The value of ‘agile working’ for principals

The value of ‘agile working’ for principals

‘Agile working’ is a hot topic in the workplace and media, with large companies like ANZ making headlines for their adoption of agile management and innovative work environments.

These ideas and practices originally adopted in the workplace have filtered down into the classroom, as principals look for new ways to engage students and prepare them for the workforce.

Below is a background on agile working and how principals and school administrators can implement these practices in a school setting.

Agile working
Breaking through the noise around ‘flexible working’ is the term ‘agile working’. Agile working is built upon the understanding that every worker performs best under different circumstances and environments. Similarly, school leadership teams have a responsibility to facilitate flexible learning practices within the curriculum.

For example, Farmington Public School in Minnesota has ‘flexible learning days’ where students work online using a digital learning platform, with teachers offering guidance through a virtual office.

This can be especially effective for rural schools, where students may find it difficult and time consuming to travel to school. This benefit is compounded by teachers also having the option of more flexible working conditions, one way to combat the prevalent staffing issues.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
BYOD programs gained popularity in corporate environments when employers observed that employees enjoyed using their personal devices for work. As such, schools have begun implementing BYOD programs to continue to teach digital literacy in the face of decreased government funding.

For example, Yankalilla Area School in South Australia has benefitted from DER funding which enabled them to build wireless connectivity infrastructure. However, with government cuts they were unable to ‘enable future-focused learning programs’ and so are now developing a BYOD program.

Re-thinking school classrooms
Another facet of agile working is facilitating team work and collaboration through the reconcecpualisation of physical spaces. Many schools are already re-thinking classrooms by integrating sit-and-stand desks to promote movement and furniture that can quickly be adopted for team work and collaboration. For example, one teacher in La Cañada, California, has "wobble" stools in the classroom which ‘help young people concentrate by allowing them to move and fidget as they perch.’
Targus is helping implement agile in schools
Implementing an agile approach to learning requires planning and communication. Implementation starts from the top. School leaders must identify the goals of the program and consider potential roadblocks.

For example, Mazenod College in Perth implemented a parent funded 1-to-1 Laptop Programme. However, the IT department was concerned about the ‘wear and tear’ these devices could be subjected to, potentially resulting in hundreds of dollars in repair costs per device.

Mazenod partnered with Targus to develop a bespoke, fit-for-purpose bag which has reduced the amount of repairs to student laptops. Parents are happy as well knowing that their investment is protected, while students enjoy the flexibility of using their laptops for schoolwork.

School leaders can take inspiration from the workplace by integrating agile practices into the school curriculum to facilitate learning and prepare students for their career. Understand the goals of the program and consult with teachers, IT, parents and students to ensure long-term success.

Claire French is the General Manager of Targus for Australia and New Zealand.
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