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A Better Education Built on Networks; Welcoming our New CollectivED Fellows

One of the most interesting aspects of the growing CollectivED community is the inclusion of educators from a range of sectors and continents who are at different career stages and in different roles.  Often their work crosses organisational boundaries and builds and sustains professional networks. 

This month we welcome our second cohort of CollectivED Fellows.  The CollectivED Fellowship status is an approach to celebrate the work and impact of individuals in supporting the professional learning of others, to build our networks, and to support Fellows in connecting with each other.  Like our first cohort each of our new Fellows has already made a valued contribution to a CollectivED event or working paper. Once again, we welcome new Fellows whose practice and or research aligns with the purposes and values of CollectivED.  This blogpost exemplifies how their ideas and practices make a difference in the settings within which they work and illustrates their advocacy for professional learning and the support and dialogue which underpins and emanates from it.
 
It is fascinating to read how practices at school and college levels can change the working lives of teachers, creating new opportunities for professional development and collaboration, and remove less productive routines.   These changes do not happen in a leadership vacuum; they require strategic decision making aligned with shared values.  Our Fellows are instrumental in creating the conditions and capacity for such changes. Tracey Rollings, for example, has developed a whole-school incremental coaching programme at her London secondary school, which ‘provides space and time for professionals to reflect on their practice and set themselves small action steps for development’ and is supported by ‘a broad range of coaches including lead practitioners and excellent classroom practitioners who facilitate coaching conversations based ‘on action-based research driven by the coachee’.  Similarly, in Melbourne, Mark Dowley leads the professional learning program in a large independent school, with the program based on ‘mastery, autonomy, purpose and connectedness’, supported by ‘professional reading, workshops and a team of instructional and leadership coaches, with time given for collaborative conversations.’ Another approach is supported by Sharron Galley who works at a sixth form college in England where colleagues are members of a ‘Practitioner Researcher’ group. As one of the more experienced researchers Sharron ‘provides collaborative feedback to colleagues as a ‘critical friend’ to support their projects’. In her work as a PGCE leader she has also extended these practices support mentors to build a community of practitioner researchers.
 
Some new Fellows are based in Higher Education in England, where they combine research and partnership practices which resonate with CollectivED.  Jonathan Doherty co-wrote and led a taught a module for middle/senior Leaders on coaching and mentoring and has recently visited a Finnish university to observe team learning in action led by team coaches, from which he  draws parallels with his own work to promote the ‘potential for collaborative approaches to learning’. Val Poultney recognises that ‘engaging and changing hearts and minds in an educational world where there are so many competing agendas is a challenge’.  In order to address this challenge she has built a university-school partnership, working with schoolteachers and leaders along with other academic colleagues to promote teacher research or inquiry through Teaching/Learning/Educational Rounds, lesson study, action learning and similar methodologies, through which ‘powerful professional learning communities have evolved’.  In Malta James Calleja is a university-based research academic who works closely with schools, school leadership teams and teachers to design professional learning opportunities for teachers. One project he leads ‘supports schools at primary, secondary and post-secondary levels to learn about, initiate and sustain collaborative lesson study’. 
 
In England there has long been a strong policy steer towards schools as providers of initial teacher education, CPD and school improvement support, and this has largely been driven through School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITTs) and Teaching Schools. These have created contexts in which some of our new CollectivED Fellows have developed their practice. Derek Boyle is a SCITT Director where he enables an ethos in which trainee teachers ‘develop their reflective practice and this requires a developmental and reflective approach to the mentoring and coaching that they receive during their training’. Henry Sauntson is a Professional Mentor and Senior Subject Lead for a SCITT where he has gained a ‘deep interest in the art of delivering context-rich and iterative professional development for teachers, underpinned by relevant and valid research and evidence’. Kelly Ashley has worked actively to support Teaching Schools largely through funded projects.  Her priority has been working ‘in close partnership with staff in establishing a culture of collaboration where every member feels valued and empowered to succeed with a focus upon improving outcomes. Former headteacher David Gumbrell works across education settings, including universities and SCITTs, often with a focus on resilience. He advocates that educators ‘add self-compassion onto their To Do List’, aiming to  ‘re-engage teachers so that they have the energy and positivity to re-engage their learners’. In New Zealand Brendon Marshall is a lead teacher for a community of learning (Kāhui Ako) across ten schools through which he coaches lead teachers from several schools, ‘supporting and challenging them to build networks of collaborative inquiry in their schools around key driver areas such as cultural responsiveness and digital learning’.
 
Some of our Fellows are facilitators of national and international networks of educators whose work shines a light on critical professional issues and to which they offer active support.  Hannah Wilson co-founded WomenEd,  founded DiverseEd, and is a volunteer coach for the DFE’s coaching pledge for women leading in education. As such she works ‘across a number of communities and organisations, joining up the thinking and people in each space’ using coaching as ‘a lever for change in our schools’. Penny Rabiger works with BAMEed Network which ‘seeks to build bridges to challenging conversations that lead to practical and lasting meaningful change for and by marginalised people’. She brings ‘a perspective on whiteness from [her] intersectional positioning as a white, Jewish member of the BAMEed community’ which helps her ‘to reach into and navigate white spaces to bring anti-racist activism and learning in a safe and yet challenging way’.  Lizana Oberholzer has been a BAMEed Trustee and is also a WomenEd Regional Lead.  In both networks she has been an active coach and mentor, and recognises that ‘unlocking the potential of others, is not only a privilege, but a co-constructive experience, and mentors and coaches continue to grow in their own practice when supporting others in their learning communities’.  
 
CollectivED works in partnership with GCI and we are pleased to welcome Andrea Stringer, who is a Managing Consultant for GCI based in Australia, as one of our new Fellows. Long before taking up this post Andrea had been active in developing both her own and others’ coaching practices and facilitating national and international conversations and networks.  For example, she established a  CoachMeet which ‘provided the opportunity for educational coaches or those interested in coaching to connect and share practices, experiences and resources, to connect and learn from each other and build our educational coaching network’. Andrea also co-facilitated #EduCoachOC which provided and sees social media as creating ‘opportunities for learning and opening dialogue to views and ideas that are not confined by specific contexts or circumstance’. It is these forms of networks and CPD opportunities that Scottish university teacher educator Richard Holme is researching for his PhD which ‘focusses on teacher-led or grassroots professional development and learning’ and which he believes links ‘to the idea of collective learning, and challenges formal hierarchical or accountability structures, which can exist in education’.

It is growing increasingly clear that the capacity for transformation in education resides in the networks of professionals, working collaboratively within and between formal and grassroots organisations.  It is wonderful to be able to learn from those who do this with enthusiasm and agility who are now part of the CollectivED Fellowship. You can read more about the work of our new CollectivED Fellows through the working papers that they have contributed to following the hyperlinks below. You can find out more about our Fellows through the twitter hashtag #CollectivEdFellows and we will also be developing new approaches to celebrating and sharing their work more widely. We will work to support the Fellowship community to sustain positive impacts on the lives of educators and outcomes for learners and we will invite Fellows to be proactive in developing approaches to this.  

The full list of CollectivED Fellows confirmed in May 2020 is here.  We look forward to working with them and our existing Fellows because they are an inspirational group of educators. You can find out more about becoming a CollectivED Fellow at our website.

Kelly Ashley  @kashleyenglish  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 5
James Calleja  @JamesCalleja7  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 10
 
Sharron Galley  @SharronGalley  CollectivED Special Issue Mentors Matter
David Gumbrell @Auribins  CollectivED Special Issue Mentors Matter
Richard Holme  @richardjholme  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 3
 
Lizana Oberholzer  @LO_EduforAll  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 9
Val Poultney  @vapoultney  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 6
Penny Rabiger  @Penny_Ten  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 8
Tracey Rollings  @tjrxxiii  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 10
Henry Sauntson  @HenrySauntson  CollectivED Special Issue Mentors Matter
Andrea Stringer  @stringer_andrea  CollectivED Working Papers Issue 7
Hannah Wilson  @Ethical_Leader CollectivED Special Issue Mentors Matter
 

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Professor Rachel Lofthouse

Rachel Lofthouse is Professor of Teacher Education in the Carnegie School of Education. She has a specific research interest in professional learning, exploring how teachers learn and how they can be supported to put that learning into practice.

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