Archive | October, 2018

Learning from Coaching

22 Oct

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Football coaching for the season finished in September. With my team there were lots and of ups and downs. There were days when we didn’t play so well, while there were days when everything was clicking perfectly. As a coach it was my job to find the areas that needed improvement. Putting players in the best place for them to be successful was crucial, and in the end these decisions decided whether we won or lost. It is a real challenge taking a group of 10 year olds but I do love it.

When we win, it’s real easy to celebrate, but when we lose, it can become a challenge. Players feel defeated. There were lots of days like this in 2018. In short it is difficult to find a victory in a loss, but if the team is going to make any progress, the coach must always find victories in every loss. The best way to do that is to capitalize on the strengths of every player on the team.

So translate that into the school setting. When the scores don’t come back as you expected, how did you react as the leader or the coach? Do you see only loss, or do you see victory? We must rise above the failure of policy and move toward discovering the victory in our tamariki.

Here’s three ways to find victory when you lose

1. Growth in Student Performance.
Looking at individual students or groups of students and how much they have grown is very helpful to find victory.

2. Growth in Skill Performance
Results by skill must be analyzed to determine how much growth occurred from last year.

3. Growth in Individual Teacher Performance
Teacher performance can be analyzed to find the growth that their students experienced from the previous year as well as the skills that grew in achievement. Finding these victories are critical for leaders as this is where coaches can find experts to help other teachers who didn’t experience growth areas.

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Vision and Relationships

21 Oct

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Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro te iwi

Without foresight or vision the people will be lost

This week it was important to “join the dots” and bring staff back to the vision. While these are exciting time it is important not to lose the vision.

As we embark on our collaborative experiment with curriculum our focus in our team this week was lesson one and two as we get to know our students. Here are some observations.

Get to know students from day one. Educators must understand how students prefer to learn. Interest surveys work very well in providing this information. Educators need to find multiple ways to measure knowledge because education is not one size fits all. We will only learn how to reach our students by getting to know them on a personal level.

Set high expectations for all students. I let my students know that they can do ANYTHING if they set their minds to it. At the same time, I let them know that their education is an “us” priority as opposed to a “them”, meaning we have to take ownership for our students or lack thereof. We must bring their parents in early and ensure that we communicate with them along the way.

Celebrate success. Teachers must begin to embrace the idea that any growth is growth that should be celebrated. We need to unplug from the idea that students are numbers when clearly every child is unique and different. A gift from God. We must celebrate those differences and adapt our pedagogy to respond to their diversity. Growth is growth, and it is our job to celebrate our students’ accomplishments.

Listen. We have to take students’ feelings into consideration when we make decisions that impact them. By listening to them, we show them that we respect and value their opinion. Even when we plan lessons, we should give them a voice and a choice as to what their learning should look like. When we respect our students, our students will respect us, and they will open their minds for us.

Relationships matter because good teacher-student relationships breed success. By getting to know students, setting high expectations. Vision matters because without going back to the why we can get a little lost.

Communicating to tamariki

17 Oct

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The best way to find out what type of communicator you are is to record yourself on audio or video. I prefer video because you can see the response of your students to your communication. Yes I know that we all hate to listen to ourselves speak, but this topic is too big not to investigate. If you have a kid that is struggling in your class, don’t you want to know if the student is even listening to you?  That might be the first step in intervening for the student. If you have students that are being loud and disruptive, don’t you want to know if your loud communication style is setting a poor example for how students should speak in your class or if your quiet tone is being ignored each time your correct?  If students are zones out in your class, don’t you want to know if some of your students perceive you as that teacher from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”?

If you want to improve your instruction, one of the first steps to start with is evaluating your own communication style toward students. Delivery of content is completely dependent on the manner in which you verbally communicate to your students.  How you speak sets the foundation for learning, and it is critical to know if you have a solid foundation for learning.  By evaluating the tone, cadence, and passion within your communication, you can ensure that every student, especially Charlie Brown, learns in your classroom.

Learning Environments

10 Oct

 

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Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi

With red and black the work will be complete

Being innovative with curriculum is more than just moving desks. Or is it?

Like many other schools we are looking at learning spaces and how to use them. At the same time, we are doing some work on integrated or collaborative learning projects. It has got me thinking about What if teachers from different learning areas worked in the same office space?

Schools houses staff from the same learning areas in faculty or department offices. Within these areas each has head who has their own office. There is no doubt these spaces are a buzz of activity in which much is accomplished within a specific learning area. These are how schools have always been. These remind me of cells in religious houses of centuries past. Crude but effective

In our innovative curriculum experiment I have observed by teachers working in cross curricula teams something special has occurred. I wonder if they worked in an open plan together all the time something similar would occur. Teachers in a community represent a cross-section of learning areas from across the curriculum. When you put a group of people into an enclosed space they are going to interact. Reality television flourishes on this fact.

I have observed this term that when you place several staff from different learning areas in the same space, conversation and collegiality is created. Conversations quickly turn from uniform, bell times and the length of time the principal speaks at assembly to pedagogical views, our own learning and use of inquiry. OK there were still some conversations around lateness to class by students but there has been a shift.

I have observed this also:

  • more meaningful meetings however some meaningful meetings have gone by the wayside
  • we are no longer working in silos
  • that students benefit because teachers are exposed to different views and perspectives
  • the sharing and conversations about teaching and learning
  • the conversations around the challenging of the traditional way
  • everybody is exploring different approaches to teaching and learning rather than just the early adaptors. As a results colleagues really sharing best practice

If we are wanting our tamariki to be confident, connected and life-long learners we need to model it ourselves. How better than in this environment?

He waka eke noa

9 Oct

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He waka eke noa

A canoe which we are all in with no exception

The term 3 holidays have looked a little different for me in 2019. I have just has surgery reattaching my hamstring to the top of my leg. This was an enforced rest for one week. Even now over a week later I am not that mobile, nor can I work to the degree I am used to. I have found the whole process awesome. It has given me time to think. Reflect. Revise. Evaluate. One thing I have been thinking about is workload and burnout of staff. By looking after yourself you are indeed looking after everyone.

Here are some things I am things that have come to mind:

Building positive relationships with your colleagues

We have all heard it before, relationships are the most important thing when it comes to teaching but this also is true when it comes to your relationships with colleagues.  If you surround yourself with negative people that continuously vent and never celebrate the positive, you will find yourself starting to think the same way.  We have to train our brains to see the positive.

Be willing to be flexible

This is a tough one.

 Finding mentors

Having a mentor can help as they can provide you with a heads up and support as you work through understanding building norms, expectations, and traditions of the school. I am so lucky to have many.

Creating balance

Finding balance in your life between personal and professional is extremely hard but it is vital for your well-being.   How are you managing your daily stress and workload?  How are you taking care of yourself emotionally and physically?

One thing at a time

We all have things we want to improve on but it is near impossible to do it all at once. Need help?  Check in with a teaching partner or mentor for guidance as we are all stronger as a team.

Take advantage of the breaks

Some of the best advice I received a few years back was to make sure to take full advantage of the time we had off from school.  I have often not been a good role model for staff here. I will continue to make this change.

Are you looking after yourself in order to be the best you can be?

Having a great coach

8 Oct

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We’ve all had the good ones, the bad ones and the great ones. The good ones that helped us get the job done, the bad ones that made us swear we’d never work with them again and the great ones that emboldened us to believe that we were that much stronger than we thought we were.

  • Be in the game, with you, for the long haul and not the short term wins.
  • Push you when you need it.
  • Their goal is to see you achieve your goals, but not benefit from them.
  • Ask the tough questions that you don’t have the answers to, causing you to pause and think through your next steps.
  • Demand your best and demand you to keep improving on it every day, never letting you rest on your laurels longer then needed.
  • Not be afraid of the emotional upheaval and change that will come from working with you, not because they enjoy it, but because they recognize it is necessary for you to grow.

This talk proves my point. Actually loved this.

Future Learning: Have a Voice

3 Oct

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Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini

My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective

With the end the term comes Pathways discussions with students as we reflect on their successes. This something that so many contribute to as the students move to their next step. We as teachers know this better than anyone.

My wife tells me this is important as we are in a changing economy with different worker skills. She was emphasising the same things the front end of our NZ Curriculum and the Tomorrows Schools review are articulating.

  • Broad knowledge base. Understanding of key knowledge and ideas in many fields.
  • Flexibility – Can adapt to new situations
  • Prepared for continuous learning
  • Pro-active engagement. Learners are active and engaged in the learning process. They are curious, develop interests and passions, take learning initiatives, conduct research, check information, become pro-active learners.
  • Learners are adaptable, flexible
  • Problem Solving. Good at using what they know to figure out how to solve a variety of complex problems that are new to them.
  • Work well with others.
  • Literacy and good communication skills. Good readers of both fiction and non-fiction material. Good writers and communicate well with others.
  • Thoughtfulness, both qualitatively and quantitatively.  “Habits of Mind” Skills and Attitudes – Have “grit”, perseverance, curiosity. Learn from failure. Disciplined, “hard-working”, collaborative.
  • Leadership. Demonstrate the ability to take charge, be proactive, plan with others, take initiative, form a positive climate and culture.

How do we build an educational system around developing this deep learning knowledge base and promoting this deep learning level of skill development?  How do we prepare our students for the future of work and citizenship? Many are already on the path towards the type of education that will prepare the next generation for both the economy and civics of the future. We must all do this together. Everybody must have their say or at the very least feel heard.

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