A reflection on my participation with a collective looking at the re-imagination of student reporting and the innovation associated with people and processes.
I was recently reflecting upon an ongoing reporting collective that I have been a part of for the last year and a half. One of the things that I have noticed is how hard change is. It often takes a long time and considerable commitment to turn turn the ship. For example, in a previous project, a principal shared with me that it had probably taken his school five year to transform the way in which teachers engage with data to inform learning within his school. Unless it is a new school or a school in crisis (e.g. Templestowe College), this timeline seems to be common trend.
It can therefore be a challenge to identify the specific points of change based on a year and a bit. One of the reasons is that sometimes we have a predefined ideal as to what such change might look like. A mindset of revolution rather than renaissance. It therefore occurred to me that I might have been thinking about this all the wrong way. Although the schools a part of the collective had not radically torn up their reports. They were still restricted to what providers make possible and the expectations of the various constituents. Instead the innovation came through in the actions, rather than the end product.
I would break this practice up into four aspects:
One of the biggest inhibitors of change seems to be time. This is captured in part by Tom Barrett’s discussion of innovation compression. There is something about committing yourself to regular meetings.
It is important to have structure to guide things. This has come in several forms, such as appropriate spaces to work collaboratively and activities that supported the reflective process.
Associated with the structure is the opportunity to celebrate the small wins to maintain energy and motivation. Sometimes when you work in a small team driving change this is missed.
Beyond the explicit structures, one of the most powerful aspects to come out of the collective has been the serendipitous conversations. Although it is possible to structure opportunities to share, sometimes the greatest learning comes through in the random conversation. This is something that I describe as the hidden professional development.
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