Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Leading, Learning, Loving It, Leading Tomorrow’s Schools Today by Jenny Lewis

These are my notes from Jenny Lewis’ presentation “Leading, Learning, Loving It, Leading Tomorrow’s Schools Today” at the 21st Century Learning @ the West Lake Expo held Oct 31 – Nov 3, 2009 at Xi Hu, China, also known as West Lake. West Lake is in the center of Hangzhou, China, which is about an hour by bus southwest of Shanghai. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Jenny Lewis is the CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, past principal of Noumea Primary School, National Board member of “Teaching Australia for ACE and ACEL,” International Co-Chair of Microsoft Partners in Learning, Executive Officer of the International Congress of School Effectiveness and IMprovement, and Executive Board Member of…

As a former principal, there are some things I like to see in schools to make sure innovation is sustainable
– as we listen to other speakers, we must make sure these things are in place in our schools

We have some extraordinary things happening with technology around the world

Student Centered Learning
– many schools transforming to extraordinarily connected spaces
– we have many kids coming to school who have more technology and tech access at home than the school has
– in the latest US survey, students asked the school officials to please let them bring their own devices, because the school doesn’t have the tech resources they need

Many people will talk about the shift from traditional classroom to creative, connected classrooms
– moving from formal learning spaces to informal learning spaces
– mass learning to personalized learning
– competitive to collaborative learning and assessment
– restricted and constructed in learning to creative and extended
– instruction to personal author and innovator
– content focus to knowledge and sharing

We laso have discussion about systems of education becoming 21st century systems
– in Singapore they are about to launch the 2015 learning curriculum
– talking about expected outcomes for students (Strong Fundamentals, Future Learnings, C2015)

Confident and Concerned Citizens
Active Contributors
multicultural literacy
cross-cultural skills
civic literacy

This is the new vision of the Singapore government

Problem: have very visionary educational systems (like Singapore) and visionary principals, but sometimes we have teachers and some school principals not ready to become part of the 21st century learning environment

How can we help each other, start to grow creative schools with creative teachers, principals, leaders, students, and others?

These are the things that must be in our schools, and our school principals must do to insure 21st century learning is possible and happening
– governmental systems need to change on one hand
– the regional support and the support mechanisms that schools need to make this happen are available

A quality system theory of action
– purposeful teaching – whole school approach to curriculum and pedagogy, effective classrooms: the last 50 meters
– professional leadership: focus on teaching and learning – school and team leadership, capacity building, more…
– learning communities
– high expectations: safe and secure learning environment
– vision and accountability

there are many principals who do not know how to help the teaching and learning in the school

We need to honor and respect certain things
– New Habits, New Leadership
– sometimes school leaders are doing very brave things
– new habits are grounded in a holistic learning process

Artistry/Agility: Articulating, Aligning, Assuring, Anticipating

strategic leaders use these habits in running two protocols to drive learning and performance: strategic thinking and strategic execution
– even though some practices are very innovative and different, these leaders are able to assure parents, teachers and students that student achievement outcomes will improve

We have to start changing our mindsets
– in reality, would would like things to be different for our children, but we tend to hold on most tightly to those things with which we feel most comfortable

These are some things happening in the most innovative schools around the world

1- There has to be a cultural shift
– cultural change
– it is about confronting the current reality of what is really happening in our schools for children
– being honest about the real picture and the real work we have to do
– changing perceptopms

we need to be persistent about creating a new vision and talking about that vision

how have some schools done this?
school leadership have given permission to parents and teachers to debate about what is worth getting rid of
– giving permission to challenge the old ways and propose new ways

getting teachers to restate why they wanted to become teachers in the first place

Things schools have done
– they have gone in search of best practices
– recognized that change is hard but it is important
– leaders have created environments where it is OK to say “I am not happy”
– they have created staff rooms where the teachers can be honest and visionary on behalf of what they would like to do for their children

In the schools that are being the most successful, the children, the parents, and the administrators, and the gardeners have created a new school vision together
– that is the most important thing: the school vision must be in the hearts and minds of the children

“creating futures together” is the vision of Nanango State High
– that is the school vision
– in that school, all constituents can talk about what it means to have a future, and that is where TECHNOLOGY becomes important

A community of quality practice
– the student is at the center of all planning
– so there is a moral purpose to what happens in that school
– the teachers will create the school they will be proud to bring their own children too
– leadership must be very powerful and innovative
– must be shared leadership between teachers who just started teaching in the classroom yesterday, and the school principal
– so everybody is the leader of the change in the school
Everybody in the school gets to talk about what “things” are stopping good learning from happening
– it is ok to make mistakes, because it is part of the learning
– in these schools, the principal has such a strong vision, s/he makes sure every student is learning every day

When I was a school principal, these were my boys
– this school had to be the school I would be proud to bring my own boys to

By 9D – Nanango SHS:

Good teaching and learning involves a variety of new and exciting ideas for classroom activities. Where possible, activities should be hands on, creative and set in different environments. At the beginning of a unit students and teachers should set goals to have accomplished by the end of the unit. Students should be given choices, where possible, because everyone has different interests and learning abilities. Students need to be respected and treated as equals.

This goes back to that concept of shared leadership
– in these schools becoming 21st century schools, everyone is an equal in contributing to the 21st century

Andy Hargraves, in his book “The 4th Way” states: When teachers see learning through the eyes of the student and when students see themselves as their own teachers, we have TRUE 21st century classrooms


What else do we need to do to make sure a classroom is a 21st century learning space?
– does your school have an agreed schoolwide pedagogy?
– Do the teaching/learning programs that live in your classrooms reflect a schoolwide pedagogy?

one of the key questions we have in our Australian schools: Does the school have an agreed schoolwide pedagogy?
– everyone should now “how we teach around here” and no one is excluded

Key questions:
– What does teaching, learning, and assessment look like in all our classrooms?
– How do we record, review, and reflect the children’s learning?
– …so that we can report accurately to other teachers, to parents, and to the students themselves?
– How do I know that every teacher is making a difference for every child?

Do teachers base their work on authoritative theories?
Do teachers systematically examine their teaching in light of agreed standards in high quality instruction?
Do pedagogical priorities reflect the school vision?
Is student achievement measured against agreed, authoritative benchmakres

How does the principal know they are growing the best school in their state?
– these are very important discussions which schools must have before they make significant change
– they must make sure the change they are making is making a difference


Questions from schools in New Zealand
– What knowledge and skills do our students need?
– What knowledge and skills do we as teachers need?
– Deepen knowledge and refine skills
– Engage studetns in new learning experiences
– What has been the impact of our changed action?
– This leads back to the first question

When this happens in schools, the impact on change and learning is significant

There has to be a way that schools know they are making a difference
– otherwise we can have lots of ‘busy’ classrooms
– there is a difference between a ‘busy classroom’ and a ‘learning classroom’


Sometimes students can go through an entire day of school without learning anything new
– whether it is within the school or the system, there has to be a method of proving student growth

This is my schools’ growth
– in our NSW schools, student are tested in grade 3 and 5
– in this graph, the bottom arrow is where students were in grade 3
– the top of the arrow is where they were in year 5
– as a principal I would be accountable if those arrows did not move far enough
– the tests in NSW schools are against this state curriculum, so I as a principal will know what parts of the curriculum have not been taught well, and I can see which teachers have made an impact on children as well as which ones have not
– all of this has to go together

three types of conversations are needed (from West-Burnham and Otero – 2005)
– instructional conversations: usually seen in the classroom. Acquiring skill, guidance, knowledge external to ourselves
– learning conversations: closer to conversation where mutual growth is the end result. Relationship and task get equal attention.
– community conversations: vehicle for people express and share diverse views, negotiate and reaffirm directions and vision and develop social capital

To insure this happens, we need to grow successful leaders (shown on top of an image of a tree with deep roots)
– instructional leadership
– implement the best ideas
– common language / concepts: key so when we are talking about something in the staff room, everyone knows what we are talking about
– improve learning outcomes: anything we do, we spend money and time on must improve student outcomes

– in some countries and schools there has been a decision to change school leadership strategies
– we talk about 21st century schools and classrooms, but we still use “old language” like curriculum, lessons, and processes that we used with books
– key to talk about how we moved from a standards-based world to a capability-based world
– standards measure the past (what you have already done)

From the ACEL Leadership Capability Framework
– Leads self for learning
– Leads others for learning
– Leads the organization for learning

We have spent 600 hours of research developing this capability framework
– we have talked with Harvard University, Cambridge Univ, Oxford Univ, and many others throughout the world
– we agree these three dimensions (ABOVE) are the most important

You cannot be a successful leader if you cannot feel confident in yourself
– a successful leader will work with their community, staff, and children to bring about change in the school

See the PDF: Introducing the ACEL Draft Leadership Capability Framework and Curriculum Creating 21st Century Leaders

Everyone needs to have the same language, no matter when they joined the school

“The Paradox of Success: What got you where you are won’t keep you there.”
– we have to keep changing our mindset, be flexible learners ourselves, and we need to have fun with our learning
– “Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Ghandi

Janny Lewis’ email:
ceo [at]

Now Q&A:

Don Knezek asking Jenny know about how you select a single pedagogy for your school?

Answer from Jenny:
– base pedagogy choices based on good research
– many times we spend lots of money on PD in our schools on leaders which make learning look fun. In some of these cases lots of money is wasted, because later follow-up shows that those changes in practice have no impact on student achievement
– good leaders will talk through with their teachers the pedagogies which will make a difference that are research based
– pedagogy means teaching, learning, and assessment practices
– teachers and administrators choose the pedagogies which work the best for students

Milton Chen asking: I assume you believe school leaders can be trained/made and not just born.. so what are the best ways and places to grow school leaders like those you are describing?

Answer from Jenny:
– personally I believe school leaders (principals in particular) must learn on the job
– some of the program my organization is doing support a balance of theory and practice
– leaders who have become school principals come together to learn these theories and practice, and then practice in the school for 10 weeks. then they come learn together again, then practice for 10 weeks. Then they do this four times.
– We are insuring anyone training to become a school principal in our program must do a masters in education as well
– there is nothing like learning with people who are already successful in classrooms
– universities are half of the answer, but schools must work in partnership to grow 21st century leaders


Westley Fields now asking about the importance of good assessments / test regimes being in place, and what Jenny’s organization is doing to help insure the correct/best assessments are used

Answer from Jenny:
– in some countries there is a disconnect between what is happening in the classroom and what is being tested by the government
– although the governments have an obligation to do assessment, they must never ignore the curriculum the teachers are teaching since that is the shared language the schools share
– I have no problem when state assessment is done, as long as the information teachers get can be referenced back to the curriculum they are teaching so they can make changes in their teaching – to change it or share successful practices with others
– There should never be testing different from what teachers have been asked to do in their classrooms
– Teachers need to learn from the testing themselves

What about the problem that somethings are hard to measure: creativity, innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship, etc?

Answer from Jenny:
– this is an issue addressed by the new Singapore curriculum
– if we can create different ways of doing assessment, to be effective would need to include a lot of technology, where children can participate in scenarios, children can demonstrate collaboration, creativity, entrepreneurship, etc… Children’s projects are honored as part of the assessment, then we would be starting to talk about 21st century pedagogy in its fullest form
– my understanding is Microsoft, Cisco and Intel are researching assessment of 21st century skills, and we hope to see some of this work early next year that we could continue this conversation


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