Timothy Barlow: Voyaging for Excellence, Reforming Education

One who holds the torch of knowledge, drives away the muffling fog of ignorance, and guides the multitude towards enlightenment.

Passionate and efficient educators follow a reformative and holistic approach towards empowering their students. They comprehend students’ volatile learning interests and formulate comprehensive strategies, creative teaching methods, activities promoting inclusiveness and many other ways to match up to their students’ requirements. Such innovative, prolific and adept educators possess the potential to sculpt ambitious young learners into leaders and professionals of tomorrow. One plausible example of such educators is Timothy Barlow, the Director of Technology Innovation at St. Leonard’s College.

Tim has had a profound career in Education to date. He began his professional life as a Geneticist at a cutting-edge research facility, and his inclination towards exploring, utilizing and pioneering the use of innovative solutions travelled with him magnificently into education. While Tim started his career as a Middle Years Science teacher and Senior Years Biology teacher, it wasn’t long into his career before he was tasked with diverse leadership roles.

As a Head of Learning, Middle Years Leader and Experiential Learning Coordinator, Tim efficiently organized all aspects of around 12 international trips involving over 400 students and staff. He also coordinated and directed a local and international based, award winning educational experiential learning program. As a Head of Year 9 he was a hugely successful and respected pastoral leader. Additionally, he spearheaded the early introduction of restorative practices. He led a team of pastoral careers in the revolution of adolescent discipline. Tim’s proficiency as an educator is evidently proven when a certain year level which historically received hundreds of detentions per annum, received zero as soon as he took over.

In the past decade, Tim has had a significant impact on the direction and implementation of a number of transitional educational innovations. In his first year as an eLearning coordinator, he personally designed and implemented a school wide, radically successful virtual learning environment while concurrently planning the complete transition to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model of student technology provision. Tim also conceived, built and delivered an entirely new educational faculty named DigiSTEM as the global demand for coding, robotics, STEM, design thinking, making and engineering emerged. As the Director of Technology Innovation, he also sits on the executive leadership team at one of Melbourne, and Australia’s, premier independent schools. His dynamic and innovative style inspires both his students and educational peers alike.

Blending Technology with Learning

Tim’s educational leadership and innovation began in earnest when he was a full-time classroom teacher and he has been unwavering in continually improving the traditional methods of classroom teaching practice ever since. In 2007, he began implementing his pioneering mindset to work in education with conviction. In the age of the iPod, Tim was a true pioneer of the Flipped Classroom pedagogy. When smart phones emerged, he designed and developed four educational iPhone apps. When tablet computing and eBook readers emerged, he developed eight wildly interactive and engaging electronic books. He has even gamified – introduced elements of game-based motivation – an entire year of the Australian Science curriculum. His podcasts have been downloaded almost a million times, he has over 100,000 views on YouTube, and his blog has been visited over two million times.

Tim’s innovative and creative use of ICT in the curriculum is undisputed. His personal classroom innovation has directly enabled a generation of students to experience and engage in higher level learning. However, as an educational thought leader, his vision has also transformed many educational practices. His vision has assisted schools around the globe, transition from the traditional closed wall, class-based nature of online learning, to course-based collaborative teaching and learning platforms. He has pioneered and assisted many schools transition to the modern BYOD model of student technology provision. He has pushed his own, and numerous other schools down the path of continuous reporting to enhance learning outcomes and strengthen relationships between schools and parents.

The Home Ground

Tim expresses his pride in working at St Leonard’s College in Melbourne, Australia. He aligns comprehensively with the vision of the school – to provide all students with An Education for Life. Similarly, Tim draws inspiration from the college’s mission which states, ‘Through inspiring and caring teachers, and in a physically, emotionally and spiritually safe coeducational environment, St Leonard’s College provides an exemplary innovative education for its students, enriched by the traditions of its heritage.’ As a result, all of the school’s strategic directions are in line with powerful education experiences for the present landscape, which equip students for their uncertain futures. Tim’s drive to support staff in a myriad of avenues has ensured that strategic initiatives have succeeded, and staff has up-skilled in areas surrounding pedagogy, use of technology and reporting practices.

Tim states that he works at a school that helps lead the educational landscape in virtually all that it does. Its amazingly committed staff constantly pushes the boundaries of pedagogical practices to ensure the very best learning environment for all students. The academic results of his school are routinely amongst the very best in the country and the students at his school are award winning, from Swimming or Cheer Sports, through to Theatre Productions, Musical Performances and Adventure Racing.

According to Tim, when he was appointed to the role of Director of Technology Innovation at St Leonard’s College, the ICT landscape was a virtual wasteland. His futuristic vision and strategic planning ensured that his school quickly transitioned to a national leader in this regard. As with all challenges, Tim takes them in his stride, and it is virtually impossible to shake him and his drive to seek improvement, it becomes evident that he can easily overcome the challenges of the roles he has undertaken.

Changing the World, One School at a Time

“Education is of utmost importance to the future well-being of our society, and our entire planet, and this provides a continual and ample source of both, the motivation to do great work for students everywhere, and also unrest and a strong desire to continue to push education forwards and see it continually improve and evolve to better empower all students everywhere,” Tim expresses. This constant positive outlook cannot help but spread onto Tim’s colleagues and peers, and the inspiration his students gain from this approach of teaching is profound. Tim’s students are engaged and inspired to be their best and to pursue their own passions to their very best ability.

At St Leonard’s College the entire faculty continues working to be the best school in the world – a goal that every single school should aspire to. For Tim personally, the goal is always to help as much as he can and do the best work he can, whatever work that is. Tim is periodically asked if he will step into a Principal role at a school in the future, and while Tim would never say never he is happy simply being a powerful force for change and good in this world.

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