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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 51
Authors: Jenny Green & Merise Bickley Gowrie NSW Developing a "Learning Community" for EDUCATIONAL LEADERS The National Quality Framework (NQF), launched in 2012, mandated the appointment of an 'educational leader' in all education and care services. When developing the Gowrie NSW 2012 Professional Learning Calendar, this new role was seen as a great opportunity to facilitate learning for educators where they could engage in professional discussion, thinking and reflection about the concept of educational leadership and its impact on a service's operations. Gowrie NSW subsequently launched an eight part series titled "Educational Leader: A Learning Community". In the article below Merise and Jenny share their story of the development of this learning series. With the overwhelming amount of information that services were receiving about the NQF, in 2012, we realised that unpacking the role of the educational leader was not likely to be a number one priority for many services at this time. However, communicating to the sector a commitment to supporting directors, coordinators and the soon to be appointed educational leaders, was a priority for us. We envisioned an adult learning opportunity where professional discussions with peers enabled reflection, analysis, change and the practical consolidation of newly acquired skills and knowledge. We believed that we could use the Communities of Practice model for learning to support individuals -- facilitators and participants -- to consider, understand, explore, discern, reflect and unpack how this responsibility could be achieved practically in early childhood education and care settings. As Lave & Wenger (1991) describe, a 'community of practice' or 'learning community' can be created specifically with a goal of gaining knowledge related to the learners' field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop personally and professionally (Wikipedia, 2013). Perhaps the most noticeable difference of this style of professional learning, to other adult learning models, is the level of participant involvement in the group. The participants become active members or 'active learners' of the group, in contrast to the one-off style of professional learning, which is often seen as information being imposed or transferred to recipients. 6
Reflections Magazine Issue 52