Thoughtful Educators

Event Details

Date: Saturday 18 June 2022

Time: 8.30 am to 1.30 pm

Venue: Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Cost: $50 per person

About the Conference

‘Building a rich culture of thinking in our classrooms and schools is a long, complex, thrilling and challenging process’.
(Ritchhart, 2015).

Our classrooms are increasingly complex spaces. Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Cultures of Thinking methodology, emanating from their long-running Project Zero research project, encourages teachers to think carefully and creatively about their classroom practice and how robust thought is embedded culturally.

Cultures of Thinking reimagines classrooms as facilitating learning and creating a culture, where students think for themselves, have the intellectual curiosity to disagree, and are engaged in critical thinking, exploration, and reflection.

At this conference, Harvard’s PZ former Principal Investigator, Dr Ron Ritchhart, will discuss how to see and notice culture, in an interactive keynote presentation.

Attendees can then select from one of eight workshops, which are underpinned by Simon Brooks’ 10 Habits of Practice in the Thinking-centred Classroom. Each workshop will explore these habits and allow attendees to discover how Cultures of Thinking has been embedded at Brisbane Girls Grammar School and understand how the Cultures of Thinking methodology can be applied in their own classrooms to create a culture of deep and visible learning.

The conference will end with a panel session hosted by Dr Bruce Addison (Deputy Principal (Academic), Brisbane Girls Grammar School), which will explore the concept of Sustaining a Culture of Thinking in a State-based Standards Driven Environment. Panellists will include Ron Ritchhart, Ryan Gill (Head of Senior School, Masada College), and Susan Garson (Director of School Wide Pedagogy, Brisbane Girls Grammar School).

Workshop spaces are limited, so register now to secure your place.

This conference will be beneficial for any educator wanting to learn about creating and contributing to a culture of critical thinking, and deep and visible learning. In particular, it will be useful for secondary school teachers, middle management, and senior leaders.

Conference Program

Schedule Activity
8.15 am - 8.45 am Registration and refreshments
8.50 am - 9 am Welcome Address
Ms Jacinda Euler, Principal, Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Dr Ron Ritchhart, former Lead Investigator Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education
One of the habits that develops as teachers work with the concepts of Professional Noticing is the ability to see and notice culture and reflect on their own teaching and their teaching assumptions. During this presentation, Dr Ritchhart will introduce and use the Snapshot Observation protocol as a tool that helps hone these skills. This will be a highly interactive keynote presentation.
10 am - 10.25 am Morning tea and networking
10.30 am - 12 noon Conference Workshops (attendees can select to attend one of the following eight workshops).
10.30 am - 12 noon TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE
Ms Kathryn Talbot, English Teacher, Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Habits explored: Allowing Think Time
Suitable for: Classroom teachers, Heads of Subject
Time—or rather, having 'no time'—seems to hold power over us all, whether it be leading us to truncate creative ventures or forgo the introduction of a new thinking routine. In this workshop, we will unpack the power of single, small steps in shifting not only our relationship with time but that of our students'. The concept of short, timed writing activities to help students avoid ‘perfection paralysis’ and activate prior knowledge will form the spine of this workshop. We will also demonstrate on a wider level how we can take time to make time: to invest, rather than spend.
Ms Susan Garson, Director of the Centre for School Wide Pedagogy, Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Habits explored: Making Thinking Visible, Encouraging Diverse Ideas, Pressing for rich peer-to-peer interactions
Suitable for: Heads of Subject, Heads of Faculty, Middle Leaders, Senior Leaders
Cultures of Thinking routines are content-free scaffolds that can guide faculty conversations and make teachers’ thinking visible. In this workshop, we will investigate the staff qualities that we wish to promote within our Professional Learning Communities. In addition, we will work in groups and use four different thinking routines to address common Faculty Meeting scenarios. We will also talk about the thinking routines that work well to facilitate inclusive discussions, problem-solving, and documenting teacher thinking.
Ms Anna Flourentzou, Head of Year 7 Humanities, Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Habits explored: Allowing for Reflection
Suitable for: Classroom teachers
The importance of feedback to the thinking and learning process is well known and well documented. As teachers, we want to see our students develop as thinkers and learners and we want to provide them with targeted feedback to facilitate this development. However, how do we provide students with timely feedback when the cultural force of time is finite? How do we help students engage more deeply in the process of reflecting upon feedback? In this workshop, we will explore how we might foster a culture within our classrooms where feedback—whether it be from a teacher, a peer or a student—is highly valued, ongoing, and constructive.
Mr Andrew Pennay, Director of Creative Arts, Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Habits explored: Promoting Slow Looking
Suitable for: Classroom teachers
In a fast-paced world, it is challenging to sustain the habit of looking slowly and deeply at objects, art, and concepts across subject disciplines. By using specific learning structures to interrogate the objects and art around us, we can learn to uncover richer connections between concepts, histories, and importantly, ourselves. With a cross-discipline focus, we will explore science, art, music, and humanities—slowly and deeply—to explore these connections.
Mr Elliot McGarry, Head of Senior Physical Education, Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Habits explored: Pressing for Wondering
Suitable for: Classroom teachers
If learning is a consequence of thinking, then curiosity is the engine that drives it. Students often present with varying levels of interest in what is happening in the classroom, but why do they (and we) find more interest in one topic over another? What sparks their interest to learn more? Creating and harnessing moments of unknown in the classroom provides opportunities for curiosity, drawing students in to find the missing piece of the puzzle. In this workshop, we will delve into the world of curiosity and the power it holds in deepening learning. We will explore ways to make students’ curiosity visible, sparking the wonder of students and teachers alike.
Miss Meghan Parry, Head of Literature, Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Habits explored: Making Thinking Visible, Pressing for Learning over Work, Encouraging Diverse Ideas
Suitable for: Classroom teachers
Performance is short-term, whereas learning is long-term. By combining performance and learning, we unlock richer understandings. Documenting student thinking (rather than work) and providing scaffolds through Thinking Routines allows our students to retain knowledge for longer, experiment with their ideas, celebrate where they have been, and know where they are going. The goal of this workshop is to empower participants to understand the flexibility that a culture of thinking and Thinking Routines afford a classroom environment. Attendees will have the opportunity to be a participant in the learning process and view the ways that our past and current students have documented their thinking in physical and online spaces, to not only enable their lifelong learning but also be successful in their more immediate learning tasks.
Stuartholme School Presenters: Mr Jarod Costantini, Director of Staff Development and Co-curricular, and Mr Ben Hegerty, Leader of Learning—Humanities
Habits explored: Modelling thinking
Suitable for: Classroom teachers, Middle Leaders
The modern educator in primary and secondary schools has an important focus—the development of critical thinking skills in students. Each of our subject areas is based on increasing understanding of the soft and hard skills that will enable our students to leave our classrooms at their best. If the move to online learning in previous years has taught us anything it is that the teacher must actively seek out opportunities to encourage our students to build deeper knowledge through active listening and modelling. In this workshop we will demonstrate how to go beyond using Visible Thinking Routines as isolated activities, and how combinations of thinking routines, used with specific functions in mind, can be a powerful tool for deep student learning. These routines also allow educators to move away from the 'sage on the stage' role and act more as a 'guide on the side' or 'meddler in the middle' who encourage students to listen actively and model thinking for their peers, rather than be the ‘expert’ at the front of the classroom. The value of this approach to staff development will also be unpacked.
Masada Presenter: Mr Ryan Gill, Head of Senior School, Masada College
Habits explored: Listening and Probing
Suitable for: Classroom teachers, Middle Leaders
Our classrooms are filled with interactions. These usually take the form of questions, asked by the teacher, responded to by the learner and evaluated by the teacher. How might we foster a curious classroom culture where we can nurture richer thinking with our questioning? How might we enable our students to become question askers, rather than merely question answerers? In this interactive workshop, participants will consider how they can become more effective listeners and probers of their learners, working in service of thinking.
12 noon - 12.20 pm Coffee break and networking
12.20 pm - 1.10 pm Panel Discussion: Sustaining a Culture of Thinking in a State-based Standards Driven Environment
Host: Dr Bruce Addison (Deputy Principal (Academic), Brisbane Girls Grammar School)
Panellists: Ron Ritchhart, Ryan Gill (Head of Senior School, Masada College) and Susan Garson (Director of School Wide Pedagogy, Brisbane Girls Grammar School).
Dr Ron Ritchhart, former Lead Investigator Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education
1.20 pm - 1.30 pm Conference Close
Dr Bruce Addison, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Meet the Speakers 

Dr Ron Ritchhart, Harvard Project Zero, United States of America

Ron Ritchhart is a former Senior Research Associate and Principal Investigator at Harvard Project Zero where his work focused on the development of school and classroom culture as prime vehicles for developing students as powerful thinkers and learners. Ron’s most recent book, Creating Cultures of Thinking, takes readers inside a diverse range of learning environments to show how teachers create classrooms where thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the day-to-day experience of all group members. Howard Gardner has called the book ‘a tour de force’ for Ron’s ability to seamlessly merge theory, research, practice, and application together in a highly accessible and engaging manner.

Ron’s research and writings continue to inform the work of schools, school systems, and museums throughout the world. His book Making Thinking Visible, co-written with Mark Church and Karin Morrison, has popularised the use of thinking routines to facilitate deep learning and high engagement. Ron and Mark Church have just finished a new book, The Power of Making Thinking Visible, in which they introduce a new set of routines and share what they have learned about the successful integration of thinking routines as a powerful teaching tool.

Mr Ryan Gill, Masada College, Sydney

Ryan Gill, Head of Senior School at Masada College, Sydney, has a passion for everything learning and teaching with a particular focus on critical and creative thinking. As an educator, he subscribes to the core philosophy that learning is a product of thinking (Perkins). Early inspiration came in the seminal work of David Leat and the team at Newcastle University, UK, and later learning and working alongside the Harvard Graduate School of Education Project Zero team.

He is a key figure in the development of Cultures of Thinking pedagogies across Australia, regularly facilitating at conferences and educational institutions, including a range of courses developed at the highly acclaimed Masada College ‘Think Centre’. Ryan is a founding member of the Project Zero Australia Network.

Dr Bruce Addison, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Dr Bruce Addison is Deputy Principal (Academic) at Brisbane Girls Grammar School. Bruce has held leadership positions in boys’, girls’, and co-educational schools as well as the tertiary sector; for many years he coordinated and taught postgraduate courses in leadership and curriculum at The University of Queensland.

A widely published scholar, Bruce’s work has featured in international peer-reviewed and national editor-reviewed journals. His areas of expertise and interest lie in the fields of leadership and the development of professional practice, particularly in the context of practice deepening and change.

Bruce is a life member of the Queensland Economics Teachers Association, a Queensland Fellow of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders, and a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators.

In 2021, Bruce co-authored a book with Emeritus Professor Frank Crowther AM and Mrs Karen Fox, published by Hawker Brownlow, entitled Inspiring Hope: Personal Pedagogical Gifts in a World of Standards.

Ms Susan Garson, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Susan has taught in public, private, single-sex and co-educational contexts in Queensland for 21 years. She completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies at The University of Queensland and is currently the Director of the Centre for School Wide Pedagogy at Brisbane Girls Grammar School. This role involves leadership of school wide pedagogy including Cultures of Thinking professional development for staff.

Susan’s Cultures of Thinking journey began in 2016. Since that time, she has participated in national and international conferences (Harvard Project Zero Classroom 2018) and completed Harvard University online coursework. She has been involved in the mentoring of middle leaders, teachers and practicum students in Cultures of Thinking approaches and has facilitated Study Groups in their engagement with Inquiry Action projects at the school. Cultures of Thinking has inspired a structural shift in her teaching practice and reshaped relations with students, staff and her perceptions regarding effective learning, thinking and understanding in the 21st century.

Mr Andrew Pennay, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Andrew Pennay is Director of Creative Arts at Brisbane Girls Grammar School. In his music classroom, Andrew enjoys implementing aural-based activities to enhance composition and improvisation work and bring his students more deeply into the world of sound. Andrew has lectured in music education at a tertiary level and has presented workshops nationally and internationally, focusing on musicians as thinkers and associated upper secondary teaching methodology. In 2011, Andrew received a National Award for Excellence in School Music Education through the Australian Government Quality Teacher Program. In his spare time, he plays banjo, pedal organ, and toy piano in a folk band, and has recently finished writing and producing a dream-pop album.

Ms Anna Flourentzou, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Anna has been a Humanities teacher at Brisbane Girls Grammar School since 2015 and Head of Subject—Year 7 Humanities since 2020. Since completing Creating Cultures of Thinking through the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2017, Anna has taken on roles such as a facilitator and a coach to a number of teachers at Brisbane Girls Grammar School to help cultivate the creation of a Culture of Thinking at the School.

Anna is highly curious about feedback and has recently focused on how she might provide opportunities for students to be more self-reflective as learners and to more meaningfully engage in the feedback process.

Mr Elliot McGarry, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Elliot has worked as a Health and Physical Education teacher at Brisbane Girls Grammar School since 2014, and in girls’ schools for more than 13 years. During his time at the School, he has overseen the development and implementation of the QCE Physical Education program. His role as a Cultures of Thinking coach and Inquiry Action facilitator involves supporting fellow teachers to uncover the power of thinking, combining classroom pedagogy with their own pedagogical gifts. As Head of Senior Physical Education, he believes strongly in developing a Culture of Thinking, both in and out of the classroom environment.

Miss Meghan Parry, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Meghan is an experienced educator currently working as Head of Subject—Literature at Brisbane Girls Grammar School. She has a deep interest in the way that learning works and finds joy in creating opportunities to deepen student understanding. Previously Meghan was an English Specialist teacher who helped write the new Literature syllabus as part of the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s Expert Writing Team. She is also a foundational member of the team at Girls Grammar that implemented Harvard’s Cultures of Thinking methodology.

Ms Kathryn Talbot, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

After completing her Master of Philosophy at The University of Queensland, Miss Kathryn Talbot joined BGGS as an English and English and Literature Extension teacher. Kathryn is committed to helping her students develop academic and emotional resilience both within and beyond the classroom. Kathryn is passionate about public speaking and supporting students in the development of their own unique voices, further encouraging them to participate fully and enthusiastically in the post-school context.

Mr Jarod Costantini, Stuartholme School

Jarod Costantini is the Director of Staff Development and Co-curricular Activities at Stuartholme School. He has worked in Queensland schools for more than 15 years and has experience in several different areas of Senior and Middle Leadership alongside teaching classes in Years 9 – 10 Economics and Business and Year 11 and 12 Economics. Jarod was also a contributing writer for Cambridge Humanities and Social Sciences for Queensland for the Years 8 and 9 textbook series which was launched in 2021 and is an accredited Assessor for the Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher Certification recognised across Australia.

Mr Ben Hegerty, Stuartholme School

Ben Hegerty is the Leader of Learning—Humanities, at Stuartholme School in Brisbane. He is the lead history author for the Year 7 and Year 8 titles in the newly published Cambridge Humanities and Social Sciences for Queensland textbook series (released late 2021) which was influenced by Cultures of Thinking principles and integrates a range of Project Zero thinking routines. Ben was also a contributing writer for Cambridge Senior Ancient History for Queensland, is a member of the QHTA executive and has contributed to the QCAA in various roles, as a District Review Panel Chair, Subject Matter Expert, Lead Endorser and Lead Confirmer.