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focus, collaborate & shift

December 1, 2013
tags: ,

Friday was spent focused on Humanities’ team planning with the following agenda items generated via TodaysMeet:


To start, a 4 corners review activity generated feedback on current curriculum practices: Frustrating, Appealing, Inspiring and Challenging prompted metacognition which we evaluated with coloured sticky notes. Calibration of response shaded nuance along a continuum from most interesting, most unusual towards the outlier – what the hell?

Our focus areas were readily defined.


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  • reflection time/ feedback looping clarifies and reinforces common understandings
  • support from Mandy – and her literacy expertise – sharpened our focus
  • enshrining what is currently effective added ballast to 2014 programs
  • planning together meant we could overlay myths/ legends/ origin narratives in Year 8 English to improve connectivity with Society & Environment
  • release of  the new WA Curriculum and Assessment Outline proved useful

Causes for concern?

  • constant interruptions in the “out-of the-way” office space we occupied for 6 hours (strangely unexpected experience; we considered staging a flashmob in the library at one point)
  • sense of overwhelming pressure to implement the new Australian Curriculum is challenging in tandem with concurrent (but equally pressing) shifts in staffing, transition programs, timetabling, students’ behavioural and social emotional issues
  • limitations of time, as always, the chief perceived threat to cultivating success.


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Part of this shift is conceiving of our role as teacher-designers activating student learning. Teachers as continual learners within their own ecosystems – and networked beyond – become crucial to forward momentum as we evolve a more energising way of operating. In order to lead this change,

Courageous leaders of PLCs are not bullying and self-congratulatory. They are humble and self-reflective. When push comes to shove, they know and are alert to when they have overstepped the mark and gone too far; they know when they need to remain committed but not push too heavily and too hard… [Effective PLCs] have that back-and-forth feel that permeates much of our analysis of professional collaboration and community – between the relative contribution of pressure and support, push and pull, focus and flexibility, relationships and results (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, p. 135).


Take a breath, pause, remind myself that the big picture affords perspective.

  1. Change takes time, trust, and considerable effort.
  2. Data driven vs. data informed: Yes, we monitored student achievement throughout 2013 (NAPLAN years 3, 5, 7 & 9; new SCSA literacy and numeracy testing for year 10; WAMSE years 5, 7 & 9; school-based exams, assessments, review cycles and reporting schedules; all these capped by – a grand finale – WACE); the pause here is to consider that

Too many teachers today are constrained to concentrate on tested literacy and mathematics – marginalizing other areas of the curriculum such as social studies, the environment, or the arts. Demanding that schools be data driven leads many of them to concentrate only in the tests in cultures of anxiety about instant results (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 39).


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Insights gleaned:

  • Focus on maintaining practice of collaborative learning is critical;
  • Use the data, without allowing it to be misused.

Selected reference

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

Hargreaves, A. & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

photo credit: <a href=””>ChaoticMind75</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=””>Express Monorail</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=””>nhussein</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

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