Game Changers in education are those brave pioneers whose innovative ideas are shaping the landscape of 21C schooling. They don’t wait for permission. They are courageous enough through their leadership to make real change in their learning communities as they foster the growth of each young person in their care and equip them with the necessary character, confidence, and competencies to experience success on The Pathway to Excellence by acquiring the adaptive expertise and self-efficacy to flourish in a new world environment.
THRIVING IN CHANGE – THE RATIONALE FOR GAME CHANGERS
The volume, pace and intensity of our times demands of us more than ever before. As a consequence, we are engaged in many rich conversations with colleagues in education around the world about what is happening in education right now. We are learning so much about the capacity of our profession to effect significant changes in such a constructive and effective manner. What seemed impossible or undesirable in the recent past is now the new reality and we are all taking away from this experience new competencies for providing an education for our students that will equip them to thrive in this world. Our knowledge, skills, dispositions, and learning habits are all changing because they have to. We are changing ourselves, we are changing our work, we are changing the way we connect with and support the whole education of our students and their families. We're changing the game of education right now.
What are the rules of the game?
- The continuous learning which is relevant to our times is not the same as learning in a traditional school environment – we need a new model.
- The model that is being created right now draws on the wisdom, adaptive expertise and self-efficacy of colleagues all over the world who might never have imagined what they are doing right now was possible – we can and are making this new model real.
- We are realising that less is more, that our values and relationships are essential to supporting learning and that the physical, personal and emotional needs of our students cannot be overlooked by systems – we are holding on to the essential and enduring components of education, even if we are finding new ways in which they might be manifested.
- Creating successful learning that goes way beyond our previous experiences of “school” is both possible and desirable – we can’t imagine that we will go back to exactly what we had before unchanged by the evidence of what is working now in the new world environment.
- The exact possibilities of this new model are not yet clear and it is necessary to experiment and iterate in an environment where less is more and connection requires collaboration, voice and agency from all – our humanity is at the heart of what we are doing so we need to take good care of it individually and together.
All of this means that we need to understand our current context is another stage in our learning journey as a school. It is all part of becoming a School for tomorrow.
“As what is “ordinary” in the daily course of human activity is being redefined on a daily basis, we are all recognising the compelling social need for children to continue to engage in their learning. We can’t just fall into the easy routines and rhythms of the past – we need to go back to first principles to examine and validate the learning work that is going on. If we are going to build a school for tomorrow, then we need to do the things that work.”
Dr Philip SA Cummins and Adriano Di Prato
a School for tomorrow. wants to help its students, teachers, and school leaders to acquire the adaptive expertise and self-efficacy required for them to thrive in their world. The core business of a School for tomorrow. is to help its students to express the civic character of belonging, the performance character of fulfilling potential and the moral character of doing what is good and right so that they might achieve success – progress and wellness on The Pathway to Excellence.
The Way to achieve this is by committing to a whole education for the whole person; it is an acknowledgement that character is the reason why we do school. Putting The Way into practice starts with the design and delivery of a research-driven and evidence-based whole-school framework for an education for character and competency that promote the qualities of student aspiration, experience, agency, voice, and resource and which designed for and organised around an agreed set of graduate outcomes that, in themselves, constitute thriving: good person, future builder, continuous learner and unlearner, solution architect, responsible citizen and team creator.
a School for tomorrow. sustains its performance in achieving this educational purpose through the development of fit for purpose 21C learning culture. This means stepping forward into a preferred future where: vision and vocabulary are shared; value propositions are agreed by the school community; and the velocity, shape, and trajectory of change are designed and implemented to meet the needs of internal and external contexts. In other words, we do what we need to do, what should be done, and what works.
LOCATING OUR CAPACITY TO BE GAME CHANGERS IN OUR WORK
School leaders direct, motivate, influence, and inspire people to achieve willingly the mission of a School for tomorrow. Their vocation as leaders is actualised through deliberate, targeted, and intentional action that aligns vision with intention and means.
School leadership, therefore, begins with who we are as people, flows into who we want to become, and is demonstrated through our actions in service of others. It is exercised in relationship with those around us and our environment. It is the articulation of a desire to achieve better outcomes for learners through an inside-out process of school development that aligns with The Pathway to Excellence, a model for human development that has purpose at its heart. It is about a journey of inquiry in search of meaning and the discovery of truth and relevance. The journey helps learners to:
- Learn the self-awareness of knowing ourselves through asking: who am I?
- Live in relationships built by earning our places through asking: where do I fit in?
- Lead as a servant who goes on a journey from me to you to us through asking the question: how can I best serve others?
- Work vocationally and find our calling by asking the question: whose am I?
The character of school leaders is about developing their capacity to achieve willingly the mission of the school by building capacity in areas that align directly with the student competencies of learn, live, lead and work:
- Education: Influencing as a research-driven instructional leader
- Culture: Inspiring as a growth-minded change leader
- Strategy and leadership: Directing as a mission-oriented servant leader
- Performance and systems: Motivating as an evidence-based high-performance leader
This leadership character is drawn from values of meaningfulness, authenticity, transformation, sustainability, service, and relationship and demonstrated through specific leadership competencies that align with the student graduate outcomes of good people, future builder, continuous learner and unlearner, solution architect, responsible citizen and team creator:
- Orientating through understanding and managing change
- Focusing through problem-solving and decision-making, and enriching through team cultivation
- Informing through creating and communicating vision, and aligning through values-based leadership style
- Strengthening through disciplined and purpose-driven practice
School leaders build character capital in a school community through their character labour, especially through role modelling and development of character competency; institutional self-efficacy results from their will and their capacity to embed a shared commitment to “what we want, why we want it and how we do it”. All of this requires educators to embark on the journey of the leader who equips, empowers and enables the journey of the team and the journey of the school to do this very important work of personalising, aligning and integrating an education for character and competency that equips, empowers and enables students with the adaptive expertise and self-efficacy for them to experience success – progress and wellness on The Pathway to Excellence.
Life must go on. As what is “ordinary” in the daily course of human activity is being redefined on a daily basis, we are all recognising the compelling social need for children to continue to engage in their learning. Students need to know what they are learning – aspiration. They need to go on journey of encounter, connection, challenge, and discovery to acquire character and competencies – experience. They need to join us as the co-authors of their narrative of this learning journey – agency. They need to discover their own identity and how best to express it through their learning and relationships – voice. And they need to be provided with the time, support, and conditions that will help them to make the most of their learning – resource. This requires school leaders to be more than inheritors of a received tradition or imitators of the work of others. They need to be prepared to be Game Changers, true pioneers who show the way forward for others to reinvent education.