Archive | June, 2019

Developing a Skill Set: Listening

24 Jun

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What is Appreciative Listening?

It is listening with the sole purpose of identifying qualities, strengths and values of the speaker that you respect. Your commitment to do this only needs to be 3 to 5 minutes of focused time. The payoff is high in terms of increased understanding, improved rapport and in building a more positive work relationship.

Appreciative listening is something I am working on this year. It plays an important part in the role of coach. Everyone who experiences being listened to and people feel that it feels good to feel so deeply heard, seen and respected.

Why don’t we do more of it?

There are a lot of reasons. For most school leaders, talking is what characterizes their days. Answering questions. Setting direction. Speaking with people about what needs to be done.   It’s not unusual for a leader to want to find the “speed up” button when people are speaking or to be multi-tasking.   Consequently, it’s not uncommon for schoool leaders to feel impatient with speakers and to view listening only as too passive a form of influence in their busy schedule.

Appreciative Listening Opens Doors to Changed Relationships

  1. It increases the common ground in all your work relationships– even the ones which feel least susceptible to any positive change.
  2. It changes YOU, the listener. Training yourself to focus on the strengths, the values, the capabilities, the qualities of the person in front of you.

I am noticing:

  • “what works” about a person and “working with” rather than “fixing” staff.
  • when someone is talking about a difficult situation or a problem they’re experiencing.
  • the speaker is someone you typically find it difficult to listen to, or that you don’t hold in high regard.
  • the situation is one where there is little action that can be taken at this time.
  • someone is complaining or is seen to be a chronic complainer. Sometime that staff member may need to just vent,
  • a work relationship or partnership is being built on a great foundation. Deeper discussion are occurring that is built on relational trust.

 

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Managing Change

20 Jun

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I have been dealing with a great deal of change management in the last couple of weeks. This has tested my skill set. I know at one meeting it also tested my patience. This book really helped me through. Here are some of my musings then:

Reflect and evaluate.  By thinking through the meaning and implication of the feedback, you can learn from it and consider what parts to work on, what parts to disregard, and what parts require deeper understanding. To do this, it helps to think about your development areas, the value you place on this individual’s perspective, and possibly, what you have heard from others as well. This is also the time to come back to what you may disagree with. Given that your objective was to learn others’ perspectives on you, ask yourself if it’s worth the potential damage to go back and “correct” the information. Typically, it’s not.

Plan and act. All the steps before this set you up to plan and put it into practice. Pick one or two capabilities you want to improve, get really clear about what “improved” looks like, and then consider the steps necessary for you to learn and adopt that new behaviour. Planning and acting are not only important for your learning and development, they’re also a signal to those who shared the feedback — you are serious about improving and you value their perspectives.

Sustain progress and share updates. You need to repeat new behaviours for them to become new habits. If you go back to your feedback providers and tell them what you are doing differently, you’ll give them a catalyst to change their perspectives, validation that you heard and appreciated what they had to say, and the opportunity to see you as a person who is committed to your professional development.

Great leaders are great learners. Their never-ending pursuit of information pushes them to constantly improve and sets them apart from the rest. Getting and learning from feedback isn’t always easy, but it is necessary, if we want to become better. It’s rare that our colleagues will offer us the kind of feedback we need to develop, and rare that we respond in a way that rewards their efforts and helps us improve. It’s worth building the skills to do this well if we want to reach our full potential.

Grit Again

13 Jun

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GRIT and resilience are a key focus now with students and something which is used in conversation a great deal. I have been re reading  Angela Duckworth  on how to develop GRIT with students in mind.  I have discovered this is also an important trait which we need to nurture within us, as teachers.

To deliver effective teaching and learning, teachers need to develop resilience and patience. Some or any of these doubts or worries about your teaching will not only affect us but also negatively impact on the outcomes of our students. The ability to develop resilience, over the course of a year and during a career, is an important ability.

Resilience is developed through the interactions between people within schools. At different times of the year, and at different times of our careers, teachers will need to be more resilient than during previous times. I have even found a study by Patterson, Collins and Abbott (2004) which has shown that resilient teachers have the following characteristics:

  • Have personal views that guide their decision making.
  • Place a high value on professional development.
  • Mentor others.
  • Take charge and solve problems.
  • Stay focussed on students and their learning.
  • Do what it takes to help students be successful.
  • Know when to get involved and when to let go.
  • Are not wedded to one best way of teaching and are interested in exploring new ideas.

I wonder if it is possible to share best practice of resilience or mentor other teachers to be more resilient?

Mentoring others is an important aspect as this allows resilient teachers to support and guide their peers, without being judgmental. In addition, the ability of resilient teachers to stay focused on their tamariki and their learning allows those teachers to strive for the very best outcomes for their students.

Devices and Other Tools

11 Jun

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Much emphasis has been put on STEM education of late, otherwise known as a combination of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The biggest obstacle to these subjects is the fact that not all adults understand them, and even fewer can describe how to use electronic devices to effectively teach them. Computational thinking is a great example of this. Teachers have placed a decent amount of value on teaching children how to “code.”

I have been thinking how can students use screens productively if they provide no educational value?

Electronic books were invented decades ago but were recently perfected within the last 10-15 years. How many educational institutions are taking advantage of this technology? If students were looking at a screen with quality reading material on it, would that be preferable to random videos and distractions? How might carrying hundreds of books around all day change the life of the average student?

Screens are becoming an increasingly important aspect of education. Given how much smartphones and tablets are being used throughout the world daily, it’s only fitting that they become integral parts of the classroom. It is then up to us and parents to ensure that what is being displayed on those screens is beneficial for the growth and development of our tamariki using them.

Digital Curriculum:An Annual Goal

5 Jun

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I am involved in launch of the Digital Curriculum in our environment. It is an interesting process that I have blogged about here before. I would be really interested to find out about your journey?

 

Parents and teachers alike are sometimes worried that kids and students are spending far too much time looking at screens, and far too little time learning and reading. Parents do find it hard to make a connection around the change. Naturally, the value of a screen depends on what is being displayed, but parents and teachers have a point. Our tamariki almost always expect to see smartphones and devices as sources of entertainment and will interpret screens used as educational tools as no more than entertainment with poorer quality.

 

The solution to this problem requires some creative thinking working with adults willing to give tamariki some room to experiment. Everyone is headed for the same destination. We just have different ways of getting there.

 

Our students are naturally creative. This is one of the reasons why they are drawn to screens in the first place. Games, animation, and the freedom of choice are the three things screens give them. What adults should do to channel those interests productively is show kids how to be creative without a screen.

What if students could learn to make games and animation themselves? What if they could discover new things without looking them up first? Such experiences could inspire them to try newer, potentially greater things.

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