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.