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The Future

15 Aug

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“we are preparing kids for that jobs don’t exist.”

Are we sometimes preparing kids for jobs that will no longer exist

As we seek to retain Gen Y into the teaching profession, the school as a workplace needs to think about these elements and reinvent. One of the reasons why activity-based work has taken hold in the corporate sector, is that this generation are motivated differently and command and control culture is no longer achieving results. Gen Y employees will leave if they aren’t sufficiently engaged and they will take their talent and build their own start-up.

What are the key elements of activity-based work that can, and are, relevant in school education – for staff, as well as students?

Am thinking about this in week 4 of the term.

Learner Agency

9 Aug

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This year I have been exploring “learner agency” in my classes and school wide with the HOF group. In a funny kind of way, the staffroom is my classroom. Like most classes all around the world, I have had a range of abilities from dependent to independent. I believe the teachers’ role in an agentic community is not the gatekeeper: ‘the traditional, stand at the front and talk, I hold all of the knowledge and power and decision making’ type gate keeper, no. An agentic learning community needs an expert lead learner. Someone who inspires growth and challenge from within each individual learner. So, this is where I’ve developed this concept of “counting to five” or “breathe in, breathe out”.

I was introduced to something similar at my daughter’s preschool. I understood the concept it as this: The day is a series of tides: and they had moments of high tides and low tides – the activities would change depending on which tide phase they were in. Hey I really liked the concept.

So I have approached this year, with all my learners, new to ‘learner agency’ and agentic learning by ‘breathing in’: structure, goal setting, independent learning and reflection. And then ‘breathing out’: inquiry based, student decision making, goal doing (where you practise or work towards the goals you have set) and reflection. Now I must be honest I have had a range of success.

Most of my learners have flourished this year and I think it has benefited them by having the agency in to lead their learning.

Appraisal and Our Body of Work

2 Aug

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How might a teacher’s performance be appraised? How can the whole, as well as the parts be considered? Of what use is the performance of teaching for observations by management, versus relaxed one-on-one discussions with students or an experimental lesson tried for the first time? And of what use are the ‘individual works’ such as unit plans, student work examples, lesson data and external test results? Data can provide a tangible, depersonalized third point for professional conversations, just as a particular work of art can be representative of an artist’s work. An exhibition from a particular period of an artist’s work can give a broader picture of their work during that time. A posthumous exhibition of their life’s work can provide the broad narrative of how their work has evolved. These are all different but meaningful lenses for appreciation and critique; each is a useful way of viewing the work and worth of the artist or teacher.

On the one hand, teaching does become a body of work over time. A life’s work for some. This gestalt includes ever-expanding subject knowledge, evolving pedagogies, relational skills and behaviour management tools. Many of the things teachers do become internalised, less-deliberate moves, part of a way of being. Perhaps a teacher should not be judged by a lesson that they teach or one set of student results, but there is value in each piece of work being reflected upon and closely considered for the understandings it might surface about that teacher’s practice; the details it might reveal; or the points of celebration, critique or change it might incite.

Being Hamstrung by Policy

1 Aug

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This week as part of my role we were looking at policy with the BOT. To run effectively, schools require policies, guidelines and procedures. They are important to give schools points of reference from which to operate and ensure that everyone in the organisation is on the same page.

Every school that I know has some form of staff handbook; a manual for staff that usually provides details of the school’s key policies and procedures. Depending on where you have worked, these manuals vary considerably in terms of their content, both in length and quality. You can gain an idea about the school culture when you ask teachers whether they know about what is in the staff handbook and the policies that they are aware of and are familiar with. School leaders are often frustrated when staff are not aware of the policies that have been put in place; many of them to support teachers in realizing important aspects of a school’s vision and mission and safeguarding of students’ well being.

Sp why the disconnect? Why are teachers not so familiar with the school handbooks, policies and procedures?

Could it be that teachers cannot be bothered? Perhaps they do not see the relevance until it the manual needs to be consulted, after all we are professionals, right?

There’s an element of truth in all these plausible responses.

Fact: Policies are not an enjoyable part of teaching, so making them attractive and interesting to read is not easy.

Fact: Policies are an important part of being professional and ensuring important levels of consistency in how people work together in a school.

So, how do school’s overcome the problem in having clear and effective policies that are viewed as important and are adhered to by the staff?

Cut down the number of policies
Too many policies and procedures make it difficult to enforce all of them, so cut down the number of policies in order to reduce any cynicism that may be aimed at their ineffectiveness.

Collaborate
Where possible, create collaborative teams to establish new policy or review existing ones. We have plenty of tools to create these.

Regularly refer to policies at staff hui and whakakaha
Keep important policies front and center to the work that is being done. It is important, therefore, to spend time looking at them in meetings and discussing their application. For example, if your school has an academic honesty policy or behaviour management policy, give it life in meetings rather than let it sit and gather dust on the shelf.

Bringing Staff Together

31 Jul

Business Communication Duplicate model

A key test of our  leadership is the degree to which you are able to inspire and motivate others, so that others feel both willing and able to turn your dreams for your school into reality. But …. as  you well know this is a task that is easier said than done. Uniting Hearts and Minds. The reason why so many leaders become exhausted by the whole school development process is because schools are complex organisations to lead and manage. A school is not one homogeneous identity. Far from it. Schools are complex and dynamic structures because they are made up of individuals from a diverse set of backgrounds, cultures, histories and values. It can be argued that much of the process of school improvement is about enabling others to value and respect each other’s perspectives whilst at the same time learning how to bring these differing perspectives into alignment, so that all are united in both heart and mind around achieving the school’s core vision and purpose.

Workplace Culture

25 Jul

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Keep it on the quiet but I love the people that I work with and the mahi that we do. I believe is truly a special vocation. But even in the strongest of relationships (especially in the strongest relationships—we take those the most for granted) we can unintentionally slow down progress or build resentments if we’re not careful to honor what’s important; not just what’s important to me, but what’s important to we.

Come to think of it, how much better would all of my relationships be if I started to pay closer attention to the “we” importance over the “me” importance? I must be careful about the language I use eg Leading my team. I know when staff get frustrated because they refer to me as a manager rather than leader. Very subtly of course.

Because I suppose the truth of it is, we’re all right about what’s important? So rather than trying to figure out who gets to decide which one of us is more important, why not try to hold both as equal? Because in the end we just want to feel heard; we want to feel respected; we want to feel understood. And the best way to do that for each other is to listen and ask questions… to take the time to find out what each other wants.  To take the time, period.

Encourage the Critical Element

20 Jul

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As I lead my team this year I must consider this idea more. As educators, we want our students to be critical thinkers—to question and show skepticism. We teach them to cite data to support their opinions and to test theories and hypotheses for evidence that supports a claim. But when it’s time to implement school change, we often don’t appreciate these same qualities in our colleagues. Wouldn’t it be better if all teachers just followed suit, never offered any criticism, and made the job of the leaders easier?

Actually, if our fellow teachers are questioning our ideas and making change efforts difficult, someone along the way has done an excellent job of promoting critical thinking and skepticism in those teachers. But how do we both value constructive critique and move an initiative forward at a pace that leads to implementation in less than a decade? The key may lie in what Intel calls “disagree and commit.”

Kids are Addicted to Technology

17 Jul

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I found this recently and I believe it is about the best summary of teenagers and use of devices I have ever read. So I share.

The idea kids are addicted to technology. Yes, it is true that nearly a quarter of teens go online “almost constantly,” according to the latest research from the Pew Research Center. But it’s not the technology that teens are addicted to — it’s their friends. Their use of technology, especially mobile phones, allows them to easily connect with peers and receive validation for who they are and who they are trying to become, which is developmentally and socially normative behavior.

What are your thoughts?

Getting on the Waka together

14 Jul

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The winter term is a particularly busy time in schools and can often be when fractures in relationships are more obvious. It can be all too easy with the frenetic pace of school life to forget that relationships need to be kept well oiled to enable school life to function smoothly and with as little disruption and conflict as possible.
Being a restorative school and being on the related contracted has made me reflect on these. Recently at a course on education and the law I noted that so many issues can be solved by being restorative and relational. So when conflict and disruptions occur what are the 3 key steps that individuals can take to restore fractured relationships?
 
Korero.
 
If there is an unresolved issue between you and someone that you lead or manage, make time to talk with and not to or at them. Every person has their side of the story that needs to be told. In the right environment, telling our story enables us to make sense of our experiences and can bring a sense of clarity and perspective.
To ensure that this is successful, you will need to find an objective’ space in which to meet;  one that allows you both to  be and assume equal status for the discussion.
Listen
 
Listening can be one of the most powerful tools that an individual can have in seeking to restore a relationship. If you are in conflict with another person and truly want to bring resolution to the relationship. I often in my coaching sessions let people talk until they get off their chest what has been going on for them.
In our busy working lives, we have forgotten how to truly listen; most of the time our minds our pre-occupied with either how to respond to what we have just heard, or the next task that we have to complete on our ˜to do’ list or what to cook for supper.
With all the PLD out there we have become masters at given the impression that we are listening, but that’s just all it is, an impression. Sometimes its not for real. You must also reflect back. Ask questions. So have a think is there any relationship that you are in at the moment that could benefit from the simple process of: Finding a safe space and time for good robust korero, listening to one another and reflect back.

The SAMR Model

12 Jul

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SAMR, most basically, is a technology integration model for educators developed by Dr. Ruben Puntedura.  It outlines four categories of technology integration as in the diagram above.

While I’m still striving to transform many aspects of my instruction with technology, I now recognize the enhancement levels are completely appropriate for a number of tasks and occasions.  In fact, I still appreciate the “no technology” level at various times as well. The key, I believe, is matching technology integration to pedagogy or purpose. This has been fundamental to our journey.

Substitution: Technology is a direct substitute for what was done before; the core idea of the task remains the same

  • Students annotate an article with MS Word–they highlight, insert comments, and keep it for later use with a writing project→ Though done in a digital format, the annotation task and resulting product remain the same
  • Students complete and submit an exit task in Classroom; the teacher scrolls through the responses and makes mental notes of what to re-teach tomorrow→ Again, though completed digitally, the feedback loop remains the same as what was with scratch paper responses submitted as students walked out the door.
  • PowerPoint being used by staff instead of a blackboard.

It is important to reiterate to staff that LwDT is more than substitution.

 

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