Home' Independence : Independence Vol 40 No 1 May 2015 Contents VOL 40 NO 1 MAY 2015 INDEPENDENCE 67
Build trust. Working at the organisational
culture level to shift thinking towards
SDL is vitally important. The notion of
relinquishing control of learning and
moving to a facilitative role takes great
trust – in oneself, in colleagues and in
the students. Building professional trust,
collaborative intent and authorship of
the process is the key to developing
working relationships, embracing change
and accepting a swing in the balance of
power to become a co-learner.
Staff development. Do not underestimate
the impact on staff development of
moving from traditional pedagogies or
hybrid practices that engage learners,
to the more empowering model of SDL.
Systems of ongoing professional learning
and collaborative support, including PLCs
(professional learning communities), are
Clarity and communication of vision
to community. From the idea to the
inception of SDL and then throughout
the journey, be clear in the articulation
of the vision, or the ‘why’. It is important
to help those you want to take on the
journey to imagine the path ahead. A
compelling vision also spells out roles,
responsibilities, expectations and layers
Make every effort to publicise each
step, celebrating and displaying work
that matters (ideally with students as
curators, publicists, guides and speakers).
Seek also to involve families and
community groups to contribute ideas,
resources, time or expertise and to be
an authentic audience for critique. This
is also important for new staff members
and, of course, new students who may
not be familiar with the approach.
Let families and parents give you
feedback. SDL may be a far-removed
notion to parents and families. It may
also cause anxiety and a desire to give
feedback. Don’t be afraid of this. St
Paul’s invited parents to do just this. It
was not an easy prospect for our teachers
to go public with their practice. However,
we could not have prepared ourselves
enough for the response. Families were
glowing in their support of IST and the
SDL approach, citing that the experience
had, in some cases, transformed their
family life. Their children were seeking
opportunities to talk about their passions,
articulate their learning, involve siblings
and extended family members and even
educate their families. In fact, the event
turned into a ‘sign-up’ event, recruiting
yet more volunteers with expertise we
were unaware of.
Capture the journey. Arguably, this is the
most onerous but most rewarding aspect
of embedding SDL. The joy, excitement
and curiosity witnessed in the students
at St Paul’s are testament enough that
SDL is a path worth pursuing. The power
of trans-disciplinary self-determined
learning and multi-age collaboration has
created a culture of growing together.
Students and teachers alike develop
digital and physical portfolios of their
learning journey, not only to capture and
constitute flexible assessment for and
as learning, but also individual growth
in capabilities and capacities. Photos,
videos, blogs, tweets, presentations,
models, and drafts – whatever can attest
to this development, capture it!
St Paul’s School is a co-educational day school
with 1400 students from Prep to Year 12.
Headmaster: Dr Paul Browning.
The introduction of SDL in St Paul’s Junior School
is described in detail by Jon Andrews in ‘From
obstacle to opportunity: Using government-
mandated curriculum change as a springboard
for changes in learning and teaching’, a chapter
in Experiences in self-determined learning, edited
by LM Blaschke, C Kenyon and S Hase (2014).
The success of IST in St Paul’s Junior School
has led to the introduction of another design-
led, entrepreneurial and SDL project in St Paul's
An online Community of Practice for heutagogy
can be found at https://heutagogycop.
LEARNING & TEACHING
YEAR 1 students at St Paul’s School collaborate on
a design during Immersion Studies Time.
control of learning
and moving to a
facilitative role takes
great trust – in
oneself, in colleagues
and in the students.
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