Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflecting on 2008

I am sitting on a hill over looking the Kai Iwi Lakes.  The sun is piercing hot, view unbeatable and have managed to get enough coverage to dial up and write  a reflection to see 2008 out.  What a year it has been, it has passed with great speed and I continually tell myself that more focus should be spent living in the now, living in the moment.  Being present.  Instead ones mind darts to the future and over analyses the past.  Obviously need to work on stilling the mind into 2009. One place that does that beautifully is Omamari Beach.  No shop, dirt road, fabulous small community, plenty of fish to eat and guitars to strum.  As I have unwound from the year at Omamari Beach it doesn't take long before thoughts leap into planning for the future year to come.  Hoping the balance is right.  Ensuring there is the right amount of challenge, happiness, learning, leisure,  etc.
The big challenges I feel we face in Education is keeping that balance right between the front and back of the new curriculum document.  In the endeavor to unpack and teach content we must not loose sight of building students competencies, capacities to learn and confidently face the demands of their future world.
Getting the assessment right - valuing what is powerful learning and effectively communicating relevant evidence with all stake holders.
Doing less well - embedding what works and abandoning what's out dated, irrelevant and often unquestioned as to it's value add.
Nurturing and developing cognitive, thoughtful teachers have have scope to innovate and become true difference makers.
Well the list could go on and on and that's where prioritizing and being strategic is just so important.

Here's to a fabulous 2009!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's all about Organizational Culture

I continue to be reminded just how lucky we are.  I sat yesterday at an induction day for our newly appointed staff, where a relatively new staff member openly shared and reflected on their first impressions and experiences entering our school.  She expressed how supported she was, how she had learnt more in the time she had been at Red Beach than her entire teaching career and she had been given permission to focus on talking about learning with her students.  
There has been incredible change and shift in the culture of our school.  As I reflect back it hasn't always been like that.  It wasn't a place where one could openly say 'they didn't know, or I've made a mistake'.  I was reminded of how things were when I was recently asked by a colleague 'how did you get your staff to buy into a recent professional development initiative, I am getting resistance.  
There have been many contributing factors to enabling the shift in our school culture.  Our effective leader, being intentional about talking about the hard to talk about stuff, valuing all staff's voices, verbalizing the unspoken rules and questioning them, flattening hierarchy .... to name a few.  I guess importantly a significant one has been the shift in locus of control towards students having a voice that is increasingly more valued and deeply listened to.  Change happens when kids are in the driving seat.

It does however boil down to our staff, they are incredibly open and reflective.  As suggested in 'God to Great'  The right people are on the bus!   They truly make the difference.  They are difference makers.