AEL Volume 39 Issue 3 August 2017
AEL August 2017; 39 (3):
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From the CEO

Aasha Murthy

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In his riveting memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl, the Auschwitz death-camp survivor, shares a Nietzschesque insight he encountered in the shadow of death: “He who has a ‘why’ to live for, can bear with almost any ‘how’” (Frankl, 2006, p. 76). This poignant statement has transformative significance for any endeavour irrespective of its existentialist import. In a boat race like the America’s Cup, for example, it ranks the value of the racing crew’s actions by asking that quintessential question, “Will it make the boat go faster?” In social sciences, it makes projects accountable to a “theory of action;” the causal relationship between the action taken, and the outcomes intended. It is fair to say that human beings, and the organisations they spawn, need to purposefully couple the efforts they make to the aspirational intents they espouse. Absent this, and organisations run the risk of becoming overhead to the enterprises they seek to empower.

ACEL recognises this imperative. It therefore has a lucid purpose that is commonly understood, and enthusiastically shared, by all its stakeholders: Contributing to excellence in educational leadership. The four dimensions for measuring its progress on this commitment, are also unambiguous:

Support that enhances educational leadership capabilities; Recognition that celebrates the successes of exemplary
people working in the education sector; Advocacy that gives platform and voice to the profession; and Inspiration that spurs people in the sector to greater heights. A consistent calculus that rates ACEL’s performance along these four vectors, will ensure we stay true to our own “theory of action.”

• Conferences: The 2017 Early Childhood Leadership Conference (ECLC) held on the 2nd and 3rd of August, at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, underscores the importance ACEL accords to the Early Childhood Education (ECE) sector. The ECLC is now an annual event in ACEL’s calendar, and this year’s conference was sponsored by the Queensland Department of Education. The event attracted over 500 local and international delegates from the states and territories, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

Delegates came from a wide range of early childhood contexts including: childcare centres, preschools, primary schools, and education departments at universities.

• The 2017 National Disability Leadership Summit (NDLS) is a well-established annual event in ACEL’s calendar. This year the NDLS was held on the 19th and 20th of June in Sydney. More than 300 educational leaders from Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, came together to explore the importance of leadership, when providing learning to
students impacted by disability. The keynote presenters, conference speakers, and delegates at the event engaged deeply with a variety of issues of vital significance for the sector, including: current reforms and their effect on students’ parents, and their wider community; opportunities for inculcating a strong foundation of high expectations in students with a disability; and strategies in the core areas of curriculum, learning, well-being, and collaboration that would deliver better outcomes for children and their families.

• Seminars and Workshops: The new iterations of the Visible Learning symposia hosted by ACEL, were delivered by Professor John Hattie in Hobart and Albury for the very first time, this month. Over 400 educators from the respective regions attended these two-day events.
The “Henry V Inspirational Leadership” workshop series is currently underway in eight locations across the country. It uses Shakespeare’s, Henry V, to examine major educational leadership themes from every level of school life. The workshops are being conducted by Ben Walden, whose keynote presentation was a major highlight of ACEL’s 2016 National Conference in Melbourne.

• Value-add to ACEL Membership: We are working to continuously enhance value for our members. Two new and exciting benefits that members can now avail of, as part of their membership are:
• Free access to the Online Resource Centre, which contains more than 700 articles, videos and other learning resources, featuring experts from diverse domains. The portfolio will continue to expand over time, since the resources are regularly updated, and augmented.
• New ACEL membership website, which exponentially improves the user’s experience, of the wide range of ACEL’s resources, and publications that are exclusively available to members. Contemporaneously, the site, also simplifies membership administration, by providing topical advice on topics such as: joining ACEL, renewing membership, membership benefits, et al.

Publications and Resources:
• The Australian Educational Leader (AEL) is undergoing a ‘major upgrade’, even as the current issue goes to print. By the end of this year, the AEL will emerge from this revamp, with completely ‘re-engineered’ content. It will feature new sections, including: Case Studies; Book Reviews; Interviews with key educational leaders; and a Graffiti Wall to capture reader feedback and input.

• ACEL’s suite of ePublications is also being substantially redesigned to provide more practical tools and strategies to educators in the areas of: leadership; management; teaching; technology; well-being and early childhood education. Subscriber feedback obtained through surveys and interviews have informed every aspect of both the revised format and the enhanced content.

• The ACEL New Voice Scholarships recognise forward-thinking, contextually-relevant, and responsive educational leaders, through awards in three categories – educational leadership, educational research and indigenous leadership. Like their predecessors from 2015 and 2016, the recipients in 2017 are a talented group of educators from diverse backgrounds, and from across the country. The sector will soon begin to reap the benefits of their work. A full list of winners is published in the National Conference section of this journal. We look forward to welcoming them at the ACEL Conference in Sydney later this year, and formally recognising their achievement at the ACEL Awards function.

• The ACEL National Awards recognise individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to the sector, and have influenced Australian education at a national level. As in previous years, the very high quality of nominations received this year, made the task of selecting winners a difficult, though pleasurable task for ACEL’s awards committee. The award winners are being notified as this publication goes to print.

ACEL has engaged external experts to assist in creating a multi-year Advocacy Strategy and Implementation Plan for the organisation. As the first part of this initiative, we will be engaging with our members, school and system leaders, and key national and global influencers in education, to elicit their views, on the scope, and form of such activity. This is a very exciting development for ACEL. As in all our other areas of endeavour, our activities will always be evidence-informed, profession-led and positively-oriented.

As fresh young minds step-through the portals of learning for the very first time, they are full of enthusiasm, excitement, curiosity and a sense of adventure. Their development into self-assured, efficacious, well-adjusted, life-long learners, is predicated on the quality of their ECE experiences: the people they meet; the enjoyed absorption of their activities; and the seamless development of their emotional and cognitive competence.

“One hand does not nurse a child,” goes an old Swahili proverb, and you must not “confine children to your own learning, for they were born in another time,” counsels a wise old Chinese saying. We at ACEL wish to add a modern corollary to these timeless truths. The ECE educators who shape the first thoughts, feelings, will, and actions of our young children, occupy a privileged position in these fledgling life-journeys, because they light the eternal flame of awareness in these young lives! The ECE community then, is one that we must always nurture, support, and cherish, because they till the furrowed fields of young minds and hearts, thereby underwriting the very future of society.

Against this backdrop of thanksgiving to a very special community of educators, the Early Childhood Conference 2017, was a truly inspirational event that warmed the heart and filled it with hope and optimism. Two days of intense conversations, close interactions and general communion with early educators, spotlighted the very special breed of teachers who have taken charge of shaping the hearts, minds, and spirits of our future generations. They are deeply committed, amazingly adaptive, and full of love and care for their young charges; we can all rest easy, because our children are in very safe hands.

In common with preceding issues of this journal, the August 2017 contains articles that are a comprehensive
analysis and critique, of all that is relevant and valuable to educators in every domain of our sector.

This issue is also very special for another reason: it contains a detailed programme of the ACEL National Conference being held at the Sydney Convention Centre from 4–6 October. Many of you have already registered for the event. Several of you will be in the process of sending through your registrations. As the programme details in this issue will
underline, this seminal event for our sector, is truly a “must-attend” for every educator’s calendar. We look
forward to welcoming you to the conference in October.

Further reading
Frankl, Victor E, Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust, Beacon Press, Boston Massachusetts, 2006.

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