World Class Global Learners

What does world class look like in a school?

As I prepared for our UHS Summit, a conference at UHS ‘the journey toward Project Based Learning’, I ask myself. What does a world class school look like? The driving question for my project.. What is that principals and school leaders do that transforms a school to build world class learners. The same question I keep asking myself,  compare to the #TheRipCurlSearch for the perfect wave. Chasing the perfect balance of learning.  Its always deep inside me. This year and many more before,  it is my thinking about what it takes to have a school world class. How do you get it?

It…. defined as?

That great teacher, lesson, learning experience, and one that is transformative for students and teachers,  that are creating dreams of achievement.

One needs to ask and consider your vision. What do you want learning to look like? What do you want teachers to be doing? What do you want students to be doing?

“we are all gifted… only the context determines the evidence”


Ron Berger’s Ethic of Excellence (2003) rings true. Creating a work of excellence is transformational. Once a student sees that he or she is capable of quality, of excellence, that student is never quite the same. There is a new self-image, a new notion of possibility. There is an appetite for excellence. After students have had a taste of excellence, they’re never quite satisfied with less. Schools need to create a culture where it’s “cool to care.”

Five practices are essential for creating and sustaining a classroom culture of excellence: (1) assign work that matters; (2) study examples of excellence; (3) build a culture of critique; (4) require multiple revisions; and (5) provide opportunities for public presentation.


Austin’s Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work.Austins Butterfly building a work of excellence

When I interviewed  Yong Zhao, from Oregon University in 2014, he outlined 4 ideas of what one needs to build entrepreneurial world class students.
1. Imagine a View of future self (education can build this or dismantle). Teachers introduce students to a world that is beyond, the present realm. Imagine themselves in the future.
2. Self confidence of their ability, whatever that is (everyone has something they are good at, I mean everyone).
3.Ability to connect with groups, small social connection with groups, and then with an adult who cares.
4. Opportunity to show (exhibit) what they can do and what they are good at, the opportunity to contribute, the entrepreneurial key in all of us.

Screenshot 2017-05-03 23.12.50

Enter, High Tech High;

  • Teacher partners, real projects and real audiences.
  • Inch wide, mile deep approach to learning.
  • Engaging students.
  • Follow passions, teachers and students.
  • Product of learning is excellence.
  • Real world connections, relationships.
  • Creativity, skill development, engage.

January 2014 when visiting HTH. 

Screenshot 2017-05-03 23.12.28

The story

  • students and teachers create the project/product for a real world audience.
  • students and teachers together agree on the assessment rubric at the start
  • teachers have teacher partners
  • projects can be small or humongous
  • technology is just a tool

The pedagogy looks like.. 

Today, we remain learners – 

  • Discussion is not deciding
  • Suspend Judgment
  • Encourage Wild Ideas
  • Expand Divergent Thinking

Appreciative Enquiry

Cycle of Appreciative Inquiry

Screenshot 2017-05-03 23.18.29

So what about the leadership.  My research has taken me across Australia, Indonesia, Korea, China, and the USA.

Consistent Practices of leaders

  • Educational Vision
  • Personal qualities
  • networking, use of champions, mentoring systems focusing on quality teaching
  • Professional learning communities within school and beyond
  • School structural reform in the support of 21st century learners
  • innovative interpretation of the curriculum with a focus on pedagogy
  • Resource management
  • personal use of emerging technologies in leadership

While this is not exhaustive, passion, drive, high emotional intelligence is assumed.

In 2014,  I was awarded the Premiers Leadership Scholarship PRemiers Awards 2015 and undertook study investigating the leadership qualities Creative World Class Entrepreneurial and Asia Literate Learners.

This research has continued to inform me. I am forever grateful for the inspiring conversations I have had with Laura McBain. An inspiring and intelligent leader who has changed my view and many others about the ‘work that matters’ .

Our Journey… from ideas to projects, to inventions to EXPO@UHS, a celebration of learning.



Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students (Heinemann, 2003).

Yong Zhao World Class Global Learners

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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