Sunday, 8 October 2017

learning in the classroom

After 2 terms back in the the classroom full time, with 'just' teaching role it has come to my attention how quickly I have let the big picture float away.  It's not a good thing.  The challenge of getting to know a new class / pod, and school worth of people, not to mention the differences in how they work has been huge.  Learning to 'fit in' also means learning to let go.  Now, on a rainy day in the term break I am challenged to think what benefit my teaching has brought to my students.  And I am sure there has been some - but I don't think it's the learning that I used to be most proud of.

With one term to go until final reports, I am questioning how, during the craziest of all terms, I can possibly present learning in a meaningful way. 

To help me reignite my thinking about the big picture and true end goals of education I am reading Educating Ruby by Guy Claxton and Bill Lucas.  In Chapter 2, they look at Professor Lauren Resnick's comparison of learning in school and out.  Even though it is almost 30 years old, it is still true.  So I wonder.... What will I change / what can I change to blur the lines?

Friday, 22 January 2016

An interesting invite

A few days ago I received an email, due largely to the fact that my name is the contact for our newly forming Westland Community of Learning.  The email asked what I seem to think is a rather silly question.  Would I like to join in a Global online discussion with Micheal Fullan, Steve Munby, Vivienne Robinson, Tony McKay, John Hattie, and Phil Brown?  Gee... let me see if that day works for me... uh YES!  Of course there will be plenty of other participants - and it was really inviting our cluster of principals to participate as a hub, not just me - but still - a huge YES to that.  20 groups from NZ have been invited to join and little ol'Westland is in the mix with the big kids ;)  
So, given that I was already struggling to get my head back into school, particularly the classroom, this is a great distraction, and inspiration to start thinking.

The first set of questions to think about... 



my knee jerk answers are...

1.  Some how flexibility needs to be built into policy - and TRUE recognition for the challenges we face and incentives to stay when we are doing great things.  By this I don't mean higher salaries- although money is always nice to have, it doesn't really solve problems.  Support in the way of effective coaching, time to think and research solutions, Professional development that supports the changes and successes rather than distracts or moves backwards.

2.  Building relationships and trust.  One of the most frustrating things I have found in the last few years is the level of division and mistrust within education. It's not true in all cases, but I seem to be more aware of it now than ever before. Teachers don't trust their school leaders to move their school in the right direction.  Leaders don't trust their teachers, or have misplaced trust.  Leaders who don't trust themselves and give all decisions to teachers - not in a positive/collaborative leadership way, but in a 'they won't listen to me or will be angry if I get it wrong' way.  and the level of distrust between the union and govt is the most disappointing of all.  nothing will change until the relationship changes - (I suggest a total divorce and look for a new style of partnership).  The 'mindset' of all sides needs to change - we are here for a common purpose, to give our children the best future possible.  Start with the key things we agree on and build from there, looking for solutions rather than the difficulties and giving permission to take risks and leaps of faith, knowing that we won't be punished.

3.  Which pockets are we looking at?  Those with the dynamic leader?  Or those that out live the leader - and where are they?  The only thing I can think of is PD - but not the 1 day listen to the guru PD - but High quality, face to face, ongoing, coaching at the coal face.  And if you want to see the full potential - take it to the fringe first - get the experts out of their cities, away from the schools and communities that aren't really struggling and fight the hardest battles first for a change.  

4.  Community accountability -well-being accountability - accountability for positive relationships, and positive change - not just test scores.  I believe successful system-wide school collaboration actually needs more than just schools to collaborate.  We all know that there are many factors that impact the success of our students. We need to seek out strategies that allow us to be the village that raises the child - not just 1 school.   

more reading, talking and more thinking needs to go into these answers - but I find it always getting the 1st impression down is a good place to start.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

December feedback

As part of my appraisal process I am using Interlead Appraisal Connector.  This allows me to seek anonymous feedback from staff, board, or students and community.

This survey ranked me as 'proficient'.  An area I could aim to improve in 2016, based on the results of the survey would be improve to collaboration within the Board and school.  We (the Board and I) have discussed some activities for 2016 which could facilitate this, including reviewing our Charter and values to ensure that all parents and BOT members are aware of what we are doing and why.

Click here to read the report from December 2015 based on the BOT completed survey.

(I have also realized while posting this, I need to add in the leadership criteria in the pages / tags for this blog - - a job for the summer holidays)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Self directed learning

Do no limit yourself to what other people can't do ~
Challenge yourself to discover how much YOU can do

I was thinking of this year's Professional Development opportunities, or the lack thereof, and lamenting that it was again not what I hoped it would be.  The provided support was lacking in depth and at best a repeat of learning we achieved 3-4 years ago and had no impact on the teaching and learning within the classroom and therefore no effect on student achievement.  As such I suppose it was a waste of resources... So what are my choices, complain that yet again we were under-served?  That due to our location our school was again handed second best?  toss my hands up in the air and do no more because those who 'led' pd cannot deliver what we need to improve our pedagogy?

These certainly are the easy options.  They would excuse us from having responsibility for not progressing in our own skills.  But I wouldn't accept this of my students.  I have taught my students through our exploration of Building Learning Power that this is not what good learners do.
So what will I change for 2016?

Self directed learning - a challenge to once again lead my own learning and that of my staff.  Until we find a professional development provider that can actually provide for us what we request, we will have to lead ourselves and leave the others to spin their own wheels.


Saturday, 12 September 2015

Mindset

 Carol Dweck's research focuses on the development of a Growth mindset to improve the learning opportunities of all learners.  A Fixed mindset limits the learning opportunities by focusing on the barriers,  
This research is part of what informs Guy Claxton's BLP.  This fundamental change in understanding of the ability to learn is essential to reframing education

Strategies to Build Intrinsic Motivation

On Friday we had a staff meeting session using Story Hui to help teachers reflect on an aspect of their practice that they have changed or developed.

Some of the main themes that came through all the examples given throughout the school was student choice, student ownership of learning, and student responsibility.  Common outcomes from these innovations included greater motivation in most students to learn and greater engagement in learning activities where there attributes are present.

I stumbled upon this article today by David Palank about strategies to build intrinsic motivation of students.  His comments about getting rid of both the carrot and the stick fit in with the developments that we have been putting in place.

It is great to see that these innovations are happening throughout the school and developing naturally based on the improvements that teacher are noticing.  David's article adds a few new possibilities to consider for our next innovations.