I don't want to 'change' the world anymore… I want to help 'grow' it instead.

ON #CEGSA2012 – KEY LEARNING NUMBER 2…

…I told you that there would be more than one post! 😉

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One of the main reasons I write this blog is to share insights into how my practice has changed over the years.  I recently commented on @lordfolland’s blog, to me every educator is a thought Leader.  It’s our job to be so. When we share those thoughts, there’s a chance that thinking will accelerate learning amongst the network and great things will happen.

Up until recently, i’ve always thought of those ‘great things’ as change. I have been frustrated, on more than one occasion, with situations in which change (that I see as much needed change) has been resisted.  I’ve done so without thinking about the semantics of my expectations.  The second most powerful thing I learnt at CEGSA2012 was quite philosophical and would probably make @equilibrium (fab South Aussie teacher coach) and my own coach from the UK at BLC International say “duh!… of course!”.

I don’t, natively, come from a land down under.  I was born, trained and spent most of my career up in the UK.  In the UK teaching is a very different world to that of Australia.  Teaching there, is in my opinion, far more pressured because it’s far more measured, assessed, graded, scrutinised – yes that’s the teaching not the kids….  I’ve posted here about how we’ve are observed every year and graded.  How those grades go on our record and inform our professional development etc.  That means that it’s much easier for leadership to demand things happen.  The government demand that teachers use ICT in their lessons and we are graded on how well we do so.  Change has always been forced upon me my whole career and I’ve had to pick apart the “suggestion” and make it work to enhance learning and teaching, even when it’s seemed impossible!  Perhaps that was the training I needed to help me ‘tweek and re-purpose technology’ as I describe in my about.me profile. I’ve tried to make the best of things (Very British).

Teaching here doesn’t feel like that (phew)… but I still carry the expectation of leadership. How it can, and possibly should, insist on change to guide and inform continued professional development.  That’s (partly) why I feel sick to the stomach when someone tells me that they’re not interested because they’re retiring in x years, or they don’t have time…. because those excuses would never be tolerated in the UK. if you said something like that to a senior manager in a school in the UK they’d seriously question your professionality…  Sounds harsh I know… and it IS infuriating to work like that… it’s also challenging and that can be a very positive thing.

Needless to say, change has never been an option.  It’s something that I am used to having thrust upon me. I guess I brought that mind set with me.  Perhaps, this is what I might have been thinking….

Change is not an option! It has to happen! How else can education be relevant, effective and meaningful for our kids?  How else can we produce the “thought leaders of the future”                                                                             yada, yada, yada,

I still believe in the revolution, that we should #startamovement. How else can all we ‘thought leaders’  (that’s you too by the way.. yes you, reading this) band together, accelerate our learning and pave the way? What I hadn’t realised was …. I was using the wrong language.

It was @edusum  who mentioned something that she had heard/learnt during ISTE this year.  She pointed out to me that the word change can infer that the thing you’re currently doing is in some way incorrect.  That if you use the word ‘change’, ears can hear criticism.  That the people you are trying to lead, to inspire to move in a new direction might hear a criticism, rather than a shared call to action.  I’d never considered that word like that.  I wish I had of done sooner.  Language, and its power, has always fascinated me and, do you know what, She really opened my eyes… She’s totally right.

I’ve been in situations during my career where I have spent ages creating curriculum documents only to have an advisor come in and “change” things….  How upsetting!  How dare they!  …..

ahhhh…. *penny drops*

So…  if we go into schools, our schools and we ask for change what message are sending?  Are we saying everything you’ve been doing for the past 30 years is WRONG! STOP THAT! I KNOW BETTER!  ….  their reaction to that?   …. is that going to help?

“Tweak to Transform”

Mr Bernard O’Connell – St Thomas Aquinas School, Birmingham

This was the motto of a Deputy Headteacher at a school I worked at in 2006.  I always had deep respect for this senior manager… he got it…. I forgot to follow his example.

In truth, it’s growth we want… It’s not that we’re doing things wrong… it’s that we need to build upon what we’re doing, to grow with the world we live in.  During this conversation @gcouros pointed out that we are more likely to inspire that transformation if we help our colleagues connect what they are already doing with that transformation.  I’m going to “change” (ironic eh?) my vocabulary.  From now on, my aim is to inspire growth instead 🙂

Let’s grow together South Australia! 

#CEGSA2012 has produced many growth ‘buds’ for me that I am excited to explore with my expanded network. I am sure it has for many of us.  In fact, I know it has.  Three days after the conference has ended, the hash tag #cegsa2012 is still going strong as we reflect upon, and digest, the inches we’ve grown over the past few days.   The challenge for all of us is to continue that growth well beyond #cegsa2012.  The conference twitter feed already has members making suggestions for #cegsa2013.

Tweet 1

What if these students were able to tell stories about the progress they had achieved as learners as a direct result of the growth their teachers experienced, perserved with and actioned after the conference?  How amazing would that be?  That is, after all, what we’re all about!  We’ve built a new, expanding network to save us time (because there never is enough of it), to encourage us, to support us.  Don’t forget @gcouros‘ offer to retweet your requests to his 15,541 (and growing!) followers.  Surely we can not fail!?

Sardines steer the ship!

Thanks Tony Bryant for that lovely metaphor

If you consider that metaphorical ship to be South Australia’s Education system, we’d only need 15-20% of us to get the message to the helm…  Then, we can steer this ship. Together.

So, I’m going to leave you with a final thought (Jerry Springer Style) and I’d love to hear your answers.

  • What buds of learning are you hoping to take forward this term?
  • Which direction are you swimming in now the conference is over? How can I/we help you?

 

5 Comments
  1. David 5 years ago

    Thanks for the thoughts. I think that you are right, we need to encourage the good practice in our schools to continue and help to grow better practice. Also thanks for the nice things you said about me, it has helped to restore my confidence that I am doing good things in my school.

    • Author
      Selena Woodward 5 years ago

      I can’t wait to see what you achieve between now and #cegsa2013 🙂 It would be great to keep the momentum up! 🙂

  2. Louisa Guest 5 years ago

    Transform and be adaptive not adapted (leopard and milk weed butterfly analogies) are the two “takeaways I got from an ed consultant (David Anderson http://www.plotpd.com/home.htm) in 2010 but I too forgot about the takeaway – hard to change (oops read transform) habits but language is so powerful. What different connotations do you have in mind when you are asked by head teacher to make time for a professional growth conference rather than a performance management meeting. As always, LOVE your writing – it always makes me stop and think.

  3. Jarrod Lamshed 5 years ago

    Excellent 🙂 I would love to present with my students. I take 6 kids a couple of times each year to present an hour lecture for training teachers at UniSA. Great experience for them and me 🙂

    • Selena Woodward 5 years ago

      we should talk about that 🙂 Would love to have you up at Flinders :)!

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