Tag Archives: Connections


10 Apr

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As George Couros says often, “Isolation is a choice that educators make.” There are so many resources available for educators to connect with and learn from one another.  It is easy to get comfortable doing what has always worked.  If you aren’t connected to other educators in your school, district, or globally, you are not exposed to new ideas or pushed to think about better ways of doing things.  It is easy think that the way you have been doing it is the only or best way when you aren’t seeing other models.  To continue learning and developing your practice, it is important for teachers to get out of their classroom, both physically and virtually, to leverage the collective genius of the many educators across the globe


7 Mar


As a Teacher I find it so important to build by professional learning network. This week I had experiences that highlighted this fact. First I attended a Deans meeting where we shared ideas on restorative practice and process in pastoral matters. The following day I sat down with a member of the maths department and co-constructed an online survey. At the end of the week I joined an online discussion on Vocational Pathways.

My weeks activity has made me reflect on the importance of my own Professional Learning Network and what it does. Here are three things it does for me:

​1. Connect and Collaborate with teachers all over the world. Break down the walls of my classroom and interact with educators all over the country and the world. It often brings new and different perspectives on education standards.

2. Share ideas, resources, tools, and tips, Having a strong PLN can be better than Google when it comes to finding  new ideas and tools.  It is quite humbling that my knowledge and expertise will be valued and welcomed.

3. Engage and Learn about anything. Take the initiative to learn from other educators. Want to know more about Achievement Standard, Pathways, KAMAR, BYOD or PB4L? It is here.

Most importantly it has an impact on classroom instruction. At the end of the day, learning from your PLN will directly impact your classroom and students. The benefits for you as an educator trickle down, ākonga i te pokapū.

Flipped PD

22 Feb


I have been thinking a great deal about the flipped classroom professional development I am running at present. Some teachers at school asked me recently asked if I had some tips. SO here goes:

Set rules

You could probably call this a policy, but it’s the non-policy policy—just some basic rules and a common language to make sure everyone is starting and finishing at the same point.

Diversify professional development sources

Less about experts and more about staff capacity. To achieve a self-sustaining, always-on operation, it has to be has to be turned over to the teachers through dozens of sources, from books and  resources to blogging and social media.

And not all teachers will be chomping at the bit to hop on twitter to beat the bushes—so give them somewhere to start. Maybe a challenge during a staff meeting:

Look for a variety of resources, a book,  articles, or a streaming webinar. Then find an elegant way to curate and share it all with the school.

Create a pilot

Pilot it in one department  to work out the bugs, the factors you didn’t consider, and to better understand how it might work yourself. You may find this new open approach to PD confuses folks, and that’s okay. Simply go back to steps one and two. Our Maths department was brilliant at this.

Connect teachers

Connect teachers from different schools even in different countries—to not only improve the diversity of resources, but naturally expand professional learning networks in the process. These connections will catalyze the effort as you move on. Relationships and curiosity are awesome.

Connecting in Education

7 Sep


Professional developments are great opportunities to collaborate with staff members and meet educators with similar goals in nearby schools. Are some quick tips are for teachers looking to make the most of the knowledge within their own school building, maximize their use of social media, and connect with faraway teacher friends.

  1. Ask For Help

Be this person. Ask a question, borrow a resource, solicit advice, and just chat with my colleagues.

  1. Get Free Stuff

Traveling to a conference can be logistically and financially challenging. There are many live and recorded webinars that provide insight into how to effectively integrate a new learning tool or introduce a strategy to incorporate into a lesson. Gather a group of teachers after school, request coverage for a period, or host a lunch for your colleagues to watch a webinar together.

  1. Keep Track

Use a blog or a tool like OneNote to gather your evidence.

  1. Hold an “Appy Hour”

We are often so caught up in our own day and schedules it’s hard to know what is happening in the classroom next door, let alone on the other side of our school building. Dedicate one afternoon a month to connecting with your colleagues. See the next two points.

  1. Follow Follow Follow

Twitter is an amazing resource for teachers, and it’s had an enormous impact on my professional growth as an educator. Once you’ve gotten started with an account and are checking in regularly, make a commitment to follow five new people every week.

  1. Join a Chat

Twitter chats are a wonderful way for teachers to connect with likeminded educators who have actionable ideas and advice to offer. By joining a chat, you can read through the tweets people are posting to a chat’s hashtag or dive in by answering and posing questions.

Have you any tip?

5 Points for Curriculum Leaders

9 Aug


  1. Keep Your Goals to the Forefront

 “All learners benefit from and should receive instruction that reflects clarity about purposes and priorities of content” (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006, p. 6).

  1. Curriculum Development Is A Process

You know that I often write about process. Curriculum mapping is an ongoing process which asks teachers to develop curriculum goals, identify essential content, skills and concepts, and reflect on the taught curriculum.  When teacher teams become satisfied with the product, then the process is at risk.  Curriculum development is “an ongoing process that asks teachers and administrators to think, act, and meet differently to improve their students’ learning”

(Hale, 2008, p. 8).  

  1. Communication Is Essential

Curriculum gaps create a barrier for student learning and have a detrimental effect on students’ opportunity to learn.  Gaps are created by a lack of communication among educators, varying implementation practices, available resources, and decisions about pacing.

  1. All by Myself

Empowering others is one of the main roles of curriculum leaders.  If you are feeling lonely at the top, take a moment to reflect on why no one seems to be following.

  1. Data

Curriculum leaders understand that curriculum alignment consists of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  Without a method of measurement, then it is highly unlikely that the curriculum will be implemented across classrooms. Use your data to drive where you want to go.

Read this article then go to Middle Leaders on TKI.


Anderson, L.W. (2002). Curricular Alignment: A Re-Examination. Theory into Practice, 41, 225-260.

Hale, J.A. (2008). A guide to curriculum mapping: Planning, implementing, and sustaining the process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Steller, A.W. (1985). Forward. In Beane, J.A. (Ed.), Toward a coherent curriculum. The 1985 ASCD Yearbook. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  

Tomlinson, C.A., & McTighe, J. (2006). Integrating differentiated instruction and understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


1 Jun

In February I was part of the 29 in 29 blog effort. Winter is now here and that seems so long ago. So I thought let’s try it for June. So here we go the 30 days of blogging in June.

I have been thinking recently about my role as Deputy Principal.

I strongly believe that, as educators, we need to share who we are.  Put ourselves out there.  Let people in.  Be more vulnerable.

I don’t meant that we need to do this solely through social media or indeed everything we do

We need to be comfortable with sharing more of our personal side – the moments of joy, sadness, success and challenge.  I believe as a teacher there is nothing I love more that hanging out and chatting with the students every recess and lunch. I get to share a little bit of who I am and I get to see a little more about who they are.

My students check out photos of my family in my office and constantly ask how they are doing.  I also really enjoy the informal dialogue with parents and staff at the end of the day.

Its really good when a parent or staff member comes to tell me something about an event or topic which they know I can relate.  When we do this, we humanize us.  Once this happens we are easier to reach out to. In our Catholic schools this common Catholic bond is a starting point always.

Mentoring Students / GEMS

26 Oct

“As Māori [means] being able to have access to te ao Māori, the Māori world – access to language, culture, marae… tikanga… and resources… If after twelve or so years of formal education, a Māori youth were totally unprepared to interact within te ao Māori, then, no matter what else had been learned, education would have been incomplete.”

Professor Mason Durie, (2003). Ngā Kahui Pou: Launching Māori Futures. Huia Publication

As you may remember my NAPP inquiry was based around mentoring Maori students. Last week I read over these notes as a review and I got to thinking about the above quote. While was in Sydney I used to work with some challenging Year 9 and 10 Māori and Pasifika students. These kids fell through the cracks. No teacher, school wanted them. To be honest they were pretty hard work. I also coached the Year 9 and 10 rugby league team. We never won a game. I eventually found from that experience, I needed to make connection with their background. The biggest learning curve for me was to throw the curriculum out and connect with their families. I went beyond the classroom walls and visited their families, made connections and create a safe environment for their children. I walked the fields and I sat in their community halls. I went to their Churches and prayed with them. This has always been central to my teaching philosophy. For me, it was building that relationship. Parents and their kids will be honest with you, no matter, with all their stories.  It is here where you find it.


Reflection is an Important Part of Professional Development

23 Feb

https://i2.wp.com/www.unl.edu/gsa/images/career/leadlearn.jpgWithout question, one of the most important things I do is reflect be it teaching, living or in triathlon training. It took me years to figure this out, but reflection during and after lessons, sessions, presentations, etc. is crucial if I want to continue to grow as a professional. It is something. Everything I do is under constant scrutiny because I want to be better. Reflection can challenge me to change which can be a challenge. Nobody really likes change.

The next step after reflection is making changes where they are needed. Just thinking about what you have done does not mean anything if you do not take action. If something is broke, fix it. If something is not working, do something completely new. Education is a constantly changing creature and our lessons need to evolve with the rest of education to ensure that we are doing what is best for our students. Reflection and change are crucial parts in the process of providing the best education for the students in front of us.

We are all busy. I’m tired of hearing it. We have friends, families, lives, etc. That doesn’t mean we shirk our responsibility to become better at our jobs. Reflection and change is how we can be better. This year I want to take some time this year and reflect on my profession and see where I can make some meaningful changes for me and for the students I teach.

Going Back

10 Nov

My NAPP experience is drawing to a close and next week my presentation will be the subject of my blog. At the same time I am reflecting on the end of my third year as Deputy Principal and a year of our ERO review. The following some notes in the best traditions of Marty McFly advice I would give myself if I could go back to the future.

Have a plan to drive the overall strategy for your team and its role achieving the school’s vision. Set annual goals within this plan. Focus on the process not necessarily the final result. Focus on what you know you need to solve the problem. You can’t get help if you can’t define what you’re looking for. Frame the situation: What is it you either don’t know or need to know more of? Start by defining the challenge you’re facing and what you need in order to solve it. Great leaders don’t have all the answers, but they usually have the ability to ask better questions. Staff will enjoy be included in solving the problems and setting goals.

Do Something. Sometimes a response requires doing something, even if you know it isn’t the perfect solution. By leaving the problem it can often grow.

Every year make room for new approaches. Assess the school, like a warrant of fitness, for what it needs to do, and making changes. We should not do it just because we are being reviewed by ERO.

Always try improving communication and relationships inside and outside the school. Internally everybody should feel included in making key decisions. I read somewhere this year tuning into everyone ensures that there is alignment of all.

Creating systems and frameworks to execute, track, and measuring the work so that you feel comfortable with. Review these systems. These will never be perfect. Be open, but remember you can’t possibly take every suggestion on board.

Inquire more deeply to truly unearth important ideas. When you improve the quality and quantity of questions you ask, you increase the potentially valuable information you receive.

Support staff members in becoming better leaders themselves by promoting continuous learning. I am a great believer in the philosophy of growing other leaders. A school is a place of learning and therefore we should all be learners.

NAPP Reflections: Part 2

20 Oct


In my leadership project at school this year, reflecting on my NAPP project and working having been fortunate enough to spend time with some experienced principals I have been thinking about improving my own skills as a leader.

The following are some of those things we can all do better and are good ideas from those that know.

Leading by walking around the school is not a current craze. It is as important today as ever. If your team doesn’t see you taking an interest in them and their work they can become disenfranchised. The staff needs to know you are interested. These impromptu conversations are also key to uncovering issues.

We all need to listen more and talk less.

Keep your humility in check. We all think we’re the hero in our own story. The question is whose story are you really playing a part in? If you’re not humble, chances are you’re a lead character in the wrong novel.

Never forget why you got into teaching. Try and teach a class. Remember your passion is the kids not building meetings.

Go outside your comfort zone and introduce yourself to someone unexpected. This could be someone in a completely different industry or it could be from a new function in your own organization. I suppose this has been my why I have enjoyed NAPP so much. I have become connected with so many different people and readings.

Reflect on your week and ask what did I learn. Well I have done it in the form of this blog, Doing this can be a form of accountability. Am I really being an authentic leader displaying gospel values?

Professional Reading

Leadership and Sustainability by Fullan


Fitted Storytelling from Edward Roads

Danielle Anne Lynch

Music, Theology, Education, Liturgy

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters


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