Tag Archives: Support

Support Systems

28 Jul

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On a cold Friday afternoon in term 3 it’s easy to lose sight of why you wanted to get into school leadership to begin with, but my faith or vocation is the anchor that will keep me going when times get tough. If it’s been a while since you thought about your anchor, then make it a priority this week to set aside some time and think it through again. What are your values? What gives you energy and joy? Why did you want to do this job to begin with?

Once you’ve done that, you can then take stock of where you are now and where there may be some gaps between the reality and your big why. How can you bridge those gaps?

You need to make sure that you have some good emotional and mental support, and I’m not talking about other school leaders. While it’s great to have industry friends, what so often tends to happen is that school leaders transition from comforting each other into sharing war stories. When this happens the conversations place a drain on your emotions and you only end up feeling even more battle weary. Having a neutral source of support outside your immediate circle is so important. Conversations with a professional outside of your context can enable you to gain new insights and see your problems from a different perspective. Rather than drain you, these conversations help to fill up your emotional wells so that you are able to approach the demands of your job with renewed energy and vigour. Let me know about your anchor. Would love to hear from you. 

You’re the Voice

28 Sep

At my school we use student voice a great deal and very effectively I must say. At the end of every topic I send a survey out to my students. On one level it’s fantastic to get feedback from your learners about what is going well in class and what needs tweaking but on the other there’s the realization that my students are grading me.  Was I too grumpy yesterday when student A hadn’t finished work? Could I have done a better job of talking to Student B about their draft? Did I let an administration problem affect my teaching?

The evaluation is done in class but I am considering doing it via Google forms or 365 and the results then get shared with my HOF. Most of the questions are agree/disagree questions like ‘my teacher treats students and their ideas with respect. There is also the room for comment. It is something our students love.

I tend to prefer qualitative feedback that quantitative. A number of my students have talked about wanting more challenging work so I will work with them to look for projects that they can sink their teeth into for the rest of the year but more importantly for the 2015 cohort. They love my eLearning format and some students have requested to go fully online in 2015 without being in my class. This will be something I will have to put a great deal of thought into. As I have written here before the I have had great success with.

Cooper (2001) noted that a blended learning environment, one in which the traditional classroom and the online classroom complement each other, gives the best outcome. “Online instruction can offer new challenges and opportunities to both students and instructors. Most students do not view online instruction as a replacement for traditional classroom instruction. However, with the right subject matter, with the right instructor or facilitator, and for the right student, Internet or online classes can provide an effective educational environment and offer a viable alternative to traditional classroom instruction” (Cooper, 2001, p57).

Singh recommended that the blended learning environment was the next wave for E-Learning and that it would feature rich media content. “Blended learning combines multiple delivery media that are designed to complement each other and promote learning and application-learned behaviour” (Singh, 2003, p52). Investigating the idea that has serious results for teaching online, Singh goes onto mention that the online learning component within a blended learning environment, should be self-paced. This raises the apparition of the teacher being at best just a facilitator and at worst, a spectator (Singh, 2003, p58).

Another thing want to get better at before the end of the year is getting my students to work on managing self. This something my learners are not good at. Perhaps this could be a PLG study in 2015?

Professional Readings:

Cooper, L. W. (2001) A Comparison of Online and Traditional Computer Applications Classes. T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education) 28 (8) 52-58

Singh H. (2003) Building Effective Blended Learning Programs in November – December 2003Issue of Educational Technology, Volume 43, Number 6, Pages 51-54 Retrieved 9 August 2009 from http://asianvu.com/bookstoread/framework/blended-learning.pdf

Blended learning

15 Sep

“Blended learning combines multiple delivery media that are designed to complement each other and promote learning and application-learned behaviour” (Singh, 2003, p52). Investigating the idea that has serious results for teaching online, Singh goes onto mention that the online learning component within a blended learning environment, should be self-paced. This raises the apparition of the teacher being at best just a facilitator and at worst, a spectator (Singh, 2003, p58).

I am an exponent of the Blended learning environment especially the Flipped classroom. So let’s look at the behind-the-scenes of blended learning. What does it really take to be a blended learning teacher?

1. Flexibility

Things go wrong all the time. Have a digital Plan B on hand or, if necessary, a way to teach the same goal, but offline, using the resources in the room. You have to model patience. I know it’s hard.

2. Problem-Solving

Our tech person can’t focus only on your needs even though you might be using technology more than others. You need to great creative in your problem solving. I must remember to log problems on the job site.

3. Scaffold More

Make sure you lead up to your expectations in a step-by-step way. For instance, I start the year by setting out rules you can’t just ask students to blog or join the discussion room. You need to help them first understand.

5. Willingness to Learn from Students

They may know more than you.

6. Willingness to Give Up Time After School

Be prepared to get sucked into awesome online conversations long after the school bell rings. It won’t seem like a chore. It’s a pleasure.

I know that blended learning may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Having said all that, however, even those who may not be partial to these techniques may soon have to learn to be. It’s our students’ future. And what’s their future is ours too.

Singh H. (2003) Building Effective Blended Learning Programs in November – December 2003Issue of Educational Technology, Volume 43, Number 6, Pages 51-54 Retrieved

9 August 2014 from http://asianvu.com/bookstoread/framework/blended-learning.pdf

How I can be a better leader

15 Sep

My experience has told me there is an art to successfully supervising people. A great leader brings out the best in their people; while a bad one creates disharmony and drives away talented people. This week I have been reflecting on the great leaders I have been involved with. Some of the equalities they have had:

  1. Has a sense of humor. This doesn’t mean the principal becomes a regular Jerry Seinfeld that constantly cracks jokes or acts like a clown. It simply means they are approachable, relatable and see the value in an upbeat, positive workplace. A friendly environment starts at the top.
  2. Allows freedom to fail. Once teachers are given the proper training, a good principal will step out of the way. Teachers flourish when they know they are trusted to do the right thing after given clearly defined expectations. A good principal steps in when they see an issue, but continually relies on teachers especially middle managers to do what they have been hired to do.
  3. Values .strong communication. A good principal clearly articulates expectations, freely shares news that will benefit their team and offers feedback, both positive and constructive, to each teacher they directly supervise. Most importantly, they establish communication as a two-way street, creating a safe atmosphere to voice opinions and concerns.
  4. Asks for input. Everyone on the team is there because they have professional skills to contribute to the organization. A good principal knows they can’t be an expert at all things, and must rely on their team for corporate success.
  5. Encourages growth. A good principal will provide opportunities for teacher development and growth. They are tuned in to those who demonstrate initiative and are eager to expand their knowledge.
  6.  Acknowledges success. A good principal compliments and rewards their team and doesn’t miss an opportunity to “brag” about an teacher’s job well done – at a staff meeting, board level, or in front of the community
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