Tag Archives: culture of trust

Getting everyone on the waka in 2019

21 Feb

 

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The year has started and as senior leaders we have well thought out ideas regarding new projects for the year. But them come the resistors or slow adapters or high maintenance staff.

When we encounter resistance to a great idea, we often find ourselves mentally criticizing the people who oppose it. We conclude that those who are resisting are unwilling to change, lack a strong work ethic, or have misplaced priorities.

It might be more productive for school leaders to think about times when they’ve resisted others’ ideas—for instance, times when they told their child he could not have a begged-for toy (or tattoo!); or when they told their physician that a particular treatment was not for them; or when they told their spouse that it was not the right year to take a big vacation. When people think about why they’ve resisted others’ ideas, they usually realize that their reasons were good ones. For instance, parents say no to children to keep them safe, patients select treatments that will best fit their individual needs and approach to health, and spouses want to be good stewards of the family budget.

Similarly, when teachers resist the ideas or initiatives of new school leaders, their reasons make perfect sense to them. For instance, these teachers might have worked hard to develop their current practices and view these practices as best for students. They might believe that a proposed change would be too demanding on their time, or they might think that a new idea reverses the trajectory of school programs of the past few years. When school leaders understand resistance from this perspective, they avoid judging teachers negatively. Instead, they tune in to better understand what teachers are thinking. This process has the potential to create a productive dialogue, enabling teachers and leaders to approach problem solving and planning together to address school needs.

 

 

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Creating a Fearless Culture

19 Jan

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“Can interrupt you for a second” or “Please see me in my office in your free.” These are phrases that I have used as a school leader.  Unknowingly I have sent a message of fear to the receiver of the information. While innocently I have created a culture of fear. Ok then how can I avoid doing this:

Be clear with your interactions:

Be careful when I see people. Pick the moment. How we perceive the world helps us determine how we react to it. Self-knowledge can serve as a source of strength allowing us to manage stress through the ups and downs of life and learning. Knowing who we are socio-politically means understanding your core values and how your background and cultural context has shaped them.

Knowledge of self is powerful because it can lead to a genuine respect and appreciation of other people’s values. Additionally, knowing what you stand for can help you identify when and why the behaviors, action or beliefs of others’ clash with your own. We believe “knowing yourself” is the key ingredient to our next competency because once we know ourselves we are empowered to create a place where others can do the same.

Build Trust:

Build trust with others and in yourself. Build deep trust by creating space where people feel safe to share feedback and ask questions Being able to bring your whole self to work is critical; It is also often a luxury because it is risky. Creating a space where individuals can explore their identities inevitably leads to a place where difficult questions and conversations emerge. Brené Brown, known for her research on vulnerability, talks about the components of “Rising Strong” in her book by the same name.

Trusting environments lead to strong teams and strong teams lead to innovation. Imagine what we can do if we intentionally build school cultures that nurture trust: trust to explore, experiment, fail, and learn. Consider the ripple effects this could have on teaching, learning, and problem-solving.

I taker time annually to analyse my educational vision. I need to connect it to my practice. Do you do the same? What do you core values tell you about how you approach tasks? When have my core values lead me to clash with others? What might their core values be? Are they different when dealing with peers and tamariki?

Trust

2 Sep

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Bryk and Schneider (2002) described trust as the basis for developing social capital, and identify three types:

Organic Trust is based on the moral character and designated authority of leadership and is given unconditionally. This kind of trust has often been seen in faith-based environments, clergy and lay-leaders, had almost unquestioned trust. Yet, this basis has been somewhat eroded today, as we frequently see tragic cases of abuse of such trust.

Contractual Trust is transactional. Basic actions and outcomes are agreed upon, in accordance with stated terms. In this era of high-stakes testing and parent expectations and government agendas, it is a fear that education could be translated to these terms.

Relational Trust, John Dewey observed that a good school is more like a [functional]  family than a factory (Bryk and Schneider, 2002). Relational trust forms the basis of the ‘family’ interactions. Despite personality differences and clashes, there is a bedrock of connection that enables relationships to be maintained.

Relational trust is the foundation of the effective professional learning community, and essential for effective and lasting change.

Solutions to Coaching Barriers

3 Apr

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Like any new project I have led in school there are barriers. Now I would like to look at the way of overcoming the barriers I talked about last time.

  • Accept this will take time   Don’t be impatient. Establishing a coaching programme may need to be in it for the long haul. Spend sufficient time gaining insight into the reality on the ground so that future visions can be specific to actual school conditions. This requires research, planning and networking. Out of this will come success
  • ‘Educate’ key individuals   You know who they are. Once you have that compelling rationale, back it up with case studies from other relevant organisations/high-profile individuals. Organise PLD, send staff to related conferences, and begin to organise coaching sessions for them with respected external coaches. A different voice saying the same message while frustrating for you is gold. Once key individuals can study, understand and experience the benefits of coaching they will be much more likely to prioritise it. ‘Educating’ key individuals is also likely to encourage the spontaneous emergence of ‘champions’ for the coaching cause. From these an individual with sufficient profile, charisma and influence can be approached to spearhead the creation of buy-in throughout the organisation.

 

  • Modification. Be prepared to change the vision. It is ok.
  • Remember, successful implementation of contextualised coaching programmes within your school takes time, determination and clear planning.  It will take a mind-shift. Interesting while this has been about coaching you could apply this to any item of leading change. What has been yours?

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.

The Key Is Good Questioning

26 Jan

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One key area that kept cropping up when looking at my teaching technique was why students don’t involve themselves in the process more. This idea of contributing more as been on my mind lately.  If I think back to my days at school, I can picture classes with friends and peers with different abilities, backgrounds and views on education.  We had some who enjoyed school.  Indeed we had a great time. We tolerated the learning bit but the school. Yes we loved it.
We had the naturally talented.  We had those who struggled.  We had some who gave their all.  We had some who wasted talent.  We had some who knew it all.  We had some who found school wasn’t for them.  Yes I real melting pot.  A wrong answer could be met with a severe put down from peers.  A great answer could result in ridicule.  The worry of the teacher finding out you have no idea left you feeling pressured, panicked or worried.  In actuality the culture of a classroom might not be that different now.
Who really knows.  But that culture where sharing answers during class questioning is safe is extremely important.  Yes we want students to challenge each other and offer opposing opinions, but we need to ensure that the environment in which questioning occurs allows everyone to contribute without the worry of ridicule or panic.  Setting clear rules, modelling how to share answers, demonstrating good protocol and scaffolding the process allow students the security to be involved.  Celebrating good answers, valuing opinions and rationally challenging ideas takes time to achieve, but setting up such a culture means a deal of hard work.
Challenging students to provide answers and contributing can be quite a task in some instances.  Setting expectations that every answer must be high quality can be even harder. Here again I believe the flipped classroom is an ideal platform.

Here are some things to think about.

  • Set that expectation that every student must speak loud enough so that they can be heard by all.  There is nothing worse when a student mumbles and the majority of the class can’t hear it.
  • Ask that they use well structured sentences and language.  Now this will take time to develop but similar to writing, students should be using specific terminology, sound structure and a range of vocabulary.  Be a stickler for slang words.  It will be tough but it is well worth it.
  • Create relational trust in the learning environment. Build and set foundations early.

What are some of your thoughts?

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