Dawn Louise Boland, a teacher at John Paul College, has a passion for design thinking in curriculum. And it is this passion which took her to study at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum of Design in New York in 2015 after being awarded the Cooper Hewitt Fellowship.
In New York she taught, researched and contributed to the programs at the museum that focused on the use of design thinking to underpin the curriculum. She was then able to share these new approaches to thinking and understanding with colleagues, leading conversations with teachers in Philadelphia, the Bronx and Manhattan and then at home.
“Dawn has a unique ability to translate her knowledge and adapt it to new ways of thinking about the standards of the Australian Curriculum and has since created design questions to frame thinking about the topics for study in this area,” principal Karen Spiller said.
At John Paul College she has helped to organise and support professional learning through opportunities such as Teach Meets. She has also been involved with the State Library of Queensland and contributed to professional learning programs for teachers including the ‘Out of the Box’ Festival in 2016.
This year Dawn received a scholarship to participate in the Australian Schools Leading Teachers Colloquium, where she is continuing to develop and hone her skills in Educational Leadership.
Recently, Dawn has been leading small groups of staff through courses offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, including Visible Thinking, Creating Cultures of Thinking and Teaching for Understanding, and by IDEO in Leading for Creativity.
Through these courses she has helped to manage meetings, both online and face-to-face, as well as supplying further reading, discussion and mentoring to staff.
Dawn’s current research is on the ideas of externalising thinking in a variety of forms and the use of action-orientated feedback for improved student outcomes.
“Our college supports mentoring of professional learning and Dawn is excited to mentor staff from across the schools; she leads mentoring meetings through the framing of questions and looks not only at the what, but the why,” Karen said.
“Dawn is an avid writer of journals and keeps records of her learning journey since 2012. Staff and students alike are interested in her approaches to learning and often discuss these with her and the greater outcomes that are achieved by these strategies,” curriculum director Julie Robinson said.
Through her work in the Human Society department as a History Teacher, and through her roles as Excelsior Teacher and Head of Year 11, Dawn has taken full advantage of the opportunities to lead through innovative approaches and strategies.
As a planning leader for Years 9 and 7 she has been able to bring about change in planning and assessment to reflect a more student-centred approach, not just skills-based but also thinking-based, changing the nature of feedback between teachers and students.
Congratulations Dawn on your QCT Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Award nomination.