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Great Leaders and Parents

8 Sep

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It is Fathers Day’s and I am reflecting on how my has changed in the last 8 years as a Dad. The other week I posted a photo of my daughter completing her first Weetbix Triathlon. She suggested I post the above of me finished my first and only (so far) half iron-man.

I have been contemplating a leadership metaphor used by Simon Sinek on a Ted Talk.

The quote that sticks out to me is “great leaders are like parents wanting to give their children (employees) opportunities to try and fail in safe ways and to discipline when necessary”.

I’m struck by the use of the term “discipline” in the metaphor when applied to leadership in a school.

Discipline is commonly defined as getting someone to follow the rules and there is some implication of punishment if you don’t.

Perhaps if people don’t follow the team decision that provides for consistency then discipline is applied – usually a one on one conversation between leader and in this case teacher. But is it then about natural consequences of not following the decision.

 

 

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Student Input

6 Sep

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Real change change occurs in schools when students have input and their is relational trust to do so.

I’m fortunate as a school leader that my teachers share their ideas and thoughts with me. My students are so frank and host. I really respect them for that. .

I am  running a number of classroom circle events this semester with my students – I am using this clip. By the way. Circles are change the way I teach. Worth investigating.

 

 

 

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.

Grit

22 Aug

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Our  deepest conversations with colleagues revolve around helping students to be successful. It worries me some students don’t try because they do not wish to fail. The complexity level of many students is stunning and therefore it takes a much deeper level of professional collaboration and parental partnership then ever before in our role as educators. The words anxiety, depression, autism, and opposition are part of our vernacular on a daily basis. A great deal of our work deals with student well-being

Into this conversation arrives the theory of grit, perhaps espoused best by Angela Lee Duckworth. I am loving this read. Find it . Read it.

LwDT and 365

21 Aug

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Microsoft Office has been a staple in classrooms and offices for over a decade. As the web has become increasingly collaborative, many online word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications joined Office. Microsoft began introducing web-based office tools in 2008, and since then they have been constantly revising and improving the applications. Today, we have the benefit of these years of progresses in the Office 365 collection of tools. Our school has immersed itself in these tools.

The Office 365 web version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote also allow you to quickly create and edit documents on any machine with access to the Internet in the widely recognized Office file formats.  It has taken me sometime but now I book all my movements through my calendar.  I am learning to understand the uses of classroom, survey and planner currently.

Having Office 365, you’re able to access your emails, calendar and documents from any device as long as you have an internet connection. So, if you travel far or stay close school, you can use a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone to access your work files and information. In my role this is fabulous.

The flexibility and mobility of 365 is great, but your brain deserves a break and research shows that the benefits of holiday, meditation and downtime replenishes your attention, motivation, creativity and productivity. Saying that, I also know that for a lot of us, if you can just stay on top of emails it’ll save you from drowning in messages and tasks that require attention on a Monday morning.

Here are some of the reflections on the collaborative benefits of 365 from a recent Cyclone course I attended.

Creativity

20 Aug

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Creativity has become the economic engine of the 21st century and it is no longer a luxury for a few, but a necessity for all. Ken Robinson (2007) states that creativity is as important as literacy, Richard Florida (2002) writes about the rise of the creative class, and Dan Pink explains that,

“We’ve progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we’re progressing yet again – to a society of creators and empathizers, of pattern recognizers and meaning makers.” (2005: 50)

If education is to prepare young people for a very different global environment, we simply must invest in students’ creative capacities. New combinations of creative abilities are increasingly in demand in a complex post-millennial world and what we know today is not as important as what we need to learn for tomorrow. Habits held too tightly become burdensome. As Leadbeater states, “What holds people back…is their ability to unlearn” (2000: 9). Learning is usually an incremental process, but when the environment suddenly changes the key is to dispense with past learning because old practices and routines will no longer work. This means challenging ingrained assumptions and people’s sense of identity.

 

Student Voice

30 Jun

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For many years I have developed and warmed to the idea of student voice. I must admit I have not always been sold on it. My sister went to a job interview where students not only sat on the appointments committee but asked real questions. At the same school students go to every faculty meeting.This is very innovative.

We all evaluate our teaching and have student voice. Last year a student wrote this to me in her evaluation: Hey Mr Murray I like your class and you entertain us and we learn stuff but you know when you give us those surveys about your teaching I notice nothing in your teaching really changes #justsaying.”

This was definitely a reality check.  As a school we are now regularly seeking avenues for student voice and increasing teachers’ capacity to learn from students. The aim is to grow students’ responsibility for their learning and for teachers to gain new insights that help refine teaching programmes, pedagogy, and assessments, and inform future learning. This is part of our goal to be collaborative and innovative.

How do you use student voice? And once you have the data do you use it?

The Peace Table

17 Jun

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This week our staff took part in an amazing PD Day around restorative practices. It made me understand Restorative was about relationships and about having the entire community on board. This is an effective alternative to punitive responses to wrong doing. Inspired by indigenous traditions, it brings together persons harmed with persons responsible for harm in a safe and respectful space, promoting dialogue, accountability, and a stronger sense of community. Restorative justice is a philosophical framework that can be applied in a variety of contexts — the justice system, schools, families, communities, and others. As a teacher, I have used restorative questions with my students and find them to be a powerful tool.

However, I frequently catch myself putting more focus on the person who created the conflict, and having them use the restorative questions to reflect on the situation. With those who have been impacted, I tend to talk with them about the event, rather than give them the restorative questions to answer. While my reasoning was mainly about time management (and a bit of laziness), not allowing my students the time to reflect on those questions robs them of an opportunity to develop self-identification of their emotions and needs. Due to a recent situation, I have experienced first-hand the benefits of reflection using restorative questions, and truly recognize their importance to all parties involved in an act of harm.

I realize now how valuable restorative questions are, not only those who have committed an act of wrongdoing but also those who were affected by the act. The time spent processing what had happened to me was time well spent. It was a strong reminder for me that short-changing the process for my students can affect some of what restorative practices attempts to achieve: involvement of all parties; self-awareness; and the potential connections that can occur through recognition and acknowledgment of others’ feelings and needs.

Observation in the Classroom

10 Jun

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To me the key component to effective teacher observation is that it be student-focused. The emphasis needs to be on how things can be done differently in the classroom to ensure that students succeed academically. It must also be authentic. Conversations need to take place before and after the visit.

I think my teaching environment is a setting where a teachers-observing-teachers strategy thrives. A culture exists where people report with pride that they push’ one another professionally. I notice all teachers’ value collegial relationships as a means to professional development. This has been a journey and because of this that is why it is so successful.

Research tells me that the whole school community benefit from this being a success. What tools are you using in your environment?

Well Being

18 Apr

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After reading this week it got me thinking about what I could do to improve well-being in my own place of work. The holidays are the perfect time. It seems obvious and simple to me that if teachers are healthy, positive individuals their teaching practice benefits from this. In the current climate surrounding education teachers need to know that there are people who care about their well-being and that they really do matter.

My role within the school is to responsibility for the Senior School and Daily Operations. That means working closely with colleagues. It’s important to me that staff want to improve because they want to improve, not because I want them to. To achieve this it is important to put strategies in place to let this happen. I t has to be more than professional development. It is the small things like creating time for authentic appraisal, having meaning staff discussion about the decisions that affect them and extra five minutes for that staff farewell. The aim is to make staff feel valued and encourage a collaborative approach to teaching and learning across the curriculum areas.

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