEAS coordinator who is reprising a former role to assist in leading the way ahead
  • Parents are returning to discuss the direction they’d like to see curriculum taking
  • Then we reconvene as a group of teachers to plan G&T curriculum using this document as a point of review:

New beginnings. And the beginnings seem emergent from the Action Research’s tale end. Dessert time with a deadline of November 5, but no real sweet spot. Unless I take into account the Amazonic arrival of my latest reading material:

…if a succinct way can be found to explain what a system does well, it is easier for others to learn to apply the core principles behind it in their own way. In this sense, we can avoid transplanting isolated elements – such as Finnish teachers’ master’s degrees or high numbers of annual instructional hours in Japan – as simple solutions for educational success (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 49).

A similar sense of bitter-sweet reality settled over our workshop gathering yesterday afternoon; colleagues with common concerns and inspiring narratives who had shared their Action Research progress left our innovation zone to venture into the remnants of a blue-sky afternoon…. now we’re anticipating the cheese-and-biscuit platter of our West Australian fourth term. Someone said they felt like the year was over. So it seems.

And yet – isn’t any Action Research undertaking an iterative process? Never really completed, just an infinite measure of work-in-progress? That too. Like learning itself, we need to be mindful of sustaining the innovation in order to savour its taste.


Hargreaves, A., Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational changeThousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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