Monday, September 28, 2009

Aligning Practice and Belief

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

Teacher Effectiveness

So what is it that our star teachers actually do? What makes them stand out from the rest? How can this practice be exemplified to grow teacher effectiveness across all teachers? How do you make tangible the often intangible teacher effectiveness practice? What practices are foundational and need to be developed first?
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.

Change Drivers

There have been a few key words and phrases that have certainly enabled and influenced the change to happen in our organisation. Two important words have been EMBED and ABANDON. Before any change can be implemented something needs to go (be abandoned) to allow the space for the change. Change after change continues to be rolled out and added to the already complex load of a classroom practitioner. We have learnt that change can be adopted more readily and at a faster pace if time and thought is put into what is being abandoned. What practices are redundant? What do we do just because we have always done it like that? What practice has a positive impact on student achievement? Does collecting loads of assessment data actually inform students next learning steps? To make room for the change to happen we started by critiquing the current assessment practise. We questioned why each piece of evidence was collected. Our 20 page assessment profile on each student fine tuned to 4 pages. These decisions created time for the intentional teaching of Life Long Learning competencies to happen.
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

Integral Learning - Conceptualising Curriculum

Found this old presentation when I was searching for files about curriculum development and programming. Still has some merit. The challenge is to keep everything in balance. That is keeping both Julia Atkins questions in critical tension;
What's powerful to learn? &
What's powerful learning?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leading Through Boundaries

I attended one of Auckland Universities Centre for Educational Leadership Professional Learning Days. It was titled Thinking Differently about Educational Leadership. I must say it was one of the best presentations I have experienced around leadership. The day provoked much thought and deep reflection about ones leadership work and practice.
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

Leadership - So You Want to Lead Conference

So You Want To Lead - The Leadership Ladder
APPA Management Conference 2009

So You Want to Lead - APPA Conference

What a great bunch of people attending the APPA Senior Management Conference today. It certainly says something about the nature of the leaders present when they are continuing their professional learning on a Saturday. I enjoyed the dialogue in the group I was presenting to today.
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

Organisational Culture - Surfacing Norms

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.