Leadership and Learning
This Digistory focuses on the exemplary teaching and learning community at Reece High School.
…the critical thing is that in the first place you have to build a learning relationship between yourself and the learner and that means that you actually have to understand their learning needs. (Principal, Reece High School)
A major renovation took place at this school 2000-2003. Part of the brief that was developed through community consultations was to have a state of the art school and a significant consideration was the teaching and learning approach, integration of information technologies, and building up the relationships with the community.
Information and communication technologies are pervasive in all aspects of the school. While there are implementations of technology in all curriculum areas in terms of learning activities, music technology, media production, simulations and Global positioning Systems to name several, this digistory concentrates on the school organization, planning systems and focus on a "complete" educational model.
The principal refers to the process of researching into equipment, programs, IT and pedagogy as a "hunting and gathering" phase.
...for some of us it was just research, just reading up on articles, getting products, trialling them, trialling them with students, trialling them with teachers, looking at how they linked into pedagogy. For others it was participation in IT conferences, experimenting with online forums, talking to people who have been influential in the area. (Principal, Reece High School)
Implicit in this research process was the need to position the school at the centre of a learning community, which includes the teachers, leadership team, community and students. In effect the research into information technology, and most of this school's interest in technology comes second to the development of effective learning experiences. While technology is a part of all school activities, teachers were actually unsurprised that their students "didn't think that the schools was very hi-tech". In effect the technology applications were simply a part of the way that work is done.
...gurus are not necessarily the answer. I mean, we can be our own greatest guru. If you have multiple models - as I said, we had us doing the research ourselves, so we were the active learners. We invited in experts, we visited sites around Australia where they had a lot of IT equipment. We went to private schools, government schools, had a look at it. We talked about laptop programs, all of those sorts of things. We went to all products, Apple right through. What we did then, I was - why I call it "gathering" is we gathered up all this information and then we had a very reflective process. Very simple, like what did we like, what did we think we could do, what didn't we like and why didn't we like it and what did we need to learn more about? And so we continually revisited that cycle until after 12 months we thought that we'd shaped where we wanted to go as our starting platform. But we were always continually reviewing it and [we] are just getting ready to do a big IT audit in the next week or so. It's always there. It's always in our practice and we are always reflecting on it. (Principal, Reece High School)
Leadership team members are frequent visitors to classrooms and their presence is expected and considered constructive and indicative of the levels of support.
I deliberately set out to monitor. I think that probably as a leadership team we're very visible and we have a very open-door policy so it's nothing for me to be in classrooms or any of the members of the leadership team to be in classrooms. (Principal, Reece High School)