Tag Archives: Professional Development

Mentoring and Successful Schools

10 Nov

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As school leaders, we recognise that appraisal an essential process that exists in schools. The evidence gathered in the process is central to the ability teacher registration. However, because the process is often seen as mechanical, and in some cases is not seen as a significant driver to assist school improvement, a real opportunity is missed for developing potential and bringing out the best in others.

As I work on my own appraisal and appraisal meetings I note the importance of self-accountability and growth. With growth comes an increased sense of one’s own potential. When one has both confidence and a true sense of what could be, then a space is created for the individual to try and test out new behaviours.

When mentoring is placed firmly at the heart of the appraisal process, teachers and other staff members experience a process in which belief in the development of human potential becomes central to the conversation. At the heart of these must be the PTCs.

When school leaders are skilled in using the principles of mentoring to assist their appraisal, meetings they help to create a clear path for creating a school culture where individuals to make things better.

Mentoring accepts it as a process for accelerating the achievement of school targets (that is annual goals and strategic plans) through:

– Creating alignment between organisational and personal goals

– Growing and developing others

– Enabling others to step outside of their comfort zones

– Supporting others to achieve their full potential

When opposite beliefs and attitudes exist about the purpose and value of performance management, school cultures are created in which individuals:

– Struggle to take responsibility for their own actions

– Become dependent on others for solutions and place limitations on their own ability to problem solve

– Lack the internal motivation and desire to succeed

– Weaken their ability to take risks and learn from their mistakes.

The truth is, when systems for appraisal exist that do not develop an individual’s sense of self-worth, a void can be created between the individual’s perception of self and what they feel capable of achieving. In such environments, individuals either consciously or subconsciously limit what they give both to themselves and their school.

Individuals come to see more fully their unique role and the contributions they can make towards bringing about improvements in their school. Rather than seeing it as something that is done to them, they begin to understand what it means to be accountable to themselves and others and they start to own the process.

 

 

 

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Spiritual PLD

23 Apr

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Professional development also needs to be designed for the purpose of the school. For Catholic schools, there is an even greater challenge. Schools need to meet the professional growth of teachers and their spiritual growth. How do Catholic schools meet this need? What methods can schools use to expand the spiritual strength that teachers need?

The spiritual growth of Catholic school teachers is essential for the success of schools. Catholic school teachers are entrusted with not only the academic knowledge that students learn, but also the faith formation of their students. Teachers are called by the Holy Spirit to develop the knowledge of their students in subjects both secular and sacred. Catholic school teachers take on this additional role with pride and passion, but it is critical that schools aid their teachers in developing their faith and strengthen their desire to teach the faith to students

Quick Thought

17 Apr

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The growth of any craft depends on shared practice and honest dialogue among the people who do it. We grow by private trial and error, to be sure — but our willingness to try, and fail, as individuals is severely limited when we are not supported by a community that encourages such risks.                                 

The Courage to Teach; Palmer, 1998, p. 144

Experience is a truly remarkable thing. It’s a gift we give ourselves each day. It’s a hard teacher, and often plans lessons we don’t want to learn. But it makes us look at things differently with each turn. Experience makes us evaluate where we have been, and what we are headed into next. It makes us collaborate with others on the journey too. In order to experience, you need to take chances and live. It’s risky, it’s terrifying, it’s pretty awesome. If we don’t experience we don’t grow.

Learning is not an ‘add on,’ to be done when we have some free time or at training sessions. Some of the most significant innovations have been in infrastructures and day-to-day practices, allowing teams and intact work groups to integrate working and learning.

— “The Academy As Learning Community: Contradiction in Terms or Realizable Future?” Senge, in Leading Academic Change: Essential Roles for Department Chairs, Lucas, A. F. & Associates, 2000, pp. 280-281

Appraisal 2017

31 Jan

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Do you find often “appraisal goals” are scribbled out in 15 minute meetings with your appraiser, then “revisited” at the end of the year as a kind of autopsy. What would happen if we flipped this model on its head? What if instead we created a teacher-centered, always-on, and social approach to teacher improvement? One that connected them with dynamic resources and human communities that modeled new thinking and possibility, and that crucially built on their strengths? Here some thoughts to guide you as you make your PLG  inspired in 2017.

  1. In Term One establish a compelling big idea –then stick to it

This can be thought of as a mission or theme, but it’s really more of a tone and purpose. These heading are the same as the students hence reinforcing the idea of a learning community. Each of the goals are linked to the dispositions of the school in our case Ako, Manaakitanga and Wahine Toa. Time is made in Term one for authentic and robust conversations to eek out these goals. This is done collaboratively. Then–and this is the critical part–refer back to that constantly as you make decisions that might impact the inquiry. This is like a lighthouse. You can revise as necessary, but be careful not to drift too far away.

  1. Set the ground 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.

The inquiry does not have to be come up with an answer but it does have to link to school goals.

  1. Diversify professional development sources

This is the anti-program program. Less about experts and more about staff capacity. To achieve a self-sustaining, always-on program, this is also where our Café style PLG kicks in. The grounds rules again must be clear. Everyone must contribute. It is not enough to turn up and be ready for a chat.

  1. Create a pilot or template that works for teachers

Pilot it in one department or grade level at first 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.

  1. Connect teachers

Connect teachers from different schools 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 will take a teacher further than a policy or minimal requirement. The point of this whole thing is staff capacity, not corrective training.

  1. Focus on student learning

The whole point of the PLG focus on strategies, tools, and thinking that ends up in pedagogical change, curriculum, assessment, classrooms, teacher-student interactions is ultimately “student achievement.” If it is not then what is the point?

  1. Let us celebrate teacher strengths & interests

Teachers need to see themselves as a crafts-person that is skilled and passionate. Strengths could be collaboration with colleagues, assessment design, classroom management, curriculum development, or other traditional educational pillars. This again can be done in the PLG Café or by cross-pollination.

So from the beginning, everyone should be aware that PLD and PLG is all a work in progress—just like the profession itself. Perhaps the greatest potential here is in the chance to personalize professional development for teachers.

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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.

 

 

 

Grit

22 Aug

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Our  deepest conversations with colleagues revolve around helping students to be successful. It worries me some students don’t try because they do not wish to fail. The complexity level of many students is stunning and therefore it takes a much deeper level of professional collaboration and parental partnership then ever before in our role as educators. The words anxiety, depression, autism, and opposition are part of our vernacular on a daily basis. A great deal of our work deals with student well-being

Into this conversation arrives the theory of grit, perhaps espoused best by Angela Lee Duckworth. I am loving this read. Find it . Read it.

LwDT and 365

21 Aug

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Microsoft Office has been a staple in classrooms and offices for over a decade. As the web has become increasingly collaborative, many online word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications joined Office. Microsoft began introducing web-based office tools in 2008, and since then they have been constantly revising and improving the applications. Today, we have the benefit of these years of progresses in the Office 365 collection of tools. Our school has immersed itself in these tools.

The Office 365 web version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote also allow you to quickly create and edit documents on any machine with access to the Internet in the widely recognized Office file formats.  It has taken me sometime but now I book all my movements through my calendar.  I am learning to understand the uses of classroom, survey and planner currently.

Having Office 365, you’re able to access your emails, calendar and documents from any device as long as you have an internet connection. So, if you travel far or stay close school, you can use a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone to access your work files and information. In my role this is fabulous.

The flexibility and mobility of 365 is great, but your brain deserves a break and research shows that the benefits of holiday, meditation and downtime replenishes your attention, motivation, creativity and productivity. Saying that, I also know that for a lot of us, if you can just stay on top of emails it’ll save you from drowning in messages and tasks that require attention on a Monday morning.

Here are some of the reflections on the collaborative benefits of 365 from a recent Cyclone course I attended.

Coffee at the end of the Term

10 Jul

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At the end of the term I caught up with a few friends, all of whom are teachers, and we talked of the top priorities for us as teachers. Specifically, classroom teachers. I quickly took out a pen, yes a pen, and wrote down some of these thoughts.

These five teachers agreed on these five important factors.

  • Student well-being (“taking care of kids comes first”)
  • Lesson planning (this is a must for classroom management and student engagement)
  • Parent contact when issues arise (within 24 hrs if possible)
  • Professional Development. Stuff that will change the way we teach and effect student achievement.
  • Accurate Marking (this was more about formative assessment).

 

This was an interesting conversation. What do you see as important?

Student Voice

30 Jun

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For many years I have developed and warmed to the idea of student voice. I must admit I have not always been sold on it. My sister went to a job interview where students not only sat on the appointments committee but asked real questions. At the same school students go to every faculty meeting.This is very innovative.

We all evaluate our teaching and have student voice. Last year a student wrote this to me in her evaluation: Hey Mr Murray I like your class and you entertain us and we learn stuff but you know when you give us those surveys about your teaching I notice nothing in your teaching really changes #justsaying.”

This was definitely a reality check.  As a school we are now regularly seeking avenues for student voice and increasing teachers’ capacity to learn from students. The aim is to grow students’ responsibility for their learning and for teachers to gain new insights that help refine teaching programmes, pedagogy, and assessments, and inform future learning. This is part of our goal to be collaborative and innovative.

How do you use student voice? And once you have the data do you use it?

Writing Assessment Tasks

12 Jun

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Using the right questions creates powerful, sometimes multiple answers and discussions. Aristotle said that he asked questions in response to other people’s views, while Socrates focused on disciplined questioning to get to the truth of the matters.

Ultimately questions spark imagination, conjure emotions, and create more questions. The questions asked by a teacher or professor are sometimes more glaringly valuable than the information transferred to the students. Those questions spark a thought, which leads to a fiercely independent search for information.

If students are the ones gathering that information then they’re the ones learning it and student-driven learning cements lessons into the students’ mind making any lesson more powerful with this strategy. As I teach and write the next assessment task this week I have been thinking about the following questions. Note they need to be linked to our New Zealand Curriculum.

  • How might you show the differences and similarities?
  • What patterns might lead you to an alternative answer?
  • How many possibilities can you think of and why?
  • How does this relate daily occurrences?
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