Aboriginal Inquiry: Lifting All Learners

An Impact Assessment of the Aboriginal Enhancement Schools Network (AESN)

7.0 Network Impacts

I became involved in the Network of Performance Based Schools about nine years ago. I was inspired by the passion and knowledge of the presenters and by the dedication and curiosity of the others participating in the Network. My level of involvement changed over the years, sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing depending upon available time and resources, but I continue to be inspired and challenged by the leaders and participants of the Network. I get some really clear messages from the Network; we (teachers) CAN do a better job, we MUST work together and we MUST learn from each other.

It was through my participation with the Network that I became aware of and learned to apply Assessment for Learning (AFL ). Although I was a seasoned teacher AFL took my practise to a new refined level. My participation also taught me that I wasn’t alone in challenging current believes and attitudes and thus gave me the courage to continue to ask important questions and explore “better” ways of doing things. As I grew in my understanding of inquiry, unknowingly I was bringing some of my colleagues along with me. Through informal conversations they were witnessing my practise and inspired to examine their own. We were no longer evaluating methods or approaches as good or bad but instead were wondering, tweaking, applying, revising, sharing and wondering some more.

In this section of the report, we summarize the evidence presented to us through the multiple focus groups and interviews we completed for this impact study. As was noted in the methodology section of this report, we visited a range of school districts and communities and conducted interviews with a number of individuals and groups asking them to describe their work as members of the AESN , and to consider how they would characterize the features or activities of the Network, with particular attention to tracing the impact the Network has had on their work, their students/learners, their school districts and communities. The AESN advisory group and the researchers conducted an initial thematic analysis of the data collated from focus groups; additional analysis was conducted by the researcher McGregor and research assistant Fleming in a subsequent phase of the research process. The emergent themes from both processes mirrored closely those themes extracted from the literature review and will be elucidated in detail here.

Each section will be introduced using a story or narrative; the goal is to illustrate how impact is perceived and described through the stories members have told about the AESN . Subsequent data is selectively included as a way of providing detailed evidence of the scope, depth or breadth of impact; where appropriate, promising practice evidence from the literature review is provided to bootstrap or reinforce the claims being made by research participants.