Educational leaders have the privilege of setting the moral purpose, expectations, culture, as well as learning and teaching practices within their organisations. The 2019 ACEL National Conference will provide a platform for international and national speakers to share their expertise in the area of “Vision and Voice”.

The structure of the program at the 2019 ACEL’s National Conference has been redesigned to encourage a greater level of engagement and interaction. The program will now include interactive expert sessions, special interest group symposium workshops as well as concurrent sessions around the two broad streams, each further split up into two sub-themes as follows:

  1. Stream 1 Vision – leading the future
    1.1. Learning spaces – from architecture to pedagogy
    1.2. Curiosity & innovation
  2. Stream 2 Voice – engagement within and without
    2.1. Transforming practice through understanding context
    2.2. Empowerment & agency.

Presentations will address research, policy and practice from a system, school or classroom perspective.

Rooms 3+4: Level 1
Blended Learning - Digital Models to Enhance Exemplary Teaching

Presented by: Anna Sever, Melissa Allen
Organisation: Haileybury, VIC

Technology provides teachers with an influential way to engage students, inform and differentiate instruction, document assessment and empower students to own their learning. However, if we want technology to be a transformative force in our schools, you have to start with the “why?”. While technology has its place, we first and foremost want to make sure "we’re prioritising effective pedagogy and not simply masking bad practice” (Vargas, 2009). In this session, we aim to share our journey on how through the use of design-thinking methodologies we have developed blended-learning courses that support quality, cohesive teaching and learning within a blended-learning landscape across multiple campuses within Haileybury. We will look at what are the key aims of a blended learning model and how this has been enhanced through a move from parent-facing reporting to student-focussed formative feedback.

Rooms 5+6: Level 1
Transforming Practice to Achieve Excellence and Equity

Presented by: Chic Foote, Wendy Currie, Marieta Morgan
Organisation: Helix Consulting

Paptoetoe North School is a large low-decile multicultural school in South Auckland in NZ, and has been identified by the NZ Education Review Office (ERO) as having significantly increased the numbers of students who were achieving at or above the expected level as they moved through Year 4 to Year 6. The high-impact strategies applied throughout this development project have been framed through the deeply embedded localised curriculum design process. This process builds and responds to the voice of all members of the learning community. This presentation will share the key stages of the transformational journey that led to achieving and sustaining this outstanding result. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how this was achieved through: Leadership for excellence and equity; Building educationally powerful connections and relationships; Designing and developing responsive curriculum, effective teaching and learning; Building professional capability and collective capacity; Evaluation, inquiry and knowledge building for improvement and innovation.

Stateroom: Level 2
Engaging student voice: A risky endeavour

Presented by: Cristina Casey-Schoner
Organisation: Albany Senior High School, Auckland, NZ

"Student voice" is defined as having a say in decision making that results in students having positive learning experiences and taking ownership for their learning. Having a voice in the classroom means that students share their ideas and perspectives. My research suggests that teachers see value in listening to students and they are willing to engage with student voice, yet they describe it as a risky endeavour unless it affirms their bias. Findings outline that teachers’ perceived risk related to their professional identity, loss of control in the classroom, dissonant student views and sharing student voice in a public forum. Teachers’ perceptions of risk involved uncertainty around students’ outcomes and evoked feelings of loss around their role as the "expert" in the classroom. This workshop aims to explore the key findings and links between engagement with student voice and teachers’ perceptions of risk and discuss strategies (at both classroom and leadership level) to support changing the existing narrative of student voice.

Room 2: Level 2
Drivers of better outcomes for young people disengaged from education

Presented by: Bernie Shakeshaft, Jane Watson, Danielle Toon
Organisation: BackTrack Youth Works, NSW

Drawing on research from Social Ventures Australia's new education perspectives paper and practical experience from BackTrack Youth Works, this presentation will unpack the drivers of better outcomes for young people disengaged from education. The presentation will outline evidence-informed drivers across home, community and formal education environments that combine to support the needs of this cohort of young people. An example of these drivers will be shared through a case study of BackTrack, a holistic, not-for-profit, life-skills initiative that has worked with more than 1000 disengaged young people aged 11-19 years old from rural and regional communities. BackTrack has a greater than 80% success rate of getting young people back into education, training or employment and has reduced local youth crime rates by 50%. The BackTrack approach involves the whole of the community and keeps kids alive, out of jail and chasing their hopes and dreams. Stories of the BackTrack young people will illustrate the effectiveness of this approach.

Room 3: Level 2
Learning from Country: Aboriginal visions of community-led professional learning

Presented by: Dr Cathie Burgess, Dr Katrina Thorpe
Organisation: The University of Sydney, NSW

A recent systematic review (Vass et al., 2019) incorporating a decade of research on professional learning (PL) in Indigenous contexts found that PL tended to focus on school reform despite evidence that quality teaching is more likely to improve student outcomes. Despite research highlighting Aboriginal community collaboration as critical to embedding Aboriginal content and engaging Aboriginal students, there were few studies that considered issues of power, racism and deficit discourses and how these may impact on Aboriginal community collaboration. Significantly, this Learning from Country (LFC) research found that leadership in professional learning by local Aboriginal educators increased preservice teacher confidence and knowledge in working with Aboriginal communities, embedding Aboriginal content into their programs and developing culturally responsive pedagogies. The LFC project provided opportunities for PST to experience Aboriginal leaders’ vision and voice, transforming their perceptions of teaching and learning. In this session, we will outline how schools can implement LFC to engage Aboriginal students and their families in their context.

Room 4: Level 2
Every teacher a coach and every teacher a learner

Presented by: Dr Anne Malcolm, Sanjay Rama, Francis Naera
Organisation: Ponsonby Primary

Visualise an appreciative inquiry lens through which teachers examine and seek to improve their own practice. Overlay that with a model of coaching trios, where every teacher is a coach and every teacher is a coachee. Next, consider how rigour and student needs are implicit in empowering teachers to be the best teachers they can be. It has taken three years to get to a place where teachers work in threes to observe, give feedback, collect student voice and push their own skills to fit a schoolwide dream of quality education for all. Each trio team has a lead coach, who is an expert in assessment for learning practices to ensure the focus is on both self and student development. All coaches have been trained through the GROWTH coaching model. R. Higgie from The Education group is ensuring coaches feel confident to practice flexibility. Our workshop aim is to take you to the place we are now.

Room 5: Level 2
Impact Through Innovation: Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers

Presented by: Suzanne Jessen
Organisation: Independent Schools Queensland, QLD

As a national certifying authority for Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers (HALTs), Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) has partnered with universities to research the impact of HALTs in their schools and beyond. In this presentation, ISQ will discuss the findings of this research and examine the conditions that were found to support high-performing teachers in enacting this potential. Participants will be facilitated to consider how they can support the work of high-performing teachers in their school to realise some of the impact found in this research in their own context. The presentation will also assist participants to not only understand the importance and impact of collaborative professional cultures in their schools but also consider practical steps to facilitate the conditions under which they occur.

Room 6: Level 2
Using inner vision to unlock curiosity and imagination in learning

Presented by: Professor David Alais, Kelly-Ann Denton
Organisation: The University of Sydney, NSW

Recent discoveries in neuroscience have revealed a diverse neural network called the default mode network (DMN). It is broad, associative, contemplative, creative, and is the source of our visual imagination and curiosity. It falls silent when the mind concentrates on task-focussed thinking, restricting our ability to visualise and imagine when confronted by new challenges and novel problems. Understanding how the mind cycles between focussed and divergent thinking, and allowing time for each, is critical to harnessing a whole-of-mind approach to learning and developing creative and imaginative elements to complement traditional task-focussed learning. We have developed visual-based learning strategies incorporating both elements of the cognitive cycle, successfully rolling out professional development training for teachers guided by these principles. This session will review techniques for promoting curiosity and imagination through training the DMN and encouraging insights from its judgement-free creativity. Overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers endorses our approach for boosting curiosity, visual thinking and visual reflection in the learning process.

Grand Ballroom: Level 3
Collaborate and Connect: Engaging and growing strong leaders

Presented by: Jo Padgham, Judy Hamilton, Sue Norton
Organisation: ACT Education Directorate, ACT

Numerous recent studies show how critical an effective school leader and school leadership team is to teacher effectiveness and, therefore, to improved learning and student achievement. The ACT Education Directorate is one year into its new leadership capability plan focussed on developing and strengthening the leadership capabilities of school leaders at all levels with Professional Learning Communities at the centre. Jo Padgham, Judy Hamilton and Sue Norton will share their work with school leaders and highlight some of the research that underpins the leadership capability plan. With a third of ACT Directorate principals in their first three years of the principalship, and half of those in their first year, ensuring strong school leadership capability at all levels is essential. The team will present the early career principals’ Collaborate and Connect program as a case study of the ACT’s leadership capability work demonstrating the impact just one year in of this initiative to develop and support early career principals.

Meeting Room: Level 4
Creating The Buzz of a Learning Culture In Your School

Presented by: Tracey Ezard
Organisation: Tracey Ezard Pty Ltd, VIC

Creating a culture of deep adult learning in our schools is no easy job. Collective efficacy requires high level of trust and psychological safety for people to be willing to share both their pedagogical and leadership practice with each other. As Professor Dylan Wiliam succinctly says: "If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve". This workshop will explore the three pillars of creating this cultural Buzz: a learning mindset, a compelling environment for learning, and authentic dialogue. Participants will also be able to access an online Buzz diagnostic to do an aggregated school report on where staff see the collaborative culture within their school. This diagnostic has been completed by over 100 schools and 1800 educators over Australia in the last 12 months.