Shared drives and the Sea of Change

We thought it would be helpful to check in with the EDfutures community every now and then with a little round-up of what we’ve been up to at the Fogarty Foundation. And so, without further ado, here’s our EDfutures Round-Up: July edition!

Phew, OK, it’s been a crazy six weeks since we launched EDfutures on May 29th! Our mission at the Foundation is to support the EDfutures community to grow the BIG vision of our little ecosystem. While all the heads down, bums up action that entails is exciting, this round-up presents a good opportunity for us to pause and have a, “what the hell have we been doing with our lives?” moment.

After finishing up on launch night, I was seriously eyeing up the remaining Little Creatures Pale Ales! Being pregnant, I settled for a hot cup of Milo which, after reading the “nutrition” information, I decided was basically like eating a salad — Iron, B vitamins… Milo, my hero! I took a couple of days downtime to stare blankly into the distance and then it was right back to business.

What follows is a snapshot of some of the key initiatives we focussed on over the last few weeks — the ideas, who we talked with and what we learned.

Community Shared Drive: Should this be a thing?

Origins of idea:

It’s 2015 and I’ve self selected to teach the new ATAR Psychology unit. I’m generally no fan of textbooks, but with little background in Psych and with this being an ATAR course, the fact that the course textbook hasn’t even been written yet has meant that the sense of impending doom is strong! I begin my Google assault in a bid to collate some resources.

I can’t remember the saintly character who told me about Psychology Teachers of WA on Facebook, but thanks to whoever that person was, I was able to connect with a community of teachers from a range of WA schools to chat, ask questions, take advice and, most importantly, share much needed resources that were tailored to the WA curriculum.

Since then, many conversations have been had with many educators (teachers, school leaders and admin, education service providers etc.), all coming to similar conclusions; that often, the sheer number of resources available to teachers can be off-putting. Overwhelmed, we shrink back into our bubbles and commit to creating our own resources — usually a mish-mash of things we have come across online, supplemented with some old worksheets we found on the school’s shared-drive that were made by someone called “Brenda”, in 2011.

Summary of idea:

Our idea is relatively modest, a simple shared drive where K-12 teachers from schools across WA can share resources and ideas from the classroom — A grassroots marketplace for innovative ideas and an entry point to the curriculum for new, early career and out-of-learning-area teachers whose only other option is staying up on the 2AM hamster wheel while reinventing the resources wheel. In these early stages, we just wanted to understand if EDfutures might be a helpful convenor in this space and if so, how? Would a community shared drive be useful? Is it necessary?

Who we’ve met so far:

Soon after the launch, Annie Fogarty and I headed to the Catholic Education offices in Leederville. We met with Gabrielle Doyle and Edward Simons to discuss EDfutures and hear more about the Leading Lights project underway at CEWA. We were particularly keen to discuss our ideas for the cross-sectoral shared drive, and gain some insights and advice as to how we might tackle this and whether it would be a worthy cause. We had previously met with Valerie Gould and Ron Gorman at AISWA for an enthusiastic pow wow to discuss not only EDfutures, but also the EDvance program, and we touched on the idea there. Before that, we chatted with some crew from the Department of Education who provided extremely helpful comments for consideration as well as following up with suggestions relating to copyright, quality control and all of the nitty-gritty details that come with this type of proposal (big shout out to Laurence Shepherd and Mark Prindiville for their help!).

We followed up on the CEWA visit with another meeting, this time with the Digital Transformation team including Tony Panetta, Aiden McCarthy, Nicole Adams and Ezzard Bryant. We were super impressed with how they have been developing the ClanED platform as a collaborative space for teachers in WA.

Our reflections:

For myself and Annie, it was really encouraging to see our enthusiasm matched in each meeting, in particular, enthusiasm for the idea of cross-sectoral sharing and finding the best way to support all WA teachers. We were impressed by the platforms already in use and in development, it really hit home the ways in which the internet has opened up the classroom and made collaboration within schools, across schools, across states and across national boundaries a reality. We felt like little fish in a big, well-resourced pond after these meetings, but we’ll keep the conversation threads running to see if EDfutures can be of use somehow— watch this space!

Sea of Change: Youth Series

Origins of idea:

It started with a Tweet! Pasi Sahlberg’s to be specific, “I would like to remind you of the importance of keeping children on our side in the sea of change…”

As we developed EDfutures, Annie had made the suggestion that we include “EDfutures Youth” as it’s own membership category — a great idea! Even though we decided to hold-off on creating another stand-alone membership for the moment, we are committed to bringing young people along with us and hearing their voices as we challenge the status quo in education. Sahlberg’s tweet was a good reminder, “Ok, we need to get on to that shiznit!”

Summary of idea:

The idea is to organise a youth series under the EDfutures umbrella for 2019. It would kick off with a forum, where young people (Yr 10 & 11) from schools around WA come together to discuss the issues that matter most to them. We want to know how our education system can be improved, from the mouth of the customer.

These student reps would return to their schools to run a sensemaking activity, gathering feedback on the current state of the education system and areas for improvement (the future state) from other young people.

Finally, the original student reps would return to workshop through the data collected so that a report could be developed, highlighting student voice. This report could then be launched and presented to the powers that be (nebulous reference to fancy people in business attire, possibly in government). This series would give us in a rich insight into what young people in WA are thinking and saying about the education system, as well as their road map for the future.

Who we met:

When you need advice on youth engagement, who you gonna call? ZACH GIBSON, of course! Zach is a lecturer in community services (Youth Work) at North Metropolitan TAFE and one of our favourite people. I caught up with Zach over coffee on King Street to discuss the Sea of Change idea and get his insights.

Zach then introduced me to Ross and Liandra from YACWA. We met at their Leederville offices for a chat on a rainy Friday afternoon and I left with a serious fan-girl crush! YACWA is a fantastic organisation and we’re lucky to have them as co-conspirators — their mission intersects so well with our own (Venn diagram, anyone?). Next up, Zach and I met the Chetty Bros, Craig and Jeremy from Student Edge. While our aim was to discuss Sea of Change, we decided after an hour that we’d have to arrange a follow up meeting as we got completely sidetracked just chatting through EDfutures! My brain was fried afterwards from the creative onslaught of ideas and Karen Wellington and I will be catching up again soon to gain more insights from this powerhouse WA-duo!

Our reflections:

I had a throwback moment when chatting with Ross and Liandra at YACWA; one of the first thoughts I had after stepping into the classroom on my internship year as a teacher in Ireland was, “where are the youth workers?!”. I had spent some time at “The Gaff” our then local youth cafe and had also attended a workshop there on youth support. It seemed crazy to me that the education community weren’t drawing more heavily on the youth sector for support and insight into our key demographic!

After meeting with just two WA organisations in the sector, it was clear that this Sea of Change idea, however it might progress, would be an opportunity to learn not only from young people, but also from the organisations, staff and amazing volunteers that work with young people outside of the traditional classroom setting — bring it on!

I don’t want this to become too much of an essay, so I’ll wind-up the round-up there! Of course, there were many other highlights: attending UNAAWA’s Student Parliament Day at parliament house, meeting Adam Mostogl, founder of Illuminate Education, attending Teach for Australia’s Future of Work event (with FF’s Jenny Devine on the panel!), the STEAM Teach Meet at Scitech, catch ups with Dr Sue Ledger from Murdoch Uni, Dr Lily Taylor from ECU, Prof. Vaille Dawson from UWA, David Hollands from HP, FEDD-head Paul Moro, “the matriarch” Bhavneet Singh and our regular chats with most supreme leader and wise chief, Prof David Gibson.

… not forgetting the ongoing mission to organise community events! Deadlines shmedlines, we’ve finally locked in some dates! Hurrah!

I’ll save those stories for the next round up!