Archive | August, 2015


28 Aug

Telling other adults what to do isn’t an effective motivation strategy. When was the last time being told what to do made you feel inspired and ready to make serious change? Probably never, because this is the worst way to get humans to change. You know what is highly effective? Demonstrating the behaviors, actions, and values you desire to see in others. However, this requires commitment and discipline from you, the leader. You have to be the person you want your team to be. Leading and mentoring is changing. Just ask Graham Henry.

The Courage To Teach

28 Aug


Teaching is a tough job. It involves working with people, with their imperfections and unpredictability in a context of constant changes in political priorities.  Decisions we make are rarely about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ but about what’s best for our students at a given time, in a complex and fluctuating set of circumstances. School leaders are constantly having to negotiate some of the most complex decisions – around the transition to academy status, ‘choices’ at leadership level which boil down to a choice between improved results or improved finances, choices around retakes, the cost-effectiveness of support teachers – none of this is black-and-white, and decisions involve an intricate negotiation of what we mean by ‘best’ for students and ‘best’ for staff.

We must always remember when we have great new ideas that our students are not some social experiment. The are a gift from God. They are special. Some are broken and some see school as their only safe haven.

In my time in the classroom, I’ve seen dozens of knee-jerk changes and swinging pendulums. Subject becoming optional, then essential. Coursework over exams. Exams over coursework. Completely rewritten exam specifications, importance on standards. Education is often a political football. I have noted sweeping changes that can’t be undone, without consultation with teachers. Who suffers? Our students. Lets remember they are at the centre. What do you think?

Blended Learning

25 Aug


Blending learning is a new and often misunderstood pedagogical term. The best blended learning teachers understand that blended learning is student-centred and based on data. I emphasize that “three Ps” should guide how teachers approach student driven blended learning:
  • Students choose their own path: By empowering students to pursue the topics that interest them in formats that best suit them, blended learning is appealing, engaging, and personalized. What’s more, it helps students feel a sense of ownership over their learning, while teachers provide expert guidance.
  • Students work at their own pace: By customizing the pace of instruction and learning to meet individual student needs, blended learning enables students to spend their time more productively. Students can focus on improving skills that need work and skip past material that they have already mastered, which makes instruction more targeted and responsive to the differentiated learning levels in a particular class.
  • Students choose the place where they learn: Because so many useful and engaging resources are available online, students can learn from home and on the go, as well as in more traditional classroom spaces. This means that learning can happen any-place and any-time.The classical flipped classroom.

What have been you experiences in the Flipped environment?

Deeper Learning

23 Aug


I have bee doing a great deal of reading on Deeper Learning for my students. Here some conditions I have found where it occurs:

  1. There was sustained examination of a few topics rather than superficial coverage of many. Teachers that covered a large number of topics usually gave students superficial awareness and limited ability to make meaningful, deep connections.
  1. There was substantive coherence and continuity.  There was systematic inquiry, logical development, and integration of ideas over time. In contrast, teachers that taught unrelated fragments of knowledge, without pulling them together, undermined deep learning.
  1. Students were given an appropriate amount of time to think and prepare responses to questions. Promoting deeper learning required periods of silence during which students pondered and created alternative responses, developed more elaborate reasoning, and helped students to spend time in reflection.
  1. The teacher asked challenging questions and/or provided structured challenging tasks. The teacher’s questions or tasks demanded analysis, interpretation, or manipulation of material – non-routine mental work. 
  1. The teacher was a model of thoughtfulness. Teachers themselves modeled thoughtful dispositions, such as showing a keen interest in students’ ideas and in alternative approaches to solving problems; showing how he or she thought through a problem; acknowledging the difficulty of gaining a definitive understanding of what is being learned.
  1. Students offered explanations and reasons for their conclusions. Students were frequently helped and encouraged to produce explanations and reasons to support their conclusions.

 Something to think about this week. What do you think?

The major source for this information is an article by Fred Newmann, The Prospects for Classroom Thoughtfulness in High School Social Studies, in Collins and Mangieri, Teaching Thinking: An Agenda for the Twenty-first Century (1991), and an article in Horace, the journal of the Coalition for Essential Schools, March, 1995, p. 5.

Visible Learning: John Hattie – Measuring impact

22 Aug


John Hattie’s work provides an important insight into the nature of educational research and the notion of measuring impact.  The idea that some strategies can be shown to have had more impact on average over time relative to others is crucial and his general message about the implications for teachers and the profession is very strong.  This video,gives a very good idea of Hattie’s thinking.  Of course, the effect size concept is problematic and is open to misinterpretation. This will create more discussion. What do you think?

Where are the Curriculum Leaders?

19 Aug


Go onto Twitter or Facebook or any such site you will find people having their say on leadership. Thousands of books have been sold on the topic of leadership.  I have brought many of them. When you visit the library or search for an e-book, you can find topics about business leadership, military leaders, great sporting leaders, leadership wisdom from presidents, ethical leadership, and the list is limitless.

The field of education needs more curriculum leaders.  People know about curriculum leadership and some educators do a great job of leading their class or their team.  Curriculum leadership involves working with multiple people to ensure that the curriculum is aligned both horizontally and vertically.

When educators think of curriculum development and curriculum alignment, they often reflect on a time when teachers meet and discuss the nuts and bolts. What our system needs are people with greater vision. A flavour-of-the month approach to curriculum development will not support students or teachers and it creates a disjointed curriculum. It creates a culture amongst the team of yes “this will come and go, it’s only a fade.”

We need curriculum leaders who will challenge and advance pedagogy. We can all serve as a curriculum leaders. Ask yourself the following questions about your department:

  1.  What is Curriculum Leadership? (Clue: Its not about making sure everybody has textbooks)
  2.  Who are the Curriculum Leaders in our school?
  3.  What goals do the Curriculum Leaders have for this school year?
  4.  How will we measure progress towards the goals?
  5. How are we progressing right now with these?
  6. Do these meet with the school wide goals and my own personal goals as a teacher?

Lots to think about here but worth but worth putting these aside for a Departmental or Team meeting I think.

Social Injustice 

19 Aug

Really good discussion this. Time for us all to reflect on social justice and restorative practice in our own lives. I will let the video speak for itself.

Noisy Classrooms

17 Aug


I was visiting a school the other day and the teacher told of the wonderful learning environment he had. It saddened because I saw the opposite. It was a silent classroom with students in straight rows. I started to ponder the question of how do we cultivate the best classroom conditions for talk in schools?

Make the classroom environment relaxed and home like.

Have small enclosed areas sectioned off in the classroom for different types of playful engagement.

Drapes and soft furnishings to absorb background sounds.

Remove background sounds during play e.g cd players and bells

Have long periods for play

Give opportunities for collaborative learning in small groups.

Value pupils sharing of stories or news

Make use of real experiences like trips and outings

What do you think?? Have you some suggestions? Am I wrong for thinking this?

Lift the Team Morale

15 Aug


Leaders own the job of creating engagement. Although individual engagement is critical, team morale is the key. You might have a difficult team, but when they share common values, drivers, and motives, and care about each other much like friends, they will raise their performance for each other. Thus any leader should focus a great deal on helping his/her team members bond. If they fail to cohere, intragroup competition will trump any collective success, leading to intergroup failure. This may seem like common sense, but too many managers are so focused on managing processes and attending to the formal aspects of task performance that they forget to build an engaging culture. In addition, when leaders are interested mostly in their own career, and success is not defined in terms of their team’s performance, they will tend to neglect and eventually alienate their teams.

In short, good leaders can turn B players into an A team, by following the right strategy, gathering precise performance data, giving accurate feedback, and building and maintaining high morale. Since few leaders manage to achieve this even when they have a team of A players, there is much hope for those who do.

What do you think?

A Thought on Leadership

14 Aug


A good leader makes things happen. This is no different in school. A leader must have certain skills that need to be paramount. Given the increasing complexity of the industry here are some things I have been reflecting on. Of course central to this is my philosophy “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”


Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29: 18

Vision as a picture of the future a leader has in mind which inspires him and he shares it with others for them to feature in bringing it to pass. Being a leader requires you to have a clear vision of the future and being able to communicate it passionately and clearly to others.

Leadership success begins with vision. You must endeavour to create a compelling vision, clarify it and market it properly for people to buy-in. The success of your leadership is tied to the actualization of your vision.


Passion is essential for effective leadership. I have observed great leaders in corporate, religious, academic, political and social organizations, one thing they have in common is that they are very passionate with what they believe in.

Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said, “Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.” Leadership is a marathon and passion is the energy you need to finish fine.


Firm belief in yourself is a key to being a successful leader anytime. It helps you go the way and show the way. Douglas McArthur said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”

Confidence is a fundamental basis of leadership. It helps you to stand your ground during challenging times. Self-confidence is not magic; it can be developed.


To share your vision, inspire others, and sell your products and services, you need good communication skills. To excel in leadership, you must master the art of effective communication. Great leaders are great communicators. Don’t just communicate; connect and collaborate. Communication styles differ from leader to leader. As a leader, your communication must be clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous because your ability to communicate and connect effectively raises the bar on your leadership.


Compassion is one of the silent but principal qualities of a leader. One grave mistakes people make in life is asking for hands while they have not touched a heart. A leader should be compassionate.

Compassion is the people-centric mindset of a leader that inspires him to aspire and perspire to help others become better. This is not weakness but, strength.

A compassionate leader loves his people and this motivates them to give their best to make his leadership a success. To be a great leader you must shift from “I” to “We” mentality because this helps you show kindness, care, fairness, genuineness and gain trust, respect and loyalty.


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