I have always been passionate about being practical to the profession. The profession is those incredibly hardworking educators that every day improve the learning outcomes of the students in their care. I have been fortunate in my work in schools as an educator, researcher and policy maker to connect to the profession in many different settings. It is these connections that have the power to transform and drive my work at Evidence for Learning.
The 2016 ACEL National Educational Leadership Conference 'Leadership with Insight and Innovation' facilitated my connection to some remarkable educators who are driving evidence-based changes within their settings. On the first day of the conference I happened to sit next to one such educator, Cath Apanah, Assistant Principal of Montrose Bay High in Tasmania.
I learnt that Cath was awarded the 2016 ACEL New Voice scholarship. Working with the schools Literacy Team, they have used data to inform a whole school focus on writing through the development and implementation of a Write to Learn program. The program has worked to build the capacity of staff to plan for and deliver targeted teaching strategies. The team has used visible data sharing, and feedback and support mechanisms with staff combining success and accountability.
Cath visited the Evidence for Learning stand demonstrating the Teaching & Learning Toolkit. I talked her through our Impact Evaluation Cycle, and she said this connected strongly with the work that she was undertaking at her school. At the time, I was planning for Evidence for Learning's Evidence Exchange, a one-day conference designed to help education professionals be guided, and equipped to use evidence in their practice. I was looking for an educator to clearly articulate their use of data analysis within the Impetus stage of the Cycle. I asked Cath to describe the methodology of her approach, I was impressed by her ability to clearly articulate her journey with Montrose Bay High and how she was driving practice change through evidence.
Cath presented on the next day during the Transforming Education: A Fresh perspective – Panel Discussion. With clarity and passion, Cath presented her schools work. I found it so inspiring to hear her and the other exceptional educators explain their work and vision for the coming year. I asked Cath to consider presenting her work in further detail at the Evidence Exchange.
Evidence for Learning were fortunate to have Rob Randall, CEO of ACARA present at the Evidence Exchange. He was followed by Cath who explained her use of Guttman charts in analysing NAPLAN data to inform next steps for educators at her school. Rob was impressed by Cath’s use of NAPLAN data asked Cath could send her presentation.
It was this moment that really captured my passion for evidence in education - for this is what the Evidence Ecosystem is framed on - the frontline professional as the driver for change within the system.
It was then that a key realisation occurred to me, in order to be practical to the profession I needed to facilitate the voice of the profession to be heard. To help educators share their evidence in meaningful ways so that great educational practice becomes common practice.