Tag Archives: Leading Learning

Changing Pedagogy

21 Feb

If education like a faith journey is a search for meaning, then should our goal as teachers be to ask good questions even when there are no clear answers?

We are ako. We are lifelong learners. It does not matter if even as teacher we do not have the answers.

For decades, our education systems have been built around the transmission of knowledge from teacher to student. The prescribed curriculum provided one path through the maze and gave students few opportunities to learn through experimentation – to connect their own dots.

I found this quote from New York Times, which I have been doing a great deal of reflecting on this week. My love for this paper was generated during my time studying in Syracuse.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/the-elusive-big-idea.html?_r=0

We live in the much vaunted Age of Information. Courtesy of the Internet, we seem to have immediate access to anything that anyone could ever want to know. We are certainly the most informed generation in history, at least quantitatively. There are trillions upon trillions of bytes out there in the ether — so much to gather and to think about.

And that’s just the point. In the past, we collected information not simply to know things. That was only the beginning. We also collected information to convert it into something larger than facts and ultimately more useful — into ideas that made sense of the information. We sought not just to apprehend the world but to truly comprehend it, which is the primary function of ideas. Great ideas explain the world and one another to us.

Our system has become a little lost. We have become focused on results rather than process. We have become absorbed on content to knowledge, teaching to curriculum delivery and we have allowed the answer to shape the question.

We need to go back and ask how we are asking these questions.

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New Year

27 Jan

I have written and spoken over the past twelve months about the challenges we face. As we begin a new school year those challenges have not diminished, in fact they have increased. And they will continue to do so unless the education community faces up to some truths.

Schools have long enjoyed a competitive position that they can no longer demand or expect to maintain. In a rapidly developing assortment for learning in a connected world, schools are now just one of many modes for learning. Our students love diversity. They love choice. This is reflected no better than in NCEA in New Zealand with the standards and subject they opt in and out of.

How are today’s schools going to position themselves to become the architect of new ways of learning and teaching? What has to change, what has to be done differently? Indeed what is the work of a teacher in today’s world?

I don’t know the answers to these but I do know the answers lie in every school’s capacity to continuously reinvent themselves through innovation and research. Schools have to strive for excellence even if it means being different and embrace change, not avoid it.

We can be very confident that we know what doesn’t work, and we have ample data on why this is so. Those one-off standalone initiatives focusing on teacher control, external monitoring, new curriculum, programmatic solutions suck the oxygen out of schools and stifle the drive and passion teachers have for improving every student’s learning.

Relevance has to be the rule not the exception.

NAPP Reflections: Part 2

20 Oct

https://mountain2surf.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/napp.jpg

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

My NAPP Enquiry

13 Oct

NAPP

This week it is the beginning of the end for my inquiry.  The process is complete.

The focus of your inquiry

What was the inquiry question? “To examine the nature and effectiveness of a Mentor on the achievement and attendance of Maori/PI students at SHGC”

What were the learning needs? I wanted Deans from just gathering data to connecting with these students. It is important for staff to understand both narrative and data of these priority learners. In turn the greater body of staff would be workshop through Ministry initiatives such as Tu Rangatira, Ka Hikitia and Tataiako. I acknowledged this change and development to take place over a period of time so that real changes could be embedded.

The methods you used to lead others in a cycle of change

What learning experiences did you and your team design and engage in to address your inquiry question? We followed the steps of Ka Hikitia

Hei Whakaaro: Thinking

SLT, Deans and Staff examine “Maori achieving education success as Maori.”

Tutukia: Explore & investigate the evidence. Deans begin to track students

Examine data to guide Deans and Staff how Mari students are progressing. Deans identify Maori students in there cohort. Identify potential issues. Dean’s meetings used to discuss evidence. This may lead to further PD.

Mōhiotanga: Understanding and connecting

Richer relationships are developed. Increase knowledge of the cultural background of the learners. Making sure engagement is meaningful and authentic. E.g. relationships between Classroom teachers, Vertical Form teachers and Deans.

Whakamahi: Putting it into practice

The aim of culturally responsive teaching and learning is to improve Maori education outcomes where the child, parents and family, iwi are integral to determining the education journey: responding to “the child’s cultural experiences” e.g. Incubator, Kapa Haka, Powhiri

STEP THREE: Reflection, sharing the process school wide

Can we use this model to develop other target areas such goal setting?

Our school staff is well underway understanding ‘teaching as inquiry.’ This currently forms the basis of our appraisal process and PLGs. As part of leading PLGs in 2013 HOFs and Deans are working thorough Leading inquiry at a teacher level: It’s all about mentorship by Fowler. Develop extension and enrichment activities that have a positive effect on achievement for Maori and Pasifika learners e.g. whanau hui

The outcomes achieved so far

How has practice changed as a result of the inquiry? What is the impact of the changed practice for the Professional Learning Network? My focus was to on a small number of priority learning students which data suggested were not doing well in our environment. It became evident from an early stage that some of many of the systems put in place Deans and the greater staff were already doing.

1. Connectivity

This made a significant impact on student learning and engagement and resulted in much

improvement for those learners.

2. Becoming more aware of issues: Two teachers concentrated on a small group of students and used evidence to establish shared goals with their learners and their caregivers.

3. Greater focus in Deans Meetings.

Rather than spending a great amount of grappling with nuts and bolts issues a shared project or communion inquiry goal was established. The changed the culture of the meeting. It became more about professional development.

4. Deans evaluations are still to come.

The intended outcomes for student learning

What is the impact of the changed practice for students? There has been a positive impact for student learning. Our Deans previously had a great understanding of their students and this just highlighted this fact.

Thoughts on Leading learning

• Meaningful: Change must respond to complexity and collective “disquiet”

• Backed by research

• Critical reflection (individual and collective)

• Must allow other to add to (develop change)

• Leading change is one facet of education leads to change in other areas of practice (complexity)

• Leading change has to consider taking care of the welfare of others (staff and students)

• Understanding of the Kiwi Leadership Model and Tu Rangatira

PD or PL that is the question?

28 Jun

Is there a fundamental difference between professional development and professional learning? We often define professional development as a one-off activity that takes place outside of classrooms.

The appearance of professional development is shifting. No longer is effective PD going to a course and listening to a speaker. The 21st century learner (the teacher in this case) demands more. At present we have in many cases we have a remnant of the 20th century when perfecting routines and tasks (productivity) were more important than collaboration and innovation (creativity).

I believe that tooling teachers does not necessarily transform teachers. Effective teachers are life-long learners. Ministry documents emphasize this time and again. Our goal this year is addressing this. I have written here about a desire to create Professional Learning Network in schools. This is a desire for creating a better teaching and learning environment. This point was made in my professional reading by Fullen last week.

“Leaders who are most effective in their own organizations and beyond are

those who can connect to the bigger picture.”

In moving from professional development to professional learning, teachers will inevitably take greater responsibility for their own and their students’ learning. School leaders take greater responsibility for teacher-learning and systems provide the necessary support and condition to enable this to happen systematically.

Evaluating performance, seeking feedback and asking questions of students and colleagues happens on the job – as part of the process of improving teaching. This itself is professional development.

The final point for me is that professional learning demands reflection. How well we reflect on our learning is a crucial question which influences how we move forward?

 

Professional Reading:

Fullen – 8 Forces for Leaders of Change

“This is an extremely useful reading, and links in very well to developments within New Zealand regarding leading change in schools. It would be helpful to use at the beginning of a change phase within a school, and to share with staff so that they come to understand the various stages in the process of implementing change in a school.”

I highly recommend this.

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