Stronger Smarter Summit 2012: “From Rhetoric to Reality”

by on Nov, Mon, 2012 in Articles, Stronger Smarter News | 0 comments

Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion

What you told us…

A big thank you goes to all of you who have taken the time out of your busy schedules to complete the post-Summit online survey. This feedback is incredibly valuable not only for the Institute to gauge the overall quality and value of the Summit, but to assist us in determining future directions. It also enables us to provide useful feedback to our workshop presenters.

Much talked about were Professor Russell Bishop’s keynote addresses, particularly the cross-cultural relevance of his research and dimensions of reform, to the Australian Indigenous context. The commitment and passion of the keynote speakers, including Dr Chris Sarra, inspired and motivated participants to go back to their communities and schools and implement their learnings.

The range and content of workshops was very well received, particularly the processes and journeys of other schools. Facilitators brought an unobtrusive, organised, human approach to the Summit, and panel discussions were considered informative and a good catalyst for personal reflection. Participants were also overwhelmingly appreciative of the time set aside for action planning.

Following is a summary of consistent themes in your responses:

Overall experience…
Connection to colleagues, inspiring, rejuvenating, educational.

Keynote speakers; workshops/presentations; the Gowrie Boys performances; networking.


  • Relationships – focusing more heavily on quality authentic relationships within the school, and understanding the foundation of high expectation relationships
  • Engagement – a very strong emphasis on more effectively engaging community
  • Pedagogy – particular initiatives
  • Leadership – approaches and improvement
  • Practical tools shared which can be used in participants’ own work environments


It’s exciting to hear that numerous conversations have continued after the Summit, not only in terms of participants connecting with each other, but also exploring ways of incorporating some of the approaches presented at the Summit, such as the Bemel Gardoo Cultural Immersion framework and Russell Bishop’s narrative pedagogy around ?Establishing Staff and Family Relationships’.

Finally, below are just a few of the powerful statements participants shared in their final day self-reflection process session:


 Key Messages

“Be the best that you can be – and a little bit more”

“Approach challenges as possibility and opportunity… which I used to do often and great to be reassured of again”

“Every child is significant – treat them the same as your own”

“Accept the complexities – embrace them with courage and enthusiasm”

“Don’t accept deficit thinking and data”

“Teaching is a very honourable profession – remember that every day – and in every action”

“Continually look to improve pedagogy, and look to change students’ expectation of our pedagogy”

“The importance of embedding, sustainability, and the significance of relationships, innovation and persistence in that process”

“Be aware of where the POWER actually sits in interactions with families/community/school”

“Building capacity of Aboriginal leadership within the school gets more results”


Challenged or Affirmed Behaviour or Thinking

“It is the quality of pedagogy and relationships in every classroom that makes the difference – that has to be my core business”

“‘Not why are kids failing?’ but ?Why are we failing our kids?’ What can we do as educators to make our schools places where learners want to be?”

“We are agents of change of ourselves, and then we can handle frustrations”

“We are not alone – we have a strong footprint”

“Personal responsibility in an organisation – it’s not good enough to leave it up to somebody else”

“I have forgotten to meet and say goodbye to my kids each day – little things/gestures – they create big changes”

“Get it right in classrooms, then consider how to expand and bring back in disengaged families in a strength based way”

“It has affirmed the way I operate and plan/implement for my school community is building positive relationships”

“I need to continue to stop, reflect and ensure that I don’t collude with negative stereotypes or allow others to do it”

“Stand up again and get the family and community back to school to work with them hand in hand in educating our children”


Next Most Powerful Step

“I will meet (personally) with every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island student in my school (only 15 students) before the end of the year – discuss how they’re going, but mostly their goals and dreams”

“Lead a session to create a Cultural Action Plan – ?How do we want to be together?'”

“Ensure Strategic Plan incorporates specific Koori Education goals”

“Meet with community re reinvigorating cultural programs as an integral part of the curriculum”

“I have already set a time to speak to our principal to let him know how we can support each other in having these ?difficult’ challenging conversations as part of staff development days”

“Develop a leadership group amongst the Aboriginal students… allow them the chance to develop/negotiate programs/initiatives”

“Visit communities of remote students, be a face not a voice on the phone”

“Look into the 8 Ways of Learning and try to include it for Term 4”

“Regional/State/School funding for reps to continue and link Summit wake up, shake up and same page regional approach”

“Challenging the notion that we have tried everything'”

The Stronger Smarter Summit was made possible by the generous support of our Summit partners the National Australia Bank and Origin Foundation.

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