Friday, May 26, 2017

Leaving to learn - the Big Four and Deeper Four

I am currently reading Leaving to Learn - How out of school learning increases student engagement and reduces dropout rates by Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski.

I am blogging as I continue to make my way through this book. At the very start the authors talk about the Big Four warning signs for dropping out of school. They are
  • Academic failure
  • Behaviour
  • Life events
  • Disinterest
Academic failure is an obvious one, if you are not succeeding at something then why would you wish to continue the pattern and stay in school. My son intrigued me tonight as he is learning the Ukulele and has had a change of teacher this term. All of a sudden his anxiety around his Ukulele practices has increased as the new teacher tests the learners to ensure they are making adequate progress to stay in the group. It is interesting and I am sure the original teacher did not tolerate students who did not practise and had consequences in place to deal with this. However the mention of tests has changed the whole dynamic for my son and added in a possibility of academic failure.

Disinterest is also at the forefront of many school's as they begin to collect student voice and look to ways to engage their learners in learning. The affordances of digital technologies, when integrated with a quality pedagogy can really reduce the disinterest of learners.

The Deeper Four are very interesting and I think drive the Big Four for our learners.

  • Not mattering
  • Not fitting in
  • Unrecognised talents and interests
  • Restrictions
I would think this is why well being is beginning to come to the fore front in education and the job place. I guess the challenge is how do we change a traditional education system to address these deeper four?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Collaborative Leadership

Growing Leadership in Collaborative Environments
CORE Education Empower Course
Challenge 2

My colleagues and I have been involved in an Empower Course through CORE Education for the last few months. As part of this learning we have been required to complete challenges. The latest challenge is below

Module 2 - Intentional Acts of Leadership Challenge
Making the case for collaborative leadership. Develop a 2-4 page model that shows how you see collaborative leadership working in your context. Include a rationale, risks and opportunities, possible implementation strategy/practice, roles and responsibilities. Also Include any challenges you identify and how you envisage overcoming them. 
The purpose of this challenge is to: 
  • Formulate a model for leading within a collaborative setting and leading in a way that fosters a culture of collaboration and inclusivity. 
  • Describe the dispositions or qualities and style of a collaborative leader and the deliberate acts of leadership required to build and support a collaborative, inclusive learning culture within your context 
  • Justify, reflect on and defend your collaborative leadership model.

Here is our team, made up of Chris Bell, Maria Krause and James Hopkins, combined thoughts and new learnings. 

This Empower Course has been very beneficial to my knowledge and development of leadership. The very collaborative nature of my colleagues has really enhanced my learning through powerful discussions as we decided to do challenges as a collaborative project. This has been really interesting as it is decreased our workload immensely while increase our understanding and learning much more than if we were working individually.  

I have been really impressed with the way conversations happened, with a group of people that are comfortable with collaboration, and also comfortable with conflict. On a number of occasions our online meetings have been ones where we have come in with no real idea of where we going to head with our learning and challenge, definitely times we were well and truly in the “pit”.  Once we got used to the fact that there's going to be silence in these meeting and you get comfortable with that silence. While we were processing the information or latest discussion, we came up with some really good unpacking of what we had to do.

It was very interesting because we would start with the four of us looking for someone to take a leadership role and quite often no one was really in the position of a good enough understanding of the task to do this. So as a result there was a lot of uncomfortable silence, until someone might have just said or sparked an idea which then developed with the rest of the group until a more tangible idea that we could latch ahold of and move forward.

I think this is something that we as teachers often forget about, the uncomfortableness of new learning, of taking a risk. I suppose putting yourself out there and allowing others to know that you do not really know what you're talking about. I guess part of this blog post and our presentation is that that we were putting it out there, that we may not necessarily be right on the money as to our understanding of the new knowledge, however there was very good learning from this and we continued growing and learning as we move through the challenges.

I think that messy learning is good for others to see you as well, often we produce and share a final product that you do not get to see all that messiness in behind. I know that in the past teachers have said to me ‘we go to a conference and see that amazing presenter up on stage and they think OK well that's awesome but how do I get to there"?  I often have to stop and inform them that the awesome presenter has got there by experiencing the warts and all and learning from them.
I think that is a part in our education system that we miss as leaders, showing the process and learning the person has gone through in order to get where they are now.

As our sector embraces Teaching as Inquiry and the affordances of digital technologies I wonder if this messy learning will become more visible.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Brain is in my Bum

It is funny, but the most powerful statement I have ever heard about Innovative learning spaces was from a year 8 boy at an intermediate school, who, when I asked why he was standing to do his maths, told me, “For reading, I like to sit, but when I do maths, it is like my brain is in my bum, and when I sit on my brain I cannot do my maths”.
students working at standing desks

Check out my latest post on the CORE Education Blog 

Remember the days of the old school yard — moving into a new school yard

This is a reflective post I wrote after taking my daughter into the new Innovative Learning Space she will learn in this year

Walking out of my son and daughter’s school on the first day of the school year, a great song by Cat Stevens popped into my head. The song was “Remember the days of the old school yard” — you know, the one about imaginings, and all kinds of things, and laughing a lot.

Check out the rest of the post on the CORE Education Blog

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Design Thinking in Education - slowing down to speed up

I am enjoying the opportunity to have a foot in both camps, so to speak, one foot as a teacher and one as a facilitator. I feel this gives me a great perspective when looking to extend my own knowledge.

Today I rocked up to a Design Thinking in Education seminar as a time poor teacher with a full day of commitments ahead of me. I quickly became disillusioned with the session as I was wanting the 101 ideas for Design Thinking to use back in the class. Luckily my growth mindset kicked in and enabled me to get over myself and engage in the learning opportunity provided.

A couple of statements from the presenter really reinforced this

  • We need to slow down the process in order to speed up the thinking
  • Urgency doesn't get us anywhere
These statements were very timely and made me reflect on my work with a cluster, where I am constantly pushing to get to the actions, to be able to see and do something tangible. Luckily in that cluster I have a very sensible colleague in the form of Rebbecca Sweeney who is staunch in slowing down the process to ensure deeper thinking. I now have more clarity around the value of this approach.

I may be time poor however, I also have to put some skin in the game if I wish to develop my own knowledge around Design Thinking and reflect on this which is the reason for this blog post.

“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.” 

Another statement that resonated with me especially with my knowledge of the Golden Circles was 

  • Have a purpose to your inquiry - my why
The purpose of attending the session today was to deepen my understanding of Design Thinking. I went in with the expectation of having some magic bullet shot into my head that would give me all the answers. This was never going to happen, however by changing my mindset about this during the session enabled me to develop a deeper understanding of Design Thinking. Reflecting now I think the 101 Design Tools for the class session I imagined would have lead to a shallow understanding of Design Thinking. 

I had already seen Design Thinking in action a couple of times and have a resource to read as well as connecting with another colleague to unpack Design Thinking some more. So in the big picture today was just another piece in the puzzle of developing my learning around Design Thinking. I would have loved to have attended the morning workshop after the seminar to continue to unpack Design Thinking.

Overall a very valuable session for me. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Politics of Distraction - Appease the Parents

Making parents happy at a political level is not necessarily in the best interest of the children. The parents are not part of their children's schooling system on a daily basis, however, they have the power as voters over the schools. 

This choice can be seen at a national level with a change of government or at a local level with parents voting with their feet and changing between school's. Hattie states that data from the OECD shows the percentage of students attending a government- funded school are dropping around the world. 

This is due to a number of reasons, the brand strength of a private school, the perception of a higher quality of education, the children meeting the right people, higher student achievement, higher in-school teacher variability at public school's.

When Hattie looked at the data of student achievement between private and public school's, it often showed little difference in student achievement between these schools, especially when the prior incoming achievement data was taken into account. I wonder if we looked at the progress of the learners from when they entered a school to completion of learning at that school whether the private school's outperformed the public schools?

Implications for Governments, Schools, and Teachers
  • Governments need to stay strong against public opinion and get the messages across to parents and the community of what actually makes a difference to student achievement. These messages must be research and evidence-based and use examples of "Pockets of Promise" happening in schools already. With the media attitude towards education in New Zealand, this would be a difficult task.
  • Remove the Decile Rating system as this create bias against a school and community.
  • School's need to continually communicate with their wider community and de-silo the school's practice around teaching and learning, creating an expectation and ethos of 'visible teaching and learning' within the school community.
  • Promote a culture of teacher learning within the school to reduce some of the variability between teacher practice, develop collaborative teacher practices so teacher's can learn off each other, provide mentoring for teachers with recognized weaknesses in their practice.
  • Teacher's need to open their classes and share their practice with the wider community, making their teaching and learning visible to the public. This can be done through Class Sites and Blogs, Parental education of the new pedagogies and technologies for learning, greater public / private relationships with opportunities for the learners to work with individuals and businesses from within the community, teachers taking the time to watch weekend sport or activities of their learners and building connections and relationships with their parents and community.