13 July 2017

Flashback... Do I Still Walk This?

I loved my cup that I received at the end of our first year! Yes... a coffee cup but it was personalised with a quote just for me. I loved the quote that was on it, even more so once I researched it and found Sir Ken's Blanchard's thoughts around collaboration. 

Stating that "No one of us is as smart as all of us," Ken Blanchard teaches us three aspects of successful collaboration: 

1. Vision Alignment: if you meet someone who wants to accomplish something, and you want to accomplish something, the experience is meant to be dynamic; 
Don't let anyone limit your vision, if you want to achieve something go for it. Share your vision, align your vision with others and you are more likely to achieve it. This does make me question myself: how well aligned are we at school and how can I help to ensure that we are collectively on the same page? 

2. Learn from others: rely on the different skills and experience people bring to the table; 
Sometimes the most interesting collaborations occur when the people working together bring very diverse experiences and ideas. People bring different skills and different ideas to a collaboration. How do we ensure that the team's different skills and ideas are firstly, known, secondly acknowledged and thirdly, valued?

3. The Why and the How: "essence" and "form" are the two characteristics of a solid collaboration. The essence must come first. 
The essence and form aligns for me a little bit to our beliefs/ principles (driven by values) and the practices. Blanchard suggests that if a group is driven by form they will be bitten by the essence. This is a bit like us - if we allow ourselves to be driven by practices, we will lose sight of the important stuff; our beliefs and principles. 

Collaboration is a strategy to achieve our essence, our beliefs, our values. 

We have 'found' each other at SPS because we all believe that education is changing and needs to change. We are here to give to education not to get from it.

Are we?

"Reach out to other people... Learn from other people... work with other people...."

12 July 2017

Learning to Lead: Flexible Communication

I am striving to become  a flexible communicator that is observant and accepting of the differences of others and more aware of my own emotions and those of others.
I am working towards being able to demonstrate:
  • the ability to recognise my own people style including the perspectives. 
  • strategies to improve communication including the desired outcome of the conversation. 
  • the ability to have a conversation using the Ladder of Inference
  • the ability to match mood to task in meetings
  • an understanding of the RUUM emotional intelligence model
  • capacity to build an action plan to improve emotional intelligence skills

30 June 2017


'It takes guts to do what a leader does, to make decisions and lead with values. 

So what values drive me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable? ...to raise the heat on myself and others?'

At the heart of what I do each day is "well-being". This includes ensuring that the  whole team's well-being is being looked after and that we are collectively providing a culture of well-being in the school. By this I mean that everyone needs to feel safe, respected, supported and that we have developed an environment focussed on learning that is supported by everyone's preparedness to become risk taking learners. 

This is the culture that underpins school interactions and helps the staff, the children and their whanau to feel valued, safe and able to achieve.

Interactions (interventions, strategies, activities, relationships, planning and practices) need to be underpinned by the school’s culture and values. All staff need to be committed to the well-being of everyone on our site and visitors to the school should see our values in action within both the learning and social contexts.

Positive relationships and school values are evident in the school’s:
- curriculum and operations
- leadership, resourcing and decision making - curriculum priorities and delivery
- pastoral care processes and systems
- interpersonal relationships and celebrations - professional learning programmes.
Leaders as Role Modellers
Leaders are role models in their commitment to well-being and establish clear goals and expectations that ensure supportive environments for students. Mentors are well supported by the Senior Leadership Team and Team leaders in their social skill development work with children.
Partnerships are key
Leaders and mentors work in partnership with each other, the children, parents, whanau, community and external agencies to promote student well-being. Students contribute to the review of school tone and well-being. Mentors collaborate to enhance student and staff wellbeing, through seeking and sharing knowledge of what works for all individuals.

I am questioning my communication and my presence. This is something I want to work on.
What steps can I take as a leader to support the growth of a culture of well-being, coaching that just feels safe and supported?

31 May 2017

Pondering Powerful Learning....

Questions that I am asking myself at the moment.... How can I influence this in my role right now?

1. How do we learn more powerfully – what does the learning process look like? 
2. How do we build learner capability so that they can take greater agency over their learning? 
3. How do we leverage technology so that it does make a difference? 
4. How do we develop a curriculum that focuses on understanding as the outcome rather than remembering? 
5. How do we develop innovation and ingenuity in our young people? 
6. How do we assess understanding and the application of that understanding?

22 December 2016

Measuring What Matters...

Term 2 last year had me pondering some of my thinking around measuring what matters. The recent exercise of pin pointing where our learners are currently at against the National Standards using an Overall Teacher Judgement has provoked a lot of discussion, debate and what I perceived, teachers own lack of confidence/trust in their ability to perform an OTJ.

Evidence = triangulation: observations, conversations, work samples. Assessment is often linked to more formal assessments such as running records, standardised tests and sweeping assessment tools.

Problem solving, critical thinking, social and emotional intelligence.

Timeliness of assessment is vital - what does this evidence tell us about our work as educators? What are we doing well? What could we improve on? How can we develop our teaching approaches to meet what the needs of the children are.

Misuse of evidence/ assessment comes from one off snapshots that do not always reflect the depth of thinking  going on in the process of learning. It should not be about achievement but the progress that children are making. High achievers do not necessarily make steady progress.

It is important to ensure that we are not locked into a process of gathering data for data's sake. Strategy/knowledge stages, scores and curriculum achievement levels do not give enough of a story about the learning.  Assessment needs to be ongoing and actively involving each learner. Assessment needs to be an integral part of the teaching and learning process.

"Teachers who use classroom assessments as part of the process of learning help ALL of their students do exactly what the most successful students have learned to do for themselves." - Thomas Guskey

16 September 2016

Urgent Vs Important

While ‘to do lists’ may still be a worthwhile activity, I have learnt recently that a better approach for me is not to think of it in terms of time management but to realise it is task management. 
I have begun asking myself the following questions: 
- Is this really a necessary task? 
- Do I work on the band aid fix rather than looking deeper at the cause of problems 
- Why do I put off some tasks that I know are important but may be perceived as time wasting? (or cause people to think I’m not busy) 
- Am I 'buffering' other people from their work because they have got themselves into trouble or cannot manage their own tasks? 
- Am I working on certain tasks because they are a passion and if I do, are they the right pipeline tasks?

Coveys “First Things First” habit is captured in his Time Management Matrix. Managing our task effectively means spending our time on things that are important and not just urgent. 

Defining this difference has helped me to focus the use of my time: 
- Important: activities which have outcomes that lead to the achievement of your goals 
- Urgent: activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals 

I have often found myself spending a lot of my time on the urgent activities because these are the “squeaky wheels that get the grease”. My attention is drawn to these because if I don’t deal with them immediately they could have significant negative consequences on myself, or worse - others. 

The Urgent/Important matrix helps me to think about when and how to prioritise certain tasks. It helps me to ignore my natural tendency to focus on urgent activities at the expense of what is actually important.

25 August 2016

This! What Should We Focus On? Have You Watched This?

What Skills are as important if not more so than knowledge for the 21st Century Mind in Action?
Technologies are forcing us to change for the world that is constantly changing so what do we need to do to meet the needs of our learners in our schools?
  • The hard, the soft, the metacognitive, the non-cognitive, the reflective skills...
  • Curiosity... we are immersed in information. What are we asking? Challenging? Creating from this information? Engage through curiosity. Let them be sponges!
  • Liberating human information - bring the perspectives and creative thoughts... (Gardiner)
  • Take the initiative.... Commit to your learning and get others on board. 
  • Make the mind public... collaborate... be open to change...
  • Empathy
  • Practise the empathy... develop deep connections!
  • The human economy... be human not a machine!

10 July 2016

Informative|Transformative Leadership

My latest read reminds me that there is definitely a powerful correlation between the purpose of leadership and the establishment of trust. To be totally transparent, leadership is about influencing others... this can happen at a surface or deep level...

The surface level stuff is referred to as informative leadership by Powell and Powell. It involves only surface influence and can be interpreted as manipulative and coercive. 

Transformative leadership (deep level) creates a theme of relational trust and opens the door to teacher self-directed learning.

I keep thinking back to the feedback received recently and wondering what I can do to "repair" trust when it is low.

I see this feedback as another opportunity. It is the opportunity to repair 'damaged trust' as it is referred to by Powell and Powell. Ben also suggests that this might be a case of misreading the criteria. Regardless, I will take it as an opportunity to repair some mistrust...

Typically, some of our staff believe that trust takes time. Others have committed to trust without question. Whatever our approach/ belief, there are times that we need to fix it... If I could have coffee with that #2, I would:
  • Apologise: authentically and sincerely
  • Accept responsibility: Assume responsibility without passing blame. 
  • Atone: make reparations that are directly linked to the situation
  • Amend: Move forward: don't repeat the actions and/ or behaviours
My aim as a leader is to extend trust before it is earned... I want to send out the message that we are a team and that as a team we grow in competence, professionalism and our collective values...