Leading The Way
When QUT nominated Dr Linda Evans to be awarded for her doctoral study in Educational Leadership and Management, at the recent Australian Council for Educational Leaders Queensland Awards Evening, she was humbled. Her sole intention for the study was to understand how teachers learn best in order to provide the best learning conditions for students within their classrooms.
“I think there’s a strong emphasis on professional learning that happens at Fairholme, and really that was the focus of my study. How professional learning within the school, can lead to improved teaching practices and improved learning for students.”
Dr Evans put five years of research into her part-time study, and is confident that her own learning will, and is, having a ripple effect in relation to the way teachers reflect upon their practice, and adjust their practices in order to improve student outcomes.
The school is working with Paul Herbert, an author and education consultant who specialises in innovative teacher practices.
“Paul consults in schools to design extensive professional learning programs that enhance teaching pedagogy, he also lectures in education at the University of Southern Queensland. He has been working with us for the last two years, allowing all teaching staff the benefit of reflecting upon practices, enhancing practices and working towards improved learning opportunities for students working. We have also established focus groups who work collaboratively to unpack their pedagogical practices, reflect upon it and ultimately reshape it for improved student learning conditions.
Dr Evans says that professional learning through conferencing often has a short lived impact on teachers. She sees it as a wonderful opportunity to network, to refresh professionally but believes that it rarely leads to long term improvement in the same way that action research or collaborative practice sited within the school does. Working collaboratively upon solving a school-based problem has had a much greater impact on teachers, and in turn the school.
Mr Herbert agrees and says what Fairholme is doing is ground breaking.
The school has worked on developing its own pedagogical framework: the Principles of Teaching and Learning (PoLT). PoLT has been developed through the Victorian Education system and has a strong emphasis on the development of positive independent learning.
Dr Evans is very keen to have that embedded into teacher practice across the College. In the long term it allows for students to be skilled as independent and interdependent learners.
According to Paul Herbert, “What you’re now seeing at Fairholme, can be directly linked to what’s happening in the Kindy all the way through. You are beginning to see that emerge. Fairholme is providing a model for other schools to follow.”
Paul Herbert continues to work closely with teachers across all sub schools, with the goal for the framework to be embedded within the entire school.
“We’re looking at unpacking what the 21st century graduate looks like. We’re trying to provide students with the right skills to be successful in what they want in life.”
Mr Herbert says workplaces have changed and there’s no longer a job where the employee learns one skill.
“Now it’s all about working collaboratively and having the skills to put your ideas forward, listen to others and develop your own project further. I would say Linda is deserving of this award and all schools should be sitting up and taking note so that they too can make positive changes.”
Three awards in the category of ‘Research in Educational Leadership and Management Awards’ were presented on the evening.