Beaconhouse Academic Conference, Bhurban (20th anniversary)
May 3, 2021
Anthony Colin Townsend
Recently, individual schools following international trends have been taking more and more responsibility for what happens within their schools. Education systems have argued, however, that since local people have a much better understanding of who their students are and what their specific needs are, many of the decisions that are made at the system level are too general to really take into account individual needs of students, teachers or communities. So, in the past two decades, more initiatives have been taken towards self-management of schools This way, the system is responsible for establishing educational goals, curriculum framework for the delivery of those goals and an accountability system to make sure schools are fulfilling these goals while, at the same time, taking into account the resources required for the achievement of these goals.
Following this, the school takes responsibility for many of the delivery systems, who the teachers will be, what specific activities will form the curriculum, how students are supported and how parents are involved and where the major emphases will be placed.
A self-managed school system will give schools the opportunity to develop their own mechanisms for evaluating how close they are to achieving their goals. The key questions here would be:
This discussion group will focus its attention on school-based evaluation and will seek to answer the following questions:
This discussion will start off by showing how the notion of established standards can undermine the possibility of change. It will explore the idea that chasing test score success can lead to a deadening of the school environment. The next stage of the debate will look at how innovation can move forward alongside the desire for quantifiable and comparable results. Contributors will be encouraged to argue whether this is possible – if so, how? If not, do we have to accept the dichotomy that either standards are the enemy of insight and the incubator of conformity, or that we have to abandon the idea of common standards altogether?
Christine Lynne Blackaby
A collaborative culture in schools is about engaging everyone effectively in the running of the school for the benefit of raising standards in the classroom.
Schools that develop a collaborative approach to learning and teaching are likely to exhibit many, if not all, the following characteristics:
The discussion will focus on the practical aspects of the above definition in schools.
Simon Testa / Saima Rashid
What school heads and teachers know about students’ learning and achievement in their schools comes from their self-review processes. Self-review can help heads, teachers and school group heads make informed decisions about such matters as ascribing value to policies or initiatives, or determining the progress being made in the various aspects of the school improvement process. It also helps establish confidence in the schoola??s leadership and teachers. This discussion group will be exploring questions such as:
Dr. Saeeda Shah
A brief case study of two leadership scenarios and some guidelines (eight pages in total) will be provided in advance for pre-reading to stimulate thinking for focus group discussions. The session will focus on generating an informed debate looking at the relevant concepts and theories as well analyzing and critiquing the practical implications of strategic leadership in the Beacon House schoolsa?? context. As this shared-learning session is strategically located towards the end of the conference, it is expected that the participants will bring their comments and feedback to the debate informed by different presentations and sessions that they have participated in as well as their personal perspectives and experiences of strategic leadership.
This two-hour session is designed for the owners and heads of The Educators’ schools. The workshop aims to develop an awareness regarding the role of the school leaders in its development and growth.
The objectives are as follows:
Key strategies and session segments:
The session will begin with personal exploration of what leadership means to the participants. In the first individual task, the participants will be required to give the key characteristics of an effective leader. In the whole group, the key characteristics of a manager will be elicited while the similarities and differences between the two will be established. Keeping this information in mind the participants will be asked to collaborate in small groups and, after coming to a consensus, they will as a group give their definition of ‘a leader’.
In the second segment, a brief PowerPoint presentation will cover the three main leadership styles and participants will be invited to correlate their ideal ‘leader’ as defined by them with the characteristics of each style. A selection of video clips and images will be used to support the exercise and provide visual stimulation for the formulation of ideas and greater clarity. This will be followed by a task which requires the participants to do a quick quiz and determine their personal leadership style. This will establish the link between their ideal and their personal style after which they will be invited to share their findings. Moving around the room, participants will seek other members of the group with similar styles. In the plenary, participants will be invited to share the instances where the pros and cons of their leadership style have had an impact on their decisions and actions. They will be asked to share their reactions.
In the event that participants are hesitant to share, the iconic image from each style will be used as a reference and a quick wrap up will be done.
In the third segment, we will start with a brief overview of the dimensions of instructional and transformational leadership. Emphasis will be laid on the role of the school leaders in developing a culture of collaboration that leads to establish their school as a ‘Learning Organisation’. Real life examples of excellence from the business world will be given to illustrate the need for evolution and change for a business to stay ahead of its competitors. The participants will be asked to review the current status of their institutions using a short quiz, and do a quick SWOT analysis. Based on the results they will be asked to prioritise 3 key areas for development and growth and brainstorm a roadmap for their action. The workshop will close with an inspirational slide show.
Globalisation and technology are rapidly changing many aspects of our lives and the school system is charged with helping young people to learn what they need to know in a rapidly changing world. Education has passed through a number of different ways of looking at what it does and we are entering a time when those involved in education have to THINK and ACT both LOCALLY and GLOBALLY if we are to provide the best chances for our students in the future. This has implications for all people involved in education; systems, schools, classrooms, teachers and school leaders.
If we look at what factors are important when it comes to students learning well, the research tells us that the three most important factors are the student’s background and their motivation to learn, what the teacher does in the classroom and in conjunction with other teachers in the school, and the role the leadership of the school plays in directing attention and resources towards student learning.
This workshop will consider four issues using the following focus areas:
In each case, participants will be encouraged to look at the international research on learning, to undertake workshop activities and to discuss aspects of teaching and learning with other participants.
In this session participants will explore the notion of personal learning styles, identifying both their own and those of other participants. By using a range of tools, ranging from contemporary management theory to ancient philosophy, the session aims to unpick the assumptions behind the structure of the classroom. In this way it will question some of the prejudices in how we approach education, leading to a vision of learning which moves away from enforced conformity towards a school that unlocks the individual’s passion to learn.
Continuous school improvement cannot be imposed from outside it can only be achieved by schools themselves.
Continuous school improvement is built on a foundation of clear vision that is understood and supported by the whole school community.
Continuous school improvement involves a cycle of self evaluation and actions resulting from that evaluation.
Continuous school improvement is never finished.
This is a practical workshop that will explore the above and result in participants taking away a toolkit for developing a strategy for school improvement in their own schools.
This conference is about educational change. It is about exploring and agreeing a direction that helps ensurethat we prepare our students for their future and not for our past. Even if we agree on the way forward, we all know that bringing about change in schools is not an easy process. One question that comes to mind is who is best situated to bring about change in our schools?
Almost all research findings on successful school improvement initiatives stress the critical role of the school head or principal in bringing about change in schools. Even at Beaconhouse, most people will agree that effective schools require well-trained leaders who are focused on improving teaching and learning. The challenge here is twofold: for Beaconhouse to plan and implement a formal process for the development of School Heads and secondly, for heads to take on the challenge to embark on challenging school improvement programs.
This interactive workshop focuses on developing a practical framework for the effective planning and implementation of educational change that focuses on improving outcomes for students.
Dr. Saeeda Shah
Brainstorming activity – concepts of Distributed Leadership/Sharing Leadership and Building Capacity – developed in interaction with the participants’ view/perspectives & relevant literature
Group activity – to identify the strengths and weaknesses of distributed leadership while working in groups – group spokespersons to share these mapping with all participants for open discussion and critique
Developing a distributed leadership model in a known scenario with help of provided framework
Relationship between distributed leadership and organizational culture – case study approach
Participants will share experiences outside of their own education and teaching experiences on the following:
Small learning communities will then think outside the box by exploring two additional questions:
This focus group discussion will look into the concept of SBPD as it contributes to teacher professionalism and teacher leadership. Participants will identify factors influencing the process of SBPD and consider issues involved in supporting teachers. The discussion will revolve around the answers to six important questions:
The collated responses will demonstrate the collective understanding of the group and what still remains to be learnt. Nevertheless it will provide new insights to the notion of SBPD.
Mary Louise Holly
Participants will explore autobiographical timelines of professional development including:
Dr. Fauzia Shamim
Teaching, as a profession that requires both pre-service training and continuous professional development, is still a novel concept in the Pakistani context. Many people still hold on to the age-old belief that teachers are born, not made and hence question the need for professional development programmes. Even if they agree that professional development may be useful as an ongoing activity, many teachers are unclear about their role in their own professional development. Therefore, the aim of this session is to enable teachers to question their own (and colleagues’) beliefs about the need and efficacy of professional development activities. More specifically, the following questions will be posed for focused discussions in small groups:
Each group will record their responses on flip charts to be posted on the walls for sharing and critique by other groups. In stage II, each group will be asked to formulate their own questions about teachers and teaching (at least two per group) for sharing and discussion with other groups. Finally, participants’ views will be synthesised in a plenary discussion.
Prof. Andrew Goodwyn
This session will explore the meaning of a learning community and how one might be developed. The group will explore experiences at their own schools, and evaluate whether their schools have built these learning communities and, if not, the discussion will then lead to how they might help create one in the future. The group will also reflect on how teacher expertise is developed and what means we may have for learning from other teachers. Finally, the group will consider whether some teachers need to be identified who can act as key agents in building a school-based learning community.
With increased access and the explosion of information, the role of the wise and trusted mentor should model scientists, fostering inquiry. Rather than modelling all that is known, mentors should create safe spaces in learning communities where neophytes explore new problems, where answers are not known even by mentors. Participants in this workshop will use simple biomonitoring techniques in learning communities to explore how effective peer mentoring fosters the strengths of individuals. In the twenty-first century learning environment we can’t know everything, and therefore profit from mentoring even as experienced mentors.
This session will explore the hugely influential concept of the reflective practitioner. After reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of Donald Schon’s original model, the group will examine practical ways of developing reflective practitioners, from initial training up to long term professional development. The session will also include discussions on expertise in teaching and how it is developed, the movement from ‘novice to expert’, and how technology may now be used to aid reflection.
What is a good teacher? Can YOU become a good teacher? What models of professional development are available for this purpose? To what extent are they suitable for YOUR teaching-learning context? These questions will be explored in this interactive workshop session. More specifically, various models of professional development will first be introduced to the participants through a range of activities just as jigsaw reading. Following this the participants will be invited to identify and critique the underlying assumptions and essential components of these models in terms of:
Finally, some experiences of using these models for teachers’ professional development in varied contexts in Pakistan will be shared briefly to wrap up. The aim is to encourage the participants to carefully analyse the possibilities and challenges before introducing one or more models for professional development in their schools/school systems.
Twenty-first century learning is about cultivating relationships and methods of learning that empower all students and teachers to learn from and with one another. John Dewey advocated experience and community for learning. Today’s learning communities build on his work; developing frameworks within which we all learn from reflecting on experience. Working in small learning communities during this session, participants will explore the roots and genesis of learning communities within their own educational environments. Examples will be drawn from successful learning communities, as well as those that come to light from participants during the session.
Teachers have the power to make a difference – few do damage, most maintain a status quo in the growth of student achievement and many are excellent.
In this two-hour session participants will examine and explore the notion of “teachers make a difference”. Do teachers make a difference? How do they make a difference? What difference do they make? These and many more questions will lead to the conclusion that continuing professional development (CPD) programmes enhance teacher quality which in turn is an important contributor in the learning cycle. CPD consists of reflective activity designed to improve a teacher’s attributes, knowledge, understanding and skills. It supports individual needs and improves professional practice.
Working in groups and through discussions, participants will identify factors that lead to confirming the fact that teachers make a difference – a huge difference – only if they have access to high-quality training and development opportunities throughout their career.
Dr. Martha J. Lash
What do we mean by project based learning in early childhood classrooms? How does project based learning engage children in short and long term interests? How are projects determined, that is, whose voices are heard in classrooms? How does project based learning vary in different types of early childhood programmes? An interactive discussion to these and more questions will help participants articulate the way project based learning may come to be experienced in their classrooms.
This discussion group will take into account ‘play’ – the various formats and uses to fulfil learning outcomes within the school. We will explore the many different ways ‘play’ can take place and the challenges involved for educators.
The assessment of young children’s learning is an important aspect of the educator’s role. In order to deliver an appropriate and interesting curriculum, we need to know where children stand in reference to their ability to learn. This discussion group will explore the many different ways assessment can take place and the challenges involved in making useful assessments.
Smart boards, digital cameras, tape recorders, music mats…
Children of today are subject to a vastly different world than we were. Their senses are assaulted by a wide range of multi media. How do we as educators ensure that the ICT tools we use will enhance rather than detract from learning? There are many learning areas that are integral to the early childhood curriculum in best practice. Where does ICT fit, or does it? We will share ideas, watch video clips and explore how Information and Communication Technologies can be used in a developmentally appropriate way in the early year’s context.
In this session, participants will work in small groups of six to eight, and discuss Early Childhood Education at Beaconhouse. The focus will be on how young learners interact with their curriculum and the contexts in which they learn. After exploring these concepts, we will discuss what implications this has on Beaconhouse as it moves forward. We will work together to articulate our ideas into concrete suggestions. Participants will be expected to join a lively, free-flowing discussion which will ultimately help shape the future of Beaconhouse.
The importance of care, learning, and relationships are paramount in the early years. As we move into global communities how do we rethink our curriculums, teaching practices and authentic assessments of our youngest learners? This workshop interrogates these topics and helps participants to further their approaches and reflective practices on responsive interactions with children, engaging classrooms, and authentic assessment during the early years.
In this workshop, participants will explore and discuss current brain-based learning principles and their implications on teaching and learning. Topics will include:
Participants will experience an interactive session, studying and discussing classroom scenarios and sharing their own teaching and learning experiences.
Research shows that children learn more outside the classroom than within it. In this workshop, we will capitalise on a great potential learning environment, the ‘outside,’ and consider how the skills, understanding and knowledge necessary for literacy can be gained outside the classroom.
Do you think you can learn to be creative? What is stopping some of us from being creative? This workshop will explore how our minds can get in the way of accessing our creativity, and how to overcome the obstacles. This workshop will be both experiential and interactive and, most of all, fun!
Dr. Catherine Wilson
The purpose of this workshop is to expose participants to theory, strategies and activities to integrate Art and Science activities for students in the early years of schooling. Participants will view examples of student centred lessons, participate in hands-on and team activities as well as observe demonstrations, video clips, and PowerPoint presentations of effective implementation techniques.
In this discussion group we will explore a variety of categories and functions of educational assessment. We will similarly explore concepts of folios and efolios and their possible role and function in particular kinds of assessment. The purpose of this session is to identify advantages and disadvantages of using folios in assessment and to understand the barriers involved in implementing a folio approach. Participants will not require prior knowledge of efolios.
Dr. Claude Alvares
What is the teacher’s attitude or approach to creativity? Does she feel it is an avoidable luxury? That it is a distraction? That it is worthless since examinations do not examine students for creative work? That in fact it takes away time from the “more serious business” of completing text books and preparation for examinations?
Is the purpose of schooling the making of hundreds of creative persons or masses of homogenously educated individuals on a mass scale for whom creativity is not a premium? Factory schooling is assembly line education: assembly line production took creativity and individual initiative out of factory production in order to make it more efficient.
What can be done if your administration has not resolved these fundamental issues and is unable to provide direction? Or worse, insists on standardized methods even if it means suppressing creativity?
How does one foster creativity in learning in classrooms in practical ways in a negative environment? Are there ways and means of protecting and deepening the capacity of students to be creative individuals even while circumscribed by the straitjacket of contemporary schooling pedagogies?
Questions, questions, questions! The answers will emerge from the discussion based on the teachers’ own experiences.
How do we assess children if there is no standardised testing? Is such an environment ‘appropriate’ for every child? Can we give Reggio Emilia, an Italian-inspired approach to learning, a new cultural perspective?
From the use of word processing and spell check in English to spreadsheets in Math, digital cameras in PE, Google maps in Geography, audio software in Music and digital microscopes in Biology, technology is increasingly being introduced into almost every subject area of the school curriculum. But is it an improvement on other ways of teaching? Is it used effectively? Are teachers using it appropriately? Are PowerPoint presentations better than “chalk and talk”?
This discussion group will look at some of the questions we need to ask ourselves to evaluate the use of technology in the classroom and ensure that it is used to enhance teaching practice and improve the education of students.
All too often, the tools of educational technology are used to ‘drive‘ and define the educational enterprise. We use tools because we can and are expected to, rather than because they help us meet educational objectives. The means become the end. This workshop will, through its participants, identify and offer an educational critique of some current uses of technology. It will first ask participants to identify some examples of educational technology use. Then, in small groups, participants will develop some educational tasks with specified objectives, assumptions and learning outcomes, together with the technological tools that could be used to assist in this. We will then analyze and discuss these, paying particular attention to educational rationales for using the technology and the real contributions it can make to learning. The ultimate purpose is to develop simple classification systems designed to help educators make well-informed judgements of the educational value in using technology.
How is technology changing the way teachers teach and children learn in our schools today? What skills does a teacher need in this new technological world? Do we need to teach any facts when we can “Google” and find out anything we need to know in an instant? Mobile phones are computers with cameras, voice recorders, web browsers, radios, audio players, organisers, etc. Should school students be using them in class? And what about exams, should students be able to use computers in all exams?
This interactive workshop will give participants the opportunity to discuss these questions, to consider how technology is changing education and examine its impact on our schools.
Claude Alvares will take a two-hour interactive workshop on “Nurturing Creativity”. A fixed, unchanging curriculum (and hidden curriculum) requires certain things to be “done” to the student. The teacher is appointed to ensure that the content of the curriculum is somehow lodged into the students’ heads. A successful teacher for any school administration is anyone who can do this task most effectively. However, creativity by definition deals with open-ended ideas and concepts. This naturally is in huge conflict with pre-set courses and content where creativity is at a minimum since the task demanded is comprehension and retention (mugging, if we are to speak frankly). The formal school today is criticised – and rightly so – for killing creativity. Since a large number of youngsters are involved, creativity gets a bashing on a colossal scale. Teachers claim that they have no time for creativity issues since the business of education is certification. Schools certify acquisition of knowledge and have no scope for creating new knowledge. The challenge is: Can schools nurture creativity and how? Will schools always kill creativity because this is the way they are organised to function or is there a chance that we can ensure transmission of necessary social knowledge and skills while protecting and nurturing the creative mind?
Why am I learning? Why do I have to go to school? Have you ever asked yourselves these questions or heard your children ask you? Often parents, at a loss for words, may respond and say, “because everyone goes to school.” At TNS, the staff dissects these questions and gives children an opportunity to be involved in and, to some extent ‘direct‘ their own learning and apply it in meaningful ways. Through class videos and portfolios of real work, we will see constructivism at work and an opportunity to learn some of the basics of project-based learning to get you started within your own classroom, school or community. Two of TNS’s past projects will be highlighted and there will be videos demonstrating teaching and learning. Challenges of project-based learning will be highlighted to help participants understand and hopefully avoid obvious pitfalls.
What is child initiated inquiry learning? How can children direct their own learning? How do we as teachers provide an environment to facilitate, maintain and extend inquiry? What is the role of the teacher? We will discuss how building on the strengths and interests of children in inquiry enables effective cross-curricular links. How is learning contextualised and made meaningful across subject “areas”? During this workshop we will discuss and share examples of inquiry learning and how it can be documented through group and individual narrative assessments (or learning stories) in order to celebrate and share learning and development with children and their parents.