Creating a Fearless Culture

19 Jan

hqdefault

“Can interrupt you for a second” or “Please see me in my office in your free.” These are phrases that I have used as a school leader.  Unknowingly I have sent a message of fear to the receiver of the information. While innocently I have created a culture of fear. Ok then how can I avoid doing this:

Be clear with your interactions:

Be careful when I see people. Pick the moment. How we perceive the world helps us determine how we react to it. Self-knowledge can serve as a source of strength allowing us to manage stress through the ups and downs of life and learning. Knowing who we are socio-politically means understanding your core values and how your background and cultural context has shaped them.

Knowledge of self is powerful because it can lead to a genuine respect and appreciation of other people’s values. Additionally, knowing what you stand for can help you identify when and why the behaviors, action or beliefs of others’ clash with your own. We believe “knowing yourself” is the key ingredient to our next competency because once we know ourselves we are empowered to create a place where others can do the same.

Build Trust:

Build trust with others and in yourself. Build deep trust by creating space where people feel safe to share feedback and ask questions Being able to bring your whole self to work is critical; It is also often a luxury because it is risky. Creating a space where individuals can explore their identities inevitably leads to a place where difficult questions and conversations emerge. Brené Brown, known for her research on vulnerability, talks about the components of “Rising Strong” in her book by the same name.

Trusting environments lead to strong teams and strong teams lead to innovation. Imagine what we can do if we intentionally build school cultures that nurture trust: trust to explore, experiment, fail, and learn. Consider the ripple effects this could have on teaching, learning, and problem-solving.

I taker time annually to analyse my educational vision. I need to connect it to my practice. Do you do the same? What do you core values tell you about how you approach tasks? When have my core values lead me to clash with others? What might their core values be? Are they different when dealing with peers and tamariki?

Advertisements

Building Trust

17 Jan

download

I have been reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

Lencioni outlines the elements needed to build strong, cohesive teams. Here is a link to the book: Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Trust is the foundation in which productive teams are built upon.

As SLT it can be hard to lead change. Staff can be cynical of hidden agendas or ulterior motives. Here are some ways I am going to work on in 2019 to build trust:

Be visible

My office door should be open as much as possible. This will allow the community to see you in action. A quick hello can go a long way in building trust and respect. A current principal currently has her work-space in the staff room. I really admire that. Perhaps that is a next step for me.

Listen

It is important when making changes to consult staff members, teachers, or students. Strong school leaders listen to their leadership team, parents, and students when it comes to either making changes or keeping things the same. At the same time the feedback loop must be complete by feeding back the voice. Often it may not be what community wanted bu it is important to explain how you got there. The Why?

Be Transparent and Visible

A school is no place for smoke and mirrors. Taking on a cold war approach to communication and information gathering is not necessary. Decisions should never be made in a back room without representation from different stakeholder groups. See my previous point regarding meetings in central areas with everybody welcome.

Be Student-Centered

Do not take sides other than do what is in the best interest of the students.  Being student-centered keeps the focus on the purpose of schools – to educate children.

Being innovative v teaching the curriculum.

15 Jan

71oyvy-jgal._sx425_

The viewpoint of “teaching the curriculum” and “innovation in education” is that the curriculum is on one side of the continuum, and innovation is on the opposite side. What separates the great teachers from everyone else, is not what they teach, it is how they teach.

What I am trying to get staff to understand is that how we teach our rich NZ Curriculum is the innovation. This can be seen by the finding of the NCEA review document. Think about how NZQA is now approaching assessment differently.

Recently at an NZQA seminar Principals Nominee were talking about instead of lecturing on a topic, could you have the students create a video or Vlog on the topic, to explain it in an in-depth way?  I don’t think that classrooms should be absent of providing content to students, but I do believe that what we create with the content provides a deeper understanding of what you are learning.  What does it matter if a student does well on a test, but doesn’t understand the ideas a week later?

Instead of downloading Apps students could be creating them. Simply focusing on the word “create,” and thinking about how that would enhance the learning could make a significant impact.

Ok I am not saying that lecture is a bad thing.  I do it all the time and I have seen some great teachers deliver wonderful lessons. I think there are great lessons learned from lecture, but I don’t think that any one way is the best way for all students.  I know that from the experience of being both a teacher and a learner.  But I challenge you to look at one thing in the context of your work, whether it is in leadership or teaching, and ask Is there a better way?

A Changing Classroom

18 Dec

multi_people_istock_000015954467small_2

With a number of reviews taking place there is no doubt we are working in an exciting but also a scary time for education. These reviews are challenging a great deal of what we know to be true. There was a time I had very specific ideas about learning and teaching. Some of these preconceived notions were based on my own experience as a student. There was a time until very recently I believed students should sit in rows, quiet classroom is an effective demonstration of classroom management. Students in the same class should do the same assignments and this is best demonstrated in test or essay format best exhibited with a pen and paper. Don’t smile until for six weeks or you will lose them. Most of all as teacher I possesses the information. I would impart my knowledge. The truth is things have changed and I need to relearn how to be effective. The professional standards provide me a guide to do this.

Students create their own learning environment. You don’t need seating charts and students can be moving around to ensure their space enhances their work, whether it is individual or collaborative. In fact some days students in my class never enter the room and the learning is just as effective. My classroom is operative but it is not quiet. Indeed at times it is chaotic.

The idea that every student in a classroom should be required to complete the exact same assignment strikes me as a little silly. Of course their assessment is well with NCEA rules but it learning that our tamariki find is linked to their learning journey or inquiry. Students are at wildly different places in their learning. Their assignments should be customized to appeal to their interests and meet them where they are at in terms of skill level. This can be demonstrated in many ways not only a pen.

Don’t smile for six weeks? Our tamariki indeed just find this strange. By not smiling I think you lose the students. I had a student come up to me the other day and ask ‘what was up with Mrs X’ as she appeared unhappy. Our world has changed. We are more relational and restorative. The relationship is as important as the content.

I am not the only “expert” in the room. Indeed with Google in the room and more informed students I am no longer the source of all that is true and correct. I try to have students investigate and inquire, research, dialogue about what they created, and korero with each other.

These changes have made me think. They have made my staff think. What changes have you observed recently and more importantly how have you adapted?

Student Agency 2018

9 Dec

listen-760x628

Knowing your students is the cornerstone for teachers to build relationships needed to personalize learning. Providing opportunities for student voice and choice within the classroom is the most critical element to engage and develop independent learners. Voice and choice that allows students to drive their own learning and make instructional decisions is fun to watch. Yes, it must be aligned with standards and benchmarks but, when done properly, students demonstrate an ownership not seen in traditional classrooms.

Providing students with this voice requires flexibility which teachers including myself find hard. Flexibility within the classroom allows teachers to group students in multiple ways and to use classroom space in ways not imagined. However, developing flexible mindsets is the most important aspect of this element. Dweck (2006) points out that students who have a growth mindset will have greater student agency and efficacy leading toward independence. A staff member in our recent curriculum experiment told me her group “raised in self-confidence” when permitted to extend their learning and have voice on their learning. Her thinking around student agency for students became flexible and was based on what they mastered and demonstrated their best work.

Creating a Team

2 Dec

6033261

Relational trust is so important in a team. Simply this does not occur straight away. People need time to find their role. This means that when there’s the inevitable conflict, it’s managed. People know each other. They listen to each other. There are agreements about how they treat each other and engage with each other, and member monitor these agreements. There’s also someone such as a facilitator who ensures that this is a safe space. Furthermore, in order for there to be trust, within a strong team there is equitable participation among members and shared decision-making.

While there is trust in a good team, there’s healthy conflict. This is inevitable and essential if groups are learning together and embark on some kind of project together. The team needs to disagree about ideas, there’s constructive dialogue and dissent, courageous conversations and thinking is pushed.

A good team creates a space for learning. In schools there are many reasons why those of us working in schools might gather in a team — but I believe that all of those reasons should contain opportunities for learning with and from each other. We talk about our students being lifelong learners and being collaborative. We ask our students to expose the key competencies. Do we in teams? So in an effective team, learning happens within a safe context. We can make mistakes, take risks, and ask every single question we want just like our students.

My Team

1 Dec

download

This week I wanted to reflect on our senior leadership team. They have played an important role in my development and these are some of the key ways that I have benefitted from their service.

1. Confidence – Each mentor has helped me to make sense of difficult and complex situations and offered advice that has provided me with confidence going into new situations. They have provided frameworks for decision making, routines for organisation and procedures for continually developing in leadership skills.

2. Humility – We all make mistakes and it was interesting to hear about how each mentor learnt from their failures. It spoke volumes of their character and convictions and has reminded me of the great importance that humility plays in leadership.

3. Courage – They have all encouraged me to reach for the stars, and this has made a huge difference to my outlook. They have encouraged me to have the difficult decisions, to get alongside team members and to not give up.

They have made me a better person. A better educator. A better man.

Parenting and Leadership

26 Nov

11057860_10206636256763905_2925174060030290505_n

I have been reading and tweeting this week a great deal about teaching, being a Dad and our community. As I reflect on my last term as a leader I can see lots of similarities between being a good Dad and a good leader.

It’s not all about you: your role as a Dad is to raise an independent adult. Sometimes your child won’t like you. That’s ok. You are not their friend, you are their Dad. A good Dad knows it isn’t about your child liking you, and sometimes you won’t like them; but it is about you loving them regardless.

Great Dads listen: they respect their children, valuing them as individuals, people who have a voice, ideas, passions and interests. Good Dading isn’t about creating a clone of you, but empowering them to live their own dreams.

Loving Dads are willing to say sorry: It takes humility, but you must be open to the possibility that on occasions your child may be right, and you’re the one in the wrong. Apologizing isn’t a sign of weakness.

It’s about modelling: As a member of the SLT we need to be the best we can be every day and if not apologize for it.

Be the guide on the side: Good Dads are there not to judge, but to catch a child when they fall, helping them to bounce back and have another go.

And the most obvious, Dads love each of their children: they are a gift from God and they are at the centre of our schools.

I hope I am a god Dad. I pray and know that the experience has made me a better leader.

Student Investment

23 Nov

download

Student investment is not just about students sitting compliantly in a classroom and not disrupting others, but in fact when students own and take responsibility for their own learning. When students are truly invested in their learning, there is a symbiotic relationship between assessment and self-regulation. As I reflect on my own experience as a building principal, I recall that the teachers who had clarity about learning, well-planned lessons, and effective assessment practices never had issues with student behavior at the end of the school year.

There is not a teacher working today who would not want his or her students to be fully invested in their own learning. Getting there is another story entirely. I often hear educators say that we teach students responsibility when we give them homework or long-term projects and deadlines. I would argue that we are giving students opportunities to practice being responsible when we provide those tasks. Students need to be taught how to be responsible before, after, and during practice. This requires a mind shift about a teacher’s role in these all-important skills.

Student investment should be the same way. If we believe that it is valuable for students, both today and in the future, to be the owners of their learning and to learn about self-regulation, then it is our responsibility to teach it and to provide opportunities to practice. I have found in research and practice four characteristics of classrooms where assessment and self-regulation work well together to create student investment: a vision for learning, meaningful and valuable work, asset-based focus, and action and impact.

This will lead to our next work which are learning progressions. Roll on 2019.

Being a Busy Leader

21 Nov

download

Manaaki Tāngata.

We are there to support and care for the people

Don’t you love watching people? It is always fascinating at conferences or meetings. At every break there is invariably the rush to the door, device to the ear or email being checked just checking in.

What do truly great leaders occupy themselves with? What takes their time, what do they prioritize, what should be important and why?

I heard a good phrase this week, “I’m not busy, I’m distracted”.

Leaders don’t have to the busiest people at school the most stressed, do the most hours, do the mahi for others, be the hero against whose everyone else’s measures their worth. Instead they should be good role models for a healthy work-life balance. I need to do this better personally.

Leaders should never be too busy that they become inaccessible: the person that no one wants to disturb because their issues would seem insignificant by contrast.

I like to set goals for the things I would like to achieve in a day. I must constantly remind myself that sometimes the distraction may be far important than the goal, particularly if it is to do with the people you serve. The moment you set yourself goals that can only be achieved behind your desk you are moving from leading to managing.

The staff member who comes into your office wanting the vent, or who is just in need of a sympathetic ear. It is in fostering these relationships, the giving of your time, that a leader is doing their most important work. It is then that they are building trust, and ultimately trust is far more important to an organisation because it unlocks the huge potential of the ‘we’.

There is nothing wrong with being busy, but what you are saying when you go on about it you don’t have time for others, you don’t have the time to cultivate what is the most important task of a leader. As a leader one of your key jobs is building the capacity of others and empowering them to do their roles so you can achieve the organisation’s vision together. We must remember the people. The students. The staff. The community.

Remember, you should never be too busy for the people you serve.

Mytwosentences

Thoughts and Observations from Edward Roads

Danielle Anne Lynch

Music, Theology, Religion, Education

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters

youreffectiveleadership

This WordPress.com site is the cat’s pajamas

NotesFromNina

Meaningful learning and effective teaching with a Finnish twist

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

karen spencer

Let's talk about learning.

Education in the Age of Globalization

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Teaching & E-Learning

Learning in Today's World

A View from the Middle

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Powerful Learning: It's a Digital Thing

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Search Msdn

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Artichoke

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mike's Blog

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Back2skool

Technology lessons from the classroom...

Welcome to the Frontpage

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mark's Learning Log

Director of Learning Inquiries Pty Ltd (an experienced educator from Principal to Coach)

Mal Lee

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible