Archive | September, 2016

Differentiation

17 Sep

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As we think as a school about acceleration, tracking students with various abilities and needs of students in your lessons mean that we need to tailor how we teach each one.  It doesn’t mean that differentiation needs to add to workload or contribute to an over-complicated lesson.  Differentiation should also be for the students we are providing it for, not for a tick box ERO review or Faculty Review inspection.

Differentiation need not be observable

Differentiation is for your students.  It shouldn’t be about ticking off boxes. Differentiation is subtle, personal and ingrained in what we do.  It isn’t a short term fix but a longer process.

Differentiation is key to good teaching

It’s the conversations we have, the bespoke feedback we give, the way we differ questions between groups of students.  Differentiation is a response to what is going on in class. Key word is response not a reaction. It should be thoughtful by the teacher.

Differentiation is not about making tasks easier but clarifying thinking

Show students what they should be aiming for and help scaffold students up towards that outcome.

Note I still have a great deal of thinking to do on this.

Great Leaders and Parents

8 Sep

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It is Fathers Day’s and I am reflecting on how my has changed in the last 8 years as a Dad. The other week I posted a photo of my daughter completing her first Weetbix Triathlon. She suggested I post the above of me finished my first and only (so far) half iron-man.

I have been contemplating a leadership metaphor used by Simon Sinek on a Ted Talk.

The quote that sticks out to me is “great leaders are like parents wanting to give their children (employees) opportunities to try and fail in safe ways and to discipline when necessary”.

I’m struck by the use of the term “discipline” in the metaphor when applied to leadership in a school.

Discipline is commonly defined as getting someone to follow the rules and there is some implication of punishment if you don’t.

Perhaps if people don’t follow the team decision that provides for consistency then discipline is applied – usually a one on one conversation between leader and in this case teacher. But is it then about natural consequences of not following the decision.

 

 

Why we should journal as teachers?

7 Sep

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Why should you blog and what should you use? The why is easy. Self-reflection an journaling is vital to continual improvement. I like WordPress because I can include photos, video, slideshows, and hyperlinks. It is a visually interesting digital portfolio that can be commented on and modified when needed. Many posts create a discussion which gives me other things to think about. We are beginning to investigate blogging, using One Note for the purpose of appraisal. It is preferable to filling in lots of paperwork. I have also been involved in facilitating professional development to help people set up their blogs. Blogging naturally reflects your own PTCs.

The act of regularly expressing your thoughts in written form can help sharpen your intellect, organize your ideas and prep you to lead lessons in the classroom more effectively. (Teach.com, 2015)

Putting your ideas into the world is a great way to attract like-minded people to argue with, network with, or get advice from. As we’ve learned from other discussions on personal learning networks (PLN), talking with other educators is a wonderful way to learn and grow as a teacher. (Teach.com, 2015)

Positive or negative, getting reactions from other people in your community is a great way to test out your ideas. It can also be a great motivational tool. (Teach.com, 2015)

Many employers these days will check out a prospective employer’s online presence to find out about who they are as a person and how they represent themselves. A blog will help an employer to understand the values and attitudes of a teacher. It will also give insight into how they teach and reflect on their pedagogy.

A blog will give employers a deeper insight into your teaching practices while signaling that you’re a 21st century teacher. Having a teaching portfolio can be a decisive element at the interview stage of the hiring process. How have you approached the idea of collating your evidence for PTCs?

 

Student Input

6 Sep

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Real change change occurs in schools when students have input and their is relational trust to do so.

I’m fortunate as a school leader that my teachers share their ideas and thoughts with me. My students are so frank and host. I really respect them for that. .

I am  running a number of classroom circle events this semester with my students – I am using this clip. By the way. Circles are change the way I teach. Worth investigating.

 

 

 

Self Reflection Guide

3 Sep

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Self reflection often creates that moment helps you in the classroom. Collaborative reflection is even better. Collaborative dialogues held between teachers, between a teacher and students, or among students cause participants to share their reflections and outline their progress toward the increase of student achievement.

Time should be set aside at the end of a learning sequence—lesson, unit, school day, or year—for participants to question one another about what they have learned and how they can apply their knowledge and skills in future settings.

In an atmosphere of trust, well-crafted questions allow participants to reveal their insights, understandings, and thought processes: As you reflect on this semester’s work, which dispositions were you most aware of in your own learning? What meta-cognitive strategies did you employ to monitor your progress toward your desired outcomes? What insights have you gained that you will use in the future? The resulting dialogue allows staff and students to model and practice listening habits characterized by understanding and empathy, to communicate clearly, and to compose powerful questions.

I have found providing sentence stems might stimulate more thoughtful reflections during portfolio conferences (where reflection can be modeled) or as an option for those who need a “jump start” for reflections:

  • I selected this piece of writing because. . . .
  • What really surprised me about this writing was. . . .
  • When I look at my other journal entries, I see that this piece is different because. . . .
  • What makes this piece of writing strong is my use of . . . .
  • Here is one example from my writing to show you what I mean. . . .

Developing habits of continual growth and improvement requires self-reflection. As we as individuals, staffs, and organizations reflect on our actions, we gain important information about the efficacy of our thinking. These experiences let us practice the habit of continual growth through reflection. With meditation, trust, consistent modeling, and practice, we and our students learn to listen to the internal and external voices of reflection, and in the process, our school communities truly learn by doing.

What are you doing for self reflection in your learning environment?

EQ

3 Sep

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Goleman (2002) brought the idea of emotional intelligence to the public consciousness, but researchers have long known that how well a person manages his or her emotions and those of others influences leadership effectiveness. For example, recognizing anger in yourself and others, and being able to empathize with people, can help you be more effective at exerting influence. Influence is at the heart of leadership. Emotional intelligence is an individual difference that is important for both leaders and followers. It is an individual difference that like many leadership skills is not fixed for life and can be improved by training and development. Emotional intelligence refers to qualities like: understanding one’s feelings, empathy for others, and the regulation of emotions to enhance living.

This type of intelligence has to do with the ability to connect with people and understand their emotions. These are not skills that form part of most formal curricula in schools or universities. Nor do they often get mentioned as something that needs to be developed in order to be effective in leadership or in life. Most good leaders are alike in one essential way – they all have a high degree of emotional intelligence. The five key factors in emotional intelligence are:  self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Space not does permit an explanation of these factors here. However, an internet search will uncover many emotional intelligence tests that you can undertake. Just type ‘emotional intelligence test’ into Google. Try however, to find a test that is underpinned by good research and has been found to be statistically valid and reliable.

Goleman, D. 2002, The New Leaders, Time Warner, London.

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