Volume 84 Number 11, 20 June 2005
A cluster of schools in Auckland has achieved what may be the ‘best professional development in 42 years’ around the use of ICT to enhance learning for gifted and talented (GAT) students. The Integrated Powerful Adventures in Thinking cluster (iPAinT) cluster is one of a number of ICT professional development clusters developed by the New Zealand Ministry of Education over 2003—2005. Until now, most New Zealand schools have developed separate approaches to meeting GAT students' needs. In its first year, the cluster examined existing policy and research literature on GAT, and examined ways to identify gifted children’s curriculum needs. In 2004, the cluster schools looked at how ICT could be used to introduce cognitive challenge through new ways to manipulate information, enhance deep thinking, and facilitate connections between students. Schools within the cluster have applied ICT in a range of ways. These include using ICT as an administrative tool to identify underachieving GAT students in the junior years; as a way to support curriculum differentiation within classrooms; as a means to bring in curriculum and timetable changes to facilitate ‘exploration of meta concepts involving local issues’; and by integrating ICT within a program for Years 9 and 10. One of the schools has developed a program of curriculum coaching based its experiences within the cluster. iPAinT members will present their achievements at a forthcoming conference, and an edition of the journal Computers in New Zealand Schools will also be dedicated to the cluster’s work.
Subject HeadingsNew Zealand
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Gifted and talented (GAT) children
Mentoring for Victorian physics teachers
2 June 2005; Page 18
A new professional development program for Victorian teachers who want to improve teaching and learning in physics classrooms has been created by The School Innovation in Teaching (SIT) project and the University of Melbourne’s School of Physics. Students from the School of Physics have been mentoring teachers within the Developing Pathways in Physics initiative, helping them plan curriculum to engage students. Teachers from more than 50 state schools are attending the March to August workshops. Their reflections will be shared in Term three, and contribute to the Department of Education and Training’s Knowledge Bank.
Key Learning AreasScience
Subject HeadingsSecondary education
One in five: it’s more than you think
June 2005; Pages 28–29
One in five: it’s more than you think is a DVD on the subject of mental and emotional wellbeing, which has been produced by a group of Year 11 students at Castlemaine Secondary College in regional Victoria. The DVD was inspired by the school’s nurse, Marisa Monagle (the author of the article), who challenged the part-time film makers to produce a film about adolescent health issues which had an identifiable youth perspective. This article describes the educational benefits for the film makers involved in the production of the DVD, considers the logistics of the production process, and outlines the essential attributes for a project which seeks to involve young people. The DVD, which runs for 15 minutes, examines the issues of domestic violence, eating disorders, adolescent pregnancy, resilience and depression.
Accommodating learning styles: relevance and good practice in VET
June 2005; Pages 26–27
Smith and Dalton consider the findings of a research project which investigated the accommodation of different learning styles in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. The research, published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), examined how teachers in the VET sector identified and responded to different learning styles, and considered the kinds of professional development which would aid them in this practice. The authors report that teachers in the sector did attempt to identify and respond to students learning styles, and this process usually involved observation of students in the learning environment and modification of teaching practices. Educators in the sector cited the structure of the courses and the training packages as possible impediments to accommodating students’ individual learning styles. As a result, the recommendations of the project include increasing teacher awareness of how different learning styles can be facilitated in VET training packages. TAFE institutes and registered training organisations in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia were involved in the study.
Subject HeadingsEducation research
VET (Vocational Education and Training)
PD goes live
June 2005; Pages 20–24
Bernadette Clayton is an assistant principal at Balwyn High School in Melbourne. In this article she describes the school’s professional learning program, its design and its aims, as well as its effects on the staff, school culture and students. The professional learning program at Balwyn High School is informed by the school’s Mission Statement, the School Charter and the Strategic Plan. The objectives and values of those documents are given practical effect through teacher professional development and the resulting student outcomes. Balwyn High School has dispensed with traditional ‘inservice’ training of teachers and, instead, focuses on building a professional learning community among staff, in which collaborative learning, collegiality, best practice, staff research and continuous development are encouraged and expected. This article contains a detailed description of the school’s professional learning program, and an outline of the educational principles and pedagogical theory which underpin it.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
What does leadership capacity really mean?
Volume 26 Number 2, Spring 2005; Pages 38–40
Lambert defines ‘leadership capacity’, and then considers what aspects of leadership capacity are present or absent in low leadership capacity schools, moderate leadership capacity schools, and high leadership capacity schools. Leadership capacity, according to Lambert, is reliant on three elements – leadership, broad-based participation and skilful participation. Leadership in this context is the ability to lead purposeful, reciprocal learning in a learning community which is characterised by an expectation of participation, and in which individuals both contribute to and develop the skills that lead to meaningful participation. Lambert considers the elements of the different schools identified in the typology described above, before pondering why leadership capacity cannot always be sustained in even the high leadership capacity schools. Her consideration yields six factors which would be instrumental to sustaining leadership capacity in schools, and these are outlined and explained in the article.
Subject HeadingsSchool leadership
Volume 26 Number 2, Spring 2005; Pages 28–32
While the best kind of professional development occurs in the workplace, the authors of this article argue that, because of the nature of principals’ work, on-the-job learning needs to be facilitated by several measures, such as collaborative learning, structured interactions with system officials, mentoring and ‘customised collaborative ventures'. Petersen and Shelby see the ‘brevity, variety and fragmentation' of principals’ work as anathema to on-the-job learning. Principals’ tasks are too brief, various and irregular for them to be able to meaningfully reflect on, or have time for a deep understanding of, specific facets of their work and their generalised meaning for their professional development. The authors advise, therefore, that principals’ interactions with others, such as colleagues, system officials and administrators, should be designed in ways that promote reflection and learning from experience. The use of mentors who have the opportunity of understanding the context of the school and the principal’s work environment, along with collaborations with universities and other professional development bodies, are also advocated to ensure that principals are able to take advantage of ‘embedded, on-the-job learning’.
Subject HeadingsProfessional development
Making the leap to shared leadership
Volume 26 Number 2, Spring 2005; Pages 16–21
This article looks at the benefits of principals delegating responsibility to teachers, and demonstrates to school leaders how to do so effectively. Lovely makes the point that delegation is not ‘dumping’, that is, it is not overburdening staff with work the leader chooses not to do. It is actually the thoughtful alignment of personnel with tasks which are in their range of experience and capabilities, and which will develop them as leaders. Delegation releases leaders from individual assignments so that they can be involved in several assignments at once, which enables them to contribute their expertise and leadership in a broader fashion, and allows them more time to plan. Delegation also gives others an opportunity to take responsibility and demonstrate their leadership potential. It benefits the school by developing staff, increasing productivity, and cultivating a positive and trusting environment. Lovely describes one leader’s attempt at transforming a school through delegating responsibility to staff in this article.
The final 2 %: what it takes to create profound change in leaders
Volume 26 Number 2, Spring 2005; Pages 8–15
According to Sparks, ‘the final 2 % is that cluster of experiences that literally changes the brains of teachers and administrators’. These experiences are required to bring about profound change in schools and learning communities, and they occur when educators are able to transform their practices, beliefs and attitudes, and thereby change the educational environment of a school. Educators may find these experiences in the many forms of professional development in which they are engaged, but bringing about these experiences requires leadership, a leadership that is clear about its intentions, and which places the responsibility for change at the feet of the school, and not those outside of it. According to Sparks, creating this kind of clarity and responsibility can be facilitated by employing ‘teachable points of view’ and by using ‘dialogue’ to communicate these points of view. Sparks elaborates his understandings of a 'teachable point of view’ and ‘dialogue’ in the article, but essentially, the former is a declarative statement which articulates, clearly and coherently, the leader’s goals, beliefs and values and rallies the organisation to those goals. By dialogue Sparks means an honest examination of the leader’s assumptions, an inquiry which may lead to real transformation of behaviours and beliefs.
Does ‘research based’ mean ‘value neutral’?
Volume 86 Number 6, February 2005; Pages 424–432
Ferrero observes that much of the difficulty involved in achieving agreement between educators on modes of instruction can be traced to their values-based reactions to the educational models with which they are confronted. Most teachers at professional development seminars are asked to believe in the research credentials of whatever model of learning is being presented to them for implementation. Some will be receptive to the message, while others will be alienated by it. Ferrero contends that this divergence has to do with the value-laden nature of all research, and the equally value-laden nature of the assessment by the recipients of the research. Value judgements cannot be excluded from research or from learning communities, and recognising this is the first step to acknowledging the underlying pluralist consensus whose principles are, nevertheless, shared by all educators in democratic societies. How learning communities give meaning to these principles is the stuff of conversation, negotiation and debate, but the communities must first understand the range of ideological perspectives that individuals harbour before they will be able to effectively harness their energies in educational reform initiatives. In this article, Ferrero outlines a taxonomy of ideological positions on education, and considers how recognition of these perspectives can inform learning communities involved in transforming educational environments.
Subject HeadingsEducation research
20 June 2005; Page 3
Many small rural schools in Victoria face declining enrolment levels, and the State Government is considering a range of responses. One option is to have groups of local schools share resources such as an administrative bureau or maintenance staff. Another option is to transform previously independent schools into a single multi-campus school with one principal. Opponents of this option see it as distancing the school from local communites. Garry Allen of the Country Education Project, which represents 400 state, Catholic and independent schools in rural Victoria, has called instead for rural schools to receive incentives to network more closely with neighbouring schools, particularly around curriculum and policy matters. The issues facing Victoria's small rural schools were recently discussed at a two-day meeting between rural principals and Darell Fraser of the Department of Education and Training's Office of School Education.
School enrolment levels
School and community
1 June 2005
A US report has examined the use of electronic resources by high school teachers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subject areas. The study surveyed 236 teachers from rural, urban and suburban areas of the USA. Barriers to the uptake of ICT in schools were found to include inadequate infrastructure, lack of suitable teacher training, lack of time for curriculum planning by teachers, low connectivity speeds and lack of timely access to shared resources. The study states that teachers want resources that offer easy searching and navigation, resources that are interoperable in multiple-platform environments, materials that apply STEM concepts in realistic settings, resources with multiple entry points to allow for different learning styles, and visual rather than text-based materials. The study also found that teachers often use inadequate strategies for online searches. (Free registration required to access article)
Subject HeadingsTeacher training
Teaching and learning
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Implementation update: enhanced school review
19 May 2005; Page 12
The Victorian Government’s School Accountability and Improvement Framework offers analysis of school performance and practice and improvement strategies for schools, based on Australian and international best practice. The Framework’s four-yearly review process targets resource management, community and school relationships, and future planning. Schools are able to seek expert evaluation, matching school reviewers with specific school needs.
Public education in the twentieth century and beyond: high hopes, broken promises and an uncertain future
Volume 75 Number 1, Spring 2005; Pages 43–64
Public education in the USA over the last 75 years reflects a wider struggle for equality and social justice. The current policy climate contains 'a profound distrust for public education and for teacher education', especially for schools in disadvantaged communities. Quality of education varies very closely with locality, and schools in the USA are among the most unequal in the industrialised world in terms of spending, curricular offerings and teaching quality. The article reviews changing theories of the role of school education, and shifting government policies in the USA, covering topics including resistance theory, desegregation, and multicultural education.
Subject HeadingsEducational evaluation
United States of America (USA)
What 'counts' as educational policy? Notes toward a new paradigm
Volume 75 Number 1, Spring 2005; Pages 65–88
Over the last century, efforts have been made in the USA to improve schools through education policy in areas such as curricular materials, libraries and early childhood classes. More recently, federal US education policy has been characterised by standardised testing, teacher professional development and an emphasis on achieving higher academic outcomes. At the state level, education policy has included 'quasi-privatisation' through charter schools, vouchers and other school choice programs. However, the impact of policy has been overwhelmed by the influence of social and economic conditions such as low wages, lack of quality jobs, and housing and transport policies that disadvantage poor ethnic minorities. Poverty generates cynicism and low expectations in these communities. Longitudinal studies identify family income as the factor that most consistently predicts students' academic performance, even when other family characteristics are allowed for. New research suggests that even moderate rises in family income and social support would improve low income students' educational achievements.
Subject HeadingsUnited States of America (USA)
A study in Newcastle, New South Wales, has examined factors influencing the motivation levels of secondary students in maths and science classes. The study was designed to explore possible limitations to the prevailing theories of student motivation. Current ‘achievement goal theory’ acknowledges that students are mainly motivated by the desire to look competent to peers as well by the wish for subject mastery. However, the social element in student motivation needs further emphasis, especially in terms of the unconscious or implicit drive to meet social needs for social connection, acceptance and autonomy. Individually or in groups, students may be socially driven to please, annoy or humiliate a teacher. Social background will shape what forms of behaviour students see as ‘cognitively available’ to them, ie can be conceived as a possible course of action. Goal theory also needs to recognise cultural elements in student motivation. To test these assertions, the researcher conducted interviews with 14 teachers (eight women and six men) in maths and science at Newcastle high schools. Six schools were covered: a private grammar, and five state schools serving disadvantaged communities. The research observed two classes by each teacher, then held follow up interviews targeting specific issues that had arisen in classes. The teachers frequently referred to the socially mediated goals identified in the paper. A more sophisticated grasp of the interaction between students’ social and academic goals may help teachers improve students’ motivation. It may be more realistic to inspire poorly performing students by social rather than academic goals, until they begin to experience academic success.
Subject HeadingsClassroom management
English language teaching