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ecosystem: time & priority #SAVMP

October 19, 2013


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Our Geography field trip to Lake Joondalup went ahead last Thursday with 63 students, 4 staff members and 2 buses. That neat statement renders the experience clear and closed as if easily-executed, but processes and paperwork belie actuality.

Let’s unpack the time and prioritising:

  • two failed attempts at excursion submission meant we were time-bankrupt
  • last-minute cancellation in term 3 was forced as a result of strike action by WA educators
  • re-scheduling generated ripple-effects for staff and students in our community
  • documents were reviewed/ edited/ resurrected from desk top in-trays
  • feelings of frustration arose, and were difficult to dispel
  • ~ holidays intervened ~
  • relief arrangements were finalised the-day-before
  • last minute phone calls to parents for permission notes the night before
  • early-morning fail safe inclusion measures meant bus departure was delayed for 20 minutes

Was it worth it?

Kookaburras Powerhouse museum

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Resounding yes.

Here’s what counts:

  • the learning was real
  • insights were visible
  • collaborative practice was supported
  • interest and engagement were high
  • feelings were positive
  • review comments were favourable
  • we shared an experience
  • gratitude for staff persistence in the face of adversity was genuine, and readily communicable once back in a classroom during our Humanities team meeting
  • good feelings nurture goodwill


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Overall: A great example of unrelenting collaborative focus on learning (Fullan, 2009).

Blocks we encountered were perceived as opportunities to test resolve and served as a measure of enterprise value. The task, after all, was worth 25% of students’ assessment in 1A Geography this semester.

Will we do it all again next year? Yes, with a possible shift to second term in order to promote skill transference from Year 10 study of ecosystems in Science.

I am newly attuned to our team/ school priorities; this has been a crucial perspective during whole school focus on NAPLAN data this week, and the implications a downward trend in Writing achievement has for us as an ecosystem.

Potential for distraction is averted wherever attention to the dynamic system is sustained.


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Closing wisdom:

Practices: what you do.

Principles: guiding ideas and insights.

Essences: the state of being those with high levels of mastery in the discipline (Senge quoted in The Encylopedia of Informal Education, 2001).

Selected references

Fullan, M. (2009). Large-scale reform comes of age.  Journal of Educational Change, 10(2), 101-113.

The Encylopedia of Informal Education. (2001). Peter Senge and the learning organization. Retrieved October 19. 2013 from

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