Tag Archives: Change Leadership

Change Investigation

27 Feb

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Change agents know this lesson all too well—that bringing about necessary change often means taking a risk and being the first to try something new. It not only applies to all teams, start-ups, and social activists, but it also applies to schools.

“Someone has to go first.” My 8 year-old had this in mind as she dived into the pool on Monday night. Someone has to go first.

Even when it’s scary. Even when you’re all by yourself. That’s what I knew then, and that’s what I know now.

On my own school campus, change started when a small group of teachers decided it was better to be brave than to be boring. Down deep, we knew we needed to change the way our classrooms engaged in discussion. This year our pedagogical investigation will exam next steps into the next century.

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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.

 

 

 

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?

The Language of Leadership

11 Sep

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As I evaluate my own role as a leader I have been noticing the way I speak. So much is portrayed in body language but even more in the way we say things which may be innocent. I am not ashamed to say I have used these phrases in the past. My challenge is to use these phrases more in the future. I read this article (noted below) during the week. Here is some of the main points.

Some key phrases I must change:

  1. Because I said so.

Great leadership means building a culture of collaboration and connection, creativity and communication. Relying on authority shuts all those things down.

Instead: “How do we want to tackle this?”

  1. Who do you think you are?

Great leaders foster feelings of empowerment and engagement in their team, so everyone can reap the benefits of shared ideas and thoughts. There’s no room for ridicule or belittlement.

Instead: “What do you think?”

  1. It’s not my fault.

To be a great leader means you accept the consequences for your own actions as well as the actions of others. There’s an up side: Your leadership gains credibility.

Instead: “The buck stops here.”

  1. I don’t need any help.

Leadership is all about teamwork, collaboration, making everyone feel included and inspired. The best use of your time is mentoring, guiding, and leading others to succeed.

Instead: “We’ll do it together.”

  1. I don’t care.

Great leaders always care. When you express apathy, even about a small point, those around you have very little reason to stay invested.

Instead: “Let’s think this through.”

  1. I’m too busy.

We all make time for things that matter to us. When you set a priority for yourself, you set it for your team as well.

Instead: “I’ll find the time.”

  1. Failure is not an option.

Sure, success is important, but failure is not the enemy of success. Failure can teach valuable lessons–and those who are afraid to fail will build a culture that rewards bland, safe choices.

Instead: “Be bold. Take risks. Always learn.”

For further reading on this please read the full article by Lolly Daskal.

Key Leadership Points

9 Aug

StressFree

It’s been my experience good leaders place such high levels of pressure on themselves. I consistently place pressure on myself to be a better leader and a better person. This focuses my efforts and provides a source of intrinsic motivation far beyond any extrinsic pressure others could ever exert upon me.

Here are four things I do to make myself a better leader:

  1. Know Me:

Leaders must know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and where they will and won’t compromise. When a leader is comfortable in their own skin they won’t fear dissenting opinion and diversity of thought, they’ll encourage it.

     2.   Lead:

A leader’s job is to acquire and develop talent. I love seeing “my” people succeeding

    3.   Keep It Simple:

Complexity creates pressure. The best leaders look to simplify everything they can. Simplicity creates a whole lot of solutions to other potential problems.

   4.  Whitespace

The best way to maintain focus is to make sure you’ve baked-in some whitespace into EVERY day. Take time out. This gives a better picture of your environment.

Do you have any secrets that make you a great leader?

Iwi Partnerships

5 Oct

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This term we celebrate our Maori and Pasifika students with their own special Year 13 graduation. It is something I am most proud of at our school. For all this success though I do wonder how many iwi has been asked whether they want to be partners in education? Or if we doing it right? I just presumed they want to, or should do, and therefore created a “partnership” thrust through school, by which teachers must adhere?   Ko te kai a te rangatira he kōrero?

The New Zealand Curriculum openly encourages schools to engage with families, whānau and communities. Parents are engaged at our place and we are consistently asking “Is there a better way?” We are encouraged to engage between te kura, te whānau, te hapū, te iwi me te hapori of the student. Where’s the bit that emphasises what iwi want? Are they happy by saying nothing? What do iwi stand to gain by working alongside schools? Is there a partnership? Koha mai, koha atu?

I must note an annual goal for next year again. Why do schools find it difficult to engage with iwi? Some institutes don’t know where to start looking. I know that I feel this way often. I have increased my understanding, interviewed and surveyed but still I feel we could enhance our engagement.

There’s presently a big focus on lifting achievement for priority learners in all sectors. And a strong suggestion that schools should “engage” with iwi and communities of Māori learners. After my NAPP study in 2013 I still am asking but how do we do this? What is the big secret? The answer I believe is that there is none. Like with any of our learners. All we can do is maintain relationships.

Something to reflect on with staff this week:

 

Flipped Classrooms

2 Oct

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My peers (especially the Maths Department) have got me thinking about the concept of “flipped classrooms” now for a while and the great thing about holidays is that it frees up time to do just that – think and in this case write, share and hopefully promote further discussion. My class website has taken off in recent year to the point I am considering a podcast in 2015.

I found this summary of flipped classrooms for the uninitiated.

The flipped classroom describes a reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then class time is used to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through strategies such as problem-solving, discussion or debates. (Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching. University of Queensland.)

Thanks to a writer in my PLN I came across an article by Shelley Wright who was talking about flipping Blooms Taxonomy of learning, it’s worth sharing:

I begin with having my students write a paragraph, either in response to a prompt or their own free writing. Next, students, working in small groups or pairs, evaluate several master texts for the criteria we’re working on. How does the writer use punctuation or voice in a particular text? What similarities are there between texts? Students then compare their own writing with each text. What did they do correctly or well? How does their writing differ and to what effect?

As a class, or in their groups, we analyse the pieces for similarities and differences and group them accordingly. Only then do I introduce the concept of run-on sentences, comma splices, and fragments. Essentially, through this process, my students identify the criteria for good writing. From this, we’re able to co-construct criteria and rubrics for summative assessments.

Students then apply what they’ve learned by returning to their own writing. They change elements based on the ideas they’ve encountered.

Students further their understanding by either listening to a podcast, or engaging in their own research of grammar rules. Finally, as the knowledge piece, students create a graphic organizer/infographic or a screencast that identifies the language rules they’ve learned.

I think the best flipped classrooms work because they spend most of their time creating, evaluating and analysing. In a sense we’re creating the churn, the friction for the brain, rather than solely focusing on acquiring rote knowledge. The flipped classroom approach is not about watching videos. It’s about students being actively involved in their own learning and creating content in the structure that is most meaningful for them.

It got me thinking. The flipped classroom provides opportunities for all students. Fundamentally the student should be doing the work of learning which a dynamic process is and the activity and or use of technology will influence this process. Again the technology is but a tool.

Video Clip:

Teachers need to be educators—guides, mentors, encouragers, and providers of deeper learning and understanding, while allowing students to access basic knowledge in a variety of other ways.

Eddie Obeng makes some powerful observations in his excellent TED Talk, “Smart failure for a fast-changing world”:

 

 

Creating a Winning Culture

30 Sep

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Winning cultures aren’t just about affiliation; they are also unashamedly about results and relationships. Results and relationships are key to great schools.

Goals set and results achieved rather than simply talked about around a management table where people sit idly and then go back to their teams and implement nothing.  The other ingredient which is hard to buy is passion.   How do you instill passion in staff? Passion drives success culture and helps build high performance by virtue of the staff who have the passion to want the best in everything they do.  I find in the schools I work in many teachers have a passion for teaching and learning and the great teachers are the ones who can impart this love and passion for learning to their students.

Linking performance to strategic direction is important too.  What drives individuals every day in their job?  The answer is linking to a bigger picture called strategic direction that all great schools and systems have.  Consider this great summary from the Harvard research into the top seven characteristics that build high performance culture:

  1. There is high integrity in all interactions, with employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders;
  2. Performance-focused. Rewards, development, and other talent-management practices are in sync with the underlying drivers of performance;
  3. Accountable and owner-like. Roles, responsibilities, and authority all reinforce ownership over work and results;
  4. There’s a recognition that the best ideas come from the exchange and sharing of ideas between individuals and teams;
  5. Agile and adaptive. The organization is able to turn on a dime when necessary and adapt to changes in the external environment;
  6. Employees push the envelope in terms of new ways of thinking; and
  7. Oriented toward winning. There is strong ambition focused on objective measures of success, either versus the competition or against some absolute standard of excellence

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/12/the-definitive-elements-of-a-winning-culture/

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