Monday, 8 June 2015

#EdVentures Part 1: An agile school benefits from uplifting leaders who aim to improve teacher quality.

“No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own”  (Gawande, 2011).

To drive improved student outcomes, school systems in Australia and around the world are aspiring to improve the quality of teaching. Teaching is a complex endeavour and without support, it is extremely difficult to reach and then maintain the highest levels of performance. As Atul Gawande (2011) noted, “No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own”. To promote excellence in the profession of teaching, I believe it is vital to invest in our teachers through mentoring and coaching and create a positive culture through uplifting leadership. Andy Hargreaves and Alma Harris indicate that ‘Uplifting Leaders’ are those who empower and inspire others to contribute to a positive school culture.  According to Wiliam (2014), higher educational achievement requires increased teacher quality, which requires investing in the teachers already working in our schools. He argues that this investment needs to take a radically different approach to their usual professional development they receive. In my opinion, receiving professional development does not necessarily indicate that teachers are engaged in or drive their own professional learning.

My goal is to develop my coordinator role to incorporate the skills of an instructional leader and coach, while balancing the required administrative demands. As a participant of Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership at HGSE, I expect to develop my leadership skills, efficacy and ability to support teacher development and student achievement. I hope to expand my understanding of leadership and explore multiple approaches for addressing the challenges I may encounter. I anticipate this program will expand my knowledge, expose me to new ways of thinking about leadership and ultimately, enhance my work with colleagues and students. I will explore successful models for school improvement with a focus on how to implement curriculum innovation. Upon completion of the program, I hope to have examined my own leadership challenges in the context of instructional improvement and developed a better understanding of how to lead more effectively. 

For my Twitter chat, #SatChatOC, I was fortunate to collaborate with Simon Breakspear on questions for the topic, ‘Leading others through change’. Fortunately, I recently attended an AIS workshop with Simon to design a K-2 learning vision and strategy using the ‘Leading the Agile School’ framework ( Attending ISTE will support this professional learning plan and the K-2 learning project as my focus will be engaging students through Project Based Learning and Design Thinking. I strongly believe that giving students a voice and choice improves students engagement and promotes their love of learning. I will also concentrate on best practices and strategies for developing digital age literacy. I intend to explore strategies for collaborating with colleagues and various resources that assist when making decisions based on data.

My ultimate goal will always be to improve student achievement and develop their love of learning. This should include measurable outcomes with informative data, as well as a solid sense of self-efficacy, a growth mindset and a strong partnership with their peers, parents and the community. Through developing teacher quality, I believe student outcomes and engagement will improve. With a strong interest in coaching and mentoring, I see how one can transition from one to the other but at the same time, they are very different.
  • Coaching means to transform thinking. A coach asks questions that generate ideas that belong to the one being coached.
  • Collaborate means to form ideas. Collaborating is collectively creating ideas and problem solving but is not a distributive task.
  • Mentor means to inform. Mentoring is where experts give advice and share knowledge to help improve one’s practice.
  • Evaluate means to conform. Your ability is judged against certain criteria to determine your effectiveness as a teacher.
While I have a strong understanding of the various concepts, I would like to put my conceptual understanding into practice at Wenona. Wenona’s mission is to provide an outstanding, global education for the girls in our care, by developing a contemporary, innovative and engaged learning community. Instructional Coaching is a partnership approach to improving instruction (Knight, 2007). My goal is to support my colleagues and learn how to further develop their capacity. One of our main purposes is to develop leadership within a strong service culture, and I believe by developing my leadership skills, I will serve the students and parents of Wenona, while building the capacity of my colleagues.

At first, I felt fortunate and thrilled to be accepted to Harvard. Then, I was excited and humbled to receive the Wenona Fellowship, which now allows me many more fantastic educational opportunities. I believe this learning adventure is an opportunity and a wonderful gift and if you would like to follow my journey, please view this blog site for updates and follow the #EdVentures hashtag on Twitter.

Gratitude Journal - (more to come)
Dr Briony Scott, Mark Staker and the Wenona School for providing this opportunity.
Mr David Ivers for your support and guidance with my Harvard application.


Gawande, Atul. 'Personal Best - The New Yorker'. The New Yorker. N.p., 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Institute of Education. 'Invest In Teachers To Raise Achievement'. N.p., 2009. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Knight, J. (2007) 'Instructional Coaching',

Wiliam, Dylan. The Formative Evaluation of Teaching Performance. N.p.: Centre for Strategic Education, n.d. Occasional Pape 137. Centre for Strategic Education, Sept. 2014. Web. 7 June 2015  from


  1. Great post Andrea! I don't know anyone else at Wenona but I can't imagine a more worthy recipient of this award. I know that you will squeeze every last drop of learning out of the experience AND that you will share this with the world! I look forward to following the #EdVenture :)

  2. I look forward to following your journey. Enjoy the experience, push yourself out of your comfort zone and learnt.

  3. And she is off! Watch this space.......