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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.

All on the Waka Together

12 Dec

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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.

Connectedness and Relationships

7 Dec

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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.

Whakakaha Part 3

2 Dec

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

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.

Carolyn Stuart at ULEARN

11 Nov

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Leading change in school is summed up by unleashing innovation but not upsetting people.

These are key parts to this:

Authentic relationships + Inquiry-based practice + Shared vision & values + Future focussed expectations + Trust in people and process + Collective responsibility for agreed norms = Freedom to Innovate

There’s an old adage, “People are down on what they’re not up on.” In the absence of information, people tend to be negative. Communication frequently becomes an afterthought when it should be at the core of any school improvement strategy. If you’ve connected stakeholders to the larger vision through meetings, communications, and input, they will believe it’s worth it. Remember to involve all stakeholders—educators at all levels, students, parents, business and community leaders, media, unions, partners, and others. Ask, “What do we need people to know, feel, and do?” Personalize messaging to each group to ensure relevance and understanding. Make your communications about issues and successes very concrete. Abstract messages get lost in the shuffle. And, carefully consider the timing and sequencing of your communications.

This clip got me thinking around this:

Building the plane while flying clip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2zqTYgcpfg

“At the heart of innovation is a paradox.” Linda Hill

https://www.ted.com/talks/linda_hill_how_to_manage_for_collective_creativity?language=en

A Disruptive Time

4 Nov

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Tim Harford uses a TED talk to elaborate on Messy Disruptions and how active use of them can add power to our thinking and lead to results beyond what we might expect.

Our instincts as teachers and leaders in education always craves the normal and comfortable – this week during a very busy time I would often think of a “normal week” – by this I thought of a normal timetable with no interruptions from special events (such as sports), disruptions from upheaval (teachers illness, students behaviour, angry parents etc). It took me years to recognise that the interruptions were the normal and that our school as a “living breathing being” was simply being human.

Harford’s point about dealing with complexity by deliberately adding disruption is powerful. His example where four friends are less likely to solve complex issues/problems than three friends with an awkward stranger (or in our case a grumpy parent/teacher) really makes you stop and think about how we need to shift our thinking and not be trapped by comfort and security.

Why we should journal as teachers?

7 Sep

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Why should you blog and what should you use? The why is easy. Self-reflection an journaling is vital to continual improvement. I like WordPress because I can include photos, video, slideshows, and hyperlinks. It is a visually interesting digital portfolio that can be commented on and modified when needed. Many posts create a discussion which gives me other things to think about. We are beginning to investigate blogging, using One Note for the purpose of appraisal. It is preferable to filling in lots of paperwork. I have also been involved in facilitating professional development to help people set up their blogs. Blogging naturally reflects your own PTCs.

The act of regularly expressing your thoughts in written form can help sharpen your intellect, organize your ideas and prep you to lead lessons in the classroom more effectively. (Teach.com, 2015)

Putting your ideas into the world is a great way to attract like-minded people to argue with, network with, or get advice from. As we’ve learned from other discussions on personal learning networks (PLN), talking with other educators is a wonderful way to learn and grow as a teacher. (Teach.com, 2015)

Positive or negative, getting reactions from other people in your community is a great way to test out your ideas. It can also be a great motivational tool. (Teach.com, 2015)

Many employers these days will check out a prospective employer’s online presence to find out about who they are as a person and how they represent themselves. A blog will help an employer to understand the values and attitudes of a teacher. It will also give insight into how they teach and reflect on their pedagogy.

A blog will give employers a deeper insight into your teaching practices while signaling that you’re a 21st century teacher. Having a teaching portfolio can be a decisive element at the interview stage of the hiring process. How have you approached the idea of collating your evidence for PTCs?

 

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