The focus of our HOF Inquiry is curriculum development. If teachers develop a high-quality written curriculum, but fail to implement it then their work is the equivalent of motion masquerading as progress (Parker, 1991).
Curriculum development is much more than an inquiry, unpacking standards, or meeting once a week. If teachers spend their time focusing on the taught curriculum they will be able to greatly impact student achievement. “When school staff have a more informed conception of curriculum, a teacher’s daily decisions about how to deliver instruction not only affect student achievement in that classroom but also future student achievement, for it is assumed that students will be entering the next classroom prepared to handle a more sophisticated or more expansive level of work” (Zmuda, Kuklis & Kline, 2004, p. 122).
Our inquiry should be about answering questions. “If you want to make discoveries, if you want to disrupt the status quo, if you want to make progress and find new ways of thinking and doing, you need to ask questions” (John Maxwell, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, 2014). Here some key questions for HOFs that I have come across.
- What are the key concepts we will address in this course?
- What are the key skills we will address in this course?
- What are the priority standards for this course? How will we ensure that these standards are emphasized throughout the year?
- If I had a daughter enrolled in this course, would I be satisfied?
- How will we implement the 4 Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity) in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment(s)?
- Will we use LwDT to support teaching and learning? How? What are the goals?
- Are there opportunities for student-led lessons or is every lesson dictated by the curriculum and teacher-led?
- Are there multiple options for personalized learning throughout the course?
- Does the course incorporate student-led questions which deepen student understanding?
- How will we measure student understanding?
- Are we designing authentic tasks for students?
- What is the role of formative assessment in measuring the written, taught, and understood curricula?
- Do we have a plan for when students don’t learn?
- Does our learning space support student understanding of the key skills, concepts, and soft skills that our staff has identified as important?
- How often do we meet to discuss teaching and learning?
- Do we analyze career readiness indicators? What is my role in supporting college and career readiness?
- Do teachers have the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback regarding the school curriculum?
I watched a clip this week by Clive Woodward. No matter what you think of him as a rugby coach he is a great leader. Indeed he is a champion.He had a number of themes:
Champions are made, not born. In his talk Woodward explains the process of making a champion. He talks about the England rugby team of 2003 and how his process of developing champions meant that we won the World Cup. According to Woodward there are four criteria which define champions: Ability; Teach-ability; Handling Pressure; Will to Succeed.
Woodward claims that we all have ability or talent, but talent is not enough. No matter how talented you might be, you have to put that aside and be completely open to being taught – if you do not have Teachability, then you’re stuck with talent, which is not enough. With Ability and Teachability, you then need to know how to think clearly under pressure, or T-CUP. He talks about his War-Room, which contained tables and chairs, a huge stop-clock on the wall, a scoreboard and a white board. When he was giving a tactics talk he would suddenly stop, set a time in an imaginary match on the stop-clock, identify opponents and a score on the scoreboard, describe a situation in the imaginary match – say, our scrum on our own twenty-two, with our number 8 in the sin-bin – and then ask any of the players to explain, using the whiteboard, exactly what they think we should do as a team in that precise situation. He calls it T-CUP: imagine the pressure on front row Phil Vickery in front of his unforgiving team mates if it’s him Woodward summons to the whiteboard. In his talk Woodward then shows the following basketball clip. It’s 88 points all, 0.6 seconds to go, the Yellow team have two free shots, the first shot goes in to put them 89-88 up: what should the player taking the second free shot do with the ball? The only other bit of information you need to know is that if the buzzer for the end of the game sounds and a shot is in mid-air, the game is not over until the ball has hit the ground and the shot is technically dead.
Over time, I believe as a leader and teacher I can have the capacity to improve the whole-school culture through excellence in teaching. Our dispositions of Ako, Wahine Toa and Manaakitanga have their foundation in the generous impulse to assist students and colleagues. If we are true to the Manawa Mission philosophy here at Sacred Heart staff fundamentally influence others without generating resentment. Staff are consistently working to benefit the school, so he or she is not in competition with others. We are on the waka together.
In the end, only way to stay the course throughout one’s teaching career is by discussion with great teachers who motivate, inspire and remain connected to the classroom. In the company of others, teachers can uncover the best work being done in our schools. This links a little to last week’s post. Dedicated to their own professional development, all staff are capable of improving teaching and learning despite the many other mandates. This is critical to their continued enthusiasm. Through the retreats and professional learning communities, colleagues enhance their own teaching and further the practice of others. Thus we are living the mission together.
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.
My manaakitanga goal this year was to build an environment that shows a shared sense of contentedness and belonging. The key to this for me has been not to moan at work. Everyone vents about the job at times. We are a vent-oriented society. Listen to talk-back for half an hour. Complaining is okay so long as you do it to your significant other, relative, non-work friend, or cat in my case. I have tried to keep it outside the school if can.
There’s a line in the movie Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks, the captain of the unit assigned to find and rescue Private Ryan, tells his subordinates, “Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on. I don’t gripe to you. I don’t gripe in front of you. You should know that as a Ranger.” That’s excellent advice. We should never as leaders display frustration about our community to staff. It will trickle around; that’s a guarantee. It just fosters an unhealthy victim-hood culture. If there’s something you can do, do it. If not, address it through the healthiest means possible. OK I am off to complain to the cat about our latest change. No just kidding but you get my point.
Reflection is a lost art in classrooms. With the push to cover more content and standards, teachers often make a choice between coverage or pausing for reflection. Reflection comes in many forms: reflective journals, group work, whole class, silent reflection, reviewing yesterday’s work, reflecting on an essential question, or creating a product that shows your thoughts on a previous lesson or understanding.
How often do students feel like the pace of schooling is rushed? Once a unit is finished, the teacher moves to the next unit. Reflection involves slowing down to share what we learned. In the absence of reflection, it is unlikely that a classroom is a Culture of Inquiry. How do students reflect and make meaning out of their experiences?
Learning takes place when inquiry is present. This year as Faculty’s met every Wednesday to develop lessons and assessments, analyze the amount of time students have to question, talk with their peers, and reflect. This inquiry is a step towards reflection. May it continue in 2017.
I used this insightful video this week at Whakakaha. What do you think?
“Change is neither good nor bad. It simply is.” Don Draper
This week at our DP/AP meeting Greg Kirk from Goggles On presented on Leading Change. It got me thinking. Some of my thoughts were the following.
You can’t manage change. You try to anticipate it and then adapt to it. That’s the core competency that each of us needs to develop and continually strengthen. At a collective level, it makes an organization that much stronger to adapt to whitewater events which can capsize the unprepared.
Management guru John Kotter provides a very useful model for leading change efforts. His eight step process, which has been adopted by many organizations and leadership practitioners, encompasses the following steps:
1) Establishing a sense of urgency
2) Creating the guiding coalition
3) Developing a change vision
4) Communicating the vision for buy-in
5) Empowering broad-based action
6) Generating short-term wins
7) Never letting up
8) Incorporating changes into the culture
At the core of Kotter’s model is building change adaptability within an organization and learning how to focus the energy of employees towards a shared vision.
Change leadership evokes the critical importance of humbleness as a leader. You need to adapt. Ask the question why.
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.