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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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Value Teachers

4 Dec

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To attract the highest-quality teachers, we also need to hold teachers in high esteem.

Teaching is arguably the most challenging profession of all, yet unlike Finland – where teachers accrue similar respect to doctors – we don’t recognize that teaching deserves the same respect and trust as the medical profession. Finland also demands graduate teaching qualifications.Graduate students bring real-world experience, including deep disciplinary knowledge, analytical thinking and personal maturity.

To do this we would have to look across the Tasman for guidance. This would follow in the footsteps of the South Australia government, which intends to require all teachers to have completed a graduate-level teaching degree. The state will also require government schools to preference the employment of graduates with master’s or double-degree teaching qualifications.

To attract the best candidates, prospective teachers need to see a career progression. Using the current lead teacher and accomplished teacher categories but linked with an appropriate pay level progression would be a good start.

Teachers have a crucial role in improving student outcomes. We need not only to lift course and graduate standards, but also to ensure teachers are well supported so they can contribute fully as highly developed experts in a widely respected profession.

Some Questions

21 Nov

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These are some important things as leaders we need to ask:

Question #1: What are you reading?

When SLT asks this question, whether to kids or staff, he or she is reinforcing the message that we are all readers. Books are a school’s oxygen, and the more we read and share words, the healthier our school communities are. If reading is not yet a top priority in the school, this question can spark an important conversation and can lead to tangible next steps, like a staff book club or school-wide reading time.

Question #2: I’ve been thinking about _____. What do you think?

Leaders cannot do it alone, nor should they pretend that they can. They need to ask for help and input. Another way to say this is, “I’d appreciate your advice.” Being someone who asks for advice — rather than being the all-knowing leader — shows that a principal is a learner and that he or she values the perspectives and opinions of coworkers. The more varied the roles and positions of the people whose advice is being sought, the better. Consider these two examples:

When the SLT asks a cafeteria staff member, “I’ve been thinking about how to improve the flow of kids as they enter the kitchen to get their food. What do you think?”

The SLT  asks a teacher, “I’ve been thinking about how to make sure that we’re getting kids moving without sacrificing learning time. What do you think?”

Question #3: If you were me, what would you change?

This is a variation of the above, but it’s more open-ended. The intention is allowing students and staff to speak freely about that which is most important to them. This is a great lunch-duty question. Sit down with kids in small groups and challenge them with this: “If you were the principal, what would you change in our school?” At first, you will likely hear responses about longer weekends and less homework, but the more you ask, the more you will hear things like, “Why don’t we have a girls’ volleyball team?” and “If I were principal, I would make sure that teachers didn’t yell at kids.” You’ll learn a lot from this question, so only ask it if and when you are truly ready to listen.

While most SLT don’t promote talking in the hallway, it’s also true that the best ones treasure open dialogue and communication. When they ask the right questions and heed the old saying about why we have two ears and one mouth, principals are elevating the conversation — and reminding everyone in their school whose voices matter the most.

Don’t get me wrong the hallway is not the place for open conversation but it is a place to get the conversation started.

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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Collaboration and Inquiry

26 Jul

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I view teaching as inquiry as the foundation of professional learning and development and we are emphasizing teachers engaging in a collaborative teacher inquiry alongside each other and their learners.

Learner involvement is a key ingredient, and something that through the research was not strongly documented. I believe that the best person to talk about their learning is the learner and their thinking about what would make them improve is vital in developing theories of improvement.

Inquiry is designed to happen on 2 levels; collaboration between teachers, and, collaboration between teachers and learners. Two publications have given supplementary weight to my thesis that a collaborative approach is a must. These are the ERO report Raising student achievement through targeted actions and Hattie’s What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise.

Lets Be Connected

22 May

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Ka rongo, ka wareware

Ka kite, ka mahara

Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, but through doing, I know.

 

Last year while on secondment to NCRS I did some presenting to groups and reflecting on teaching practice. Everything I did centred around our teachers raising student achievement. It reminded me about the importance of being a connect educator. I hope I brought this back to my own environment.

Overall a connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to grow as a professional and to empower each other and their students to build their own personal learning networks to learn using the technologies that are available. Much is learnt from each other, with each other, and with the classes that they teach.

As part of my appraisal, one of my guiding principles is Whangaungatanga or connectedness, Kaitiakitanga or Guardianship and Manaakitanga or Generosity of spirit. These all deal with connectedness.

Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship

Ensuring sensitivity and thoughtfulness of actions in environments both local and distant.

A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to build their community of practise that has active participants like guest speakers and where everyone co constructs knowledge. A great example of this is uLearn16 or #edchatnz or subject associations meetings.

Whanaungatanga – Connectedness

Being connected requires learners to develop a secure sense of their own identity and agency to think and work towards where their potential might lie.

Sacred Heart Girl’s College is already a strong learning community that collaboratively constructs knowledge to form a foundation for learning. A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to use the managed online tools to find people and how to connect with them. They think carefully about the dynamics of interactions.

Manaakitanga – Generosity of spirit

Developing the ability to walk in others’ shoes which includes seeing issues from others’ perspectives and thinking carefully about the dynamics of interactions.

A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to use and take the tools from their kete to move their practice forward. They know how to get the learning needed to improve the craft of teaching. A connected educator at Sacred Heart Girl’s College knows how to use pedagogical eTools.  They know how to bring back what they have found and learnt online and share it with their school community via a reflective educator blog. Personal learning is transparent, visible and accessible by all.

Ka rongo, ka wareware

Ka kite, ka mahara

Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.

 

 

 

 

 

Vocational Pathways

1 May

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How do you define University and Career Readiness? Vocational Pathways is going some way to helping guide schools in this. Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, shares how education has changed over the past century.  Visit Changing Education Paradigms.  I have been reflecting if Robinson’s view of the changing role of education reflect the vision of educators at my school?

As a teacher we must reflect on the following:

1)  How do I support Vocational Pathways and my students being career ready?

2)  How does the role of a guidance counselor and mentor teacher change when we view every student as a “Vocational Pathways Graduate?”

3)  Does Vocational Pathways begin at primary school?  What does it look like at each level?

4)  How do we assist parents and community members in seeing that Vocational Pathways is for every student?

5)  How does Vocational Pathways change curriculum, instruction, and assessment?

Our Government has set clear and challenging Better Public Service targets. 98% of children who start school in 2016 will have participated in early childhood education, and 85% of 18 year olds will have achieved NCEA Level 2 or equivalent in 2017. To ensure the connections across the system, I have set an additional target of 85% of primary school students meeting national standards in 2017. These are ambitious targets, but we are on track to meet them.

When politicians make a speech, it may come across as political rhetoric.  However, teachers can begin having a conversation about what it means to understand Vocational Pathways and have students career ready.  The changes will not come from speeches, new standards, new assessments, or hoping that more students will achieve.  Change will come when educators define Vocational Pathways and then begin to ask, “What is my role?”

 

Lets Go One Better

4 Apr

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“Great teaching cannot be achieved by following a recipe, but there are some clear pointers in the research to approaches that are most likely to be effective, and to others, sometimes quite popular, that are not.  Teachers need to understand why, when and how a particular approach is likely to enhance students’ learning and be given time and support to embed it in their practice.”

Professor Robert Coe from Durham University.

I have been thinking this week about our NZQA results. They are by the way outstanding. But in the best tradition of great leaders we continue to ask how can we do better.

If we are going to change and improve maybe we need to focus on core components of teaching and learning: understanding not just the why but really get to grips with the why and the how.  We need to ask questions like: Why is feedback effective?  How can we improve the way we approach planning?  Why is one particular questioning strategy better than another?  Asking questions like this, reflecting on what we do, and then refining our practice is a lot easier than starting from scratch.  So what have been the game changers in your own practice over the last few years?

Parent Engagement

24 Feb

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Families should be partners in a child’s education. I have been thinking a great deal about this recently when attending our parent nights. A paper from  Johns Hopkins University cites Six Types of Involvement: Keys To Successful Partnerships(Epstein, et. al. 2009. School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action, Third Edition) backs this up. Family nights could include BBQ, curriculum nights, family movie night, sports night, school carnivals, literacy night, and themed nights. Too often, schools host family nights with the intent of raising money. The primary goal of a family night should be building relationships.

“When parents, teachers, students, and others view one another as partners in education, a caring community forms around students and begins its work (Epstein, 2011, p. 91).

ERO asks these key questions in there challenge to schools.

Evaluative questions

  • How well does the school gather and use information about the needs, wishes and aspirations of parents, whānau and the wider community?
  • How effectively does the school inform parents about their children and communicate information about the school?
  • How well does the school engage parents and whānau in the life of the school?
  • How well does the school engage with and make use of community resources, agencies and other educational institutions?

 

 

What are you doing in your schools that is Gold?

 

 

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