Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My recommendations for colleagues considering transformation in education

EDEM682 - Transforming Education in Canterbury

The following review is a synthesis of key understandings and learning experiences that have emerged throughout the year that I would recommend to my colleagues considering transformation in education.

Exploring transformation and scoping educational change
Change can be difficult and stressful as it often stems from a ‘shifting context’, where the status quo is no longer the best way forward. For positive and sustainable change to occur, a ‘road map for leading change’ (Jansen, 2015) is important and must start with the why (Sinek, 2009). This not only supports leaders to understand the why but also to consider the key elements that will need to be explored while working through the change process, like the where, how, who and what. Once leaders have this roadmap in place, they can and should share it with all participants to ensure a shared understanding of the context for change and what elements will need to be explored when moving from the business as usual or ‘current state’, to the new business as usual or ‘future state’ (Jansen, 2015).
When scoping for change, the drivers for educational transformation should be identified. These are the things that are pushing or pulling your school towards the need to make changes. I would recommend that all key stakeholders have the opportunity to identify what external factors e.g. the global impact of technology or the identified new skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow (OECD, 2012) and what internal factors, for example at my school, a whole school re­build due to earthquake damage, are influencing or already changing your educational context. Once these factors have been identified by all key stakeholders, you can then begin to see what potential risks/threats and what potential opportunities there are as a result of these drivers of change in action.

Visioning and systemic thinking in strategic planning
Strategic thinking must be systemic, in that we need to be able to see the big picture before we can understand the parts within it. To be able to make considerate and effective decisions around whole school change, understanding the whole comes before understanding the parts but the key element is actually in the interaction. If we do not consider the way in which decisions or change in one area can impact on another, we can be left with ‘unintended consequences’. An example of this could be where a school decides to change the hours of instruction, starting and finishing earlier in the day. This is based on good research that children will learn better in those hours but the unintended consequences could be huge e.g. increase of parents in need of after school childcare or out of sync timetables for siblings at different schools. I would recommend using key questions, relevant to your context, to create conversations and a shared understanding of the bigger picture, the parts within it and how the interact or influence each other. These questions could be used as a framework when working with staff, leaders, governance, whānau and students, “what does a successful school look like?” and “what are the factors that contribute to this and how do they influence each other?” Another reputable change model I would recommend schools research and apply to their own context by having staff collaboratively map out the change arena applied to their kura, would be Davis’ ‘Arena of Change’ (2008), a model that applies an ecological perspective to understand how teacher learning may be promoted for educational renewal, and clearly identifies that “teachers are the keystone speciesin the education ecologies of the twenty-­first century world”.

Pedagogical shifts
Successful change to better meet the needs of modern learners in today's and tomorrow's schools will require some dramatic shifts to traditional methods and practice of teaching. ‘New pedagogies’ (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014) will present plenty of challenges but excitingly, lots of opportunities to better engage and prepare our students for a world that requires people with inquiry and problem solving skills, who can effectively collaborate, innovate, create and communicate and who are culturally responsive, digitally literate and globally aware. Derek Wenmoth (2013) from CORE Education talks about the drivers for change being agency, connectedness and ubiquity and these are driving some of the pedagogical changes that need to occur so that schools become an environment that values and fosters student agency, collaboration, co­-teaching, self regulated and personalised learning. I would recommend that when schools are considering pedagogical shifts, they need to begin with their students ­ what do they need to know, understand and do to be successful? Secondly ­ what does our learning practices and environments need to look like to accomplish this? Finally ­ how will we know what impact this is having on student engagement, enjoyment and achievement?

Community, whānau and iwi engagement
When considering transforming education in your school context, it is imperative that all members of your school community are included on this journey and can participate in the decision making process ­ he waka eke noa:a canoe on which everyone can embark. One of the first steps needs to be identifying all key stakeholders ­ students, whānau, staff and Board of Trustees. As I identified earlier in the scoping process, it would also be recommendable to reach further abroad and look for other potential partners that could bring added value and richness to the transformation and future of the school through ‘civic engagement ­ the action through which citizens join in new conversations that have the capacity to alter the future, for example, libraries, community services­health, police, social services, local community businesses or other educational institutions e.g. Polytechnic or Universities.

Iwi engagement is also critical for all New Zealand educational settings. We know that traditionally we have not met the needs of many of our priority learners, specifically Māori and Pasifika tamariki and their whānau (MoE, 2013). Culturally responsive practices embedded into the culture of our schools will ensure that schools are upholding their obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) and are providing educational experiences that are authentic, meaningful and relevant for all learners, that build on their prior knowledge and cultural connections and acknowledges and celebrates diversity and the potential each child has within them to succeed. I would recommend that schools reach out to iwi and build a reciprocal and meaningful relationship with them. You will need their input and guidance around what culturally responsive practices should be normalised in your school setting and perhaps even establishing a ‘cultural narrative’ for your school, where schools can ensure design and practice will reflect the rich history of your local iwi and whenua. More importantly, schools need to address will be their tamariki, whānau and staff can support the iwi. A reciprocal relationship built on respect and ongoing support for each other will reap rewards for all and ensure the vision for Ka Hikitia (2013) of ‘Māori enjoying educational success as Māori’ becomes a reality in your kura.

Davis, N.E. (2008). How may teacher learning be promoted for educational renewal with IT? In J. Voogt & G. Knezek (eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, (507­520) Amsterdam: Springer

Fullan, M., & Langworthy. (2014).​​A Rich Seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning. Retrieved from­content/uploads/2014/01/3897.Rich_Seam_web.pdf

Jansen, C. (2015). Road map for change: presentation at lecture #1 of EDEM630 course. University of Canterbury.

Ministry of Education. (2013). Ka Hikitia­Accelerating Success 2013­2017.Wellington, New Zealand:Learning Media.

OECD (2012). Education Today 2013: The OECD Perspective. Retrieved from oecdperspective.pdf

Sinek, S. (2009). Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action.New York: Portfolio.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840)

Wenmoth, D., (2012) EdTalks; Ubiquity, agency and connectedness. Retreived from­agency­and­connectedness