Tag Archives: Inclusive

Inclusive Learning Environments

19 Aug

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This week while attending the Careers Expo I had a rich conversation with staff around what it means to support struggling students by creating inclusive learning environments. I started with the whakataukī: He waka eke noa. A canoe which we are all in with no exception.My first reaction upon in the discussion was to focus on the word inclusive, and I thought of LGBT students and inclusive environments. Our Catholic schools are all about being inclusive. As Pope Francis has recently written we as a church need to greet all with empathy and comfort rather than with unbending rules and rigid codes of conduct. Our national curriculum, NEGs and NAGs all demand it. Creating inclusive environments are essential not only for learning but also for growth and development.

As a restorative and PB4L school we acknowledge schools that allow parts of the student body to feel unsafe, unwanted, or unknown do a disservice not only to each child’s development but also to the learning process and culture throughout the entire school. You cannot have a school where everyone is included in learning or develop a culture that is inclusive of learning unless you are also inclusive of all tamariki.

The word inclusive can and does mean more than creating environments that are supportive of all. It means evolving environments that are inclusive of all and inclusive of learning. Our school should be creating a culture of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.

We can develop environments that are safe and connected, but we must also establish environments that promote, expect, and enhance learning. That is acceleration for all students. Schools and their classrooms must be environments in which the aim of learning is clear. They must be spaces where students understand that getting something wrong is part of the learning process. Its ok to fail is an important message. Where it’s OK to speak out and suggest answers. Where a culture of inquiry is the norm. I read recently that learning is a culture. It starts as a culture with the students as human beings needing to understand their environment. And it ends as a culture with students taking what we give them and using it in those physical and digital environments they call home. . culture of learning is a collection of thinking habits, beliefs about self, and collaborative workflows that result in sustained critical learning.

The term inclusive can also mean that students are included in the learning. Not merely inclusive of learning but included in what gets taught and how it gets taught. Inclusivity brings people together and places us all inside the process. Whether we are discussing personalization, differentiation, student at the centre learning, we are talking about learning that is inclusive of learning styles and interests.

Granting students more agency over their learning may seem like a leap in faith, but  it will become infectious. Teachers will begin to realize the full potential of their students and how much they had previously underestimated them. Furthermore, once students are empowered teachers will truly understand who their students are and what they really need.

What do you think? Is your school an inclusive school? What are you doing to promote this in your classroom?

 

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A Thought on Leadership

14 Aug

Leadership

A good leader makes things happen. This is no different in school. A leader must have certain skills that need to be paramount. Given the increasing complexity of the industry here are some things I have been reflecting on. Of course central to this is my philosophy “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 Vision

Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29: 18

Vision as a picture of the future a leader has in mind which inspires him and he shares it with others for them to feature in bringing it to pass. Being a leader requires you to have a clear vision of the future and being able to communicate it passionately and clearly to others.

Leadership success begins with vision. You must endeavour to create a compelling vision, clarify it and market it properly for people to buy-in. The success of your leadership is tied to the actualization of your vision.

Passion

Passion is essential for effective leadership. I have observed great leaders in corporate, religious, academic, political and social organizations, one thing they have in common is that they are very passionate with what they believe in.

Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said, “Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.” Leadership is a marathon and passion is the energy you need to finish fine.

Confidence

Firm belief in yourself is a key to being a successful leader anytime. It helps you go the way and show the way. Douglas McArthur said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”

Confidence is a fundamental basis of leadership. It helps you to stand your ground during challenging times. Self-confidence is not magic; it can be developed.

Communication

To share your vision, inspire others, and sell your products and services, you need good communication skills. To excel in leadership, you must master the art of effective communication. Great leaders are great communicators. Don’t just communicate; connect and collaborate. Communication styles differ from leader to leader. As a leader, your communication must be clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous because your ability to communicate and connect effectively raises the bar on your leadership.

Compassion

Compassion is one of the silent but principal qualities of a leader. One grave mistakes people make in life is asking for hands while they have not touched a heart. A leader should be compassionate.

Compassion is the people-centric mindset of a leader that inspires him to aspire and perspire to help others become better. This is not weakness but, strength.

A compassionate leader loves his people and this motivates them to give their best to make his leadership a success. To be a great leader you must shift from “I” to “We” mentality because this helps you show kindness, care, fairness, genuineness and gain trust, respect and loyalty.

5 Characteristics of 21st Century Learning

17 May

This week I have been preparing work for the Catholic Convention next month. I have been thinking a great deal about schools in this century. The following take on 21st century learning is notable because of the absence of technology. This is ironic as my presentation is about Technology in Catholic schools.

In my mind in these characteristic there is very little about iPads, social media laptops, or any other app. In my mind it should be all about good pedagogy complemented by good tools.

  1. Learner-centered

Or to be more specific student centred. We as schools should be a learning network.

  1. Personalized

All students should have a personalised learning plan picking from the best achievement standards to create a Vocational Pathway.

  1. Data-Rich

The school should be driven by goals that are support by data. A good hunch will be backed up by goals.

  1. Values Driven

At the heart of the school should be the values that drive it.

  1. Diverse and Inclusive

This is giving learners a wide range of learning experiences that includes all students.

What do you think?

Being a Principal: Some Reflections

18 May

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During the last few weeks I have been Acting Principal. As this time comes to an end I thought I should reflect on some key thing I have learned and been aware of. Before you write them off as not applicable to you, consider that these are common in any type of leadership position and in a great deal of literature.

Healthy relationships: A common mistake that leaders make is to hole up in their office and neglect the relationships that will help them to be successful. You have plenty of other things to do, but this is the most important. Make time in your schedule to make the connections that will be mutually beneficial.

Listening: You must go beyond hearing to developing the kind of listening that goes deeper. This kind of listening includes watching body language and observing emotions. If you don’t listen in this way you’ll miss plenty of opportunities to learn and connect to others.

Silence: Leaders who exhibit strategic silence know when to stay still. They understand the impact of words that can hurt, anger, or create fear. They know that when they say too much, others stop speaking and creativity and inclusion are a lost cause.

Appropriate pace: It’s a difficult thing to match the pace of others. I find some leaders are so driven that they outpace those who follow, leaving them in the dust, confused and dazed. Other leaders may be too slow to make decisions and take action, and we all know what happens if this becomes a repeated pattern. You must be authentic to who you are.

Patience: Many leaders are intolerant of others who might do things differently or at a pace the leader finds unacceptable. Action oriented leaders may have a tendency to jump to conclusions before things are thought through. The lack of patience can manifest itself as anger or decisions that aren’t fully thought through.

Calm: Remaining calm is a great asset that can be lacking in many leaders in our high pressure, high stress organizations. Leaders who are not calm may show anxiety and an inability to remain still. They might be excitable at the moments when an organization needs calm, spreading anxiety.

Inclusive: There are very few places where a lone wolf leader can be effective. Decisions are complex, and it takes a village of smart people to help make them. Leaders who aren’t inclusive may find that their organizations lack creativity. The people who are most talented may be taking their brilliance elsewhere.

Respect: A deep respect for all people in the organization is the hallmark of a great and enduring leader. Everyone is treated as someone who matters.

Professional: A leader who is professional is one who dresses appropriately, walks the talk, and is loyal to their organization. Despite how they might feel about certain guidelines, rules, or bureaucracies, they do what needs to be done.

Reflective: Leaders who spend their days reacting are heading for trouble. Most leaders get more responsibility by taking decisive action, but unless they take some time to reflect on past and future successes and failures they’ll eventually run into trouble. Setting aside thinking time is imperative for success. I suppose this blog reflects this.

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