Ignite Sessions

Group 1

Using Podcasting to Empower 21st Century Parenting at Your School      
David Collins, Inaburra School, NSW

Have you ever tried to run a parent information session and been totally underwhelmed by poor attendance? Learn how Inaburra School has been able to use Podcasting to increase parent engagement in crucial issues such as Vaping, Digital Citizenship, Online Gaming, and Student Mental Health.

Parents are often too busy to attend seminars at schools, especially during pandemics. However, they often have the time in a car to listen to a talk. Podcasting makes it easier for all parents in the school community to connect with high-quality speakers. With the right equipment, it is easier to access experts without them needing to come to your school to speak.

Podcasting has enabled a greater range of parents to access the support that school provides through publishing talks on the major platforms for this medium.


The First Years of Executive Leadership: Lessons I have Learned
Ian Finn, Arndell Anglican College, NSW

The first few years of stepping into an Executive Leadership role can be equal parts challenging and rewarding. This Ignite presentation will provide an overview of my critical reflections on my first years in stepping into such a position. My goal will be to share with those aspiring or recently appointed leaders my key lessons while providing senior leaders with some ideas on what they can do to support new executive leaders. The Ignite presentation will revolve around five core reflections.

Reflection 1: The importance of knowing the ‘why’ of my leadership
Amongst all other reflections on leadership, the importance of knowing your purpose, your ‘why’, emerges as the most important. Your ‘why’ is what directs your actions, gives credibility to your leadership, and gives clarity through the more difficult periods.

Reflection 2: The importance of relational leadership in managing successful change
At the core of my leadership journey has been the challenge of leading whole-school change. Having launched several initiatives, I have found that the key to any success is relational leadership.

Reflection 3: The importance of mentoring and coaching in a successful start
The most important school-based strategy to facilitate a successful start is the provision of a mentor/coach. Having an identified person who can act as confidant, growth coach and guide facilitated my development while providing a safe space as I wrestled with some of the more difficult challenges.

Reflection 4: The importance of allowing autonomy
Key support that I have been given by my Headmaster has been a significant degree of autonomy in my work. This has been a great motivator and allowed me to pursue areas of passion while also encouraging creativity and innovation within the practice of leadership.

Reflection 5: Academic encouragement
Finally, the encouragement to explore leadership through an academic lens has contributed to my intellectual development as a leader. Through post-graduate study, a guided reading plan and discussions with leaders from other schools, I was able to develop a greater understanding of the role of the leader, and strategies that lead to success.

Collecting, analysing and using evidence from lesson observations
Kirsten Macaulay, St. Andrew's Cathedral School, NSW
This presentation will describe how evidence is collected and analysed for professional growth in the K – 12 School context.

Lesson Observations are important for teachers because quality teaching is central to the heart of the school. Lesson Observation is one of the methods through which we assess the quality of teaching and learn how to develop and grow further for our professional life. Cyclic lesson observations develop a strong professional learning culture at St. Andrew’s Cathedral School (SACS) in which teachers and leaders work with honourable purpose to direct their own journey of continual self-reflection and self-improvement so that they may benefit the practice and performance of each other as well as the students in the school community.

All teachers take part in Learning Walk Observations, twice a year. After the observation, teachers are immediately provided with written feedback about the observation. The teacher has time to read and reflect on areas of strength and growth, and a follow-up feedback session is held between the teacher and observer which creates further evidence of collegial discussions to improve practice. The feedback session is of critical importance in the Learning Walk process and is held soon after the observation. This feedback session also enables staff to be recognised as positively contributing successfully to Teaching School Goals by and allows focus on a personal professional goal/ team goal, to ensure relevancy for this process.

Feedback is shared to help the teacher grow and develop as a professional and is presented in a professional, constructive, evidence-based and developmentally supportive manner with a specific lens towards how the teacher actions led or could be improved to ensure student learning through using the SACS Quality Teaching framework. In addition, the teacher’s voice is activated, with each teacher able to decide on future professional goals, using the lesson observation feedback is impetus for discussion and critical reflection. Further support is open to all teachers via the SACS Coaching team, to ensure professional growth in all teachers, in a way that supports the voice of the teacher and the goals of the school.

Leading, learning and caring through student voice and agency
Chad Brown, High Resolves

Young people today are wrestling with issues of social justice, sexual harassment, consent, gender and identity, diversity and inclusion; and all in an increasingly limitless digital world. To help teenagers navigate these complexities they need skills of resilience, independent thinking and empathy. Real-world, project-based learning experiences enable students to build these capabilities and confidence in their social advocacy. Filmmaking stimulates young people to consider and research social issues, learn about media literacy and tell their stories through collaborative and collective action. Film is a powerful visual medium that can ignite change in just one minute. In this session, we will showcase short films from Videos for Change that demonstrate the exceptional compassion and leadership qualities of their creators, and highlight the key issues of importance to our next generation of leaders. We’ll unpack the 21st-century skills students can develop through filmmaking and cover the different applications of running a social advocacy video challenge within curriculum, or as an extra-curricular activity, wellbeing or pastoral care program.

Group 2

Empowerment - Now and Beyond!

Kathleen Kemp, Moana Anglican Grammar, NSW
For students to thrive we need to empower teachers to have the confidence and trust to facilitate a learning and well-being environment that is embraced by the whole school community and beyond. To do this, I focus on five key Leadership areas, I call the "Five L's":

  • Language - how we use it and the specific words we use to build a positive and supportive culture amongst teachers
  • Listening - how do we let our teachers know they are being heard? When they feel heard they feel supported and empowered
  • Licence - teachers have been given a "licence" to teach and many of them do this very well. Not recognising that they have this licence leads to micromanaging, disempowers teachers and erodes trust
  • Let them know you care – positive reinforcement of behaviour can be a game-changer for many teachers to encourage them to achieve their very best for their school community
  • Levity – the pressure on teachers to be responsible for much more than delivering curriculum content, added to the pressures of being legally compliant, means they have a “tough gig” in the 21st Century. We need to ensure a certain amount of levity for them to flourish and thrive in the workplace

In my experience, focussing on the Five Ls has given me a framework to lead, support and empower teachers to help them grow, thrive and develop into the kind of teachers our students will be inspired by now and beyond.

During this presentation, I will be focussing on the two quotes below in reference to the Five Ls. I will engage the audience with relevant examples from my experience in leading not only humans but also animals in their learning. It may surprise you how much we can learn from animals. For some fun, I will also be using examples from the presentation I delivered at the Australasian Animal Training Conference 2018.

“Students learn what you teach them, not what you want to teach them.” (B.F. Skinner)

“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” (Peter Drucker).

TELL - Translating Professional Learning into Classroom Practice
Ross Phillips, Strathcona Girls Grammar School, Vic
Providing professional learning experiences for teachers does not necessarily translate into changed practice in the classroom. This session will outline TELL (Teacher Excellence Lifelong Learning) which aims to ensure PL transforms classroom practice while continuing to value teacher autonomy and creativity.

Preparing our students for learning through the teaching of Emotional Intelligence

Brett Borbely, Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School, Vic
How do we, as educators, support our students, the leaders of tomorrow, to be the people they need to be now so that they can learn, grow and be future-ready?

Helping our students make the most of their learning experiences starts with social-emotional literacy, as it will not only aid them in making the most of their current education but will also aid in preparing them to be future-ready. Explicitly teaching the five elements of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social management – is the greatest support we can give while encouraging our students to learn from their life experiences and to grow from their learning opportunities.

This presentation will outline the five aspects of emotional intelligence and will include suggestions for activities that address each of the five aspects. The natural progression and connection from one element to the next will also be explored and shaped so that participants understand how each aspect relates to the other and how to develop explicit education to support this growth in students.

When we explicitly teach students how to develop their emotional intelligence, they will feel confident to advocate for their own learning and emotional needs in effective and respectful ways; they will speak articulately and compassionately; they will form messages aligned with their values; they will use intrinsic motivation to support their development in resilience; they will care for themselves while also working collaboratively with others on shared purposes; they will go on to be active and conscientious world citizens; and they will face their futures with resilience, grit, determination and self-efficacy.

Using data in your strategic planning
Peter Buckingham, Spectrum Analysis
Schools invest substantial funds in both infrastructure (buildings and facilities), and operational costs such as marketing for new students, bus contracts and in many other areas.

Are the decisions in spending these monies based on facts or opinion? Do you know what data is available to base your decisions on?

  1. What can we learn from the census data?
  2. How can we evaluate if an area can support the fees we expect to charge to operate our school?
  3. Is our catchment areas forecast to grow in population strongly, slowly, or actually dropping off in the numbers of student aged children that will be available in the next 10 years?
  4. How does this all fit into our student profiles?

This data is available for you and your staff to use to make the correct decisions applicable to your school. Maybe your Board also want to know what the long term future will look like before making major strategic investments?

Understandings from this session:

  1. Census 2021 - when is it being released and what does it contain relevant for Schools?
  2. How do we measure the Socio-Economic Indicators for your areas, as a way to understand what level of fees may be supported.
  3. ABS Population projections by gender and age groups, from 2017 - 2032 as the best way to know how your school can grow, and what enrolment projects should you be able to achieve? Based on these projections, should the Masterplan for the school be one of high growth, medium growth, or low growth/student retention – along with the current levels of student numbers, and how should we look at our capital spending for the future?
  4. How can we see all this on web-based maps to make it easy to interpret and use?

To act like a CEO in a corporation, you must understand what data is available for your decision making, and be able to assist the Board and your senior executives in using data to make better business decisions.

Group 3

Pathways, Academics & Welllbeing (PAW) Coaching Model for supporting Senior Students

Amber Sowden, Strathcona Girls Grammar, Vic
Our PAW Model (Pathways, Academic, Wellbeing) of pastoral care is based on the idea that the most significant influence on happiness at school is the relationships students have with teachers. Forging strong connections with staff is the cornerstone of effective wellbeing programs in schools. At Years 10 to 12, we have a vertical House system, and each House has a Senior Mentor. This mentor has a very important role in supporting students in their care. Their focus is to monitor, support and oversee the development of each student in their House Group over Years 10, 11 and 12. Mentors use the ‘coaching model’ based method of care, called the PAW (Pathways, Academic, Wellbeing) Model. Senior Mentors arrange individual meetings with each student in his/her House Group over Terms 1, 2 and 3. Coaching a student consists of one-on-one discussions that provide the student with objective feedback on their strengths and challenges. The Senior Mentor works with each student to develop her own goal/s and the student and Mentor set a clear plan for achievement. This process empowers the student to use her knowledge of her character strengths, builds independence and progressive engagement in post-school pathways. The Senior Mentor meets with students in their house twice each term. There is a strong feedback loop between the school and parents through this model.

A Case for Ethical Leadership and Ecological Literacy
Samantha Jensen, Mount Alvernia College, Qld
During this 10 minute ignite session, Samantha will share some of the initiatives and programs aimed to shape and enhance 'ethical leadership' and 'ecological literacy' at Mount Alvernia College. This includes the use of our sustainable gardens (La Foresta) as a learning tool. Reference to the ancient wisdom of our indigenous peoples, the stoics and the Franciscan intellectual tradition will be referred to. An opportunity to consider what these sustainable literacies' might look like in practice for our young people will be offered in the context of the challenges we currently face in the global setting.

Using data to improve student academic outcomes and wellbeing
Patrick Sanders, Brighton Grammar School, Vic
Data has never been more accessible for schools or more broadly. Through NAPLAN or other standardised tests, as well as the school’s internal results, there is a lot of data available that can be leveraged to make improvements. Education standards and school ethos’ often talk of being data-driven. In this session, you’ll be taken through some common tensions or mistakes in data use, how to improve data metrics through comparative measures and worked through practical examples of using data to improve student outcomes

Group 4

Goals and growth – a whole school approach to reimaging reporting
Kathy Chiera, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, WA 
Our school is passionate about student growth. We foster a growth mindset through explicit goal setting and support this with our focus on constant, timely and specific feedback to improve student learning. A growth coaching approach permeates all interactions with our students within our Positive Education framework.

The traditional role of reports, informing parents of a student’s progress over the semester, has long been superseded by regular digital feedback to students and parents who have access to Learning Management and Student Administration platforms. This observation led us to examine the structure of our traditional semester reports and began discussions about a new purpose for reporting. Our review of reporting explored how we could draw together our growth coaching approach with academic data to provide a contemporary and meaningful document for students and parents. We have reframed reports to become a record of growth, giving students a primary role and voice in the reporting process, highlighting their journey towards their goals and documenting their academic achievements. This Ignite session will,
•             explore our journey and highlight the implications of this approach
•             uncover some of the many and often unexpected benefits it has produced
•             and allow schools to review their own reporting structures

What Works - Boys, year 12 Academic Success and the HSC

Alan Parsons, Newcastle Grammar School, NSW
In 2020, the year of the Pandemic, with the impact of COVID-19 as the predominant theme of the year, a group of Year 12 boys at Newcastle Grammar School experienced a particularly successful conclusion to their HSC studies. Through a qualitative study employing semi-structured individual and focus group interviews within a Constructivist Grounded Theory framework, this report seeks to identify those attributes, influences and characteristics of these students that enabled the successful navigation of their Year 12 studies. Through their conversations, the participants describe the strategies they employed, provide advice for students setting out on their HSC journey, and give insights into their aspirations, goals and motivations. They reflect the centrality of relationships with peers and teachers to their success, the satisfaction of their psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness as explained through self-determination theory, and the growth in their academic self-efficacy promoted through their own and their peers’ experiences of mastery along with the support, feedback and expectations of their teachers. The participants demonstrate the advantages of maintaining a growth mindset, employing an optimistic explanatory style, approaching studies from a viewpoint of autonomous motivation, setting achievable, measurable, and visible goals, and strengthening both peer and teacher relationships.

Creating community and building capacity: the shared approach of brother and sister schools
Sheri Upasiri, St Hilda's School, Qld
In an era where consent is a topical focus, as sister and brother schools, St Hilda's and The Southport School are working together to provide opportunities for rich and meaningful engagement between their cohorts and shared community to help maintain a culture of equality and understanding. These initiatives are a mix of cross-curricular activities focusing on key elements of the national curriculum, pastoral sessions focusing on building healthy relationships, combined approaches to service-learning shared processes around technology use and cross-campus parent events as a way of developing consistency of language and approach. By bringing our cohorts together each year from Prep to Year 12, we aim to allow for discussion, understanding and the maintenance of a culture of respect from an early age as a way of supporting and developing our young people.

Design Thinking to develop Student Agency and Transferable Skills within a Trans-disciplinary Program
Kimberley Moor, Strathcona Girls Grammar School, Vic
This Ignite talk is about building Design Thinking in our schools. It will introduce participants to what Design Thinking is while explaining how Strathcona Girls Grammar is embedding these thinking strategies into its new Trans-disciplinary Program at the lower end of the secondary school. The purpose of the Trans-disciplinary Program is to prepare students to become life-long learners to navigate unknown or unfamiliar contexts in their future. Students throughout the design process experiment and fail before producing creative solutions to solve real-world authentic challenges often with big ideas and concepts. Students develop agency and transferable skills through a shared understanding of Design Thinking and the design process. Design Thinking allows students to think creatively, critically and reflectively leading students to develop these future-proofing skills.

The Ignite talk will:
1.            Introduce what Design Thinking is
2.            Enhance a basic understanding of how to use Design Thinking within a Trans-disciplinary project
3.            Understand how the problem-solving nature of Design Thinking develops student agency and transferable skills.

This talk will be of interest to those wanting to learn the basics of Design Thinking and how it could be introduced into a school context.

Group 5

Mindfulness: Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together. Training our Minds to Change our Brains

Monica Le Couteur, Brighton Grammar School, Vic
This Ignite presentation demonstrates how mainstream students and those with ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Autism Spectrum Conditions and Learning Difficulties can be taught Mindfulness techniques to improve focus, reduce anxiety and depression, and flourish.

The presentation outlines the 3 corner partnership between teachers, parents and students that influences positive social change.

The structure, strategies and activities are outlined in my presentation through slides, descriptions and demonstration. These include: Mindfulness techniques and activities to build an emotional toolbox for students to take with them into adolescence and adulthood. The essential skills or states emotional, practical &, intellectual include: metacognition, self-esteem, emotional self-regulation, compassion, concentration, coping with stress and a sense of wellbeing. The presentation also includes how to train students to lead Mindfulness practices.

Parent involvement is through parent workshops, at which parents are shown strategies to support the Mindfulness skills their children are learning. This further supports students' social-emotional development in their daily lives. It can also encourage parents to develop their own personal practice. Outcomes include greater focus, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved wellbeing.

$1B worth of Primary and Secondary School Projects - Lessons Learnt
Brad Walton, Aurecon
Post Occupancy Evaluation is a process undertaken 12 months after a new/upgraded facility is completed and handed over to a school for use. It focuses on obtaining user feedback on the design so lessons learnt can be integrated into future school designs.

In this workshop, Brad will be detailing the key lessons learnt from over 60 school projects in Australia and NZ, including the critical factors to get right when pursuing 'open learning pedagogical' school designs. Brad will start by providing overall trends and issues being seen with school projects and then move on to providing examples of school designs that have worked, and those which have not (with all schools unidentified for confidentiality reasons). As each example is brought up it would then be opened up for broader discussion.

The session is not based on commercial interests but to ensure that key lessons learnt are shared rather than kept in the backroom. It is however noted that due to the confidential nature of POEs it is unlikely that all of the PowerPoint presentation material will be able to be published and shared following the workshop.

The impact of a rural context on leadership
Kristen Waldron, The Hamilton and Alexandra College, Vic
This session will explore the impact of the rural context on leadership pathways and practice for women in education. As teachers and practitioners in a rural context, we have observed the low numbers of existing and aspiring women in positions of leadership in rural areas. Drawing on interviews from doctoral research and our own experience, we will outline the benefits of working in a rural school and the opportunities that exist. Furthermore, we will consider how educators have an opportunity to use these experiences and the rural context as a position of strength to initiate and advocate for change.

Classroom Observation: Making Time for Practice
Kane Bradford, Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, NSW 
“Classroom observation has a substantial impact on learning through its fundamental role in directly improving teaching. These activities recognise the complexity of teaching processes, and the need for teachers to continuously develop to be effective in their roles.” (Jenson, 2014, p.22)

Classroom observation continues to be recognised as one of the best forms of professional learning a teacher can undertake. However, making time for collaborative practice in schools is increasingly difficult. This is particularly the case in secondary education settings.

In 2021, Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School implemented its 'Featured Sessions' approach to classroom observation. The method builds on the work of Elmore, Knight and others by encouraging an open approach to teaching observation in a largely informal and judgement-free setting.

This approach opens up classrooms in a semi-structured way, providing greater access for staff to the work of others. While we all consider our rooms open, it can be difficult to ‘make time for great teaching’. The ‘Featured Sessions’ approach sees all curriculum areas of the school offering at least one lesson each week to be ‘Featured’. This detail is recorded and provided to staff as a list of session times across the Term.  Teachers simply attend the session of their choice, as their curiosity dictates. This is nearly 100 discreet opportunities each Term for staff to attend the lesson of a colleague, merely to watch, learn and reflect.  Our teachers are not bound by curriculum area and are not limited to a number of visits. This is a relevant, collaborative and future-focussed endeavour at its core.

This workshop will discuss approaches to classroom observation and the benefits of the 'Featured Sessions' approach applied at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School.