Archive | May, 2014

In the good old days…

27 May

As we wait for quicker network connections at school I’ve been reflecting on the things that we have grown up but are becoming out-of-date and why:

  1. Letterboxes (people relying on email/text/twitter)
  2. Fixed phone lines (everybody has a mobile phone)
  3. Car keys (sensor locks)
  4. Wallets (credit card details can be on the iPhone, as well as virtual cash)
  5. Television sets (replaced by iPad/iPhone/computers/ Internet television ITV)
  6. Diaries (iPhones)
  7. Cash (ATM’s, credit cards)
  8. DVD, CD’s (replaced by iPad/laptops/computers/ITV)
  9. Bricks and mortar schools (replaced by e-learning, distance education)
  10. Retail shops (replaced by online shopping)

I hope we don’t see schools heading the same way.

The world students are growing up in is very different to the world we experienced.  I think it’s important to reflect on this and how pervasive technology is in their lives.  The things they use each day don’t disappear, they just become smaller, faster and more powerful.

Society seems to have been able to adapt to these changes, perhaps with a little nostalgic yearning for the good old days. We shouldn’t see these as threats but as opportunities to enhance our lives. It has to be the same for schools. ICT is only an extension of the teacher’s toolkit; its how we use the tools to support learning will determine students’ futures.


Video of the Week

19 May

What 60 Schools Can Tell Us about Teaching 21st Century Skills: Grant Lichtman at TEDxDenverTeachers
The rate of change in the world demands that we re-imagine and restructure the foundational learning relationship among students, teachers, and knowledge. In September 2012, pursuing a decades-long passion for transformational education, Grant packed up his Prius and set off on a solo, nationwide research tour to discover what schools are doing to prepare students for an evolving future. Find out what he learned from three months on the road visiting 21 states, 64 schools, and the great ideas of 500 educators. Presented by Grant Lichtman, Author and Educational Consultant.



19 May

“The most powerful single influence enhancing achievement is feedback.”  – John Hattie

Be it your students or those you appraise this is important.  My students while enjoying their grades enjoy the feedback process in the drafting process of assignments. Through our professional lives, assessments and evaluations stand as focal guideposts for determining our growth, as students and as employees.  Serving as an integral player in establishing our level of success from the earliest of ages through to retirement.

Good feedback is important. I find it humorous to see Michael Scott conduct his appraisal in The Office. It is funny because it is true. Unfortunately, those same assessment and evaluation processes marked for enhancing our learning and growth, often serve little more than to create winners and losers.  In the classroom…and in the workplace.  To overcome this requires a new mindset, one that moves us away from the casting of winners and losers…to creating learners.  And it hinges on one of the strongest influencers of learning…feedback.

Both children and adults understand that quality feedback is a necessity for ongoing learning.  Most of us yearn for authentic feedback to validate what we are doing or to provide direction to lead us down a more successful path.  When provided correctly, feedback can provide a continuum for growth…for creating personal goals to increase one’s learning and capacity.  According to John Hattie…“setting personal bests had high positive relationships to educational aspirations, enjoyment of school, and participation in class and persistence in task.”

The power of feedback to serve in the development of growth mindsets and ongoing learning…or to serve as the catalyst for sorting out the winners from the losers.

Digital Footprint

12 May

I have been listening to a number of Radio New Zealand podcasts recently. A discussion on the radio about a video capturing the bullying of a bus monitor from some time back caught my attention. Here is the video in question. This now infamous video was appalling, troubling and upsetting. To watch those boys harass, belittle and inflict such hatred on another human being was more than I could witness silently. The related videos were just as hard to watch.

As a Dad and a teacher my immediate reaction was to think about how this horrible incident could be used to educate my children. This very public event provides an opportunity to discuss two important lessons. The first lesson is about bullying. The video allows us to look into a bullying event and talk about the actions of the victim, the bullies and the bystanders. It is a very real look into something that is not often captured on tape.

The second lesson that emerges from this event is digital footprint. The bullying was filmed, posted, re-posted and has gone viral. Is is being watched by people around the world. Sadly this is not the first nor will it be the last.

My daughter and I, the staff and my students have had all had robust conversations about this. .Was it an important discussion to have with my children? Yes. Teaching about bullying has always been part of the “job” of being a parent but teaching about digital footprint has not. Now it is a MUST. Our children live in a digital world that they navigate easily but without a full understanding of it’s power. Like all children they need parental guidance and support as they learn. Parenting in a digital world is not always easy or something we, as adults, fully understand but it is so important. For me this teaching lives in the conversations I have with my children when I stop to seize the moment.

Privacy Intro The Digital Footprint.

Professional Reading

12 May

I am reading lots of Michael Fullan presently. This article addresses the challenges encountered when trying to implement new pedagogies on a large scale as well as providing examples of changes happening in classrooms, in schools and across a few education systems.



Professional Learning: Video

4 May

This is awesome. One the best of the year!


A professor of design and technology at Parsons The New School for Design talks about the value of games and the empowerment of play.



Professional Learning: Reading

4 May
Student engagement :

I’ve been thinking…

4 May

As a member of a Senior Leadership Team in a secondary school I take time over the holidays to reflect, think, write and read. And I mean read. I have an addiction. I admit it. I love to lose myself in fiction and nonfiction alike. I digress this week I have read and reflected about leadership and what is good leadership.

When you’re in the presence of great leaders, you just know it. Their energy is infectious, they inspire with ease, and when they speak about their mission, you want to get involved. Some of my best friends have these though will deny it. As I have written before you are not born with it. You develop it.

What I have done here is summed up my Big 5 if you like.

1. Treat people well. Look no further than Luke 6:31. This is not easy. When you think about it, this requires trust, going that bit further doing anything to insure that their emotional and professional needs are being met. This type of care requires time, a willingness to invest financially in your people, and an ongoing commitment to evolving how that’s executed.

2. Be humble. This hard but this moves us from good to great

3. Walk your talk – all the time. Saying one thing and doing another is a common trap that leaders find themselves in. Most of the time, it’s not intentional.

4. Have a clear mission and moral purpose. Great leaders aren’t driven by financial gain. They do what they do because they have a higher calling. Here I go back to the Kiwi Leadership Model. Awhinatanga. Awhinatanga is about having empathy with groups and individuals in the school community. By being able to appreciate the point of view of others, leaders can help build a strong learning cultures if the store is living the mission and purpose. And Manaakitanga: Leading with moral purpose. Effective leaders have a central belief system that is focused on student learning and well-being. They set clear goals, and pursue them to ensure success for all. They focus on closing the gaps between the highest and lowest-achieving students in order to raise learning standards and outcomes for all. They create schools that welcome and include all members of the community.

5. Keep asking questions and being Ako. Great leaders are non-stop learners and they know they don’t have all the answers. Ako is about building collaborative learning and teaching relationships within the school. It suggests a reciprocal approach to leading learning. When principals demonstrate ako, all members of the school community participate in identifying significant issues and solving problems

Enjoy your week.


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