The Learner First founder and CEO Joanne McEachen traveled to Australia and New Zealand in recent weeks to share her leading thinking on deeper learning, educational measurement and assessment, and whole-system change.

On October 16, Joanne keynoted at the Queensland Deep Learning Lab in Queensland, Australia, where the conference focus was centered on developing learners who are creative, connected, and engaged. As Joanne shared with conference attendees, it’s not enough for school systems to say these outcomes are important, or even to say students are already developing them––“there’s no way to know if there’s no way to measure.” If we want our students to be creative, connected, and engaged as learners and as citizens of the world, schools have to place a more purposeful emphasis on the development of these outcomes. That emphasis is achieved when those outcomes are measured. Joanne introduced four overarching deeper learning outcomes – self-understanding, knowledge, competency, and connection – and explored how each outcome can be assessed, measured, and developed in schools.

The New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) conference, hosted from October 22-26 in Wellington, New Zealand, aimed to “explore the ways in which [educators] can be creative, while acknowledging the tension between this and the need to be compliant with [government] policy.” Attendees’ focused on how leaders’ creativity could help lead to flourishing futures for school systems and their learners. In her keynote presentation at the NZPF conference, Joanne shared the role of the leader in bringing deeper learning outcomes – and, therefore, flourishing futures – to life, exploring how leaders can find creative ways to:

  • Make deeper learning a lens over everything they do
  • Ensure they aren’t leading alone
  • Model risk-taking and support others to “play”
  • Question everything in light of its impact on learners
  • Lead all the way through to measured outcomes

Both keynote presentations shared insights from Measuring Human Return: Understand and Assess What Really Matters for Deeper Learning, co-authored by Joanne and published earlier in October by Corwin Press, which provides the framework, tools, and approaches for measuring and developing students’ deeper learning outcomes.

In closing, Joanne left each conference’s attendees with three questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. How do you fit into the world?
  3. How can you contribute back to humanity?

They’re the questions all school systems should help their learners explore – and the questions that should drive every educator, too.