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6.6.2022 | Kimberley Powell |

Country Lead, Kim Powell on her journey in education and giving students their own sense of ikigai

Country Lead for Australia, Kim Powell is the Learning Leader: Innovation for Lutheran Education in Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania. She works with schools to lead innovative practices around Contemporary Education. Kim develops and runs professional learning opportunities for schools including innovative learning tours across Australia and Internationally.

I am sitting writing this article in my home office in Melbourne, Australia. This is the place that over the last two years I have connected through my work to the world. Melbourne is one of the largest cities in Australia, known for its great food, coffee and sport. Australian Rules Football “(AFL) is the sport we choose to obsess over and to ask someone “What’s your footy team?” can either make you friends or rivals in an instant, Go Western Bulldogs! I live here with my husband Sam and children Lucas, 10 and Amelia 7.

Living in the most locked down city in Australia we have spent the last two years dreaming of traveling again and being able to engage in experiences that inspire us and bring us joy. For our family this would mainly revolve around eating delicious food and finding new places to continue our Monopoly Deal family challenge (which I am currently losing). 

Come October this year we are taking our Monopoly card deck on the road as we commence a 12 month family adventure around the world. 

We are going to give un-schooling a go and focus on slowing down, making new friends in new places and learning together.

What was the moment, realisation or a person that made you excited about education in the first place? 

I kind of fell into teaching as a logical option, what I knew was that I wanted to work with children. I began teaching in the same system of schools I attended as a student, Lutheran Education.

I moved through two schools quite quickly and restlessly until I landed in the western suburbs of Melbourne. We were a small school with a tight knit team. My Principal Jan Baker was so skilled at giving her young staff agency and opportunity to engage our students. Every crazy idea I had, she encouraged. It wasn’t long before I moved into school leadership and discovered that my true passion was actually in helping other educators to design learning that was authentic and engaging. I still remember preparing for a staff meeting one night and finding Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted talk about how schools kill off creativity. 

I felt like Sir Ken was articulating all of the things that frustrated me about our system of education. I still share this video with groups to this day and Sir Ken’s advocacy for transforming education still drives and inspires me.  

My professional energy went full steam ahead into challenging the traditional system and to supporting educators in my school to embed contemporary practice. I was incredibly blessed that 6 years ago I moved into a regional role that saw me go from supporting change in one school to leading innovation and contemporary practice across 20 schools in my current role as Learning Leader: Innovation for Lutheran Education Vic, NSW, Tas. LEVNT is a system of schools driving change and focused on “inspiring students for life”. 

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for innovators in your region? 

The kinds of innovations that are thriving in this part of the world are those which are focused on improving a sense of wellbeing for students. With Covid having disrupted education in such impactful ways over the past few years educators recognise the importance of “Maslow before Blooms” They are looking to find meaningful ways to ensure that students become strongly connected back into their school communities and to develop shared language and skills around how students engage with each other and are able to recognise and communicate their emotions. 

It is wonderful to see innovations like Ginnie & Pinney ‘Learn and Grow’ being a supported resource in government primary schools here in Victoria and Smiling Mind being used to develop mindfulness practice across many classrooms. 

I think there are further opportunities for innovations that help educators connect learning directly into the community, putting students at the center of purposeful learning experiences with an authentic audience.

I have had some exciting conversations recently with innovators who are working to revolutionize professional learning for educators and there are exciting opportunities for these kinds of innovations to give so many educators access to excellent professional learning. 

What little or big part do you want to play in improving education?

Honestly I think what really hinders strong innovation in Australia is the fact that we are already “ok enough”. 

I think the education system works well enough here to mean that most of us can be quite complacent in our urgency for change. Education has a comfort zone that allows for much adequate but not outstanding practice to be accepted, thus the rate of change is incremental. 

It would be wonderful to see a shift from schools needing to convince parents to trust them to make small changes to parents advocating for and demanding that schools utterly transform their practice to guarantee that every child develops the contemporary skills required to operate successfully in the world through authentic learning experiences that take place with a strong connection into the world, the community and industry.

Who would you like to see joining the HundrED community to accelerate the pace of change?

I strongly believe that educational innovation is not truly making an impact until it is felt by the students in some form of change that positively affects their schooling experience. I see my role in working for Lutheran Schools in Australia to be an agitator and advocate in the space of innovation. 

My role in education is about raising the awareness of innovation for educators in our schools, to create buy-in for new ideas and possibilities that ensure that positive change becomes mainstream for all students and deeply embedded into a new model of schooling. 

As Country Lead, I would like to connect more of the wonderful HundrED innovations into Australian schools to ensure that all students have the best chance to flourish through their education. 

Who would you like to see joining the HundrED community to accelerate the pace of change?

I would like to see more educators in Australia become involved in the HundrED community. There is such a great opportunity for Educators to find and access wonderful innovations that HundrED has already curated. I think if more educators were involved in the HundrED community then they could in turn advocate to embed worthy innovations into their classrooms and improve the educational experience of their students. 

What does a future worth aspiring to look to you? 

2030 feels so close now. I would like to see all learning built around the development of contemporary skills with students being taught scaffolds of thinking, problem solving and project management.

 I would see educators and students having the opportunity to discover their own sense of ‘ikigai’.

To have school be the place that allows everyone in their community to discover their passion and purpose, develop the skills they need to pursue it in a way that fulfills them and makes them self supporting and be able to contribute in a positive way to the world and the wider community.

I would like my own children to come home every day bursting to tell me about the projects they are working on and the industry and community experts that they are collaborating with to solve problems and make change in the world.

Connect with Kim on LinkedIn

If you are interested in joining the HundrED community, you can find more information here.