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undertaking shift

June 1, 2013

cyclists on highway

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A truck roll on Great Northern Highway last Wednesday delayed my journey across the city to attend a briefing on WACE 2016. The after-school meeting focused on how Foundation – Year 12 History will be affected by mandated changes. While the flow of trucks, buses, cars, tractors, horse floats and cyclists sharing this route strikes me, at best, as an uneasy enterprise, road crew sweep-up and contorted wreckage revealed another more dangerous perspective.

May sound macabre, but I’m reminded of education as a system.

clip system

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One benefit of sitting bound in a truck-sandwich awaiting the all-clear signal was continuation of my reverie on driving as a metaphor for culture shift shared elsewhere.  It might not be fresh, but I first heard the pace of educational change defined as glacial by Dr Neil Selwyn at last year’s ACEC conference in Perth; it’s a view that’s echoed by teachers, administrators, educational bloggers and tweeps. Or there’s a corollary: What goes around comes around – so, nothing bar acronyms and letterheads really changes. Encountered this one while sharing aforementioned WACE adaptation (yes, I made the 4.30 pm start!) with our Humanities team. What bothers me about this thinking is it arises from a

Culture [which]… is affected by the conditions and contexts in which it operates.

If you spend all your time with people who remind you of yourself – people from a similar race, the same profession, or the same high school subject department or elementary grade level – it’s likely that over time you will all come to think the same way and believe the same things, and that these beliefs will become stable and even stale (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p. 103).

Secondary threads of connection continued unspooling from that moment until now, sitting here, Saturday focused as I am with Daughter 1 at her final year Law exam (very pleased with a high distinction earned on last week’s returned essay), and Daughter 2 saying she’ll tidy her room, but evidently resisting plans, first with her laptop at the kitchen table, then disappearing while dressed in a navy trenchcoat.

Once again, unpredictability seems inevitable.


CC Image Source: Yellowskyphotography

Selected threads:

  • completed exam preparation for next week’s focus on moderation with students in years 7-10
  • garnered feedback on performance from my line manager, our principal, the registrar and my year 12 students
  • prepared for our week 5 exam onslaught by marking in-class work from my upper school English classes – one load on A View From the Bridge, and another responding to propaganda posters. Applied pairwise comparisons; shared feedback.

And revelations:

  • students at our school are nervous, but also able to share insights as to why, along with what assistance they’d prefer  in order to overcome this state of being
  • cultivating weekly collegiate review of what is working is building awareness, trust and understanding among staff
  • tackling exam review with my year 10s exposed the need to forge a way ahead with something more heavy duty (flamethrower, perhaps?). Will persist with refinements.

Here’s our exam review tool which helped define gaps:

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Year 10 sem 1 exam review 2013″ target=”_blank”>Year 10 sem 1 exam review 2013</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Sam Boswell</a></strong> </div>

Along with colleagues, and in order to support our students, I am hopeful that next week’s planned  processes will enable growth for us all. We’re definitely feeling the pressure that we’re under to make changes in the school’s learning culture.

There is a sense of urgency about challenging teachers’ practice, yet also a patient realization that the essential trust and relationships that underpin PLCs can only develop over time (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p. 135).

And the lessons from my mid-week truck block?

  1. Impasses arise and – with effort – they are overcome
  2. Just because the trucks are big doesn’t mean you can’t cycle on the highway.

Selected reference

Hargreaves, A. & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press.

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