How is it possible to focus on innovation when we are engrossed in the day-to-day?
These are difficult questions – but, at Penrhos College, we are determined to promote innovation and blue-sky thinking, and to not be distracted by the routine.
As new Principal, is was important to me to be able to encourage and nurture creativity. To ensure I was able to do so, I conceived of a role in the College management team with this core purpose - to look at what is possible and to create opportunities for staff to explore. From this idea, the position of ‘Dean of Academic Achievement and Innovation’ (Dean AA&I) was created to lead thinking in our Secondary School around the exploration, delivery and advocacy of innovative teaching, with particular focus on STEM. The goal is to always ensure and improve student engagement in learning, which naturally influences wellbeing, positive performance and academic outcomes.
We want to consistently innovate, to teach and learn differently in the rapidly evolving context of today's 21-century world. We want to empower our teachers to research new ideas and be willing to try them in the classroom – to be bold, to take calculated risks and to break new ground. We are committed to constantly developing our teaching and learning approach in response to the changing needs of our Generation Z and Generation Alpha students - they learn differently to previous generations and they will lead differently.
At Penrhos, we nurture and grow our students’ curiosity, creativity and resilience as learners - for educators, we do the same. We are all learners. We want our teachers to aspire to be proactively creative and innovative in contributing to our culture of continuous improvement. If all our educators – in WA, Australia and around the world - were to focus on continuous learning and engage in ongoing reflection, we would see a positive ongoing trajectory in education. How exciting that would be – how good for our students as they learn, how good for the world they graduate into, and how good for the future in which they will one day lead the way.
In terms of learning, each generation is naturally different, because their cultural norms and interaction with the world are different. How can we then expect to teach in the same way as we were taught in the classroom? Our students of today are not the same as we were, the world of tomorrow is not the same as it once was. As educators, our challenge is to explore, respond and adapt to teaching and learning in different formats and in new environments. No longer do we expect for students to sit quietly in rows of desks attending formal structured lessons as the Baby Boomers did; we have moved on from the more relaxed and interactive learning process of Generation X and the multisensory Millennials. Today, Generation Z’s educational experience is based on a far more learner-centred approach – our students are encouraged to engage with and help define their personalised learning journey, to collaborate in solving real-world problems, using the latest technologies in interactive spaces to identify the most creative solutions. Technological affinity will only continue to evolve as our most tech-literate generation continues to advance. We need to be prepared and we need to stay ahead.
Gen Alpha students live their lives with instant access to all the answers, at just the touch of a button or a verbal command. They expect to be connected to everything and everyone 24/7. So, how do we teach these very different learners - students who will probably one day have automatic cars, who may never own a wallet or use a set of keys? They are from the world of tomorrow – they are streamers, makers and gamers, with all the online learning opportunities and resources they need at their fingertips. So, what value is there for us to add? How do we innovate to complement and help define the learning experience of the future?
Penrhos is determined to find out - to pioneer and lead the way in shaping innovative education for girls in WA and beyond, today and tomorrow.
Principal Penrhos College
Find out more in 2022 at our Twilight Tour on 16 February, or Experience Day on 25 March.