Every Moment Is A Teachable Moment!!!

Linda Cliatt-Wayman, a woman after my own heart.

TedX Talk – How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly and love hard.

The  talk is a reminder of how we need more teachers in our education system who think and feel passionately about their schools and jobs.  “Leaders make the impossible, possible” as stated by Ms. Cliatt-Wayman.  Walking around with belief that anything is possible allows for creativity, imagination, and the idea of being fearless in work.  These are essential beliefs to create leaders for the future.  I still vividly remember meeting with our General Manager, Judy Travers.  Who has been a tremendous and inspirational mentor and shown me how with dedication and commitment to education reform, it can change!! She has shown me it takes time and sacrifice to create and sustain change within school systems.

However, at this particularly meeting, I remember my principal network leader at the time, telling her to watch out for this one, “She is frank and fearless!!” Linda’s talk sparked my passion and reminded me I may be frank and fearless in my approach but I have my students best interests at heart. I truly do I believe all of my students can accomplish something with their lives.

Building and enhancing relationships fuels my desire to continually improve and evolve as a passionate emerging school leader.  The rapport built within these relationships is what sets the tone and mood of the school.  The energy that is felt within the walls of school impacts the boarder community. Linda states:

If I’m going to push my students towards their dreams and purpose in life, I have to know who they are.” As in my previous blogs, we need to be familiar with our students. If we are going to push our students, I need to push and lead my staff as well. The leaders will push themselves and fly high.

As soon, as you walk through your school door on Monday, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the first thing you notice – hear, see, feel and think as you enter? 
  • What makes a school?
  • What makes a school culture?
  • How are the student and teacher relationships within your school?
  • Do students feel connected and accepted?
  • What makes a school feel like a school for your students? 
  • How does it feel for staff?

After watching Linda’s talk. I thought about what my take away thoughts or reflections were after listening to this inspiring speech The following messages resonate with me and continue to be so important:

  1. If you’re going to lead, LEAD (Leaders make the impossible, possible!!!)
  2. So what, Now What?
  3. If nobody told you they loved you today, remember I do
  • Relationships, relationships, relationships
  • Expectations, Standards and Boundaries – Students need to know how far that rubber can stretch before it breaks!!!!
  • Non-Neogiatables – Compromises and Non-Compromises
  • Listening and Respect are a two-way street
  • Every moment, is a teachable moment, for teachers and students
  • Be visible to the students, parents, staff and the community
  • Through education students can be who ever they want to be, it often just takes someone to believe in them
  • Positive Affirmations
  • Instill trust and hope. Always encourage your students to believe that dreams can come true. It will require courage, perseverance, dedication and commitment to make them happen. 
  • Question, Question, Question – don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions!!!

So What, Now what?  What’s the vibe in your school? How do we build fearless leaders within our staff? Let me and other readers into your world. Please share a comment.

All Hands On Deck – It’s About The Team Approach


Relationships! Relationships! Relationships!

Merriam Webster dictionary defines a relationship as “the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other.” Perhaps it’s my outgoing personality, but I believe building relationships is the best part of my job.

It is what I truly value the most. It doesn’t matter if I am teaching, leading or coaching. It all comes down to creating and sustaining positive, trustworthy and respectful relationships with people. After all, school is a glimpse of the larger surrounding community. Yet, this community has no visible boundaries because of the advancement of technology within the past 15 years alone. T​he definition of “relationship” itself states with countries as well. This opportunity to create and maintain relationships with other countries, h​as allowed for not only our students but also our teachers to become globally connected to networks around the world.

In my last blog, I referred to the 3 F’s: B​e Firm, Be Fair, BUT Not Familiar.​ As a teacher, again, I cannot reiterate enough how much I value the importance of maintaining ​positive relationships with students and parents. When I talk to my staff about being familiar with our student stories, ​or as much of their story they’re willing and wanting to share. I set the tone in my classroom by establishing clear boundaries and high expectations around student behaviour. Students then know what to expect and that’s the foundation of building a relationship with a student. If this is not done, there will be no respect. Lines will be blurred and you’ll be left with a frustrated teacher and erratic student behaviour. Often a small percentage of students find that school is the most structured and routine part of their life. As a​ teacher and leader in our school, I am approaching this from an empathetic viewpoint. W​e need to be empathetic and understand that for many of our students for various reasons. Such as: they may have not slept, illness, trauma, may miss a day to look after their younger siblings, or they might not of even had breakfast that morning. These are the real challenges t​hey face daily. As a teacher, we need to be aware of the struggles the students go through in order to make a change. But the bigger question becomes, how do we combat (or contend) with this as a community?

Strengthening relationships within the team….

As an educator, the greatest opportunity I can give to my students is to be exposed to a wide arrange of stories from mentors or guest speakers. I want them to learn the value and the importance o​f formi​ng​ new relationships, networki​ng, traveli​ng, a​nd life experiences alone will only benefit them in the real world . They are, ​after all, ​writing their own unique stories. Along the way there are going to be wins and losses. M​y hope is when they run into a roadblock, they don’t turn around or give up. I want them to challenge themselves and find a solution. I want their inner strength to shine when facing the world outside of the confines of a classroom.

Cr​eating a student leadership group based on a heterogeneous mix of students allowed us​ to​ not segregate our students from each other. We wanted to surround students with low aspirations and poor attendance, with students who were naturally driven and motivated to work hard. It was a chance for them to experience and partake in work that would challenge the natural leaders as well in the school. It was an opportunity not normally afforded to them because of their records. In an environment where school felt like a waste of time and boring, the leadership group gave them a sense of worth and purpose. It allowed each student to have a blank slate, or a clean canvas. Past records didn’t matter, only the work you did within the group mattered. This environment, allowed for growth and students no longer felt their was a glass ceiling for them. They were given a chance to excel, and that’s exactly what they did.

We felt that we had created a mutually beneficial opportunity for all student leaders to learn from, with and beside each other. Again, it’s about context for students as well. In today’s society we have the ability to work and form relationships with people from various backgrounds, cultures, ethnicity and achievement levels. Right at this point in time they were being given opportunity to grow as individuals, leaders and play as a team in a safe environment. At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships, relationships, relationships!!!!

So, how do you think they convinced 100 businesses to be apart of the learning experience?

Let them drive their learning! After all it’s their education, not ours!

Student's Shine
Student’s driving their own learning – photo by Roger Lovell.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be given the autonomy by my principal, Malcolm Elliott, to launch a student ambassador program at our school.  My ambassadors weren’t necessarily the students you would normally select to be school leaders and that’s the way I liked it! I wanted the right mix of kids: those lacking in confidence, poor attendance, disengaged and aspiring leaders that had missed out on the opportunity to be school leaders. I felt this was true reflection of our school population. Most importantly an opportunity to inspire and allow them to believe that they have a voice and a reason to stay connected with education.  I wanted them to know that I believed they could achieve something extraordinary!

The Unfortunate Reality
For a majority of my students they come from 3rd and 4th generations of unemployment. Their families are faced with challenges of poverty. As a beginning teacher, I remember being told ‘The 3 Fs’: Be Firm, Be Fair BUT Not Familiar. However, the reality is I have to be familiar with students and the families I teach, to truly understand them as a whole student. I can’t tell our staff enough about the importance of home visits, so they gain a perspective of their reality, through their lens. When really, we should be surprised that a small percentage of these students come to school at all BUT they do for the connections. We have a chance to raise the aspirational culture of our community.  As teachers, we must create a wide range of opportunities for our students to be exposed too.  I am determined to ensure all of my students feel success and be the runner of their own race.

If you’re excited, they’re excited!!!!!
To say the least, I was more than a tad bit excited about the number of endless opportunities we as group could create for our school.  I think my students were thinking, boy, what have we signed up for? She is crazy.  We can’t reach 100 businesses but we did more than just achieve it!  We hit home run, after home run!

Firstly, I had to ignite their desire and passion to succeed and there is nothing like a friendly bit of competition.  We wanted to hold the reputation of being the best school to work with in Tasmania.  So that’s, what we set out to achieve.  As group, we attended a business event of the current best school.  I shared with my students three valuable lessons I had learnt from my mentor: always remember names, take notes and identify areas of improvement.  The conversations that were being generated on our bus trip back to school blew my mind.  They were feeding off one another and learning was already happening and my role had shifted I wasn’t the teacher anymore I was member of the team.

You’re probably wondering, how did they achieve this? Stay tuned.

Harvard University: Think Tank Global Education Conference

My Take Aways from the TTGE Conference:

Presenters at TTGE Conference:

Fernando Reimers – TTGE founder 
Ford Foundation Professor of Practice in International Education Director, International Education Policy Program

Anthony Bent , Veronica Boix Mansilla, Connie Chung, Lisa Clarke, Lourenco Garica, Alan Ingram, Carol Johnson, Ken Kay, Jamie Leite, Felix Sahlberg, Josh Stumpensoist, Jeff Shea, Paul Toner, Janice Ward, Brandon Wiley and Bella Wong.

The make up of the Think Tank Global Education Conference: 

So, What is Global Education? How do we define global competence?

A global community that encompasses a connected world by ties of culture, economics and politics, communication, travel and shared environments.  At the “heart'” of Global Education is the shaping of our students to become global citizens who can contribute in a dynamic and evolving area of learning.

It promotes our students to have an open-mindset to thinking about the world in which they live and learn how to take responsibility for their our actions.


  • Common thread throughout conference: (Rs):

a)    Relationships: Invest in relationships. Learning should be from and with each other including our students, parents and general community. This can be achieved through professional networking opportunities, working on collaborative projects with other local or international schools.

b)    Resources: Looking for grant opportunities and shared resources

c)     Resilience: Moral purpose, all are connected to a shared vision and mission, continuity, use of common language and shared resources.

  • Time (3-5 years to create change)
  • Feedback (continuous: informal & formal),
  • Review: continuing to build on that vision and honouring achievement.
  • Time to implement new models of teaching: Project Based Learning (PBL), Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) or Blended Learning
  • Global education: can be simply be broken down to schools and teachers showing a commitment to their own community: home, school, town, state, country. Students can then expand their global awareness of issues by identifying the similarities and differences with other states, countries and cultures.
  • Integration of technology: use of Technology, the power of knowledge anytime and anywhere. Students are already leverage on technology at the click of their fingertips.
  • Learning beyond the current classroom/culture: offer opportunities for students to learn multiple languages.
  • Provide options for students to experience traveling interstate or to another country – allowing students to gain skills, insights and the ability to interact with people from different cultures and nations

Questions to schools

  • Where should your school begin with Global Education?
  • Why should students come to school?
  • Does the curriculum limit our ability to teach and think outside the box?



Brandon Wiley
Brandon Wiley
  • A good leader demonstrates his/her ability to lead their staff with a clear purpose, vision and direction for their school.
  • An excellent leader demonstrates their passion to lead and takes his/her staff on a shared journey with the main vehicle being an agent of change. The main focus is to create a school culture that strives to make a difference for students – best interest at the heart of the educational journey.
  • Building leadership capacity to develop high quality teachers and future leaders. Also, building student capacity via student leadership programs and student voice. This in turn strengthens our profession.
  • Motivate/reward/acknowledge good teaching practice, for example use staff meetings, publish in school newsletter, Facebook page or school assemblies. I really like the idea of teacher appreciation week, where the students write a positive message to their teachers that have had an impact on their learning.
  • The ongoing debate of should leadership be Bottom up/Top Down
  • 10% (immovable), 60% (moveable) 30% (moving) – the opportunity lies as leaders to help move that 60%.

 “Those who are immovable, those who are moveable and those who move.” (Benjamin Franklin).


  • How do we support the team that we have and move forward?
  • How do we improve quality of teaching to reduce the number of spot fires?
  • Bottom up or Top down?
  • How do we as leaders go about shifting the 60% (moveable)?Teachers: 

    Brandon Wiley
    Brandon Wiley
  • Teachers and Leaders that show and talk from the “heart!”
  • Relationships if you don’t like kids then you’re in the wrong profession!
  • Help students investigate the world
  • Look for entry points in the curriculum to engage students in PBL opportunities
  • Teachers already have a lot on their plate
  • Create a global network: collaboration with own staff, create opportunities to network with staff from other schools or even seek international partners
  • As educators via twitter or other online forums/spaces you will be amazed at what you can learn from other educators.
  • Teachers ensuring they’re keeping up-to-date with new pedagogies and current practice and models
  • Student choice (student ownership/partners in learning), Authentic context (real word – building skills and attributes in real contexts), Global significance (connections) & Exhibition (creates, motivates and inspires a purpose of their and value of their work and raises the bar) (Brandon Wiley)
  • Donelle Batty – Hardie Fellowship recipient 2013/14 and Tasmanian Minecraft expert explained, “that Minecraft Kids get to be owners and partners in learning, the virtual world creates a real world, they connect and their work is on show to others. This then motivates other peers and allows for experts to share their skills and knowledge. The program also for students to remain connect 24/7 allowing them to learn when they want.”
  • Globalism: preparing students to “see” the world ignites change.
  • Create wider platforms and tools for learning to occur outside the classroom and into the community.
  • Push the boundaries of education, as educators you are visionary leaders too, so implement your our vision and pursue it with passion.
  • The power of home visits, instead of phone calls home.
  • Developing our students to be critical thinking and deeper learning
  • Developing and reframing the mindsets of our student
  • Teachers and students share best practice with each other, for example, instead of staff meeting film an innovative, creative, differentiated lesson. Open up the conversation about what made this lesson great. Challenge and extend the teacher to think about how they can continually improve their practice.


  • How much student choice? How and when do we allow students to demonstrate choice in the learning experience?
  • How can you make lesson plans authentically connected to real world contexts and include innovation and creativity?
  • How can you create global significance in the classroom? Does it have to be in the classroom?
  • What are some of the limitations/reasons as to why teachers might not be able to teach global competence?
  • Why is it important to include global competencies into our lesson plans for our students?
  • Being agents of change/open to change, instead of teaching the way you have always taught. How might this change and or impact on your students learning and engagement?
  • Teachers posing a problem without stating one – What Might We Do? (WMWD). Teachers need to have an open mindset. (Brandon Wiley) 


  • Challenge their thinking, stretch their imagination
  • Create multiple perspectives – understanding and demonstrating empathy
  • Value diversity and understand the impact of stereotyping and making prior judgements without knowing all the facts
  • Student Voice – allow them to communicate their ideas
  • The use of “I can statements” (Brandon Wiley), examples:

    Brandon Wiley
    Brandon Wiley

“If we continue on our current path, it (our educational offerings) could become less fit-for-purpose, disconnected and irrelevant to the young.” (Valerie Hannon)


Collaborative Activities:

  • Six Word Memoir – for example, For Sale: Baby shoes, never usedErnest Hemmingway. We worked in small groups to create a six word memoir, about why global competence is important and shared it with the world @ #HGSEglobalShared examples:
  • “Global Competence: act locally, think globally”
  • “ Small world, live connected, learn how”
  • “Think globally, act locally, be informed”

Reflective Questions:

  • Are teachers continually transforming their practice to optimise the learning needs for all of their students?
  • How often do we refresh our classroom practices?
  • What do we want globally competent students to know, be, and do? (Brandon Wiley)
  • Who’s driving in your classroom?
  • How do we teach students empathy?
  • How do we teach our students to not to make judgements and view multiple perspectives?
  • What are the skills, traits and attributes of a global citizen?
  • Where is your school at with Global Education/Competencies? How do you as a school move the ball forward to ensure your students have access to opportunities to develop the skills required to become a global citizen?


Reimaging Education for the 21st Century through Project Based Learning at High Tech High School



High Tech High (HTH), is a public charter school in San Diego, which challenges academic curriculum with project-based learning, authentic/performance-based assessment. The staff and students produce digital portfolios, and there are internships for all students.

It began in 2000, as one school, and has grown considerably to three campuses (Point Loma, Chula Vista & North County) and consists of five high schools, four middle schools, and three elementary schools. HTH aims to:

  • Bring us together,
  • Change the narrative
  • Focus on small steps to bring about big change

First Impressions of HTH:

As a teacher, I value the importance of how learning in the classroom both looks and feels for students. The level of student engagement and the high quality relationships between leaders, teachers, students, parents and the general community, is significant to learning.

In minutes of entering HTH my values as a teacher had already been met. I could feel a positive vibe amongst the staff and students. I was blown away by how much positive energy was being generated in the corridors and the classrooms by teachers and students. It was breathtaking to witness so many high quality student work samples on exhibition. They are pretty much visible on every wall throughout the school (corridors, school entrances, toilets, staff offices and even work hanging from ceilings). I could feel the motivation and passion that teachers had for their subjects and could see it being transferred to students. Students were very engaged, excited and passionate about learning and being at school.

Reflection on my experience at HTH:

  • Students are immersed in their projects and learning.
  • Students have the desire and motivation to learn. They are given the license and autonomy to aspire to be great, and are encouraged by their peers and teachers to achieve their goals. As they know what they want to accomplish they are motivated to continually seek to improve the quality of their work.
  • The student-centred approach highlights the value of student voice, and demands the students to be committed and value their own learning.
  • The Project Based Learning model allows students to develop a deeper understanding and connection with their learning experience by producing a product through the ‘hands on’ experience. They learn how to collaborate, plan, give and accept critique, revise and self-assess. As soon as students pursue their own passions, strengths and interests, the learning experience springs back to life!
  • Teachers are given the autonomy and freedom to teach from their own passions and interests.
  • There is no curriculum, therefore teachers are teaching to their strengths. This allows students to go on a learning journey with their teachers.
  • HTH embraces the belief that students should discover or be exposed to different learning journeys due to their teachers having different passions. Teachers know that students’ passions are vitally important and should be considered when planning projects.
    • Larry Rosenstock (CEO) recognises that ‘It’s time to change the subject’ and to challenge the traditional model, which is restricted by the curriculum, content and assessment. Teachers are deliverers of content and subject matter for 25 -30 individuals with diverse backgrounds, learning abilities, experiences and interests. The example Larry used with me was:

    Why not mix it up and invent a useful product that uses electricity, or devise solutions to community problems, all the while engaging in systemic observation, collaborative design, and public exhibitions of learning? Without, the limitations of prescribed subjects, students might work together in diverse teams to build robots, roller coasters, gardens, and human-powered submarines. (Larry Rosenstock).

  • Learning Environments – If we can create innovative and authentic learning environments then the game changes. We spark within students creativity, curiosity, initiative, persistence and teamwork and students learn to value the opinions and multiple perspectives of others.
  • Building Co-Partnerships between teachers and students, is the importance of student engagement.  At HTH teachers and students can collaborate, pose problems and design products that have lasting value and importance beyond the learning they encountered at the time. The aim at HTH is to unleash the learning experience so that teachers and students are part of the learning design, taking ownership of learning experiences and how they are applied and integrated. Teachers and students ultimately enter into expeditionary learning. Therefore, what should matter at the forefront of every lesson is how students react to the learning experience, shape or apply it.
  • Public Exhibitions are critical to HTH. Public exhibitions of student work, products speak for themselves Students are doing meaningful projects for real audience.

Reflective Questions:

  • Does the PBL model engage all students?  (The attendance rate for all three school sites is between 93 – 95%)
  • How often in our current teaching practice do we create authentic learning experiences/opportunities for our students to be engaged in real work problems with a strong link to the community?
  • In our classrooms are we skilling our students with 21st century skills and creating our students to be the next ‘innovative inventors’?
  • How often do we allow students to co-partner in the learning experience?
  • How often do we seek written feedback from our students about our lesson and then discuss their concerns in the following lesson?
  • How do we as leaders motivate teachers who have become complacent and comfortable with the traditional model to trial a new model, such as PBL?
  • How often do we allow for our students to  peer critique each other work anonymously and on a regularly basis?

Finally, “When we learn – really learn – we transform the content, the self, and the social relations of teaching and learning. This is what it means to change the subject. We can do this. If we value our future, we must!” (Larry Rosenstock)

University of Oregon – Global and Online Education

University of Oregon – Global and Online Education

University of Oregon – Global and Online Education 

“We help educational institutions to become globally oriented, globally connected and globally competent”. (Yong Zhao)

The work completed by the Global and Online Education team is to engage today’s learners to cultivate tomorrow’s international leaders, innovators and thinkers.   The team understands that today’s student will be working in professions that haven’t even been created yet or exist in many cases. Furthermore, they acknowledge that they are globally connected by technology never previously imagined. Every education system has to create new, exciting and innovative approaches to prepare students for a world that changes at the pace of technology. The Global and Online Education team are focusing on these three pillars with their pre-service teachers:

  1. Globalisation – its affect on education and demonstration of how to prepare students to become more successful.
  2. Technology – training and strategical plans for utilising technologies that engage all students in learning that matters to them.
  3. Educational Reform – snapshots of education throughout the world, providing a window for seeing what is working and what is not.

After working alongside the Global and Online Education team at the University of Oregon, particularly Brain Flannery and Dr Yong Zhao, I have learnt that the United States education system are facing similar challenges to our school system. That there is definitely a growing demand for teachers of technology (programing, coding and gaming) to graduate in ICT from Universities to help support the ongoing advancement. So that we can ensure that technology can be embedded into learning as a powerful tool.

As I continue on my study tour throughout the United States, I am sure I will come across many varying views, opinions and debates about educational reform and how we embrace a rapidly changing world. As we continue to find ways to adapt and be flexible in our approach to education and teaching it is inevitable to note that technology can be an enabler for students to research, create, communicate and collaborate. The one thing, however, we must ensure that technology does not take centre stage over good pedagogy. Pedagogy needs to be the driver with regard to the choice of technology, which ensures that learning stays at the heart of the matter. Yong Zhao points out clearly that the idea is to use technology to bring global education resources to schools to personalise education, to engage students on a daily basis in collaborative learning with global partners, and to enable teachers and students to create authentic works for others around the globe.

“Entrepreneurship refers to an individual’s ability to turn ideas into actions and therefore allowing students to become creative and more self-confident in whatever they undertake in the future (World Economics Forum, 2011).

It was wonderful to spend a solid day with Brain Flannery, Coordinator of Global and Online Education. We discussed the future of education and learning in our schools requiring co-partnering in the learning experience. As teachers we must grow with our students, make connections and create meaningful and innovative lessons. Through this we also need to provide the freedom for our students to make choices about their learning and allow opportunities for them to learn from their mistakes. We must ensure that we value what each student brings to the table.

Brian, is of the belief that there are three balances in life:

  1. Meaningful work
  2. Close Relationships
  3. Giving to others

As human beings we have this desire to take risks, be curious creatures, use and expand on our imagination, have dreams and aspirations about our futures, be creative and continue to challenge the status quo. As educators we must ensure that we continue to capture, nurture and embed these attributes, strengths and qualities into our lessons. If we work to our strengths in content delivery and allow students to work to their strengths and passions than we can ultimately keep students inspired, connected and engaged in the learning task and ultimately education, harnessing the notion of life long learning and making it reality.

Yong Zhao explains that the real problem is that our education system continues to push students to the same career paths of their parents, rather than supporting and encouraging individual students to seek out new opportunities that support their unique skill sets and passion. As teachers, we should be encouraging and endeavouring to support and understand how to help our students identify their unique talents.

While at the University of Oregon I presented to 80 pre-service teachers about my study, which embraces the following questions (my questions are growing each day as I reflect on the learning that I am currently undertaking):

  • What does a world-class global education system look and feel like?
  • Where do we want to take education next?
  • What models are working best, for example, Project Based Learning, Blended Learning/Flipped Classrooms or Entrepreneurship?
  • Are teachers born natural innovators and creators? If not, how do we help these teachers foster their passions to become creative, innovative and authentic in creating learning experience with their student’s?
  • How do we encourage our teachers to take risks in their teaching and delivery?
  • The importance of developing, establishing and fostering positive relationships with our students to keep them engaged and inspired to be continuous and lifelong learners
  • How can teachers create collaborative and innovative classrooms?

During my presentation, I used the example of the current work that I am doing at New Norfolk High School with the Beacon Foundation and the importance of making meaningful, authentic and purposeful connections with business partners, which we have created over the past three-years. The impact of this program has empowered student-directed learning and ownership. This has resulted in students creating their own personal learning journey that has greater significance to them and meaning.

The communities commitment to learning has grown to a point where 120 local business partners are now acting as mentors and role models to our students, forming significant relationships are now acting as mentors and role models to our students, forming significant relationships.

I explained that in 2014/15 we are embracing a new learning landscape by taking the classroom to the business and focusing on three key areas; human resource management, leadership, marketing and which are common practice within their particularly industry. For example, we will be working with Freya Griffin, from Crowe Howrath, an Accounting firm based in Hobart to look at case studies within their organisation to demonstrate ‘Integrity’, which is a value for both our organisations. This pilot project is also being attended to by three other local businesses and all key stakeholders (principal, teachers, students and business partners) are playing a very pivotal role in being powerful creators and innovators in this learning process.

I would really like to thank Brian Flannery, for being such an amazing host, mentor and tunes in the car.

Tomorrow I fly to San Diego, to spend four days touring High Tech High School. This next opportunity will allow me to witness Project Based Learning and how innovation, creativity and technology play a role in student engagement. I am feeling inspired and motivated

Hardie Fellowship – United States of America 2014

The world is changing at a rapid rate and education must change with it. Like never before students have the ability to learn anytime, anywhere, about anything due to the revolutionary new technology available. States and school districts in the United States are tackling enormous challenges.

A study conducted in 2009 by Indiana State University indicated that most students, most of the time, felt bored and/or unchallenged in the classroom. To combat these issues, America has made some drastic and innovative changes in recent years to schools around the nation. These changes and innovative practices are of high interest to me as throughout my teaching career I have seen similar issues of student inattention and disengagement. Studying in the United States will offer new possibilities for our organisation and the positive impact digital technology can have on student engagement.

My study paper will be focusing on the following:

“How do we create engaging, digital, innovative, personalised learning opportunities for students?”

  • Do innovative learning environments (ILEs) or altered learning spaces contribute to improved student outcomes and engagement?
  • How important and effective is digital technology for personalised/customised learning? How does ICT support this learning and assessment?
  • What new models of schools have emerged from the use of innovation and digital technologies?  How is literacy and numeracy incorporated into student learning?
  • How does technology, innovation and 21st century schools challenge the traditional school model?

Here is a sneak peek of the Universities and Schools that I will be visiting the USA on my Hardie Fellowship:

Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao – University of Oregon, (PH.D, Professor, Department of Educational Methodology, Policy and Leadership)

I will be visiting Yong Zhao to discuss and be mentored in relation to my research paper.  The input and work with Yong Zhao will help Tasmanian Department of Education tackle its change agenda. Yong will arrange school visits in Eugene, Oregon.

High Tech High – San Diego, California

High Tech High is a group of eleven public charter schools.  Students are selected by a lottery system according to postcode, using an algorithm which ensures the school population reflects the demographics of San Diego.

High Tech High is a school dedicated to a mastery-learning model. The emphasis is on a student centred approach through project-based learning that integrates technology as learning tool. The students are integrated across learning classes. Students are engaged in learning by making, doing and completing projects. The school walls are permeable; students are going out on internships and helping out in the community.  Businesses and general community are welcome to come in at any time, for example, they have public exhibitions. At High Tech High, ICT is implemented as a tool to learning, just like a camera in photography and hammer in construction.

Carpe Diem, Indianapolis

carpe Diem

Carpe Diem has taken a new approach to education and has designed its school around the student.  Carpe Diem doesn’t look like any other school. It is based on the blended learning model; it blends the best of face to face instructions via workshops, discussions and conversations around key concepts, technology and extended learning opportunities. The teachers’ leverage on student knowledge, experience and savviness about technology in the classroom motivates students to learn subject areas.

At Carpe Diem, education is customised to the students’ level and needs; the model allows for students to move along at their own pace and provides more time for one on one teaching. Students attend workshops around key concepts and making learning more relevant by giving the students projects. Relationships are extremely important in this model.  Teachers get to know their students by having the same subject teacher for the entirety of high school. The teachers learn the context of the students’ lives, interests, goals, careers and aspirations.

Rocketship Elementary, San Jose

rocketshipAt Rocketship Elementary, they realise that we all learn in our own unique ways. From the time we’re children until long after we leave school, each person has their own way of learning and advancing. Unfortunately, the traditional school system doesn’t allow for that.

At Rocketship the students are called, Rocketeers–where they receive a personalised learning instruction, targeted to their needs and tailored to their unique learning styles.

At Rocketship they implement a blended learning model which combines traditional instruction, technology and tutoring, allowing every Rocketeer to learn at their own pace. And best of all, this model works for all Rocketeers, in the Rocketship program, whether they are catching up or racing ahead.

Harvard Uni

Harvard University – Think Tank on Global Education

Think Tank on Global Education will allow participants to consider the role curriculum, pedagogy and instructional materials; assess methods for engaging and connecting students globally; and learn how to create shared global learning experiences for students. 

In order for students to understand and address the multifaceted global challenges and opportunities they will face, we as educators must create opportunities for students to develop intercultural awareness, knowledge and perspective on global issues.

iZone – School of One, New York City


School of One gives students computer-generated personalised learning plans, which are known as a ‘playlist’.  The ‘playlist’ of activities is displayed on large screens at the front of the classroom that students follow for that day.  The playlists are tailored to students’ needs, allowing the student to work at their own pace, within a learning space designed to accommodate different skills taught simultaneously in different parts of the classroom. 

A part of their personalised plan is one-to-one consultation with a teacher and followed by group work.  This model allows teachers to focus on getting to know students, developing learning tasks that explore real-world situations like architectural design, product development and financial investment and enabling students to apply these to real life contexts.

Quest to Learn (Q2L), New York City

Quest to Learn

Q2L engages students using cutting edge technology, through ‘mission-based’ learning and digital gaming. There are three key principles: 

  1. Learning by doing
  2. Building on experience
  3. Applying knowledge in a range of different settings

Students are engaged in ten week ‘missions’ which are a series of ‘quests’, where students solve problems that are posed to them through a variety of methods: gathering resources, calculations, experiments, analysing and building their own games.

Students are exposed to the role variety of industries/businesses depending on what the task requires (scientist, photographer or an engineer) and approach problems in character.

Bringing The Experience All Together


A visionary leader by definition is someone who plans for the future using innovative and bold strategies.  This seven week experience will provide me with the opportunity to meet and collaborate with visionary leaders that are adapting education to a changing world.

Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson, Author of The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. (2009)

In his book, The Element, he uses the word Element to bring together the things that we love to do and the things that we are good at.  Ken Robinson believes it is essential for all of us to find our own Element.  The world is rapidly changing, we need to allow individuals to evolve and nurture their own talents an accept how talents can be uniquely expressed for every individual.

We need to consider how we create learning environments  – in our schools, where we support and inspire our learners to grow and continue to grow creatively throughout their lives.


So, How creative are you?  How intelligent are you on scale of one to ten?

Sir Ken Robinson, believes that as we grow up, we lose sight of our own natural capabilities.  That if we were to walk into a classroom an ask a class of grade one students, if they think they’re creative, they’ll all throw their hands up.  However, as students progress through their schooling, by the time they reach college, if you were to ask the same question, most of the students won’t raise their hands.

He passionately believes that we are all born with tremendous natural capacities, and that we lose touch with many of them as we spend more time in the world.  One of the main reasons this happens is education.  He feels that people never connect with their true talents and therefore don’t know what they’re really capable of achieving.

He talks about the notion of exploring and understanding the world within us;

  • world of your own private consciousness
  • own set of footprints
  • our own private passions, motivations and aspirations

Sir Ken Robinson, asks at the end of the clip, if you reserve those two initial questions:

  • How are you creative?
  • How are you intelligent?

What are your thoughts?

Learning. Leading. Teaching.