Partnering to learn; building capacity for excellence - Education Matters Magazine
Professional Development

Partnering to learn; building capacity for excellence

Founded on principles of partnering, co-learning and capacity building, the EdPartnerships International team is committed to working and learning alongside educators in ways that respect learners and local contexts.

Each partnership investigates and researches how best to strengthen learning relationships and approaches in the quest for educational excellence.

The EdPartnerships (EdP) approach is centred on seeking first to understand learners and their contexts.  The team then embarks on iterative, co-design processes to strengthen internal learning and leadership capacity to address local needs, aspirations and challenges.

Established by Dr Maureen O’Rourke, who has recruited a group of committed and passionate educators, the team’s ultimate goal is to co-design programs that result in inspired, courageous learners and leaders at every level of the system, capable of addressing the diversity and challenges of ever changing contexts.

“The EdP approach attends to leading self, leading others, leading learning and leading change. Underpinning this is building understanding of partnering, culture and the importance of establishing an effective learning architecture that enables people to come together to learn,” she says.

This translates to a connected approach to professional learning that acknowledges the roles of leaders and learners at different levels within the system and creates opportunities for them to learn from and with each other.

When designing a program of professional learning, the EdP team ensures that their partnerships and programs:

  • Offer multiple opportunities for understanding local experiences and contexts by engaging with learners – adults and young people – to undertake collaborative analysis processes;
  • Identify and are responsive to learner needs;
  • Engage learners in an active process of co-design that create the conditions for co-agency; 
  • Use provocations to challenge current thinking and engage with multiple perspectives.

Co-Director Dr Jayne-Louise Collins says this means that EdP approaches create the conditions for deep learning, professional insights and understanding as well as the capacity to act mindfully and skilfully to serve diverse learners.

“One of our roles is to enable educators to understand themselves on a deeper level, uncovering what may not be able to be seen when you are so immersed in your settings,” she says.

“What we do is listen and learn, ask questions, engage in rigorous and challenging dialogue that offers a stretch. We strive to support and enable our school colleagues to ensure all students progress and reach their potential.”

According to a teacher leader, who participated in an EdPartnerships’ course, it completely changed the way they lead the learning of colleagues.

“My understanding of what it means to lead has changed. My confidence in leading has increased dramatically. My thought process and the way I interact with staff and students has become more considered. I have developed my understanding of the importance of taking slow and considered steps.”

A principal mentor of a teacher leader explains that an EdPartnerships capacity building course resulted in transformational learning, with their colleague demonstrating growth and change in their confidence, beliefs and values as well as their identity as a leader.

“I was expecting some impact, but she has grown enormously and added value to our school, students and staff. She has bigger picture conversations and embraces the challenges of change. The conversations she has are not technical in nature but there is a philosophical feel – they are impacting our learning culture.”

The EdP team partners with a diverse range of the colleagues from across the education spectrum – at the broader system layer, with regions, and with leaders, teachers and young people in school communities.

“We are in many places across the educational landscape which gives us a great insight into the emerging needs of educators,” Collins adds.

A feature of many EdP programs is a learning architecture that invites connected teams to attend together – school leaders, teacher leaders and classroom teachers.

The EdP team carves out this time for connected teams to learn, investigate and gather evidence before crafting new actions and ways of working and learning in their schools.

In this way leaders model a partnering to learn approach with their colleagues and students, which then cascades to impact and shift the existing culture and relationships within the school, with young people the ultimate beneficiaries.

  The EdP team are also accomplished and highly regarded researchers, regularly engaged by systems of education while also conducting independent research to better illuminate new educational priorities.

“This year we have a new program launching as a result of our recent and a research circle with schools –  Learner Agency a journey of being and becoming, that we are really excited about,” says Collins.

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