Monday, December 21, 2009
In the meantime it's time to recharge batteries to ensure the thinking that leads to the next phase is as creative and forward thinking as it can possibly be.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
We have been working of the front of the New Zealand Curriculum for around 4 years. This time has been spent focusing on developing a learners capacity and disposition to be a Life Long Learner, Relate to Others and Inquire. This focus was deliberate to try and pull away from the traditional curriculum dominated instruction that was occurring. We are now digging into the back of the New Zealand Curriculum to think about the conceptual understandings we would like our students to leave our school with. Julia critiqued our start by stating that 'I think you have depth but not breadth'. As we started to unpack a bit more what she meant by breadth I felt we could quickly again go down the coverage track rather keeping her infamous questions in balance 'What is powerful to learn?' and 'What is powerful learning?'
It got me thinking about the purpose of primary school - what is our place and role in the learning pathway? Is it exposure to surface interests and talents across a broad range of learning experiences, Is it setting up individuals with important conceptual understandings to make sense of their world? Is it to develop curiosity and wonderment and nurture learning capacity so that when the authentic learning opportunity presents itself the individual will embrace the learning and take it beyond what we could imagine? The later suggests that the teacher pedagogy required is some what different to what the majority students would experience today. There must be a sweet spot in the middle I believe, where students develop the necessary dispositions to know what to do when they don't know what to do and to grow some conceptual understandings to help make sense of their world. Anyway great to get away for that bit of head space, your thoughts?
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I am becoming convinced that maybe the spend, once excellent connectivity is in operation, should be on good wireless. Students are encouraged to bring mobile devices and hook into the wireless and away you go. High end machines for Indesign, movie making and other publishing are then placed in pods within classrooms to meet that need. The question comes what about the students and families who can't afford such devices. An alternative option certainly needs to be made available whether that is through lease.
If prices of the Asus eee's continue to come down then I believe we are not far from this reality.
What convincing arguments have you got around justifying the spend on e-learning tools and hardware? Did you know v4.0 is the most significant one I know of?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I feel satisfied that we seem to be getting the balance about right. We are certainly building key knowledge and understandings that students need to know to make sense of their world and be able to learn on their own, this to is kept in equilibrium by the emphasis placed on building each learners learning capacity.
I felt satisfied walking away from our session together today that we are getting better at communicating the importance of getting this balance right with parents.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
As a partnership both Russel and Dorothy have a futuristic vision that is enabled by their beliefs, drive and passion to meet the needs of their students and wider community. In touring classrooms at all year levels it is clear that the 'rubber hits the road' and what is shared in concept, lives in practice.
I believe the positive results that have come out of the research within the school need to be shared widely. We have much to learn from the courageous use of e learning and the positive impact it has on student engagement and learning.
Hats off to what you have been doing, you are leading a legacy. I feel humbled by experiencing such greatness!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I advocate that a child's success at school is maximised through a 3 way partnership, the child, parent and teacher. Deep down I am sure you would agree that all a parent wants for their child is the best. I think as a system we can afford to get better at letting down the guard to sincerely show that, that is what we want too.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
What resources have you found to be useful in shifting traditional views or old mental models?
Did you know V4 is out now - that is always a good starting point.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
For any conference participants - this link takes you to the
Powerful Learning Presentation
Teacher Effectiveness Presentation
Look forward to continuing the dialogue.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
A disposition to asking ...
How do I know this is working?
How can I compare this with that?
What is the magnitude of the effect?
Do I share a common conception of progress?
What evidence would convince you that you are wrong?
What is the merit and worth of this influence on learning?
Where have you seen this practice installed so that it produces effective results?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I have been taking some time to reflect on why the need to change. We are aware that times are certainly changing. Is it another bandwagon or good reason for real change. What are the real benefits of e learning? technology? How will they benefit our next generation of learners.
Pleased I stumbled upon this in youtube
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Have been thinking about how we could use a similar model with sharing what we are doing with our parent community. Wouldn't it be great to present to our community why we are headed in the direction we are headed in and then provide parents with a variety of breakouts where they could select areas of interest. Holding a conference during school hours has the added bonus of talking about what we do and then getting parents into classes to see it in action.
Like many schools we are always thinking about ways of informing parents about what we are doing. The reality is, it is different to how we were educated.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Firstly what questions do you ask to reveal an individuals beliefs, competencies and skills in a 30 minute interview?
Secondly what sort of responses are you wanting to hear? Are we seeking individuals who have broad content knowledge or are we looking for the individuals who exemplify dispositions of being a learner, who are positive, risk takers and clearly passionate.
If it was an either or scenario who would you pick? Why?
My third wondering is do you pick people who fit the culture or those that may not because they may bring something that rubs a bit and adds a new dimension and value add.
All good thoughts, it's important the right choices are made.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Browse the right hand navigation bar if you are wanting to view the presentation.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Developing understanding is a precursor to creativity. Marks diagram illustrates this really well. It makes me reflect on what are the necessary environmental factors that ensure students are free to be curious and imaginative to create and innovate? A culture of learning where not knowing is ok is a pre-requisite to ensuring students learn powerfully.
Mark talks about developing a learners Capability, Competency, Creativity, Personality and Potential.
Mark spent some time sharing the latest brain research. Mind boggling!
Hopped onto google docs to take some more notes
"Why are passionate teachers always good teachers - get a hormonal response which is the optimal response for learning".
Click on the link to view other presentations he is currently presenting on. Mark presented to our EHSAS cluster recently was a fantastic session.
Thanks Mark - once again.
8 Ways cloud computer will change schools - See Derek's Blog. Derek's blog is always worth a read.
Skoolaborate - ways schools are collaborating and learning together
NEN Evaluation Project
Cooliris great presentation tool - free download
WikiEducator - Teachers share and collaborate. Open Education.
Great to have ones eyes open to examples of how technology is being used creatively locally and more globally. Thanks Derek
As Derek's presentation title stated "The future is not what it used to be!"
Big thanks to Jenny T who this morning took us on a tour to find a winning cafe. We hiked some distance, it was well worth it. We arrived at 'The Crumpet Club', nice ambiance, fine service and delicious food. Certainly recommend to anyone visiting Christchurch.
Andrea, Chris and Lucy enjoying their breakfast.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Herding Cats is Easier!
Rata Teachers Support Cheryl shared about her experience in South Africa. She shared how she had to take a good look at herself. The photos said it all - These people lived in harsh conditions.
Managing change is about the attitude we bring with us. It starts by knowing oneself. What are the Hidden Areas, Unknown Areas, 'Blind Spots'. Cheryl commented on the key way of knowing self better is to get feedback. Importantly she asked who do we actively seek feedback in our own organisation, from family, friends etc.
Shirley made me laugh - she is sitting next to me and stated a good way is have a glass of wine with Sarah!
Change Enablers Some of Cheryl's messages
If Learners are to Thrive - Why are you trying to herd cats? How are you allowing teachers to thrive, create, innovate from the floor, find the joy.
Can you change others? - think of it as working with the people to change the practice.
If we think there are things we need to change in others first we should look at ourselves.
Build a culture where people can raise issues, Building Leadership Capacity
Thinking about - What is it like in the shoes of the other people. This rang true with the recent experiences I have had being present in classes and office spaces to get a sense of different peoples realities.
How do we encourage others to take informed risks? Again another great question that made one think about What do we specifically do in our organisation to encourage this?
Building Team - Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of accountability, Inattention to results. Patrick Lencioni, 2002
Using Evidence - Here's what, So what?, Now What?
Asking what is essential to preserve and what is expendable?
A thoroughly enjoyable session - many thanks Cheryl
Loved this image DK shared with us - he said replace the word business with schools!
How Social Media has Changed the Game!
It's all the funky stuff you can do online that you couldn't do before - web 2.0 etc.
One of the biggest barriers is the fear out there about it all. It's not inherently bad - it's what you do with it, you are in control. Whenever, Where ever, Whatever
"The world has changed and it's not turning back!"
What's the learning outcome now if it's not knowledge due to the birth of wikipedia etc?
Our 19 years olds don't live without blogger, flicker, skype, twitter, social networking etc.
DK shared 'Kids are tooled for involvement - have the phone, MP3 player, Internet' Let's get them out and use them.
Using the tools to show rather than tell people - use of mobile phones to capture images, narrate and publish.
What are people doing online? Are they Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, Inactives?
The web makes me feel ...
Fascinating to view how kids responded to this question - check out the summary on the website link.
The unfinished Swan - take a look at this creative play on gaming.
A couple of memorable quotes from the session on Facilitation skills were
"Your content is not nearly as important as (learners) interaction with the content" Garnston
'Are you listening to speak or learn?'
We spent the session working in various groups prioritising attribute cards to highlight our leadership qualities/dispositions in different situations.
The exercise certainly highlighted how leadership is so often situational. How you respond or what qualities are required in crisis, challenging situations or big picture thinking are different. It made one think and reflect about personal leadership strengths and weaknesses.
Mel and David were well worth listening too and facilitated a great session. You can find out more about them and PLOT by clicking on the link.
'Less us, more them'. Putting the students at the centre
The Pattern on the Stone: The Simple Ideas that Make Computers Work - Daniel Hillis
Computer enables self expression, we can make things that we haven't been able to make before because of the availability of construction material online.
'Software determines what you do and what you do determines what you learn'
'To understand is to invent' Piaget
10 Things to do with a Laptop
Write a novel - write more, write better, write differently, writing for different media - podcasting, Research.
Share your Knowledge - The changing nature of memory - no need to remember when you can google it. Wikipedia - distributed nature of expertise, breaking news, passion = accuracy, talk to authors & other experts, publish to authentic audience, access to 'current' info. Schools have created the 'I'm done' attitude in students. How do schools reinforce the importance of comparing info from different sources.
Answer Tough Questions, Access to Primary Resources. Use the movie clips, photos etc. Guess the key is if the learning is purposeful and authentic, students engage.
Make sense of Data, google earth, plotting data, looking at trends.
Design a Video Game, not just consume them. In designing students are involved in animation, narration, number, space, etc.
Build a Killer Robot, building something and refining it, problem solving having a hypothesis and trying it out then tinkering some more. Allow for Computationally-rich learning
Lose Weight, ipod technology students set up virtual running clubs.
Direct a Block Buster, 'your video should be shorter', it should be edited at least one more time', mirrors the writing process.
Compose a Symphony, authentic problems, real construction materials
Change the World - Be a mathematician, a scientist, anything is possible.
Technology Matters - Allows kids to engage with a broader range and depth of problem solving. It allows intellectual stimulation and opportunity.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Our team lined up at the registration desks this afternoon to get our conference packs and information. Bumped into lots of colleagues, everyone enthusiastic and looking forward to the next 3 days. It it heartening to see many teachers gathering (predicted 1800)in their holiday break to further develop themselves professionally. Looking forward to reflecting through this blog on the keynotes presentations.
Will keep you posted.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I feel fortunate in that I loose time doing what I do. I get great satisfaction out of inspiring others and innovating. I guess in life's journey you discover more of the things you loose time doing as it unfolds. Was neat to pull out a few paint brushes and even paint the pictures I have been saying I will get onto!
Feel privileged to have had a few days break over the holiday period to take stock and have a good reflect. Have enjoyed having some time to catch up with dear friends.
Getting ready to head to Ulearn in Christchurch really looking forward to soaking up some more learning and catching up with Colleagues.
A more interesting blog entry next time.
Monday, September 28, 2009
A life's work could be ensuring that ones practice is aligned with ones belief. When our collective direction was collaboratively created it clarified our organisations purpose and underlying beliefs. As we began unpacking and implementing our vision principles what became apparent was that there was a miss alignment between our beliefs and what was happening in practice. Listening to student voice was one of the ways this mismatch was illuminated. We have learnt that we often have the talk and can quite eloquently articulate what we are doing. However the rubber hits the road with our students. If our students talk a different talk then our practice is not aligned. Aligning belief with practice is a constant review process, reflecting back and forth to uncover practice that may continue to be implemented due to it being a historical practice something that has always been done. This is no longer a good enough reason.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The attempt at constructing a Teacher Effectiveness Continuum was to attend to some of the questions outlined above. We wanted to create clarity for teachers and ensure that our vision beliefs lived within our teachers and transferred to our students. The role of the teacher is complex, we wanted to be able to create a model that was all encompassing of the role. You will see two parts to the continuum. The teachers professional responsibilities and the Teacher effectiveness practice.
The main benefits of the continuum are that it is a useful reflective tool for teachers to think about how they are going? Where they are going? And what their next learning steps are. The goals teachers set for themselves are increasingly rigorous due to the Teacher Effectiveness hub.
Other key change drivers that have certainly aided the change process would include
Creating a shared language – building on a common language
Alignment – synthesising trends and information to create simple models
Split screen – helping to keep process/competencies and content knowledge in balance through a split screen approach
Less is more –giving permission to slow the process down
Going deep – taking the learning from surface to deep and then profound levels
Developmental progressions – providing scaffolds for learners so they can talk about how they are going, where they are going and what their next learning step is.
Using Metaphors and Images
Sunday, September 20, 2009
What's powerful to learn? &
What's powerful learning?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The opening task was to describe in 10 sentences what our leadership work is right now. Brigid Carroll then skillfully used metaphor and narrative to highlight the command, manager and leader paradigms of leadership. She suggested that we need to operate in the leadership or what Grint terms the WICKED zone, that is to;
Listen, Facilitate, Coach, Question, Be open minded, Delight in new ideas, Be Curious, Risk take, Gather perspectives and be Collaborative/collective.
She suggested most people function only 10% of their time in this space, because it's complex, hard work, chaotic and about thinking in the unknown.
We were encouraged throughout the day to identify and find the boundaries in ourselves and our work. Pushing through the boundaries and thinking and talking at the boundaries is where the WICKED work can happen to solve complex problems.
Go get into the wicked space the Command and Management work needs to be achieved efficiently to create time to do the more messy, unpredictable WICKED thinking.
We left today being challenged how we prioritised time and space to allow this boundary pushing thinking to occur.
I feel refreshed and revitalised after hearing the complexity of leadership so eloquently articulated.
Long blog entries are not so fun to be continued ....
Saturday, September 12, 2009
We started by defining leadership and then exploring what effective leaders do. I am currently uploading the presentation to slideshare so I can embed it in the next blog entry.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Surfacing the hidden often hard to talk about stuff has been a deliberate act in our organisation over the past few years. Building a collective understanding of culture and establishing norms that help us to function as a healthy learning community and organisation has been essential. The vision principles again became the filter. If we believed in Life Long Learning and community as our vision suggested, what were the conditions that would allow staff to be active Life Long Learners and community members. Everyone needed an opportunity to to identify the barriers that were holding us back from living out and achieving our vision. Again it was important that every voice was heard.
‘Go to the source’
‘No question is a silly question’
‘Everyone is someone’
These are examples of some of the catch phrases that have helped to create a safe environment and work place people want to belong to.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Everyone in education I am sure would agree, the question needing to be asking is do we have a collective understanding of what learning is?
I vividly remember a session with Jeremy Kedian. He gave each of the nine people present no more than 25 words to define learning. The definition was to start learning is...
When we shared our definitions what was incredibly interesting was the difference between them.
Here we were leaders of learning organizations with significantly varying ideas and mental models about learning. We repeated this activity with our staff to continue the learning conversation we had started.
I find it intriguing that we often assume so much.
If we should indeed spend time on what important, what are we going to let go of to make that time. We can’t keep adding on to teachers load and what’s expected of teachers. I most value step has been to stock take and question does this practice align with our belief? If not it’s OK to abandon such practices. It’s not until practices are critiqued and evaluated that decision to let go of some practices can occur. Once there is a freely of time and permission is given new approaches can be adopted and time made to talk about the IMPORTANT – in this case Learning.
Creating time for the rich and deep conversations to lead learning has been an important change influence.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
We learnt from interviewing students about successful learners just how powerful it is to take stock and talk to students and really intently listen to what they have to say. Students are after all testimony to whether or not we have been successful. In continuing to deeply listen to student voice we discovered a developmental progression of students acquisition of the Life Long Learning competencies.
Firstly students could name the qualities – list
Then they could tell you what they meant - describe
It was quite a different level those students who could explain how they used the competencies in their learning – apply
The ultimate goal was for these competencies to be internalised or as a student so eloquently put it ‘when it’s part of me’.
Without listening to students I do not believe we would have arrived at this thinking.
Since unpacking Life Long Learning we have captured students voice before implementing any new initiative.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
This seemingly plays down the important role of the teacher. The teacher needs to continue to be the activator of learning. A key role to tailor the learning to hit the sweet spot. Push into that ZPD Vygotsky talks about. I am coming to to the realisation that the teachers role continues to be a fundamental one in that they need to design the learning to develop thinking that goes beyond consolidation and practice tasks. My latest question is how to you get the balance just right when students are learning independent of the teacher. How do you design learning to get that balance between practice and new learning/thinking?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
What a thrill today to visit some classes and see teachers immediately implementing practices influenced by the professional learning session earlier in the week. I think many connections were made for and by teachers and the next steps have been made apparent. The thing that got at the 'sweet spot' I believe was after the PD session teachers interviewed students about their understanding of the Powerful Learning Process. It was made very apparent that we are some way from ensuring our students have a sound literacy and understanding of the process. The simple act of talking to kids once again has given much clarity and urgency to our next steps. The challenge now is to see how that it best taught and reinforced with learners.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
What a neat day we have had today. It's been a big one, all go and extremely refreshing. The day started this morning at 7.45 with the beginning of the Professional Learning for staff. The day started with some sharing from staff about our recent Student Led Conferences which from all accounts proved to be a huge success. The comments from the staff who trialled the initiative were enlightening - they talked about the empowerment of students and students having to take responsibility.
The main focus of the professional learning day was around our Powerful Learning process. A big part of the learning was about how to design learning to get at the 'sort it' and 'Use it' thinking. We discussed how often the consolidation tasks students are sent off to complete are practice or tasks that remain at the knowledge building or 'get it' stage. We discussed how the Powerful Learning Process enables learning across curriculum levels. It was highlighted that we have maybe miss led students by talking about science, technology and social studies being Powerful Learning.
The delivery of the day went historically over the 4 years of development that took place to arrive at where we are with our current model. This was important to highlight the change initiatives and the ahas along the way. Some deep learning has occurred by strategically trialling the process in classes and coming together to dialogue, critique and refine.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Gaining clarity and consistency in what one looks for when observing classroom practice sounds simple, yet I believe it can be quite complex. In the last few weeks as my previous posts have identified, I have been spending longer periods of time in classrooms presencing the learning and teaching. In this initial phase I don't have a set criteria I am observing against. I am merely soaking up what is happening and taking the time to deeply experience and listen to what is going on. My intention is that a pattern may form and indicate an area for more detailed observation, like depth of teacher questioning or monitoring locus of control in the classroom.
A wondering I stumbled upon watching reading in a class the other day was when students are not working with the teacher they are often involved in learning experiences that are to do with practicing their reading, high frequency words or sometimes even handwriting. My question was what type of learning experiences can be designed that take practicing to another level to incorporate thinking or new learning. I am wondering how our powerful learning process can be used to design learning that deliberately pushes into the 'sort it' and 'use it' thinking as the typical independent learning experiences often remain at the 'get it' stage. Refer Powerful Learning Process image in previous posts.
I am convinced such wonderings only surface when time is taken to quietly observe what is happening where it truly counts - In the classroom!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I am fast coming to the conclusion that it is important to be present in classrooms to ensure that all assumptions for example where we should be headed next with professional learning is evidenced. I believe I am guilty of jumping to conclusions about how to best move practice forward without spending enough time in classrooms feeling and living the everyday reality of the classroom.
Unlike business where it's purpose is to make money, ours is to raise student achievement. To influence the kind of change that is required to raise student achievement one needs to observe and be present where the work/learning is happening. I believe it is through such presence that the most profound insights, solutions and innovations evolve. We must rise above the busy nature of the role and free ourselves of the many tasks we continue to complete because we always have. We must continue to prioritise what is really important and 'not let the urgent drive out the important'. Leaders being in classes I am convinced is a priority to be put at the top of the list.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I have been reflecting about all this as I plan a presentation for middle leaders interested in further pursuing leadership. I am wondering about famous global leaders, how I myself lead and really why would one want to lead. A question Lester Levy asked a couple of years ago at an international principals conference still resonates, he asked 'Why would I want to be led by you?' A question I continue to ponder and reflect on many months later.
I am fast coming to the conclusion that there is nothing more fulfilling than lighting fires in others and seeing individuals succeed and achieve. Leadership I believe is about influencing and motivating people to achieve an outcome. Keith of Genentech puts it more eloquently said "Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen."
This leads to the question What then are the qualities of leaders to make this happen?
I will post a leadership continuum in the next few days that attempts to help move leadership practice from good to great. I developed this with Kathryn Hodgson and it has since been critiqued by colleagues at Red Beach School. The reason for developing such a tool is to enable learning conversations about leadership, a framework for reflecting about ones own leadership and identify areas for improvement. At a recent leadership meeting we discussed our goal areas and what actions we had taken to move leadership forward. A healthy and honest discussion.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I'm not sure I can believe it myself - I actually moved out of my office entirely! I no longer have a designated home. My goal is to be where our core business happens - in the classroom. In this phase of transition I am feeling quite excited - am looking forward to experiencing how the next few weeks unfold in experiencing a new approach to my job.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
A timely blog entry when I have been giving much thought to assessment measures that empower the individual and provide motivation for possible next learning steps. We recently held a pilot with 5 classroom teachers trialling student led conferences where the teacher was available but not present. Student ran around an hour long session with their parents explaining how they were going in their learning and what their next learning steps were. Parents were involved in wide range of experiences including trying out science experiments, assessing a piece of writing using the students success criteria, viewing students online forums and leaving a comment to hearing about their child's report grades. In videoing student responses before and after the experience it was enlightening to hear how great it was for them that they really had to take responsibility and own their learning. A students words of - before the teacher did all the talking, now I have to really know my goals and what my next learning steps are. Parents were delighted and proud of the ownership their children took. Our teachers response was - please don't make us do 3 way conferences like before. Such a strategy highlights the importance of students being at the centre. In the build up to the conferences no assessment was done to the individual, rather they were an active part in building knowledge of themselves as a learner.
Secondly it brought about the very question posed in this blog entry - what should students share? What is important data to present to all stakeholders? As the journey continues I hope the weighting doesn't swing back to being solely on Literacy and Numeracy as the mental models most have around how to assess these ares are steeped in history and top down approach. Our recent developments in producing learning progressions in foundation learning areas that acknowledge the complexity of learning (not linear and about hopping through hoops) are our best crack at motivating any learner to progress learning by being able to answer, how am I going, where am I going and where to next? Kids need to experience stretch everyday! Once web based material, DLOs are linked to learning intentions in kid friendly language , forums for learners to collaborate etc are developed then the world of data starts to become the child's.
Anyway, long entries aren't much fun - bit passionate about this one! Always keen to dialogue some more.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Check out this SlideShare Presentation:
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The PLP (Powerful Learning Process) is more than an inquiry process. We certaintly set out several years ago to develop an inquiry process to assist in the teaching an learning of Science, Technology and Social Studies. We quickly discovered however that such a process was a powerful learning process to assist in all learning across all curriculum.
Another important distinction from a typical inquiry process is that the PLP has an embedded hierachy of thinking within in. The Get it, Sort it and Use it types of thinking are distinct and call on certain thinking skills. It is important to note here that we have deliberately been selective about the thinking skills, tools, strategies and organises we have selected. When ones digs into the realm of thinking it is overwhelming just what is out there.
Our audience (primary ages students) is an important piece of the puzzle in making such selections as the thinking required needs to be relevant and developmentally appropriate for primary aged students.
Anyway before I rattle on and make this a huge blog entry just wanted to put down some of those learnings in developing our PLP model. Will put the presentation up when I complete it.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
There is fine line between what a community expects from reporting mechanisms (how it was done when we went to school) and using vastly different reporting mechanisms to both educate parents and show a balanced picture of their child's achievements. How do you effectively show growth in a children ability to manage self and relate to others. No pencil and paper test will do that. As identified by our new curriculum document these are important dispositions, attitudes and skills needed for a child's successful future. Our staff is trialling a new year of year report for parents to incorporate students ability to be a Life Long Learner (reflect, question, persevere, make connections etc)
No real answers - trying out some ways of showing progression in kid speak in some of these far more qualitative areas. I guess it's small steps.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
- It's great to have more time, you are not in such a hurry
- Parents said I now understand more about what my child actually does in class.
- Students said - it's better when the teacher is not there because it makes you take more ownership, I actually know where I am at in my learning.
- Teacher's said they were amazed at how their students took responsibility and worked from an agenda rather than a script. Science experiments were on some classes agendas
I have been reflecting since about what I observed and heard. The process seemed so much more natural. Such a strategy I believe does enable students to step up and talk about how they are going in their learning, and what their next learning steps are. Surely when students are in the driving seat of their learning it is more empowering and motivating for them. I am looking forward to debriefing further with our teachers to analyse the feedback and critique what went well and what needs improving.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I was suitably impressed by the talk - the ownership these students demonstrated over their conference was impressive. They articulated the positive of having more time and a chance to really show their Mums and Dad's not just how they are going in their learning but also what they are learning in class. They said in the past we share our grades and then the teacher takes over. When asked if they felt it was a good or a bad thing that the teacher wasn't fully involved in the confderence - they smiled and said it's good. When probed a little further they explained "We have had to take responsibility for our selves and our learning. Knowing where we are in our learning and what our next learning steps are is something we need to own. It's up to us to persevere to get better." There were certainly a few nerves about, however students were excited about the conferences and sharing their learning with their parents.
Will keep you posted on the outcome.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
We have been influenced recently by Professor John Hattie’s latest research published in his book Visible Learning. He has researched the top 100 interventions that lead to greater student achievement. Developing student’s ability to talk about their progress and learning comes near the top of his list. We believe students need to be able to answer questions like;
· How am I going?
· Where am I going?
· What is my next learning step?
The purpose of student led conferences is to put the student in the driving seat to share their learning with their parents or caregivers. Teachers have observed how students are taking more ownership over their learning, knowing they will be sharing their progress and learning with their parents. Teachers are present to support and prompt individuals if necessary however they do not partake in each individual conference.
The Student Led conferences are a celebration of learning. They are an initiative to further build our vision concept of student empowerment. We have shared with parents that they are not a forum to discuss behavioural concerns or for discussing matters directly with the teacher, we are encouraging parents to set a time outside of the student led conference if such things need to be addressed
How do they work?
Conferences can last up to 45 minutes. Five to six student led conferences run at the same time in the classroom. Each child has an agenda that they follow. Parents can be involved in a variety of activities throughout the 45 minutes such as looking through their child’s learning books, playing a game to support learning, talking about goals, carrying out a science experiement or reflecting on next learning steps.
Will keeep you posted on how our first conferences go this week - the teachers have been amazing at letting students take the lead and true ownership.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
What is learning? What conditions support learning? What are the barriers to learning deeply? How does the brain learn? what strategies help me continue to learn when I am stuck?
A few examples of questions that require time to unpack, dialogue about and reflect on for both teachers and their students.
The unrealistic pressure of covering content often only results in surface learning. To learn powerfully and deeply, decisions need to be made by the organisation about what students should be
1 – learning about what content will aid individuals in making sense of the world they live in and contribute creatively.
2 – develop the necessary ‘Learning Power’ as Guy Claxton terms or capacity to learn deeply and powerfully. Both need to be developed simultaneously.
Clarity about the end in mind profile of a student needs careful deliberation and dialogue. A futuristic vision of the knowledge, dispositions and values a student would need to be equipped with based on the principles embedded in the vision is essential in reframing 20th century mental models of coverage verses depth.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
What ever the purpose for visioning or re-visioning I would like to think it is well justified and far from being about any one persons ego.
To vision is to gain collective understanding, hope and clarity about an organisations future endeavours. It is about binding an organisations personnel in pursuit of greatness, creating momentum, direction and success for all.
Any such process could begin by asking questions like;
“What is the purpose of school?”
What should our school stand for?”
“What dispositions will help all our students succeed in the 21st century?”
“What do we need to consider that our past education has not?”
Such questions require processing and time to dialogue with colleagues. It is not something achieved in a one hour after school staff meeting!
Monday, June 1, 2009
I am excited about the ease in which such communication and proactive action can be taken given most of our parents and caregivers have email. How neat for a parent to receive an email with a picture attachment sharing the science experience the class had that afternoon. Wouldn't that make for a great dinner conversation around the table that night. I know what I would think if I was the parent receiving that email. I would think - gosh this teacher is onto it, he/she cares, look at the great learning happening for my child etc etc.
From there the relationships with the children themselves are equally important.
Then and only then everyone can work in partnership to activate learning nd provide the stretch and rigor for individuals to reach their potential.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I think to benchmark national standards or expectations if you like in foundational learning areas of literacy and numeracy is positive. It takes away variance between schools and clearly states where for example students should be reading at the end of a particular year level. This then allows consistency around reporting to parents. I believe schools have been quite exclusive in the language and terminology they use, it is often not easy for parents to understand what is written in an end of year report or discussed at a 3 way conference.
I guess the area that people are feeling anxious about is what assessment means are going to be used to determine where students fall in regards to the national standards. National testing opens a whole other 'can of worms!' one where countries such as the UK have learnt that standards, testing and league tables have shown no increase in student outcomes.
The draft material appears non specific with broad outcomes mentioned. The material presents it's self quite similar to the national exemplars developed some years prior. I am looking forward to the meeting on the 8th of June to find out more. I remain open minded about it all at this stage.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
This whole topic was brought to the fore this week as I met with a parent who was not happy with the amount of homework her son was receiving. She said he needed more spelling lists and should be putting words in sentences to see if he could comprehend. I sat there reflecting on the spot that the individual before me had an understanding of how things should be done based on how she was educated. Yes things have moved along considerably since then. How does one reasure such an indivdual convinced that the way she was schooled was the best way. I don't believe that can be achieved in a 30 minute meeting. Yes a challenge for someone who personally wonders about the value of homework full stop in the primary years! They will hit it one day, just let them be kids. All good food for thought.
Friday, May 15, 2009
As Tony reminded us we as teachers we are in a priviledged position, a significant position. We need to be energised and passionate to influence and engage all learners. Our ability to motivate and challenge is crucial in enabling individuals to reach their potential.
Lot's of food for thought .... something I will ponder some more on.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The first important milestone of such change I believe is the creation of a vision. A clear purpose encompassing the organisations beliefs, desires and best crack at foreseeing the future. Such a vision needs to be created collectively and in wide consultation with all stake holders. The consultation needs to be authentic not tokenism, the child’s voice that states ‘stop teaching us stuff we already know’ needs to be heard, truly heard and reflected on. Most visions and mission statements are created and then put on the odd bit of letter head and shelved! A vision needs room to grow and live within the organisation. In an educational setting a visual metaphor helps to ensure the principles within it are owned by the key stake holders, and importantly our clients, our students.
Once a vision is established, a synthesis of up to date theory and research, current practices and trends needs to be conceptualised to prioritise a way forward. Strategic implementation of the vision principles and prioritises is essential. To successfully implement a vision I believe there are two important words to live by. One being abandon and the other embed. Current school practices need to be talked about and questioned as to their alignment to the vision. For example if a vision belief is one of empowerment then students not being allowed to use photocopiers or assessment measured that are done to students rather than done with would need to be questioned, and maybe abandoned. It’s not ok to keep adding more to the load.
When a vision is created and a strategic plan for it implementation established, thought and collective decisions need to be made about how that transfers to the student. After six years in your primary school environment what would you hope your students would leave being equipped with? What sort of dispositions, self worth and learning abilities would you believe were necessary for future success and satisfaction in life? I ponder often as to whether our expectations in a primary school setting are achievable and realistic. Julia Atkin’s question ‘what is powerful to learn? is a fundamental question to ask when living in an exponential information age.
Simply we believe at Red Beach School that students need to leave with four key concepts and understandings. These 4 concepts relate directly to the vision.
We are two steps of the way to implementing sustainable change. The essential questions addressed so far are;
What do we believe education is all about? (vision)
As a result of our vision what do we want our students to leave our school equipped with, being able to do?
Finally the third essential component to achieving sustainable change is to then ask what teachers and teaching practice will make this possible? What do we need to do as practitioners to ensure our vision principles live and our students leave our school living those beliefs. Teachers are the difference makers, they influence and have power beyond reckon to ensure the next generation will be our future leaders. I have not met a teacher who does not wake up each morning and want to do the best possible job they can for each individual in their class. How do we ensure our teaching practice is strategic, future focused and the best it can possible be to move all from good to great?
Visioning has such potential to gain clarity and provide a way forward when done well. It is a wonderful filter for informing decisions and ensuring alignment. From employing the right teacher to providing effective feedback to moving practice forward it is the essential driver of change.
The three steps to significant and sustainable change are
Creating a collective Vision
Decide on what a student should leave your school equipped with as a result of the vision
Create clarity around the teaching practice that will enable the student to leave as decided.
This is all wrapped in an organisational culture that has underlying norms of continuous improvement, deprivatising practice and ensuring learning is the organisations core business. In creating such a culture mental models are shaken up a little, narratives are shared to highlight beliefs and difference valued.
I believe we are in very exciting times in education. I sincerely feel privileged to be involved in such a dynamic and exciting vocation where I learn, think and feel challenged daily.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I count ones lucky stars, if it wasn't for the web the wonderings on this blog would be lost too!
I guess I continue to realise in some of life's trying times that these are the very experiences as hard as they can be sometimes that cause the most learning.
Am happy to be blogging again - I have missed it!
Monday, April 27, 2009
My previous blog entry talked about having a clear and easily articulated 'end in mind' for the students leaving our school. The bit we are working on and haven't got quite right yet is what are we communicating to our parent body about how students are going according to the 4 major outcomes we would like students to leave our school equipped with. For so long we have been so preoccupied with reporting on levels of achievement against curriculum areas. What we have not been so good at is communicating a students ability to 'know what to do when they don't know what to do' or share a students level of competency in say their ability to investigate. I think we need to take a hard look at current assessment practices. A far more balanced picture needs to be presented to students and parents about what equates to success. At the moment success in school and success in life look quite different. Let's not let outdated assessment measures and methods hold back innovation. A fresh approach is required to develop tools and e portfolio spaces that students own and manage. As I was reminded of recently by a colleague, teachers come and go each year in a students education, parents hold the historic overview and students have the greatest potential to positively influence their learning. When the necessary scaffolds are in place for example progressions that show students in 'kid speak' where am I and what are the next learning steps are. Secondly when we grow students assessment literacy to know how to answer, how am I going?, Where am I going? and where to next?, students have huge learning power to achieve to their potential. We need to strive towards communicating a balanced picture to encompass achievement as we know it and include a dispositional overview of an individuals learning capacity.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Our Board questioned us deeply about the chosen concepts and did not disagree with what the teaching staff had come up with they did however point out that we had missed a very important concept that the school had stood for historically. That was the word achievement.
A representative parent group was consulted with. If we had our time again would we have consulted more widely amongst the parent community? Was it representational of the whole community?
Our students were not consulted – this was a mistake. If we had our time again this would be changed. I think given what we have since learnt from our students we would consult them first.
How refreshing today as I was striding around the neighbour on an afternoon walk I bumped into a past secondary school teacher. It was lovely catching up after so many years. As we are both in education the conversation soon led there! We talked about how so much in education tends to over complicate matters. We agreed that sound practice is common sense. I then shared that simply there are 4 things we want students to be equipped with in our primary school environment. He asked what are those 4 things? I said we want students to;
- Know what to do when they don't know what to do
- Know how to learn on their own (be literate)
- Be able to relate and connect with others and the world
- Have a process that helps them problem solve, answer questions and investigate.