Everything’s connected - Principals Masterclass 2016

24/10/2016

 

The annual Principals Masterclass, which is the key professional learning experience for principals and senior leaders from the education office, was held on 20 and 21 October at Rooty Hill RSL.

Executive Director Greg Whitby opened the two-day conference under the system theme for the year, ‘Everything’s Connected’.

‘Everything we do is connected,’ Greg said. ‘Especially as Catholic leaders we are connected and learning with, and from, each other.’

Greg shared a personal reflection on the key influences on him as an educational leader. He said the lessons he learned from past Principals, educational ‘giants’ such as Hedley Beare and the five Bishops he has worked with have shaped his own leadership:

  1. Money can’t buy a love of teaching
  2. Be open to serendipitous moments and opportunities
  3. Have passion and find purpose
  4. Intellectual rigour - be fearless and curious as a leader
  5. Mutual trust - be not afraid

‘Only when you get into the context can you truly understand the nature of leading; it’s the power of story,’ Greg said. ‘Things happen for a reason and you might not know why at the time but be open to take the leap.’

Throughout the Masterclass, participants attended presentations from three Principal speakers who shared their personal stories of leading and learning.

Steven Zipkes is the former Founding Principal of Manor New Technology High School and current Principal of Cedars-International Next Generation STEAM High School in Austin Texas. When approached in 2006 to lead a STEM school for students who were underperforming in Mathematics and Science, his first question was, ‘what’s STEM?’. He had to think creatively about how he would engage students over five to six years of Mathematics and Science study.

He noticed that in traditional classrooms, the students were ‘bored out of their minds’ and he knew that the time of the ‘sage on the stage’ imparting knowledge to students was over.

Developing an integrated curriculum and using a project-based learning model, Steven ensured that student were learning written and oral communication, collaboration and agency in every project.

‘There’s a big difference between doing projects and project based learning,’ Steven said. ‘It’s about learning throughout the entire process.’

‘You can now get a job at Google without a college degree because you can problem solve,’ Steven said. ‘A lot of people call 21st century skills ‘soft skills’, but they are essential skills for success.’

Anne Miles is the Principal of McAuley High School, an integrated Catholic high school in South Auckland, New Zealand, which received the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for educational excellence and the award for excellence in engaging the community.

Anne worked hard to build a sense of community amongst the students, teachers and parents at McAuley. Worried that parents didn’t feel comfortable coming into the school, she ran Adult English language classes and ensured that each parent was personally called and welcomed to the school.

Anne had high expectations for her staff and implemented inquiry-based professional learning groups and peer-to-peer appraisals, which meant that staff were more open about having conversations with each other about what worked and what didn’t in the classroom.

The most important challenge for Anne was to get students to own their knowledge, have pride in their achievement and live out the McAuley charism in their lives.

‘The most important thing for me is, have we developed the faith of our young people,’ Anne said. ‘Are they resilient? Can they go out into the world to make a difference as Catherine McAuley did?’

Greg Miller is the newly appointed founding Principal of St Luke’s Catholic College which will open in the Diocese of Parramatta next year commencing with Kindergarten to Year 6 at Marsden Park.

He said in his first principalship he learned from the feedback of his staff that leaders needed to focus on Principalship with a little ‘p’.

‘As a principal I asked myself am I too directional and gung ho? Am I focused enough on collaborative relationships,’ Greg said. ‘We all have gifts that we don’t see and some we don’t like but feedback is a gift to shape us as leaders.’

Greg said in leading St Luke’s he will need to take risks.

‘This is not an experiment, but we will need to look at best practice and use gut instinct to take the next step,’ he said.

Former Vice Captain of Gilroy Catholic College, Castle Hill Christopher Lee gave a powerful testimony of how his teacher, principal and faith helped him overcome grief and personal challenges.

‘What I learned about leadership I learned from my teacher and principal,’ Chris said. ‘It was when I starting saying yes to God that opportunities opened up.’

After finishing Year 12 Chris co-founded the Conviction Group to empower young men to make better decisions and change their perspective on health and wellbeing issues.

Former student and now teacher of Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, Baulkham Hills Jaymi Winters spoke about how a mission immersion experience to the Philippines and pilgrimage to World Youth Day shaped her faith and work as a teacher.

‘WYD wasn’t a temporary high for me,’ Jaymi said. ‘Coming back I could still share my memories and experiences of WYD in my classroom, home and in my relationships.’

At the end of the second day, Executive Director Greg Whitby and guest presenters Steven Zipkes, Anne Miles and Greg Miller joined a panel discussion on school transformation.

The Principals Masterclass Dinner saw five principals farewelled with video tributes from their school communities and citation. Farewell and congratulations to:

  • Fran Jackson, St Joseph’s Primary, Kingswood
  • Brad Campbell, Emmaus Catholic College, Kemps Creek
  • Moya McGuiness, Sacred Heart Primary, Westmead (unable to attend)
  • Elizabeth Ricketts, St Aidan’s Primary, Rooty Hill (unable to attend)
  • Robyn Meddows, McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains (unable to attend)
2016 Principals Masterclass


View photos from the day to the right

 

Posted By Jenny Merryweather at 28/10/2016 3:16:18 PM
 
   
  
 

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