Archive | July, 2013

Video of the Week

26 Jul

What is a Blog?

I thought this was a great explanation for you to use with staff and students alike.

Student Voice

26 Jul

Week two of the holidays and it seems strange to be at school and have no students. It made me reflect on a book I read last year The Global Fourth Way: The Quest for Educational Excellence (Corwin, September 2012) that ‘Without students, there would be no teachers. Their voices matter a lot.’ I might be getting a great deal done but what a strange place a school is without students.

The authors admit that while students are targets of school reform and change, they are not often empowered to be agents of change despite having a good grasp of the things that help them learn.

Earlier in my blog this year I asked the question ‘what makes a good teacher’:

  • knows how to teach and knows their subject
  • can communicate – gets all students involved by asking questions
  • knows the students and they are able to understand who the teacher is
  • doesn’t teach from the text books
  • uses eLearning
  • good sense of humour

Interestingly enough similar themes here reflected in Ka Hikitia. I wonder what my students in ten year time would say. I think it would be the same. Personally I believe good teachers have deep discipline and pedagogical content knowledge (knows how to teach and knows their subject), adapt to the capabilities of students (can personalise learning) and can communicate with a good sense of humour (builds respectful relationships).

For me, it is confirmation that these qualities stand the test of time and learners.  We know what teachers want but how often do we ask or know what students want from their schooling experience? I often experience teachers telling me they understand student voice but do they? Especially if it’s not what they want to hear. Just a thought.

Professional Reading:

The Best Evidence Synthesis has just been updated. This is well worth a look.


22 Jul

In my NAPP inquiry this year we have been tracking the process of the Maori and OPI learners at the College. We have taken steps from Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success

  •  Hei Whakaaro: Thinking: What is the strategy about?
  •  Tutukia: Explore & investigate the evidence (that is the data)
  •  Mōhiotanga:  Understanding and connecting
  •  Whakamahi: Putting it into practice

Best practice in professional learning suggests evidence based data and not anecdotal is successful in improvement and measuring impact. Data from different sources can be used to determine the content of teachers’ professional learning and to design and monitor the impact of professional learning programs.

I am finding and research suggests evidence of hard data, rather than anecdotes, that is collected regularly is more useful. Student journals, for example, can be analysed to identify areas where students are struggling or how students are progressing from one month to another.

Data can be used to measure and improve the impact of professional learning. Formative evaluations allow teachers to make mid-program refinements and corrections, while summative evaluations measure the effectiveness of professional learning activities and their impact on teacher practice, knowledge and student learning

Data should be seen as complementary to the relationship between student and teacher.  At its very heart, learning is a relational process and quality learning depends on the strength and depth of the relationship since it involves building trust based on mutual respect.  How do you measure these sorts of domains?  How do you report on these?  If we only rely on quantitative data, we are doing a grave disservice to the learning and teaching process.

I believe data gives us the best indicator of where students are struggling; it will never replace the responsibility of teachers in asking why and how based on the mutual respect. Our focus as a SLT has been to help the entire community understand data so they can challenge their own learning communities to ask why and how.

Professional Reading

Teaching as Inquiry Responding to Learners

Audio of the Week

22 Jul

National Radio

This clip from National Radio is well worth having a listen to this week.  It is from Andreas Schleicher, Acting director for the OECD’s education directorate, looks at raw data which demonstrates New Zealand’s relative success in the global standings of student achievement. Schleicher commented that New Zealand would be the top in the world in education if we could solve the major problem we have of one in five of our students not achieving


12 Jul

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – Pope John Paul II

I love this quote from John Paul. This term in my inquiry and work I have learned that leadership is difficult. It can be complex, stressful and formidable. It often conspires to reward and frustrate simultaneously. More often than not, it is two steps forward and one back. It is just the nature of the schools or institutions. It is the end of the term so it is time to reflect.

I believe in servant leadership. It can that make you feel like you are part of something significant, even life-changing. Leadership that makes you want to be ‘part of something’.

I live for those moments that everybody gets it. The “we did it together” moment. Raising others up. No agendas. No undisclosed causes. Just for the betterment of students, learners, akonga.

Yet, truly authentic leadership at its highest level exacts a price and it takes a toll. It is all-encompassing. Never off the clock. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy the holiday break. It is a chance to recharge the batteries and refresh the soul.

For this reason, leadership requires a balance. This is especially true if we are to serve others at the highest level. The stories are too numerous to count – leaders who have done phenomenal things for their organizations – yet, have left a scattered path of failed families, failed marriages, and troubled children in the wake of their organizational triumphs. Those truly great leaders have balance. They have their support team.

As I enter the holidays and make our plans and goals for the term to come we need to put home at the top of our priority list. Home is where real leadership starts. And it will be the most difficult and most important leadership job we will ever tackle. And the most rewarding. Family. My family is ground zero…the foundation of my leadership. They deserve the best. Not what we have left-over from long days of serving others. I suppose what I am saying this week leadership will flourish and grow to the betterment of the organizations and people that we serve outside of our family. These holidays I am taking time for family. I hope you do also.

Professional Reading

“To lead the people, walk behind them.” – Lao Tzu

Thought for the week

Remember to keep a good balance between your revisions and rest these school holidays. Don’t burn yourself out, but don’t waste the time.


Video of the Week

12 Jul

I loved this advert this week. Just goes to show how far we have come. Can you remember the first phone you had?

It takes a village…

5 Jul

I’ve learned over the years to be wary of people who have all the answers to whatever the challenge is, that’s placed before them. There are, of course, things that I know to be true from past experience, both professional and personal. In my inquiry for NAPP I have been developing a collaborative environment, and real collaboration requires the willingness to ask questions of each other and admit to gaps in our individual knowledge base.

I reflect that it is important to ensure your team knows your vision but you need to get them together.  It is important questions are asked and debate is had.  It is more than relationships. It is relational trust that I am working on. I will reflect on this further in a later edition I am sure. With significant relational trust deeper thinking can take place.

Our team collective knowledge is enhanced when we ask good questions about things we don’t know and share the information we do hold, in a way that supports wise decision making and effective action steps. Through collaboration and the exchange of ideas with other teachers and school communities we are able to benefit from the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ and share our own wisdom to benefit our students’ learning. The old adage says ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’  In the 21st Century it takes a global, connected, learning community.


Professional Reading:

I have just read All Systems Go (2010) is by Michael Fullan and it is a must for all interested in sustainable systemic change to improve schooling. Yes as you follow this blog you will find I am on a Fullan kick at present

In the foreword, Peter Senge writes:

“No institution has a more crucial role to play in the historic changes coming than school because no institution has greater potential to impact on how a society changes over the long term.”

Fullan debunks many existing stand-alone strategies in favour of building ‘collective capacity’ across the system: nurturing schools to want to change and then supporting them on the journey.

One thing that stood out for me was that empowering teachers is a great motivator for change; as Fullan demonstrates; effective strategies are the ones that build on the collective talents of schools, systems and communities to improve schooling.


Thought for the week after my Taranaki NAPP Hui…

What separates good from great principals? The latter demonstrate high levels of resilience, optimism & problem solving capacity’. This is important for me to think about as I progress this year.


Video of the Week

5 Jul

Not exactly  a video this week but a great eLearning tool that may help you in the classroom.


Fitted Storytelling from Edward Roads

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Music, Theology, Education, Liturgy

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters


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