29 September 2015

Term 3

This has been what I consider my biggest year yet professionally. To even try to describe briefly the personal and professional growth that I have experienced as a part of the SLT opening a new school feels impossible. This short post cannot even touch on the depth of growth and the challenges that we have faced this year. 

I have been grateful for the fact that the school is still being built around us. It was very much a construction site when we gained access 4 days before opening and it has slowly opened up as different parts of the site are completed. We open to Years 5-8 next year when we fully open. The gym, DATs room and the music suite will be completed next April. This has helped me to form a great metaphor for this year. 2015 has been about building the foundations of our school. We have forced ourselves to really slow down and develop our collective beliefs about absolutely everything from the way that we communicate to our beliefs about assessment and our appraisal systems. Out of these beliefs, we've developed the principles and our practices. The latter will change as long as they reflect our beliefs. It is the beliefs that are building our school. 

I have struggled with my role and to be honest I have experienced a certain amount of grief with the shift from pipeline 2 to pipeline 3. Moving out of the learning environment into a walking leadership role was hard to begin with. I felt that I was walking away from my passion for teaching and learning and working with children. Instead directing my energy into the children it is the mentors/teachers that I am now coaching. It has taken quite a bit of shift in my thinking to adapt to this role but I am finally finding my niche. 

The fact that everything is new and a blank canvas for us to work on has been sometimes daunting but also empowering. It's not very often you do something for the first time everyday in a school and this has given us permission to really challenge what we have always done and rethink everything with one word - "WHY?"

The areas that I have really enjoyed rethinking include reporting which we are referring to as "Communicating Learning" and appraisal. I like the fact that we don't believe learning is an event that happens twice a year and that we are really challenging ourselves and our community to re-think what this can look like. The SPS teacher criteria that Helen and I worked on last year seem to fit with the environment that we are working in and link to the PRT. I wonder if others look back on their current reality and desired reality that they compiled in January as much as I do. Have we helped them enough to develop and work on their 3 bold steps to achieve their desired reality? How close are they to their desired reality? I am looking forward to reflecting on this process next term when we work together and reflect on our first year and our individual growth.

I have had some major revelations this year including the following:
  • relationships are key and these take time in a new school. This has been our major investment this year at the expense of things that I might have thought were priority this time last year. 
  • don't make assumptions.
  • we all arrive from a threshold that was our previous school.
  • good communication is key - people speak in words but see in pictures.

Each of these revelations has been key to help me develop as a leader and find my way more securely into pipeline 3. I thought we would be further ahead with eLearning but to grow our collective capacity has required the development of the culture at our school. Relationships, communication, transparency and a collective vision are vital to our move forward. 

22 September 2015

Appraisal is a critical component to defining ourselves as professionals. There is a compliance element to appraisal given its relevance to our on-going registration.  However, appraisal that has clear purpose and meaning will create powerful reflection which ultimately, in turn leads to personal growth.

At school, we have unpacked the RTC further into our own Shotover criteria. These are reflected on by the appraisee themselves. This document is then shared and talked to at a reflection meeting.

At our professional learning meeting this week, I was privileged to hear our teams share their current teaching inquiries into agency. What resonated for me was the common theme for everyone is about putting the learner at the centre and to provide them with authentic purposes to write.

It was a privilege to get some insight into everyone's new learning and the direction they are working on...

  • student voice to lead learning. Posters - for audience. Purpose to inform.  Working through the writing cycle.
  • capturing student voice by writing for the child. Oral language. Toby's interest and linked between home and school.
  • Linking writing to art/ concept. Student voice came in developing student voice onto post its to give feedback to peers. Scaffolding vocabulary and phrases. Developing the children's ability to give feedback to peers about learning.
  • Authentic context: conclusion of the ski programme. Brainstorm and reflection around the programme and the input our parents had. Audience = parents. Purpose was to thank. Children working through the writing cycle. The emphasis for this writing was about responding to feedback and re-crafting. The thank yous were published as cards and delivered to parents.
  • Engaging the disengaged. Researched into the needs of particular children and also explored their interests. Looked for common interests in order to encourage a group of boys to work together and collaborate. Use of google docs has allowed the boys to collaborate, engaged them and helped links between home and school. Using the boys' interest in science was the engager. Purpose was to share at assembly.
  • engaging one boy to write. He needed to enjoy success. Responded to writing for a real audience. Authentic simple texts that allowed him to practise surface features and to write through the whole cycle. Success has lead to success and engaged writers. They are beginning to edit and improve texts with adjectives. Children saw the impact on the audience as they watched a mentor read it to the new entrants.

17 September 2015

Random Comparisons Between Coaching the ABs and Leading in Education

Steve Hansen - All Black Coach: What are the links between leading in education and coaching/management of a rugby team, ie. how they function, vision, lead

  • building a shared legacy and a story that is shared
  • collective group including management and players to enhance outcomes and ahieve lofty goals
  • setting big goals - moonshot thinking… Aim for the moon and reach the stars
  • Collective - THE Team has to be greater than the individual
  • constantly aiming to improve and develop
  • alignment of thinking amongst all involved
  • everyone has to agree and commit or disagree and commit
  • As leaders we need to let go of control. It’s about taking everyone along. We need to facilitate the environment so that it is conducive to good outcomes.
  • Leading a group of people to achieve a common goal means that we need to be on the same page.
  • Value relationships and accept that it might be the behaviour or the action that we dislike or do not agree with.
  • How do I want to live as a leader? What am I going to negotiate? What is non-negotiable?
  • Strong loyalty to the team not the individuals.
  • Leaving the team - it’s about sustainability
  • How do you read the individuals and how they tick? Am I getting the best out of that person? Being aware that something is happening in their lives and might impact on their performance.
  • High emotional intelligence: self awareness is massive. What do I need to know about how I and others act under pressure.
  • create an environment where motivated teachers can perform a their best.
  • motivate myself: how?
  • understanding who we are and what we want to be. When you walk away, you need to know it’s been done right. The sacrifices our families have made motivates us to do well.
  • Carrying the fear of not getting it right. Dealing with the constant pressure of expectations on us means that we need to understand them.
  • A shift from being fearful of failure or not being good enough by creating an environment that supports risk taking. People need to feel comfortable out of their comfort zone and extending themselves.
  • If we are fearful of failure, it is likely to happen. We need to look at previous mistakes and prior failure and learn from these.
  • We can’t expect things to happen; we need to work towards that collective vision and provide

8 September 2015

Materials, Imaging and Number Properties

Professional Learning Meeting from this week...

What might effective maths programmes look like in the habitats? 

2 September 2015

Back in January, we began our team induction. It involved amongst other things; our first face to face, a jet boat, frisbee golf and some competitive geo-caching....
I set up 4 tags representing our house colours and assigned them to the foundation team and the houses they were to affiliate to. 

The car rally got competitive but also opened up the world of caching and the use of digital devices in totally new ways for the team.

It's a fun time to look back on. It was a huge privilege being a part of this team and absolute magic to see everyone come together for the first time.  It was an event that would launch such awesome learning. We were focussed on developing trusting relationships that would allow for transparency and open conversations. These have both allowed for fantastic but challenging conversations and massive growth within/ across the pipelines. 

The tags sat in the cache for a wee while. In fact two are still there! The purple tag is MIA somewhere in the States and to be honest, we completely disengaged from trying to follow the tags.  But magic happened when we got this message...
We were somewhat excited when we checked out the photos and found this...

There was doubt in the room. Needless to say, we are wondering who actually is taking our red truck to the UK this month! 

The wonderful outcome of this wee adventure is that it has opened up another realm of possibilities to the team in our globally connected world!