Finally! A Whole Term, Uninterrupted!

I write this week's Messenger article just days from completing my first uninterrupted term at Woodleigh. No lockdowns or COVID isolations to slow us down – and as such, we've packed as much as possible into the last nine weeks.

Images from Thursday's Winter Musicale. An amazing celebration of skill, talent and creativity.

As we are chilled by Melbourne's winter cold and watch as we move forward with a new government, we also move on from the vigilant mindset COVID imposed on us and raise our heads to look to the future and consider just where we want our School to be in 2030.

Looking to The Future

While COVID restricted many aspects of our operations, we used that time to consider what the future of education needs to look like and how Woodleigh can continue to lead the development of contemporary, progressive education in Australia. We have spent time with staff, students, parents, and community members, asking them about the future of Woodleigh and their aspirations for our school.

This appreciative inquiry has produced a clear direction for Woodleigh School. A path that encourages us to challenge the norms of education and be at the forefront of implementing goals that look to holistically develop each of our students – developing character and the capabilities they will need to be successful contributors to society.

These ideals are not new to Woodleigh and are reflected in the sentiments Michael Norman spoke of when he first had a vision for our School in the early 70s. The opportunity we are presented with is to be deliberate and purposeful with the many experiences we have at Woodleigh and to measure that which we value.

Images from Minimbah and Penbank students' recent trip to Senior Campus.

Learning to Thrive

Next term, we will launch our new strategic plan for Woodleigh's future. This document is called Learning to Thrive. It will outline how we can be deliberate in our pursuit of transformational learning for our students and the development of capabilities that will serve them well in an uncertain and unpredictable world. Underpinning our hopes for the future will be the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Inner Development Goals that our young people will need to make a difference in the world in which we live.

As a school, our mission is simple, direct and clear. The purposeful development of creative, compassionate, skilful, and resilient young people who can thrive in an ever-changing world.

What we do needs to reflect this mission; if not, we must question the value of these experiences. Our mission comes with commitments, and at Woodleigh, we continue to commit to:

  • Knowing and celebrating the unique strengths, interests, and abilities of all learners
  • Fostering a sense of awareness, empathy and identity that supports personal and collective wellbeing
  • Encouraging curiosity, initiative, and responsibility in the lifelong pursuit of learning
  • Engaging as active citizens of our local and global communities
  • Contributing to local, national, and global conversations that promote intercultural understanding
  • Acting as stewards for the sustainable use and protection of our natural environment

At Woodleigh, we educate students Heart, Head and Hands. We cultivate the learning of young people who can apply their knowledge to solve real-world challenges and make a difference in the lives of others. Our approach emphasises learning by doing, through immersive and applied experiences, and learning by caring, through social-emotional development, the promotion of positive relationships, and active engagement as responsible citizens.

Images from Penbank's last School Meeting for Term 2, and the Year 3-4 Learning Expo

Committing to The Mission

But mission statements need to be more than words and glossy brochures. They require us to live and breathe our commitments. They are the actions and projects that will help us deliver on these commitments. They are also the plan for the physical development of our campuses to ensure we continue to provide outstanding environments where our students can thrive.

These commitments and ideals also require a way of thinking and a way of being. For some time now, Woodleigh has been a part of the Compassionate Systems Network. This global network comprises members who have completed the Master Practitioners course at MIT. We are fortunate that two of our leaders, Richard Owens and Jodie Kirchner, have completed this course and that the Woodleigh Institute is now a centre of awareness-based systems leadership.

Through immersive professional learning opportunities for our staff we can and will continue to bring this way of being into our School.

The Woodleigh Institute provides a unique approach to professional and organisational learning through its Awareness-based System Leadership (ASL) offerings. ASL is an immersive method that challenges participants to explore how an integrated focus on self-development, team learning, generative dialogue and systems thinking can support school and system innovation, effectiveness and improvement.

Awareness-based System Leadership is an approach that draws upon Peter Senge's theories about organisational learning and Otto Scharmer's work on awareness-based change to address important questions about personal and collective capacity building, sustainable innovation, and effective change management. The approach provides a nurturing forum for educational leaders to revitalise a personal vision for their own development while deeply examining the relational and transformational elements of their leadership role.

Images from Minimbah's Space themed PFG Disco

Rest Up, Refresh, Restore

I hope each of our families will have an opportunity to stop, breathe and enjoy time with each other during the upcoming break. Whilst it has been an amazing and successful term, I think we all deserve a break to rest and regather ourselves for the second half of the year.

Take care, and we will see you in Semester 2.