Students and teachers gather at the Adelaide Zoo to design new approaches to learning
Schools from across Australia have come together to push their thinking around new approaches to improve student learning for the 21st Century. The South Australian Minister for Education, the Hon. Susan Close, MP opened The Adelaide Thought Leadership Gathering, at the Adelaide Zoo. Participants in Social Ventures Australia’s (SVA) Bright Spots Schools Connection (The Connection) initiative explored ways in which student voice could influence new teaching and learning practices.
Teachers and school leaders were joined by academics, design thinking experts and students from 8-18 years old to workshop new approaches to learning and teaching that would boost student engagement and help students build creative, collaborative and critical thinking skills. These skills have been identified as key to success in work and life as we move towards an increasingly knowledge-based economy and society.
Learners co-designing units of work
The event drew upon insights from South Australian Department for Education and Child Development’s Education’s Teaching for Effective Learning (TfEL) pilot, where authentic student involvement is prioritised. This includes learners co-designing units of work and in some schools even running professional development sessions for teachers. A preliminary evaluation of the pilot has shown that all pilot schools achieved higher than average state growth in 2015 NAPLAN results, with 100 per cent of teachers reporting that students brought high quality ideas to the design process.
Sue Cridge, Director of The Connection at SVA commented, ‘Students are experts in their own learning, so making sure their voice is heard as we look at new and better ways to help them learn is really important. The work taking place in South Australian schools has highlighted the accelerated growth possible when student’s inputs are considered and valued – the unprecedented results speak for themselves.
Focus on disadvantaged communities
The Connection focuses on schools serving disadvantaged communities, where accelerated growth is essential to enable students to achieve at the same level as students from more privileged backgrounds. It’s very exciting to have so many different people collaborating to understand how to ensure all students develop a life-long love of learning.’
Design thinking sessions
Part of the Thought Leadership Gathering included facilitated design thinking sessions where each school was asked to design a question that was relevant to their contexts, and then collaborate to develop a range of ideas to address the question. They ranged from questions about measuring dispositions and capabilities, to redefining student-teacher relationships to encourage communication and collaboration.
Rachel McLennan, Principal at Morphett Vale Primary School commented, ‘I felt so proud of my students; their thinking, commitment, the way they interacted with the other adults and students.
The Connection supports exceptional school leaders in disadvantaged schools through building a national community of exceptional educators – encouraging them to create, grow and share effective practice with each other and others so that all students can thrive.
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