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Employing Staff

10 Oct

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Selecting new staff can be one tough job. I was recently asked how I do this at a job interview. I often think about where will this person sit in the staff-room. How will they fit into the jigsaw. Here are some of the things I  believe about recruiting good people who are, in a healthy culture, set to become great teachers:

How much time do I spend on the qualifications and experience of candidates? 

Once I know that a teacher is Ill-trained, I am interested primarily in their personality and passion for learning and working with young people. I are looking for a bright individual with the potential and desire to learn and grow … more than an accomplished history. I need subject experts; I also need people experts. Both have (and will need) time to develop these skills.

How interested am I in things like classroom management techniques? 

I want to know what people do for fun. What do they like to read? Have they a passion for music, sports, the arts? Have they skills or interests that are interesting? An engaging person doesn’t need to worry about classroom management.

What are the most vital things I want to know? 

I want to know that prospective teachers have an absolute conviction that all students can learn. That character counts. I want them to assure us that they are learners themselves, therefore I are particularly interested in their technology skills and their willingness to become amazing teachers.

What am I thinking during the interview? 

I tend to visualize teacher candidates sitting with colleagues in our faculty lounge. I think about them at our Christmas lunch. Will they be the ones who help clear up and then stay afterwards, or will they quickly eat and leave? Will they fit in the team? Will they improve the team? Will they inspire students?

Have you any tips for me?

 

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Why Blog?

8 Oct

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It’s the holidays and time to regroup before the final push. I find it a natural time to reevaluate the things I do and ask why? So why blog.

“Blogging is on a thirty-minute deadline.” I found this a daunting piece of advice, yet liberating. This rule brings focus and a deadline. The deadline brings whats on top very quickly.

First Thought, Best Thought.”  You can always explore an idea again later in a new blog entry. Indeed it has occurred with me.

“A blog naturally reflects what you have been doing .” It helps you vent and solve problems.

The number one thing my blog has taught me is you will need to read more than you write. I am a ferocious reader. Anybody who knows me will confirm that. Simply putting your own ideas out there without exploring the views of others and engaging in conversation with them means you are quite possibly a bad listener. The learning comes about through the exchange of ideas. Publishing a blog has allowed me to engage with thoughtful educators all over the world. I have been amazed at the conversations that have come about. I’ve had conversations with a global network of generous and informed educators who are contributing to my professional development in simple yet powerful ways. That “connected educator” concept is real.

Happy blogging.

CONNECT 17

21 Aug

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I had the pleasure last week to be involved in the NASDAP national conference. There were an abundance of great speakers which I will reflect on in the coming weeks. Here are my thoughts as I reflect a week later:

Andrew revisit your Vision as a School Leader:

Take some time out and reflect on the reasons why you stepped into the school leadership role. What was it that you had hoped you could achieve? What was the legacy that you had hoped to leave behind? It takes courage to have a big vision and as a school leader, wanting to make a difference to the lives of future generations, your vision will be bigger than most.

Andrew reflect on your values: 

It is highly likely that with the challenges that have arisen as the result of the new education innovation, that there will have been times when you will have found your values severely tested. When we are under stress we can sometimes find ourselves behaving in ways in which our values are severely compromised, we find our -selves becoming disillusioned and if pushed too far, deciding to jump ship.

Andrew find support:

You can’t do it alone! You are not superhuman and really there is no such thing as a super head! All school leaders feel pain, anger and frustration. The problem is many school leaders seek to hide their true emotions both from themselves and others.

When we ask for help, we may find that we open the door that leads us to becoming a bigger vision of ourselves. 

Leadership

4 May

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Most of us want our leaders to do better–to make smart, ethical, innovative choices that maximize everyone’s success, not just their own. That’s one reason why accountability and transparency matter. But it seems we want much the same for ourselves to push ourselves to greater heights bit by bit, to learn from our setbacks, and to move forward more capably than before.

Curriculum Inquiry: Easter Reflection

18 Apr

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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.

  1.  What are the key concepts we will address in this course?
  2.  What are the key skills we will address in this course?
  3.  What are the priority standards for this course? How will we ensure that these standards are emphasized throughout the year?
  4.  If I had a daughter enrolled in this course, would I be satisfied?
  5. How will we implement the 4 Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity) in curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment(s)?
  6. Will we use LwDT to support teaching and learning? How? What are the goals?
  7. Are there opportunities for student-led lessons or is every lesson dictated by the curriculum and teacher-led?
  8. Are there multiple options for personalized learning throughout the course?
  9. Does the course incorporate student-led questions which deepen student understanding?
  10. How will we measure student understanding?
  11. Are we designing authentic tasks for students?
  12. What is the role of formative assessment in measuring the written, taught, and understood curricula?
  13. Do we have a plan for when students don’t learn?
  14. Does our learning space support student understanding of the key skills, concepts, and soft skills that our staff has identified as important?
  15. How often do we meet to discuss teaching and learning?
  16. Do we analyze career readiness indicators? What is my role in supporting college and career readiness?
  17.  Do teachers have the opportunity to provide ongoing feedback regarding the school curriculum?

 

 

Growth Mind-Set in My Class

3 Apr

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I have been thinking and reading about this this year in my class. There has been a great deal developed regarding this in our mentoring system in school. The following is a summary.

Consistent classroom discussion and modelling from mistakes.

This has concerned me for sometime. Students fear failure. They also fail to try because they make mistakes. I began this semester with a discussion about what growth mindset meant, and how we (our classroom) could use it. Each week, we talked about how “mistakes are when learning happens.” I want students that are hitting The Wall to know that failing isn’t the end and the not understanding a concept is merely the first step on the road to getting it. Creating a growth mind-set, involved lots of frank discussion about learning from mistakes.

Set-aside class time to review mistakes on assessments. 

After our discussion, I returned their first assessment of the semester and told themn(my students)  that they would have the next fifteen minutes dedicated to reviewing mistakes. I posted common errors that I saw on screen and wandered the room giving advice and help. We do this each week now and it gives students a dedicated time for reflection, a chance to access my help, and a non-stigmatized time to review errors. This is key, students will not naturally do this on their own, and I still need to prod some of mine.

Student visualization and ownership of growth.

As students wrapped up their self-assessments, I passed out a log that I had created for them to track their achievement on each of our classroom standards. They get three chances in class, and can then re-assess outside of class. Therefore, I gave them space to see how they were doing. I realized that students were not keeping track of how they were doing over time; I wanted them to see how much they had improved and have quick access to know that they needed to work on. I used to keep track of this, but found that when students have ownership of their scores, they are more apt to do something about the low ones.

Champions

28 Mar

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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.

The Lost Art of Reflection

6 Dec

The Thinker

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.

Leading Change

28 Nov

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“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.

 

 

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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