Archive | September, 2013

Reflections of a Deputy Principal

30 Sep

Leadership, Principal, Connections, Staff, Students, Networks

Earlier on in the year I had the opportunity to be Acting Principal. I recognised the opportunity for a reflection but I wanted to give it time after the fact to see reflect further on what I learnt. What have I learnt then?

Kiwi Leadership for Principals (2008) was a solid guide for me. It suggested “New Zealand principals respond positively to the challenges of a devolved system, working out ways to serve the best interests of their schools, teachers and students. It made me recognised that we are together a “Professional Learning Network.” (pp10)

So the following bullet points are my reflections:

• My wife is awesome

• Surround yourself with competent leaders.

• Your PA is your best friend

• Say thanks

• Malcom Gladwell was right. You need strengths. Mine was the ability to deal with special character issues and in my experience they come up daily.

• Stay connected to students

• Do not do everything.

• Leading change and problem solving are not easy

• My immediate response may not be my best.

• Relax and find time to switch off.

• Keep learning.

• Acknowledge I will make a few mistakes.

• Stay connected to staff

• There is always tomorrow.

• If you are given an opportunity to act as Principal take it. Realize though sometimes the “ride” can be rough.

• Keep reading.

• People do not want you to fail. .

I became aware that in a kiwi context the educational leader leads learning to:

• improve outcomes for all students, with a particular focus on Māori and Pasifika;

• create the conditions for effective teaching and learning;

• develop and maintain schools as learning organisations;

• make connections and build networks within and beyond their schools; develop others as leaders. Develop leaders from your own tree.

One of the most important yet challenging and I think most satisfying aspect of being on the SLT is making connections which leads others to make connections or sees possibilities and opportunities that were once never a possibility but are now are realities.

I thoroughly appreciated and relished this experience and I am sure I will reflect again.

Professional Reading

Kiwi Leadership Model

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Video

Video of the Week

30 Sep

This is very topical as we mark mock exams this week.

Lessons from Triathlon

22 Sep

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Last year, as many of you may know, I took started the journey toward a marathon which I completed last March. Now I am heading towards a half ironman and believe it or not it has helped me as an educator.

It’s only in the last couple of months that I’ve really appreciated some of the analogies I could draw between by experiences training and facing the everyday issues in schools. Having being involved in sport all my life I have always taken from sport and tried to apply it to life.

1. Time is precious

There are so many hours in a day and you can’t waste them. This year I have spent less time sitting wasting time and being more efficient. This time management has made me better at what I do. It has become more about quality rather quantity of hours at work.

2. Plan my week

With training I make notes on the whiteboard at home about what is required. The same process at school has meant that again I have become more efficient. The unplanned such as the parent phone call or that upset student does no longer throw the day out.

3. The harder the session the better I feel

I love the idea of get out there and punishing or pushing yourself. The thrill you get from carving it up down the road is awesome. The sense of accomplishment I am finding is a buzz. So when pursing my own goals I take this on board. If something seems too hard, it’s probably worth doing. If something seems too easy, it probably isn’t. I pass this onto my students.

4. Self-reflection

Being out training by yourself is a great time to reflect. Some of my best lessons or ideas for the College have been solved or conceived while flying down a hill or running down a road.

5. Don’t stop ’till you get enough

Often you need to slow right down to handle the toughest parts. Some time I need to slow down to a walk or paddle. But I don’t stop even though my initial instinct may be to do so. As soon as you stop that’s it go home. Momentum helps you maintain my focus. Any progress is good progress because as soon as you stop, you fall.

3. Keep focused: what is your goal?

Its hard swimming in open water as there is no line to follow. You need to keep reevaluating. When competing or training in a new area the body is constantly challenging itself. Where to next? When pursuing goals, I have to keep on the targets. I have learnt through my own inquiry this year it is about the process not the result. Some days it is tough but other days the entire team is on board. It may be a matter of years before I achieve an ironman but it will happen. But the process is important. Regularly reminding myself of what I want to achieve – and why –helps me to keep going.

 

Video

Videos of the Week

22 Sep

Michael Scott on leadership. I just loved this!

 

With the big ios7 software change I found this very useful. For you apple users it may be helpful.

Social Media

15 Sep

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Just Google “teachers, Facebook, inappropriate” and a flood of articles appear relating the indiscretions and sins of teachers who have overstepped the bounds of propriety by posting inappropriate statements, pictures, and videos on Facebook and other social media accounts. At Staff Meetings this term we have run a number of sessions on this particular subject. I can highly recommend the website below. This has been the main source of many of our resources. http://www.teachersandsocialmedia.co.nz/

Last year, three teachers in the United States were fired for having inappropriate relationships with students on Facebook. In November 2008, five teachers got into hot water for posting inappropriately on Facebook. The phenomenon is not limited to just Facebook. In May of 2009, a teacher in Scotland used Twitter to post inappropriate Tweets. She criticized the school’s management and tweeted about personally identifiable information about individual students in her classes.

When you read these news stories your immediate reaction is to question the sanity and intelligence of people who do these kinds of things, yet, what schools are struggling with is a very unique 21st century problem: the power of social media to connect people in ways that once was not possible, and the ability of individuals to share information in and about their lives on a scale not possible before.

Added to the concern about teachers using social networking inappropriately, is the concern about loss of productivity. A study found that nearly half of office employees access Facebook at work, and those companies lose on average 1.5 percent of total office productivity when employees have access during the workday. According to a study performed by the British employment law firm Peninsula “about $ 264 million is lost per day by British corporations due to office workers dillydallying on Facebook.” This same study also said 233 million hours are lost every month as a result of employees “wasting time” on social networking. By the way just in case you’re thinking I complete my blog at 7am every Thursday here NZ.

With all the negativity though let’s remember these are tool and when used properly they are awesome. Teachers, being lifelong learners need to just be educated to be digital citizens like our students.

 

Professional Reading

15 Sep

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Some call him the greatest coach in history. No not Graham Henry and I know non Man U supporters may disagree but there is certainly a great deal to be learned from this man. Before retiring in May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson spent 26 seasons as the manager of Manchester United, the English football (soccer) club that ranks among the most successful and valuable franchises in sports. During that time the club won 13 English league titles along with 25 other domestic and international trophies—giving him an overall haul nearly double that of the next-most-successful English club manager and Ferguson was far more than a coach. He played a central role in the United organization, managing not just the first team but the entire club. “Steve Jobs was Apple; Sir Alex Ferguson is Manchester United,” says the club’s former chief executive David Gill. This piece is well worth a read.

http://hbr.org/2013/10/fergusons-formula/ar/1

Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success

15 Sep

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KaHikitia Accelerating Success

An updated plan to support every Māori child and young person to be successful in education has been released by the Ministry of Education. Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success or “stepping up” builds on the gains and results of the first Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success.

Connecting With Students

8 Sep

At present I am doing Year 6 interviews along with the rest of the Senior Leadership Team. I find these insightful in a number of ways and I enjoy the look of wonder on student’s faces as they start their journey at our school. I would in no way say that I was perfect in the way I carry out my role and definitely would change some things that I do. I’m hoping that the areas I’ve identified below will help both me and you do better.

1. Connect with students.

I enjoy being on crossing duty in the afternoon. It gives me the chance to think and have a positive contact with all the students, as they leave. I see this as touching hearts. It could be cold, or detached, at first, but then I started seeing this as an opportunity to really connect with students. Not only could you get to know the student better, but you could see problems before they started and diffuse them. I went from hating supervision to seeing this as the best part of my day; it is all about perspective. As the kids leave, be outside again, check in on them, and say goodbye. The same could be said for being involved in extra curricula activities.

Mock exams are coming up at school, teachers do the supervision, and it can be time consuming. I remember seeing this as a pain because you stand for an hour but it is a good time to reflect. It is an insight to see large groups of students in the learning environment.

 2. Be positive.

I want students to see my office as a place where they could come, talk, and grow. My goal is to ensure that I talked to kids and got to know them so that if they ever did end up in my office, I already had established a relationship with them. Some of these relationships could have been built on the sports field or simply at the crossing, as they leave each day.

3. Be there.

Students need to know you will be there for them, especially when they have a problem. Eventually, stories will come out, they relax, feel at ease with you, so then follow up with, “If you were me, what would you do?” I do this a lot. Students usually know the right thing to do

4. Keep your sense of humour.

Students get this. People get this. It lightens the mood.

5. Get amongst it.

I still think that with classroom teaching, team coaching and simply being among the students, to a great degree, you solve many issues with crop up with students.

6. Show you love teaching and the students.

The majority of educators get into teaching because they love kids. Imagine how much more you can get from them in their learning when you display this. This is not just for relationships with students, but in any relationship in your life. Be open to showing students how much you care about them. Be their advocate. Care about them. This comes down to basic Gospel values in Matthew 6:21

 

Just for Fun…

Love this Japanese Doctor!

Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it… Don’t waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.

 

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Fruit very good. Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Grain good too. Bottoms up!

 

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can’t think of one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain…good!

 

Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetable be bad?

 

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!

 

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

 

Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! ‘Round’ is shape!

 

Well… I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember:

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO-HOO, what a ride!!”

AND……

For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

 

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you…!

 

 

Video

Video of the Week and Wise Words

8 Sep

My best advice (after 34 years of teaching)

Wise Words

Don’t Overpromise on Your New Job

I am finding these particular tips particularly useful at present. Each week there seems to be ideas which are challenging me to read further. This week it looked at new positions. When taking on a new role, it can be tempting to list out all of the grand things you plan to accomplish in your first year. But be careful before you make any hard commitments. It’s better to under promise and over deliver. You don’t know what unforeseen obstacles may get in your way—the organization’s resistance to change, for example. Be conservative when setting expectations with your new boss and other stakeholders. If you deliver more results, you will delight them. But if you promise too much and fall short, you risk undermining your credibility. Even if you successfully complete a great number of projects, but don’t do everything on your list, you will have failed in their eyes. This idea of the first 90 days was one that is common in interview situations.

Adapted from The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded.

 

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