26 February 2016

Current and Desired Reality

My current reality is pretty much where I hoped it would be when I sat down to this task just over 12 months ago. We are a team that takes turns at leading and looking out for each other. We let others know when we are in the 'pit' and how we can be supported to work our way out of it. 

The current reality does not need to be a bad place just a point of time to be aware of which will help me move forward and improve what I do day to day as a leader in our school. 

The aspects of my current reality that I am not so fond of are the systems that need to be worked through (hence the blue clipboard and the green list) and my role in ICT/ eLearning at the moment. The latter is something I am absolutely passionate about, however my pedagogical beliefs about the place of devices and their impact on learning are instead consumed by contract agreements, technical issues and setting up of new devices.

The increase of devices is being warmly welcomed and used to their potential but I feel a real need to slow everybody down and ensure that collectively we are on the same page. It is the beliefs that need to have time spent on them. We have one approach to this landing and it is always easier to take the lid off than put it back on.... 

A detailed description of my realities can be described as this:

In the left, top and right borders are sentences that reinforce our vision and values. These need to be visible in our culture and evident in our day to day practice. In the bottom border is what was my one sentence job description from 2015. This formed my daily measure as a leader... if I got nothing else done in a day, had I " built capacity, provoked thinking and maximised potential"? To have all of these phrases cognitively portable helps me to walk the talk each day. 
Current Reality:
At the core of everything we have done over the past year has been the development of a collective construction and understanding of our beliefs and principles. We have constructed BPPs for everything including systems, the physical environment, relationships and philosophical. The sun in my image is rising because the practices you see at our school are clearly reflecting our shared beliefs and principles.
The mountain climbers symbolise the teams that in and the fact that different people will be seen taking the lead. We are okay letting others know when we are in the 'pit' and will seek support/ support each other at different times. The lone climber looking lost and confused represents the nine new staff that have joined us this year. We need to keep an eye out for them and ensure they are not 'left behind'.It is really important that they are supported by the foundation team so that they 'own' some of the work that has already been done. 
The blue clipboard and the green list illustrate the fact that I find myself 'managing' more than I would like to. I often feel consumed by resourcing and the set up stage. As for the iPad and computer... frustration that I have has to negotiate to actually get the ICT agreements that we signed last year, actioned and functioning. In the meantime, this has taken my time away from supporting teachers to introduce the BYOD programme and use of the Google domain.
That's the juggle of management vs leading and I hope that gets easier as we move into our second cycle.
The Desired Reality
This year I want to take time to really reflect on my leadership and develop an understanding of others' perceptions about my leadership. The binoculars represent the fact that I want to be able to see the big picture and also be forward thinking as a leader. I also want to be able to 'zoom in' so that I have a good awareness of the individuals in the team, their performance and their well-being. 
The kind of leader I want to be is one that helps to grow and support a culture that is successful, determined and has a collective vision. I want the vision to be obvious to those who visit our school no matter who they talk to... The images in the binoculars reflect what this will look like...
  1. The chain of people represents a united and engaged team.
  2. The hats on their heads illustrate the structure and clarity in our organisation. This includes roles and responsibilities and the fact that we will all have a turn at leading.
  3. The map indicates the direction we are heading.
  4. Green and blue people show the trust that we need to have each other reciprocally, the accountability we have to the rest of our team.
  5. The green line shows that we are on an upward trajectory overall but that this will not always be linear. The dips in the line are there to remind me of the need for me to be able to inspire and energise in order to maintain that upward trajectory. 
  6. The red and blue people show the need for on-going dialogue, transparency, timely/ authentic feedback that develops and empowers. 
The 3 Great Steps:
These are the 'indicators' or the steps I need to maintain to become the leader I want to be and are based on my "action plan":
  1. To improve my leadership, I need to journal the journey and reflect on my successes, failures and challenges.
  2. I need to regularly seek feedback and perspective about my leadership (, reflect on it, journal it and determine actions).
  3. Celebrate successes and grow capacity in others by way of a robust, authentic appraisal system which emphasises improving not proving.

22 February 2016

Thinking about Thinking

How we think is the essence of learning. The school's graphic for our "Thinking" value has four cogs because thinking is 

  1. creative, 
  2. critical, 
  3. reflective and 
  4. metacognitive. 

To develop a thinking culture it is important that thinking is 

  • on-going, visible and audible in our learning spaces. We model this as adults in our well established culture of asking the 'why'.
  • the culture allows for transparency which allows for reflective thinking that is open and honest. 
  • the process of learning is a focus for each of our learners which leads to increased self awareness. 

How do we model thinking especially metacognition? Metacognition monitors, evaluates, and regulates our thinking.  It is important that children learn that they can analyse their thinking techniques they are using. Do they know that they can the strategies being used suit the learner? I wonder if this is key to developing "agency" and truly "self-regulating" learners? 

Modelling metacognition out loud can also help children to understand how to monitor the clarity and accuracy of their knowledge and thinking. Modelling is key and takes time out of the learning experiences. 

The way we learn information is determined by the processes that we put in place if you are analysing our thought process helps us to achieve a higher level of mastery. 

Teaching information/ learning to others helps reinforce and consolidate learning. This reinforces the concept of Tuakana/ Teina. 

I believe that there is a need to slow down the learning experiences to help children to use metacognition. This naturally leads itself into 'reflection' and paves the way for children to set their learning goals and to monitor their own progress towards meeting those goals. 

As we begin down the path of "Communicating Learning", I believe we need to ensure that we are giving thinking the time and coaching that it requires to help us develop our culture of learning. This takes time and we need to ensure that all stakeholders know and value the time that is needed to talk about learning.