Archive | November, 2013


24 Nov

Leadership and Motivation was something of a focus of my study at UNSW in the 1990s. Some of this study has complemented some of the in school PD I have done this year and my journey in triathlon this year. Often it is about perfecting a system whereby a set of specific and easy set of skills leads step by step to dramatically improving an area e.g. swimming. You master the skills through drills, thinking through the steps carefully. Each set of drills has specific focus points that lead to successful swimming.

In being a better leader or performing better on the road or pool it is important to realise it is not about emotion. It is about doing the work. Putting in the hours. I am a great believer in Malcolm Gladwells Ten Thousand Hours Theory.

Motivation is not wishing and promising. Most people have said something like, “I wish I was…” Promises frequently follow the wishing. “Starting Monday, I am going to…” Promises that are rooted in wishing never get off the ground. This blog is an example of saying I will do something and actually doing it.

Motivation comes from setting goals. I didn’t start out day one in training and run a marathon or even 10km. That would be crazy and not sustainable.  My long term goal was to develop the ability to run a 10k race. The real long term goal was to be able to get myself to a place where I could run a sub 2 hour half marathon, then a marathon, then a triathlon and then a half ironman.  Goal setting and not emotion is the first building block of getting and staying motivated. Interestingly enough goal setting is where our school is headed next year with our students.

Motivation comes from habit.  Arthur Lydiard once said that the hardest part of training is getting changed. My trainer once told me It takes six to eight weeks to imprint a new habit. This is a common belief that I have discovered in many places.

Motivation comes from results. I find it easy to train after achieving a PB in an event. Difficult conversations are neither as difficult nor threatening after being successful.


Professional Reading

This article I found very useful for growing middle managers in schools.

Coaching leaders – the path to improvement

Jan M. Robertson University of Waikato


This article relates to this week blog if you have further interest in motivation theory.

Motivation and education – the self determination perspective

Edward L. Deci University of Rochester Robert J. Valler and University of Quebec at Montreal LUG G. Pelletier University of Ottawa Richard M. Ryan University of Rochester


Videos of the Week

24 Nov

I really enjoyed this clip provided our librarian this week. Thanks Clare this is a great resource.  See how a girls’ school in USA is advertising itself .

Even Sesame Street has something to say about girls wanting to be princesses!

National Aspiring Principals Inquiry 2013

17 Nov
The focus of your inquiry:

What was the inquiry question? “To examine the nature and effectiveness of a Mentor (Dean) on the achievement and attendance of Maori/PI students at SHGC”

What were the learning needs? What did you do with the deans? I wanted move Deans from just gathering data to connecting with these students. It was important for staff to understand both narrative and data of these priority learners. In turn the greater body of staff would be work shopped through Ministry initiatives such as Tu Rangatira, Ka Hikitia and Tataiako. This change and development was to take place over a period of time so that real changes could be embedded. The learning needs was for both staff and students alike across the body.

The methods you used to lead others in a cycle of change:

What learning experiences did you and your team design and engage in to address your inquiry question? We used a variety of leadership techniques. Primarily it became a data driven project. It was about addressing myths that is things we thought we knew about our cohorts. I reminded myself often it was about process not result.

We followed the steps of Ka Hikitia which by coincidence linked to my inquiry. It is important to note these step did not follow one after another and often were revisited.

Hei Whakaaro: Thinking

We had robust conversations about what we thought the issues were. This was a stage that was revisited.

Tutukia: Explore & investigate the evidence. Deans begin to track students

We examined data together to guide us. This cleared thinking and identified probable issues. Dean’s meetings used to discuss evidence. This lead to further PD. Some staff were proactive in searching out their own PD.

Mōhiotanga: Understanding and connecting

Richer relationships are developed. Increase knowledge of the cultural background of the learners. Making sure engagement is meaningful and authentic.

Whakamahi: Putting it into practice

The aim of culturally responsive teaching and learning is to improve Maori education outcomes where the child, parents and family, iwi are integral to determining the education journey: responding to “the child’s cultural experiences”

How practice changed as a result of the inquiry? What is the impact of the changed practice for the Professional Learning Network?

My leadership practice changed to a more innovative model. I became more reflective each week consciously contemplating where I had been and how I could innovate and improve. Resulting from this there was a direct impact on the PLN. I saw the following change:


This made a significant impact on student learning and engagement and resulted in improvement for those learners. This created a connection between the team and the staff.

Becoming more aware of issues:

As a result of this connectivity Deans became more aware of the issues.

Greater focus in Deans Meetings.

Rather than spending a great amount of grappling with nuts and bolts issues a shared project or communion inquiry goal was established. The changed the culture of the meeting. It became more about professional development. These workshops did take some time to become part of the PLN culture.

What is the impact of the changed practice for students? There has been a positive impact for student learning. Our Deans previously had a great understanding of their students and this just highlighted this fact.

The intended plan for further development for sustainability.

In 2014 Goal Setting will see further mentoring of these and all students in the College. This project has made staff more aware of Maori students and their needs. This project highlights a move from gathering data on students to using the data. This process will feed forward into Goal Setting.

What have you learned about leading others? Leadership Styles?

After PLG one I based my leadership model on the Kiwi Leadership Model as it spoke to me as an educational leader. I came to appreciate that a leader has to use a variety of leadership styles when appropriate. Being authoritative sometimes is required to get projects moving. Over this inquiry I implemented a great deal of experimental leadership. This required self-belief as there were accompanying mistakes. Throughout the course it would be accurate to suggest I touched on each of these leadership styles.

What acts of leadership did you show here?

Change Leadership that is a change of thinking and the way things are done.

In conclusion a big thank you to those College Principals who have guided me this year. Finally thank you Jain Gaudain. Your guidance in this process was inspirational.

View my final NAPP presentation here



Video of the Week

17 Nov

Going Back

10 Nov

My NAPP experience is drawing to a close and next week my presentation will be the subject of my blog. At the same time I am reflecting on the end of my third year as Deputy Principal and a year of our ERO review. The following some notes in the best traditions of Marty McFly advice I would give myself if I could go back to the future.

Have a plan to drive the overall strategy for your team and its role achieving the school’s vision. Set annual goals within this plan. Focus on the process not necessarily the final result. Focus on what you know you need to solve the problem. You can’t get help if you can’t define what you’re looking for. Frame the situation: What is it you either don’t know or need to know more of? Start by defining the challenge you’re facing and what you need in order to solve it. Great leaders don’t have all the answers, but they usually have the ability to ask better questions. Staff will enjoy be included in solving the problems and setting goals.

Do Something. Sometimes a response requires doing something, even if you know it isn’t the perfect solution. By leaving the problem it can often grow.

Every year make room for new approaches. Assess the school, like a warrant of fitness, for what it needs to do, and making changes. We should not do it just because we are being reviewed by ERO.

Always try improving communication and relationships inside and outside the school. Internally everybody should feel included in making key decisions. I read somewhere this year tuning into everyone ensures that there is alignment of all.

Creating systems and frameworks to execute, track, and measuring the work so that you feel comfortable with. Review these systems. These will never be perfect. Be open, but remember you can’t possibly take every suggestion on board.

Inquire more deeply to truly unearth important ideas. When you improve the quality and quantity of questions you ask, you increase the potentially valuable information you receive.

Support staff members in becoming better leaders themselves by promoting continuous learning. I am a great believer in the philosophy of growing other leaders. A school is a place of learning and therefore we should all be learners.


Video of the Week

10 Nov

A touching video about how two young women combat the tyranny of distance using technology.  Have the tissues at the ready.

Web Tips

3 Nov

When preparing lessons or staff meetings I often spend hours sorting through videos, in search of a high quality one.   Check out the following:

YouTube for Teachers : A collection of playlists of videos that align with common educational standards, organized by subject and grade. These playlists were created by teachers for teachers so you can spend more time teaching and less time searching.

YouTube Education: An area within the larger YouTube site that restricts access to only videos from well-known organizations like StanfordPBS and TED as well as from up-and-coming YouTube partners with millions of views, like Khan Academy, in addition the TV3 and TVNZ websites are rather good.

Google also has a Google For Teachers‘ Section with advice on how to search more effectively with Google.

The site offers quick access to resources for:

Using the Google Apps

Creating and using YouTube videos in your classroom

They are just getting started with a  Lesson Plan Search Engine but it needs a bit more development before it will be particularly useful.

TED – Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing site has the same overall theme as the TED conferences but has  ideos geared specifically for use in the classroom.

Leadership Lesson from the Week

Over the course of the year in my NAPP inquiry and in this blog I have written about a range of issues but the central theme has been about learning and teaching in a contemporary and connected world. The more I reflect on this, the more I recognise that improving student learning is about improving teacher quality.  It’s not pie in the sky stuff, it’s achievable when we get teachers working and learning together, opening their practice up to critical reflection and setting high benchmarks for themselves and their students. In this process I have found it useful to use the student voice and ask hard questions.

I know this has been the road less travelled in our profession for the past hundred years and I suppose it can be difficult to imagine how teacher practice could change.  Opening your teaching up to comment is a huge risk but when done in the spirit of continuous improvement, the rewards can be great.

Professional Reading

Clyde Piercy Sabbatical Report 2012

On the subject of student voice I enjoyed this report this week. The subject to explore the extension and building of the role of student voice when building ‘learning – focused’ relationships. In an inclusive and integrated curriculum environment, what are the successful strategies in engaging learners right from the new entrants in building their ability to own their own learning and have their voices heard in the development of their school’s curriculum and culture?



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