Reaching Higher

Leading Learning. Principals Leadership Forum Northern Sydney Region Feb 16th 2011

Key note speech Martin Westwell Creating Leadership Capactiy : Meeting the needs of an Uncertain Future.

Asking the question, what is it that makes a difference in learning for students and how informed decisions can be made using the evidence that we have.

How do we predict the future of what learning will look like.. mostly we get it wrong. It is never going to look like we predict …” we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist, using technologies that have not been invented to solve problems that we havent even considered yet. Richard Riley US Secretary 1999.

When we consider change… it is constant and  is not constituted by equilibrium… periods of stability have become shorter and shorter, which signifies constant change. There is no such thing as GenZ.  What are the capacities for the future ( social and economic) prosperity? Our educational leaders need to think, how on earth do we teach this, can it be taught.  Creativity, innovation and intelligences.

Ken Boston 2005   information>knowledge… moving backwards.. end of year tests in the UK.. which .. sets everything back..therefore considering that we can’t deal with the change.. leaders, sometimes just stop the innovation, because it is not understood. We then need to look at our assessment …technology has made a massive impact on the way we do things..how to cook an egg.

Question Rich – Answer Poor (influence was based on information) >>>shift….>>>> Question poor–answer rich..(being able to ask careful, informed question..is what is importance)..

Lets view our lecture halls of our university.. the model of lecturer , out the front, the model from the middle ages still appears in our learning institutions.

Getting it wrong.. students misconceptions .. are we missing the point, ie isn’t it good to get the misconceptions.. the conceptions that are an alternate and this fosters perception, and challenging the conceptions, getting students to ask the questions.

When we are telling our students about what the answer is stopping the enquiry of the possibilities.. for example we are taught we have 5 senses, but really we have many senses that inform us of where we are in the world.

We have this idea… that we are visual, auditory and kinesthetic.. this just limits our understanding of “who we are”. Clearly from an evidence point if view,this is limiting.

Students learning choices

  • Theories of intelligence (early adolescents).. we need to think about our students understanding of themselves as learners.

Entity=measuring ability, performance goals, futility of effort, setbacks,  persevere/withdraw ” intellectual ability fixed”

Incremental-skill acquisition, learning goals, ability development.

When we compare the way we discuss learning with students, we endeavour to change their views of how they see themselves as learners, when we discuss brain cognition and how we learn.. profile as a learner..the stats of this control group improved.. because they had an incremental view of their learning.  Making the most of learning opportunities…Incremental understanding of your intelligence, entices students to understanding of learning. Where there is an entity assessment approach, as opposed to a student who has an incremental view of themselves as a learner.

A culture of genius:

Organisation theory of intelligence affects inferences as a learner.


Students where the tests and stakes are higher… standards are going up.. but learning was going down. Students where learning  for the test not “learning” for learning actually dumbs down the students.

Therefore the view of the learner and how the learners view themselves as learners is imperative to success.

How do we help students to be affective learners.. looking at a study..gifted students are asking more questions than how to get the answer.. the level of in-connectivity makes smart kids.

Higher order thinking


a number of connections are made ( but not the connections of the connections)

  • Relational

students see

  • extended abstract

can make connections beyond the scope of the problem or question, to generalise or transfer to a new situation.

What makes an effective learner?

sustaining attention, planning, acting on a plan, working memory..decision making, error checking, switching attention, problem solving

THE KEY AND CENTRE>>working memory, inhibition, cognitive flexibility, anticipating ( prospective memory.. ie this is my goal.. and this is how I get to it.. they consider things like delaying gratification)

Today, this idea that students are getting the idea that students are getting the instant gratification, ie playing to computer games.

The strategies> for the most successful student

Delaying gratification, interdependent actions, self-directed actions, concentration, resisting temptation..

Developing Skills

a study .. on microscopic surgeons..those who played computer games, and those that scored high on computer games, 47% fewer error and 39% faster.. Tested a whole lot of relative weight analysis. the single biggest factor was the video game players, it made a great difference in their success as as a surgeon.  So next time you are having ask .. them what their score is on super mario.. they compare the cognitive functioning of the game playing and the micro surgery, they had comparable key skills, ie pressure, adrenalin. etc.

Manipulating the environment: Executive function

  • Aspects of our thinking that relate to how we control our thoughts and actions

When we look at the brain and the development of the brain…it developments throughout out our schooling, Executive function development, improves dramatically over our school years, and the combination of these functioning.

Rider= controlled conscious thinking

Elephant =is in

How do we develop these critical executive function/ self-regulation abilities?

  • Overlay pathways
  • Risk taking
  • how  the elephant responses to people ( up hill climb)
  • practice

What we need to do as leaders in schools is investigate the Environment, overtakes the genetic disposition.

When you view a study, Walter Mischiel- classic Marshmallow Experiment’ importance of self-control. 4 year old  ‘ resisting marshmallows= frustration, self-esteem-socialbility-SAT scores uni entry.. (The researcher then researched the same 4 year olds when 19 years old and there was a direct link to

EXECUTIVE functions… little correlation with IQ..Correlation with fluid intelligence..

Tools of the mind – Curriculum.

Core of 40 activities to promote EF and self regulation ‘Buddy reading– improve attention and listen/self regulation’

Strong emphasis on intentional, make believe: remembering role (WM),inhibit acting out of character, adjusting o the evolving plot )cognitive flexibility).

Evidence that backs this idea: Predicting the future! (from the past). Relating a student’s ability at 10 years, to the earning capacity at 30 years. the rank is as:

Aged 10 mathematics 5.9% ( cog)

Aged 10 application 4.7% ( none cog)

Aged 5 copying 3.2% (combination)

Aged 10 Reading 1.3 % (Cog)

From this point we need to understand how we create learning environments

  • Students view of themselves as al learner
  • students ability to learn ( not be taught).

martin.westwell  0400 773907  email martin.wetwell@flinders.edu.au

In what ways does your school foster a view of self as learners?

In what ways do you foster the development of (executive functions) the underpinning learning skills?

How does what you value influence those around you?

How do you incorporate evidence into your values, the values of others?

Vision and Directions: 2011 DG  of Ed & Training Michael Coutts-Trotter

” how the worlds most improved school systems keep getting better”


NSW performance to other countries. Graph of comparing Reading Literacy Acheivement: Korea, Singaporem Hong kong, Finland, China, taiwan, Japan are all above us..

High Quality / High Equity comparison… we are still laging behind other countries Korea, Finland, Hong Kong, Canada.

Michael presented the view athat systems movign from good to great emphasis.

Exemplar systems: raising calibre of entering teachers and principalship, Raising calibre of existing teachers and principals, school based decision making.

  • recruiting the right people to teaching—preparation & induction @ NSW.. Teach. nsw, we have a good leadership continuium. Taeher quality focus, centres of excellence, network of schools
  • Professional development: @ NSW.QT, SDDays, new scheme, PD budget in schools.
  • Coaching on Practice: @ NSW.National partnerships, mentoring
  • supporting self evaluation @ NSW Smart 2 Naplan data, national partnerships
  • giving schools flexibility: staffing flexibility
  • Learning communities: @ NSW.The system-school based learning communities.

Sustaining excellence

  • Establishing collaborative practices between teachers within and across schools
  • Develop a mediating layer between schools and the centre
  • Leadership continuity

Michael has also put forward the shift in financial support to Public schools, where treasury sits. That the inequity of 1 to 5 funding (5 being private).  The other big opportunity is the training of preservice teachers.  And yes, the state election, stability of leadership.

Vision and directions 2011. Gregory Prior

Greg began by presenting the lessons from 2010.

Along with the Future Forums and future directions.

Forums for the future took place at the end of last year. Firstly, the central working party began by developing a Charter for the Future Alliance, Developing Operational Guidelines and analyse and report findings from Regional Forums, finally to identify future directions.

This was also embellished with gathering places to hear the Principal voice, a look at the areas where there is gaps where there is no principal voice.

Naturally,  Greg spoke about the Data that informs our decision making, ie Naplan results and reaching expected growth.  However, Overall, year 5 and year 9 needs attention. Concerns over writing, with general declining performance, particularly years 7 & 9. Best students are not performing.  As we would be aware we are in the last year of our targets and have interim targets in place. We will be looking at growth targets. The data for both HSC and SC shows growth.

In the national agenda, ACARA which reflects: My school website on the 4th March, Australian Curriculum. National Standards which focusses on  teachers and Principals. National Partnerships is an area where we can transfer the materials from this initiative to our context. Finally, Aboriginal education will always remain a focus. Those Aboriginal students who complete year 12, adds 12 years to their life expectancy. That is a powerful statistic.

Operational practices.

SALM, SAP, 47 schools project pilot, HR pilot, more authority to you as a Principal which will supposedly support your decision making, Greg, did reiterate that this does not equate to more work. (Principals may question this statement).


Under this heading sits DER and connected Classrooms which embeds into teaching and learning.

Teaching and Learning

We are inclusive with our schools and we must be  focus on the areas of teaching and learning. Including Curriculum, CLIC, Asian languages, leadership development, student well being ( role of school counsellors), Smart2 and the leaving age.

Touchstone the Melbourne Declaration 2008

Finding the path to 21st Century learning.

Goals for all 21st century learners

A range of skills are needed to

21st Century skills

The capacity for :

problem solving and decsion making

Creative and critical thinking

collaboration , communciation and negotiation

Intellectual curiostiy

Finding, selecting, structuring and evaluatin information

The motivation to be:

  • A self starter (self-regulating, responsive and reflective)
  • A life long learner.

The focus from an overview is learning to the power 4… Learning4

Teachers> Leadership>Curriculum>Leadership

Teachers and these issues are that we need to attract the very top and high quality teachers: and we need to attract the top 30% of graduates. Improve instruction through coaching and practical training enabling teachers to learn.

Curriculum focus is well defined and holistic which includes a strong focus on numeracy and literacy skill development in the early years, ensuring that there is relevant content and high standards at all stages. All within the Quality teaching framework.

Lastly, Leadership, devloping high quality system leadership which involves getting the right teachers to become principals by devleoping instructional leadership skills by focusing on intstrucitonal leadership ( the leading learner) and  promoting distributed leadership within schools.

Principles of the learning4 Society

“How can we get people into school”……

Mckinsey & Co.. Practices of Successful leaders-

Building a shared vision and sense of purpose

understanding and developing people

monitor performance

connecting the school to parents and the community

Beliefs, attitudes & personal attributes

  • Focussed on student achievment; puts children ahead of personal or other interests.
  • take risks

Not the how but the Why?


QUALITY TEACHING AWARDS….. do we have someone to nominate… we must!

Finally,  The Regional Director Jane Simmons Regional Perspectives 2011

1. Setting the Scene. 2.Identifying the Landscape 3. The Obstacles.

1. Setting the Scene

  • conversations have the capacity to promote reflection
  • to create and exchange craft knowledge
  • to help improve the organisation

Performance and growth... complex conversation about the data and what we do with that data, scatter graph showing good performance in primary, and we are needing looking at the Value added.. showing us a variety of information to align directions.

What should our growth be?  target – 60% of all students achieve expected growth….

This is a change in thinking.. it tells us about individual students, individually in our schools to look at each individual student and the expected growth and has a direct link to the quality of the teaching and learning programs.

How can we improve?

Improvements in Primary are more significant than in the secondary situation.  At regional level we have to focus on the these targets. Such as focussing on Ideas, vocab, Paragraphing, setting sentence, and structure

Writing with purpose; 7-12 project, boys in Literacy K-12, Grammar K-8.

Other data Sources- student Welfare including funding support expenditure and suspensions, attendance. student particiaption in leadership.etc

2. Identifying the Landscape ” Significant changs in organisataions begin with significant changs in

what leaders think?

what leaders do?

what leaders believe?


To foster and lead differentiated learning ( high expectations)

To build Leadership CAPACITY…

To be recognised as providing a QUALITY SERVICE..



3. Painting Our Future

“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious”- Samuel Johnson.

Opportunity to discuss the issues… in groups..


Principal of a fantastic secondary public school where our young people enliven their dreams through a growth mindset to fulfil their potential. Focussed on leadership that makes a difference in my school.

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