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Leading v Managing

8 Dec

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My wahine toa goal this year was to nurture relational trust in the HOF group. I wanted to communicate the idea that the middle leaders of the school had to lead not manage. Just so we’re clear about this, I have nothing but respect for great managers. They are the essential clue that hold organizations together. They keep things running smoothly, they execute strategies and tactics. Without sound management no organization can survive. A great deal of my job is to manage as Deputy Principal.

But… yes you knew there had to be a but… but, simply putting a great manager into a leadership position does not make them a leader. A manager can be a leader and a leader can be a manager but very often a manager is not a leader and sometimes a great leader is not a good manager.

Managing and leading are two entirely different things. To be a leader you have to do so in my opinion in an environment of relational trust. I found this year when I led Staff rather than trying to manage them charmed things happen.

Staff who are managed are far more likely to display attitude issues than staff who are led. Staff who are managed do what they are told while the staff who are led have already done it.

I found staff who are managed seldom grow beyond their job description but staff who are led burst the seams of their job descriptions with regularity.

Thank you to my fellow DP who provided the clip below which illustrates how these middle leaders joined me on this waka.

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Whakakaha Part 3

2 Dec

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I used this insightful video this week at Whakakaha. What do you think?

Restorative Circles Part Two

17 Nov

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Here are some more thoughts on some PD I attended this month on RP. Restorative circles generally have three phases. You can explain these phases and what happens in each of them to students. Teaching restorative practices, skills and concepts using this curriculum will support each of these phases; it will increase the likelihood of successful outcomes.

First phase—before the circle: The main tasks in the first phase include:

Figuring out who was most affected and inviting them to participate in the dialogue · Making sure that everyone understands what to expect.Sportively listening to each person—especially those who are affected in harmful ways—to help them begin the process of telling their story.Managing the logistics of setting up a meeting. Sometimes the first phase happens very quickly, on-the-spot, as in impromptu circles that are called immediately when a conflict arises. Many circumstances involve taking more time, sometimes meeting individually with each person involved.

Second phase—the circle dialogue: This is the actual circle, where the restorative questions are used to help people come to understanding and make things right.

Use the restorative questions. Ask each person in turn. Facilitate and prompt as necessary.Avoid going into counseling mode. Also avoid solving the problem for the participants. Allow those who are affected to define the issues and develop their own plan for making things right. When preparing students for the circle dialogue, clarify that it is not like a courtroom drama. Nobody is on trial. Even if students’s stories about what happened differ and seem to contradict each I thank all of you, students and parents alike, who worked hard to establish understanding and agreements, and address the hurtful and damaging behaviors that took place.

 Third phase—after the circle: The main focus here is on accountability and support. Accountability means following up on the agreements and keeping track of their status. This may also include letting everyone who was in the circle know when they have been completed. Support means providing resources to help people complete their agreements. Sometimes completing agreements challenges the skills and resources of students. For example, writing an effective letter of apology may be a stretch for a student’s literacy skills. The person(s) who are monitoring plan completion will need to be sensitive to these challenges and help to arrange for tutoring or other support as needed

 

 

Parihaka

12 Nov

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In November 1881 the Māori settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki was invaded by government troops. The aim was to end a campaign of civil disobedience that had been taking place since 1879 and which was in response to government confiscations of Māori land. This armed constabulary of over 1,500 arrested large numbers of people including leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi.

Friday our staff spent a very special day there. One of the messages that emerged from theday was the importance of language. A better appreciation of te reo by Pakeha would go a long way to bridging the divide between the Maori perspective on life in New Zealand and the perspective from the rest of us. As Nelson Mandela said when asked about his conciliatory approach to the racist South African regime and why he’d bothered to learn Afrikaans:

“If you speak to a man you speak to his head, but if you speak his language you speak to his heart”.

I encourage you to check out the Talk Treaty site, and watch some of the videos there.

Many Maori understand the issues, but more Pakeha have to get schooled up to ensure our opinions are informed. After all, we are all Treaty signatories, we all have a right to live here and for our cultural values to be protected and nurtured.

 

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Digital Natives

30 Oct

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“Our students, who are empowered in so many ways outside their schools today, have no meaningful voice at all in their own education. Their parents’ voices, which up until now have been their proxies, are no longer any more closely aligned with students’ real education needs than their teachers’ voices are. In the 21st century, this lack of any voice on the part of the customer will soon be unacceptable. As we educators stick our heads up and get the lay of the 21st century land, we would be wise to remember this: If we don’t stop and listen to the kids we serve, value their opinions, and make major changes on the basis of the valid suggestions they offer, we will be left in the 21st century with school buildings to administer – but with students who are physically or mentally somewhere else.” (Marc Perensky, ASCD, 2006)

Pathways

6 Oct

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This seems to be the new buzzword in the media these days. But whether or not the choice is good or bad, I am still very much in favour of people having a choice!

As educators, we at times are concerned about our students, faculty and staff not staying the course and making choices that are neither scripted nor a part of the “this is what we have always done” philosophy. But when these same entities (students, faculty & staff) are given the opportunity to create new ideas and when they are provided with the ownership to implement these ideas, our students, faculty and staff often become the beneficiaries of these “good choices.”

For example, when students are offered the chance to choose one of three essay questions to complete, the choice of a book to read or the choice of a research paper topic, we know they will be more fully engaged. I understand many educators feel the need to control the conversations and the intended outcomes, but it really doesn’t take much more effort to offer our students a choice of which of the 25 of the 40 math questions they choose to work/answer.

As a school leader I am a firm believer in offering their staff the choice/opportunity of choosing new methods, like using 365, Slides, kahoot, etc., as a more efficient way to share information with others?

Leaders should be encouraging their teachers to choose a different way to deliver their content either by truly integrating technology or by “flipping” the instruction

Strong Leaders

26 Aug

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What makes a school successful? The principal… the teachers… the students… the parents?

Can one individual (or group of individuals) be the determining factor of success or not?

Can leadership come from the middle or must it originate and live at the top? None of these questions are easily answered, but in my experience as an educator, it’s principal leadership that makes all the difference.

It’s this difference that we are so desperately needing in our schools…We need leaders who recognize and pay homage to ‘what was’ in an effort to maximize and capitalize on ‘what could be.’ Schools are in need of a leader with a vision; a vision that is bigger than any one individual.

We need leaders who see the big picture. We need leaders who won’t shy away from asking tough questions and won’t yield on having high expectations for all with a belief that all can achieve in their own respective way. We need leaders who are willing to be visible. We need leaders who are willing to stand up and speak when others choose to remain quietly seated.

We need leaders who are able to adapt and shift based on what’s needed of them. There’s no such thing as black and white and straight-forward when it comes to education, so being flexible is absolutely critical.

We need leaders who can commit to making a decision even when they know the decision won’t be popular. People will eventually come to terms with something they don’t agree with; people can’t come to terms with uncertainty and confusion.

We need leaders who can effectively and clearly communicate. Last week at Year 13 retreat this was emphasized and gave me something to reflect on this week.

Restorative Circles

9 Aug

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Recently I spent another day in Wanganui reflecting on restorative practice. Restorative thinking is a significant shift from punishment-oriented thinking. People, including students, who are invited into restorative dialogue are sometimes confused by the concept of “making things right.” Their default response to the question “What can we do to make things right?” often has to do with punishment. It is said that “children live what they learn.” When what they have learned is that troublesome behaviour demands a punishment-oriented response that is how they will live. But restorative practices invite different ways of responding. These new ways must be learned through experience. The activities in this manual give students the necessary experiences to support a shift toward restorative ways of thinking and behaving.

In restorative circles we build trust by giving students safe ways to test how much they can trust each other. We begin in our first circles by using prompting questions that invite low-risk answers. Students can give answers that do not expose their inner lives; thus, they can feel fairly safe from social consequences such as teasing. Students should not be required to take risks that are unreasonable, including social risks in socially hostile environments. Students have sound instincts about how much self-disclosure is safe; their level of participation is a reliable indicator of the risk environment. Teachers and other circle leaders can observe students’ level of participation, along with how students react to each other’s answers, and steadily increase the depth of intimacy and authenticity invited by prompting questions, choosing prompts that invite more intimate exposure of personal thoughts and feelings.

My key learning from the day was restorative must be embedded in all we do rather than just an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff.

Changing your Teaching

18 Jul

 

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I was sitting having lunch during term two after a class and a discussion started. The teacher was saying they wanted “cutting edge technology” in their classrooms. They viewed the latest technology tools as a great cure that will finally transform their mundane teaching experience into a twenty-first century, state-of-the-art facility. Words are powerful and often dangerous. True, the computer is a tool and it can be “cutting edge?” But which edge is it cutting? Who and what is it changing? This staff member had forgotten the focus of our Professional Learning in 2016. It is not about the tool. It is about the pedagogy.

The notion of a tool assumes we have the ability to manoeuvre technology however we please and it will not change us in the process. The reality is that technology is always a double-edged sword. In being cutting edge, it often slashes through difficult tasks in hyper-speed and creates work that would once have seemed miraculous. We can connect instantly, but we are losing our ability to communicate. We look constantly, but we rarely see. We access information from millions of sources, but there is no transfer into wisdom. Anyone who follows my blog must realise I’m not anti-technology but I become sceptical when staff do not question why they are using tools.

 

The Transition for Students

2 Jul

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At present the body of my work is completing scholarship applications for school leavers and advising these school leavers on their next steps. It got me thinking that secondary school dies not prepare a student in any way for university. They are as different as Super Rugby and the Olympic Sevens. I think this for the following reasons.

  • The timetable. No university has any class meets every day; no university schedule requires a student to be in class every hour of the school day. Some classes meet for two or three hours at a time. And the choices, don’t get me started.
  • Online work. In most of today’s university courses, there is a significant online component to the course. It is up to the student to be proactive to use it. It is in most cases it is part of the assessment.
  • Reading. The expectation in all courses in the sciences, history, philosophy, and social sciences is that students will have to do some significant primary-source reading (and writing on it). The anticipation in all courses is that students know how to read analytically and critically.
  • Being organised. Professors will not seek you out if you are doing poorly. The expectation is that you will go for help, find study partners, seek assistance from tutors and special programs, etc. on your own.
  • Homework expectations. It is assumed in most universities, according to most calendars I have read, that for every hour in class a student is expected to work at least an hour outside of class on reading, writing, research – often more.

 

What do you think? Are we really preparing our student for the next stage well?

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