Connecting, Networking and Blogging.

When applying for a position at St Luke’s prospective applicants are invited to read a role description. The second line usually reads… As connected and networked learners teachers are required to nurture faith filled, curious children to become creative contributors and innovative problems solvers for a changing world.” Notice the first part of this sentence,

As connected and networked learners”

One way to ‘connect’ and ‘network’ is through blogging. Teachers at St Luke’s have recently undertaken the commitment to blog. Most teachers at St Luke’s have not blogged and are therefore understandably a little nervous about venturing into the unknown world of blogging.

As a means of support, our first step was to gather as a collegial group to reflect on the purpose of blogging. We referred to:

The resulting discussion confirmed…

“… our purpose for blogging is to reflect on our learning and growth by documenting our professional work.”

Our next step was to start a blog. WordPress was deemed the starting platform of choice but with the understanding teachers could choose their own platform. As such, working through the WordPress options teachers chose a name for their blog, used a simple theme to design their blog and selected plugin options. Teachers are now ready to honour the “Sharing Our Work” edict of Austin Kleon.

We anticipate the benefits of blogging will be that each one of us will:

  • Think and write more clearly
  • Connect with thought leaders
  • Teach more purposefully
  • Respond to positive and constructive feedback

Two interesting developments within 24 hours of this collective commitment to blog have been:

  1. one teacher deciding to use Instagram as their platform of choice. This immediately challenged the few experienced bloggers in the room who see Instagram as a microblogging platform at best. No doubt there will be learning for all seeing how ‘Insta’ can support reflection through documentation of professional work.
  2. Our first blog, In the Beginning, was written by Meg Stone and appeared within 6 hours of our workshop. Meg gets the prize for first post!

The remainder of the teachers have until 6 April. 

Next steps? To see support staff blog as well so we can Put it in the Soup!

Regards

Greg

A Digital Artefact – Bringing Social Skills and Enterprise Skills to Prominence

vid

As many of you are aware, for the last 9 months I have experienced the privilege of leading an emerging preschool to post school learning community known as St Luke’s Catholic College. Although we are at the very early stages of our evolution as a learning community, we are responding to the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta transformation agenda, led by Greg Whitby who challenges all school leaders to act with “the fierce urgency of the now”.

Part of the now is to develop the social skills and enterprise skills required for a changing world. A recalibration of jobs and lifestyle is taking place before our eyes. According to many experts, the changes have only just begun, so much so, “Five million jobs will be automated by 2030,” – SMH 4/3/17. Our Kindergarten class of this year, our Year 12 graduates of 2029 (that’s if there is such as thing as Year 12 by then) will walk into a very different lifestyle dependent upon very new jobs and new ways of working.

Increasing automation means different types of jobs, jobs that require people to ‘write code’ or use algorithms to attend to consumer needs. If people wish to be employed in the future, or better still create their own work, it appears that many will need coding skills and higher level computational thinking skills. Most importantly, young people will require the social and emotional dispositions to respond to the inevitable moral dilemmas and ethical challenges that will come with vastly improved technology, both for work and for lifestyle.

Part of preparing our young people for their independent future is to bring their parents along on the journey, a journey which requires us all to understand the importance of the social skills and enterprise skills required for a changing world. Parents need to be informed of what the future will look like, a future that will see their child engage with multiple jobs across multiple industries, some of which may not yet be known. The ability of a child to collaborate with others in responding to challenges across the globe, or thinking critically to solve problems within their local community, will require adept capabilities as articulated by the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities.

To assist parents at St Luke’s, we developed this digital artefact which affirms our commitment to bring social skills and enterprise skills to the fore. I hope this may be of benefit to the wider community as well.

Feedback welcome.

Greg

Bringing social skills to prominence

There are numerous articles and many research papers which argue for the focus of schooling to shift from high stakes testing to a greater development of social skills and enterprise skills for a changing world. One such article written by Bill Lucas in 2016 stated,

“Too often we focus too narrowly on literacy and numeracy when these are only the beginning. We become obsessed with school subjects rather than thinking more broadly about the capabilities which will be valuable in the real world.” 

The importance of social skills and enterprise skills are reflected through the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum.The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) requires schools to develop a number of capabilities in young people in addition to literacy and numeracy. These include

  • information and communication technology (ICT) capability,
  • intercultural understanding,
  • ethical understanding,
  • personal and social capability, and
  • critical and creative thinking.

Those capabilities, as ACARA states, “play a significant role in the Australian Curriculum in equipping young Australians to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.”

We know that the social skill development and the enterprise skill development are foundational to the work of educators across early learning, primary and secondary schools. We also know that students with well developed social skills and enterprise skills are increasingly hopeful, resilient and engaged participants in their local and global communities. Such dispositions are credible leading indicators for life success as compared to the lagging indicators such as HSC, VCE, ATAR and NAPLAN test scores.

As part of establishing any new school, foundation staff are presented with a blank canvas to deeply consider ‘what matters’. Social skills and enterprise skills matter! One of the challenges we have taken on at St Luke’s is to ‘bring to prominence’ the social skills and enterprise skills students need for a changing world.

As such, at St Luke’s Catholic College, staff have engaged with a process which aligns the ACARA General Capabilities with our ‘6 Pillars’ of learning. These pillars are:

  • WITNESS by living the Good News as revealed through the Gospel of St Luke
  • MANAGE self
  • RELATE with others
  • COMMUNICATE and COLLABORATE with peers and experts
  • THINK CREATIVELY and CRITICALLY through deep and rigorous reflection
  • Be DIGITALLY LITERATE.

Each pillar

  • has a rationale with reference to the Australian Curriculum and explains its importance in our context
  • contains a number of elements from various General Capabilities, and
  • adopts the continuums from those elements to describe the relevant attitudes, behaviours, skills and dispositions relevant to each stage of learning.

Here is a sample…

relate-pillar-sample

Overall, the ‘6 Pillars’  assist teachers to plan for the development of social skills and enterprise skills as students engage with the curriculum. The ‘6 Pillars’ figure prominently when preparing and evaluating student learning and are priorities when we provide feedback to students. Furthermore, there is the commitment for students to increasingly self reflect and peer assess the ‘6 Pillars’, as well as provide real time feedback to parents about each child’s development along the ‘6 Pillar’ continua. This work will not be easy but it will be worthwhile!

As always, comments, feedback and questions are welcome.

Until next time.

Greg.

3 thoughts on “Bringing social skills to prominence”

  1. agl13 says:

    Great blog Greg. You have captured the essence of the AC’s General Capabilities. I believe the content in AC overshadows the GC. Well that is what teachers are mostly concerned about anyway. Some teachers tend to gloss over these important skills. We must bring it to the top – as literacy and numeracy is important across the curriculum – so are these general capabilities! Good on you for highlighting and making theses GC prominent in your school with your new staff and others in the community!

  2. Thanks Greg. Looks like great (but not easy) work going on at St Luke’s.

    Just wondering how involved students have been or will be in evaluating and taking charge of the 6 pillars?

    Best of luck with what I’m sure will be a great adventure in learning.

    1. Hello Matt,
      Great question. Teachers are at the beginning stages of introducing this to students with the intent of students increasingly taking responsibility to self reflect and peers critique appropriate evidence demonstrating growth along the continua. We also wish to engage parents with real time feedback via electronic means. It may be a good 12-18 months before students are precise with it.
      Regards

      Greg

Capabilities, Feedback and Reporting.

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 6.30.05 AM
Credit to http://www.kubochem.com/capabilities-html Accessed 10 June, 2017.

There are numerous articles and many research papers which argue that schooling needs to shift its focus from high stakes testing to a greater focus on the social skills and enterprise capabilities each student requires for a changing world.  In fact, Bill Lucas from Mitchell Institute declares capabilities are the new currency for success in life.

In Australia, the importance of these skills and capabilities are expressed through the seven General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. These “… play a significant role in the Australian Curriculum in equipping young Australians to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.”

St Luke’s is a next generation community establishing the new normal for preschool to post school learning as part of an extended school day, 6:00am to 6:00pm. The General Capabilities are foundational to the St Luke’s Learning Statement, which, in part, reads:

Within a safe and secure environment, literacy, numeracy and faith formation are viewed as strong foundations to assist young people identify and solve problems. With each person taking responsibility for their own learning, all learners participate actively in a changing world where they are obligated to:

  • WITNESS by living the Good News as revealed through the Gospel of St Luke
  • MANAGE self
  • RELATE with others
  • COLLABORATE  with peers and experts to respond to challenges
  • COMMUNICATE responses to real world problems
  • THINK CRITICALLY using self reflection and peer assessment as part of the learning process.
  • Be DIGITALLY LITERATE.

St Luke’s has translated the General Capabilities into these 6 Pillars of Learning (above) which shapes our approach to programming, assessment and reporting. This is because “social-emotional development is not ancillary to the work of educators, but foundational to it” (Adams, 2016). Such a belief has resulted in many questions including:

  • How do we bring to prominence the development of social skills and enterprise skills so necessary for a changing world?
  • How can we engage align real time formative feedback for students and parents?
  • How can we ensure social skills and enterprise skills are prominent in programming, reporting and assessment?

As a result of asking these questions, students now engage in ongoing self reflection and peer critique about their progress along the 6 Pillar continuum. Furthermore, when they offer these reflections via the online application Seesaw, parents are notified in real time with some posting comments of encouragement. These digital artefacts have resulted in a developing folio of evidence, some of which will be used by each child at our upcoming Student-led Conferences with parents and teachers.

The General Capabilities offer an excellent reference point for our school community when nurturing curious, faith filled children to become creative contributors and innovative problems solvers for a changing world.

As always, comments and feedback are welcome.

Regards

Greg

 

Soft Skills and Enterprise Skills

Within one to two weeks, systems, schools and communities across the country will engage with the media frenzy of examination results and ATARs.

Excellent HSC results (in New South Wales) are promoted by many as indicators of success and they often form part of a school or system’s marketing campaign. One of Catholic education’s leading data analysts, Dr John DeCourcy, continually reminds us that test scores are in fact, lagging indicators of success. We keep reading about the need for students to develop their ‘soft skills’, their ‘enterprise skills’ or their ’21st century skills’ so they can function in, and contribute towards a changing world. However, there will be very little heard or read about these skills  when HSC results and ATARs are released in a few weeks.

Education leaders are now challenged to bring soft skills and enterprise skills to prominence because they are leading indicators of success which will assist students to function in and contribute towards a rapidly changing world, not just in the future, but today!

The good news is that within NSW syllabus documents there are outcomes which directly relate to soft skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationships. Furthermore, there are enterprise skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity found within Key Learning Area (KLA) outcomes.  I acknowledge the measurement soft skills and enterprise skills is more difficult than identifying growth of literacy and numeracy or exam results. However, if we deepen parent, student and teacher understanding of how soft skills and enterprise skills develop over time, and what that looks like, together we will increasingly develop our ability to observe, reflect and critique the skills which are not easily measurable.

Although many soft skills are ‘hidden’ within a KLA outcomes approach as part of an ‘A to E’ reporting environment, the NSW syllabus documents are a great starting point. Further to this, the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities are also an excellent reference point.

general-capabilities
Australian Curriculum General Capabilities

Given that all seven domains support the development of soft skills and enterprise skills, there are three domains which are particularly relevant. They are:

  • Information and communication technology – using technology to access information, create products and solve problems.
  • Critical and creative thinking – learning how to think and find ways to approach problems.
  • Personal and social – recognising others’ emotions, supporting diversity and working together.

These domains are expressed through learning continuums. The Critical and Creative Thinking continuum, the Personal and Social continuum and the Information and Communication Technology continuum are excellent reference points for teachers, parents and students. Given the opportunity, I know students can rise to the challenge of finding evidence to demonstrate their progress along these continuums. Maybe that’s the problem, there are not enough policy makers and education leaders who trust students to drive and understand their own learning through self assessment and reflection.

It will be a watershed moment for schools and education systems when the prominence of soft skills and enterprise skills are as mainstream as KLA assessments and public test scores. Due to the disruptive changes to our world, some of which have already arrived, the focus will change, it has to! For the sake of our students, hopefully that time will arrive sooner rather than later.

As always, your feedback and comments are more than welcome as they assist with my learning.

Greg

Bringing social skills to prominence

There are numerous articles and many research papers which argue for the focus of schooling to shift from high stakes testing to a greater development of social skills and enterprise skills for a changing world. One such article written by Bill Lucas in 2016 stated,

“Too often we focus too narrowly on literacy and numeracy when these are only the beginning. We become obsessed with school subjects rather than thinking more broadly about the capabilities which will be valuable in the real world.” 

The importance of social skills and enterprise skills are reflected through the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum.The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) requires schools to develop a number of capabilities in young people in addition to literacy and numeracy. These include

  • information and communication technology (ICT) capability,
  • intercultural understanding,
  • ethical understanding,
  • personal and social capability, and
  • critical and creative thinking.

Those capabilities, as ACARA states, “play a significant role in the Australian Curriculum in equipping young Australians to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.”

We know that the social skill development and the enterprise skill development are foundational to the work of educators across early learning, primary and secondary schools. We also know that students with well developed social skills and enterprise skills are increasingly hopeful, resilient and engaged participants in their local and global communities. Such dispositions are credible leading indicators for life success as compared to the lagging indicators such as HSC, VCE, ATAR and NAPLAN test scores.

As part of establishing any new school, foundation staff are presented with a blank canvas to deeply consider ‘what matters’. Social skills and enterprise skills matter! One of the challenges we have taken on at St Luke’s is to ‘bring to prominence’ the social skills and enterprise skills students need for a changing world.

As such, at St Luke’s Catholic College, staff have engaged with a process which aligns the ACARA General Capabilities with our ‘6 Pillars’ of learning. These pillars are:

  • WITNESS by living the Good News as revealed through the Gospel of St Luke
  • MANAGE self
  • RELATE with others
  • COMMUNICATE and COLLABORATE with peers and experts
  • THINK CREATIVELY and CRITICALLY through deep and rigorous reflection
  • Be DIGITALLY LITERATE.

Each pillar

  • has a rationale with reference to the Australian Curriculum and explains its importance in our context
  • contains a number of elements from various General Capabilities, and
  • adopts the continuums from those elements to describe the relevant attitudes, behaviours, skills and dispositions relevant to each stage of learning.

Here is a sample…

relate-pillar-sample

Overall, the ‘6 Pillars’  assist teachers to plan for the development of social skills and enterprise skills as students engage with the curriculum. The ‘6 Pillars’ figure prominently when preparing and evaluating student learning and are priorities when we provide feedback to students. Furthermore, there is the commitment for students to increasingly self reflect and peer assess the ‘6 Pillars’, as well as provide real time feedback to parents about each child’s development along the ‘6 Pillar’ continua. This work will not be easy but it will be worthwhile!

As always, comments, feedback and questions are welcome.

Until next time.

Greg

 

Authentic Personalised Learning

personalised-learning
Produced using Canva
As the principal of a new learning community establishing the new normal for pre to post schooling, I am obligated to collaboratively explore options for a flexible and differentiated curriculum which is authentically personalised through collaborative processes led, driven and developed by each student.
 
When in Melbourne last week, I visited three schools. Each school views students as as the drivers of their own learning, not having learning ‘done’ to them. One school in particular, Templestowe College, genuinely hands over ‘control’ to each student, and “everything is negotiable”. The automatic response to students when they negotiate their semester learning program is to say, “Yes, we can look at that.” This culture of trusting students to direct their own learning, along with an unwavering commitment to flexible timetables and diverse curriculum offerings, has resulted in students who, among other things:
  • serve as traditional staff employees including grounds personnel, teacher assistants and front office support staff, AND, they are paid! 
  • train other students to deliver a reading preparation program for primary students
  • participate in the local community as professional musicians
  • market an online game to an overseas investor 
  • tender for the provision of on site cafe services
  • engage in elite sporting programs
  • provide catering and hospitality services for local community events after a tendering process
  • organise business conferences using school facilities
  • establish business which sell products based on business proposals and marketing plans 
  • establish animal breeding programs in liaison with relevant government authorities
  • use maker spaces, laser cutters and three D printers to design products that support emerging business ventures.
All these activities form part of a student’s ‘timetable’ and they are just the tip of the iceberg! The school offers an extremely varied curriculum with authentically rich individual learning pathways. Personalised learning is truly authentic! Individual learning pathways are developed by the student, inclusive of parents and signed off by the principal. This is done so in accordance with Clause 82 of the Victorian Curriculum Accreditation Authority. It reads as follows….
 
“If a school proposes for any student an individual learning program that departs from the provision model set out in the whole-school curriculum plan, that decision should be made in conjunction with the student and the student’s parents/carers, and must be approved by the school principal” Victoria Curriculum December 2015
The principal has cleverly interpreted that each student is entitled to determine their own individual learning program. I am wondering if there is a similar clause in NSW. For example, although it applies for students with disabilities, is the collaborative curriculum planning process for students a ‘way in’ for each and every student to develop their own personalised learning pathway? One part that jumps out at me is…….. 
“The decision should be made through the collaborative curriculum planning process involving the student, parent/carer and other significant individuals. School systems and individual schools are responsible for the manner in which the collaborative process is managed.” 
In accepting that no two learners are the same, is the collaborative curriculum planning process a ‘way in’ for personalised learning to become a reality for each and every student in New South Wales?
Feedback welcome.
Greg