"Collaboration, cooperation, co-creation, celebrating diversity and innovation" are words used by Greg Whitby in his presentation to the Congress of Catholic Schools in Rome, 2015. "If we are to truly transform schooling for a new age, we need to look for partnerships between schools and systems....It is the active work of the community of learners that will drive change and innovation..."
(Whitby, G., 2016, Topics ACPPA, Vol 26, No.3)
Although I had only been a principal in Melbourne for three weeks, the opportunity to collaborate with like minded principals through a Digital Literacy School Grant application, was a great way to build transformational partnerships. It provided an excellent opportunity for our schools to exchange best practice, ideas and innovation as a community of learners.
I had already experienced the benefits of cluster-based school collaboration as a vehicle for school improvement, through involvement in the Learning and Change Network in New Zealand. This short video explains the benefits of such networks:
Fullan and Munby (2016) share the values of effective outcomes-based collaboration as a benefit of focused, productive networks. In these networks, leaders, teachers and students challenge, support, innovate and learn from one another to measurably improve outcomes. You can read more in Fullan and Munby's global dialogue think piece - Inside out and downside -up at this link. In this article, Fullan and Munby describe the eight critical success factors for effective system - wide school collaboration including the need for partnerships to move from collaboration to co-responsibility to a position of shared accountability.
When the principals and leaders from six schools came together, we came well prepared. We familiarised ourselves with the grant application and mooted ideas on a google document before we met. We shared some background on our school practices and read the article from Fullan and Munby. Rich dialogue led to the drafting of our goals and outcomes. We each chose to complete a portion of the application on a shared document within the expected timeframe. One of the principals offered to proofread and another took responsibility for submitting the application. We agreed that we would proceed with our plans to work together regardless of the success of the application.
As a new principal to the group, I sensed the enthusiasm and passion from the other leaders. The process of collaboration, co-responsibility and co-creation was an energising and rewarding experience. I am looking forward to our communities of learners working together to drive change and innovation in 2017 and truly transform our schooling for the new age.
|Some of our leaders collaborating at St Paul the Apostle North, Endeavour Hills. |
newly formed South East Digital Literacy Group SEDL