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Milestone 6 Reflective Summary

1)  Strengthening professional learning communities and increase collaboration across the regional cluster schools.

 NEAL has attempted to provide a variety of opportunities for individual school leaders to share their knowledge, expertise, and experiences with the wider community.   While these opportunities are intended to be safe and comfortable,  they are also challenging and stimulating.   It is important for our leaders to model their practice in a variety of contexts.   The model that has provided some framework to achieving this goal has been based around Psychological Empowerment  whereby the following four areas affect change:

Meaning or purpose: is a person’s perceived congruence between their work roles and personal beliefs, values, and behavior.

This can sometimes challenge different individuals who may at times feel out of step with conventional or more traditional methods of teaching that still exist in schools.  The wider community of NEAL embraces innovative and effective pedagogy.  21st Century learningflipped classrooms, and flexible learning spaces cannot be nurtured and explored without ongoing dialogue and face to face opportunity.

2) Competence refers to one’s perceptions of having the capabilities to perform a specific job or task effectively.

These perceptions are strengthened through regular collaboration and sharing of experiences.   This can occur in increments and does not need to happen all at once.  For example, our iPad Best Practice User Group, we encouraged the sharing of personal experiences in short, 10 minute presentations, often in small groups.   This very much intended to evolve into a collective, round-table discussion with a variety of experts emerging out of different fields and subject areas.   As teachers were directly sharing their experience with the iPad, and not necessarily just explaining the function of an app, there was much greater authenticity about the process.  This allowed for reflection on the individual's practice and brought to light what that teacher (and other teachers) needed to do to improve their understandings and use of the tool.

3) Self-determination involves the belief that one has control, choice, or independence over one’s work behaviors and processes.  

As there is not always opportunity to explore new methods in daily teaching practice, some of the events we helped promote or develop, such as Edu-Ignite and neXpo, allowed for an independent choice around what successes could be shared.  Self determination cannot flourish without individuals leading from a position of strength.

4) Impact

This is one’s perception of having made a difference to outcomes in their learning communities which can include within their own school, or as part of a wider collective of teachers.  

For example, the presentations on Cybersafety and Social Media from Brett Lee, hi-lighted some of the most important issues we face in today's increasingly connected world.  The impact of his presentation was felt at the student, teacher, and parent level.  Adding to this, NEAL delivered elements of the Digital Citizenship programme follow-up on Facebook to some of our schools.  We were fortunate to be able to use the timing and emphasis of Brett's message to effectively impact the community and set the stage for future events.  The  key lesson here is that the 'hype and hook' of a convincing speaker could raise the interest of the community; while the local expertise could raise the awareness over the long term.  The challenge for NEAL moving forward is following up with these schools to ensure 

The eLearning Planning Framework proved to be a very powerful and effective model in assisting schools with their long term needs.  This document was increasingly referred to as school leaders went further into their policies and plans. The scope of the document allowed for virtually all key areas in ICT/eLearning to be addressed fromLeadership and strategic direction to Technologies and Infrastructure.  It provided a place to either begin using or reinforce common language; clearly mark the progress of individuals and groups; and focus on specific areas when developing school-wide goals.

In reflection, I would have utilized this document more frequently in informing some of the Professional Development and events that were planned over the year.  While we remained open to new ideas, professional development, and events (which affected all of our goals as a cluster), some of the work with individual schools could have been signposted more deliberately with the help of this document. If we are trying to take the 'silos out of schools'  and open up our networks, we need to continue our work in building awareness, fluency, and collaborative language in our practice.  These building blocks require a central document to help align schools to their own vision while also allowing local leaders to share the very best from around the community.