Sydney Symposium – The Future of Teacher Education and School Leader Education

From 26 July – 29 July I attended the 2010 Sydney Symposium – The Future of Teacher Education and School Leader Education at Macquarie University. This was a small working conference to which I had been invited by the organiser, and former USQ colleague, Prof. Ian Gibson. Attendees came from Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and included teacher education academics, some of whom I know well from SITE or elsewhere, and representatives of professional organisations such as the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.

Papers for the symposium were refereed and then made available for reading prior to the conference to facilitate discussion. Following the symposium there is to be opportunity for revision of papers based on the discussions and the revised versions are to be published in a book following a further round of peer review.

The symposium program was split into two broad sections of two days each in which the focus was first on teacher preparation and then on development of leaders. The program was a full one with a succession of presentations and small working groups that produced notes in shared documents during working sessions following one or more presentations on a subtheme. The working session on the final morning collated that material into recommendations that will be made available more widely following some post-conference editorial work to produce a coherent document.

Although many of the symposium participants shared an interest in the educational application of ICT that did not dominate discussion though it did influence and inform it. Ken Kay for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills was a presenter and ideas from that area influenced thinking around the tables as did ideas from AITSL, the NSW Institute of Teachers, and education systems, mostly from NSW, that were represented. The final document, when it is available, will be a useful prompt to thinking about future development of our programs.

I presented a paper that was co-authored with my younger daughter, Hannah, and provided an intergenerational perspective on the development of educational leaders – Successful succession through shared leadership: Preparing a new generation of educational leaders. The paper looked at leadership succession from the perspective of a millennial female looking to balance work and family while preserving opportunities for career advancement. Issues of work-life balance and opportunities for part-time workers to engage in shared leadership were discussed with a positive audience response.

On the final afternoon of the symposium I was able to participate with other attendees in site visits to Macquarie ICT Innovations CentreMLC School Burwood, and the NSW DET Centre for Learning Innovation. MLC, which has had a 1:1 laptop program for several years and favours openness and education rather than a locked down filtered network, was particularly interesting. More and more schools are moving to 1:1 computing and, regardless of the outcome of the pending federal election, we need to be thinking more about what differences in teacher preparation may be needed to respond to this trend.