My Theory of Change

I feel very fortunate to be involved in a leadership program working towards ending educational disadvantage in Australian communities. The aim of the program is to inspire, equip and support teachers to lead positive change in their schools and communities. I highly recommend checking the program out and connecting with the Changemakers team; Dave and Aaron.

Since beginning the program 4 months ago, I have struggled to find clarity around what it is I hope to change. We were asked to identify what we find unacceptable in our teaching context. I found it easy to answer this when phrased as “what keeps you up at night?”. Below are some of my initial thoughts:

  • It is unacceptable that students are disengaged from and uncommitted to education – that students don’t love learning
  • It is unacceptable that year 4 students cannot read or write in Pitjantjatjara (their own, 1st language) or in English
  • It is unacceptable that  students behaviour significantly impacts on each others opportunities and ability to learn
  • It is unacceptable that there is minimal family involvement, presence and support in the school
  • It is unacceptable that the basic needs of some students are not being met at home

From this point, I identified an end goal, what it is I wish for. Thankfully, four awesome educators from my school and our neighbouring school are also involved in this program so we were able to collaboratively discuss, debate and define an end goal together.

At work with amazing educators @erinmcquade, @loukaparry, @laurencwaller & Hayley

Our end goal

I then thought about what, in my opinion and experience, needs to happen to reach this point. I have outlined these ideas below. Still big  ideas that need more thought, input, discussion and reflection. But I wanted to put it out there as my initial thought processes so that I can see how they progress over time.

I do realise that achievement of these goals will be impacted by a multitude of factors, many of which are completely out of my control as an educator. These factors are consistent across many low socio-economic environments and include, from my observations, family and cultural obligations, generational unemployment and welfare dependency resulting in minimal motivation to work or aspire to a positive future, substance abuse, domestic violence, poor health, child neglect, abuse and poverty. It would be easy to succumb to these real challenges and at times, it takes every ounce of energy we have as educators in challenging contexts to keep going.

But wanting to see my students experience a future where they have fair and equal access to anything they want in the world, despite the challenges they face, is what inspires me to continue working towards creating positive change for my students and their families to come.

5 thoughts on “My Theory of Change

  1. I couldn’t help but think of my own experience in remote First Nations communities in Canada. Such a long journey to healing and change. Trust you’re finding the joys to go along with the frustrations. Many of those joys, in my 8 years there, came from the land and the people. If you’re up for a little read, I wrote a poem about my first year’s experience at http://milestomes.com/?p=460
    Enjoying the blog. Keep writing!

    • Thank you for your comment and support Miles. I really appreciate your thoughts and comparisons. I’m absolutely finding the joys out here and wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t love it. In fact, I wouldn’t trade this huge learning experience, especially in the early stages of my career, for anything. I am very lucky to work with a brilliant group of educators in our school and District which really helps us stay positive and motivated. I loved your poem and can relate to many of the ideas you touched on. Thank you for sharing.
      Kind Regards,
      Jessica

  2. Hey Jess – an inspirational post. I think educators in any setting / community would benefit by taking time to find clarity about what they hope to change – and take subsequent positive action. Thanks for sharing – Paul.

  3. Hi Jessica,
    I too struggled with some of the things you highlighted as ‘unacceptable’ in your post. Some great guidance I was given around these things were that try as I might, I simply would not have any effect on changing them as they had become so entrenched. The wisdom given to me suggested that I instead focus on what I could change and influence and I am so pleased to see you have constructed a plan for doing that in your community.
    Wishing you well,
    Louiza

    • Thank you Paul and Louiza for your supportive words. I am trying to stick to the idea of ‘think big, act small’ and work on what I can make a positive contribution to in our community. You’re right Louiza, we really can’t change it all and to think we can or even hope we can will be detrimental to our energy and efforts in making small and possible changes.
      I appreciate your thoughts,
      Cheers, Jessica

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