Sunday, 3 March 2019

"Snap !" Reimagined Network Aligns with School's Vision

Explicit clarity around the purposeful alignment of professional learning outcomes, forms part of the ongoing role of leaders. Making links to past, current and potential future practice, supports deep reflection in a community of learners wishing to make an impact on learning outcomes.
Snap card game image acknowledge Irish resources 
Striving to remain loyal to the voice of staff explicitly articulated in a vision narrative developed with the Schools That Deliver Network means making sure external professional learning opportunities specifically link to the vision.

When the Catholic Education Office in the Southern Regions (SRO) of Melbourne announced significant changes to their Professional Learning Network structure for 2019, it was important to understand the potential impact going forward. The "reimagined" new network is known as the School Wide Improvement Forum (SWIF). SWIF is for school leadership teams including Principals, Deputy Principals, Learning & Teaching Leaders, Mathematics Leaders, Literacy Leaders and Learning Diversity Leaders. SWIF aims to:
  • Build effective leadership teams to improve learning outcomes for all students
  • Support leaders to strategically plan for improvement
  • Support leaders to evaluate the impact of improvement plans
  • Utilise content such as literacy or numeracy as the context for improving pedagogical practice
The SWIF aims clearly align to the St Patrick school's vision, in particular this part "..Any research is relevant to the needs of our learners and is used to strengthen outcomes, ensuring the curriculum has a positive and meaningful impact..." You can access the full vision narrative at this link.

Dr Ryan Dunn @DunnEducation @agileschools #agile leadership.
Dr Ryan Dunn, Director at Agile Schools and lecturer at the University of Melbourne, has been engaged to guide the SRO as a critical friend in this important work. Dunn has considerable experience within education and has advised and collaborated with schools and districts across the USA and Australia. 
I wish to acknowledge Dunn for the inclusion of some slides (see below) from Dunn's presentation to the SRO schools.

Dr Ryan Dunn presents to 150 leaders from Catholic schools across the Southern Region 
Key Learning and Links from Day 1 February 2019 with Dr Ryan Dunn
  • Dunn recommends a deliberate, disciplined approach to intentional improvement through responsive and reflective work.
  • Confusion is an essential part of learning. A productive struggle is vital for staff and students.
  • Make sure clarity leads to complexity and a change in teaching practice to ensure the enhancement of learning outcomes for students.
Slide acknowledge Dunn
Engagement - what does it look like ? 
Dunn explores a range of interpretations of engagement :
  1.  Behavioural engagement - surface routines and expectations in the classroom to create a learning environment
  2. Cognitive engagement - increasing the rigour in the classroom by moving beyond the surface through, for example, application, analysis and critique
  3. Relational engagement - engaged through cooperative teaching and collaboration with others

Slide acknowledge Dunn
  • We have a moral imperative around the work that we do. We must teach beyond the acquisition of social capital gained through shallow exposure to learning merely by the children walking through the classroom door.
  •  One year of teaching leads to value added for every student - one  year of growth and improvement.
Slide acknowledge Dunn
  • Ryan explains teacher expertise growth should always be a focus. Significant improvement is needed  not because we are underperforming, but because we can be even better. We need to constantly look at the next steps on our improvement journey known as deep, expertise development. 

    Slide acknowledge Dunn

    New Mental Models
    Mental models are also referred to as part of the Schools That Deliver Network professional learning. The following information from Dunn helps to give clarity around mental models:
    • Be deliberate and intentional about improving practice and in doing so practice and develop new mental models for the way we do things. For example, over time, learning to drive an automatic car becomes natural. You develop a mental model of thinking around driving and you become competent. If you wanted to drive a manual car, you would have to make a deliberate effort to move out of your comfort zone and learn a new mental model for how to drive. You would need time to practice and improve to become an expert. 
    • We need to continually be open to new mental models about the way we teach and through perseverance move from novice to competent to adaptive to expert (Dreyfus model of skill acquisition (see below). We become responsive over time. 
    • Developing team mental models ( a shared understanding of our approach). In the Schools That Deliver Action Research teams, we work together to bring our vision to life. Dunn explains that we can become better equipped as a staff to deal with problems when we work together. This is through slowing down, going deep together, asking the why questions and explicitly developing pedagogical practice.
    Novice to Expert
    The reference to the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition links to the Schools That Deliver 2018 Innovation Conference. Below is a link to the 3 minute video developed to capture two days of learning from the conference.
    In the video:
    "......Thirdly, the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition (1980) progresses from novice to expert. The competence level often becomes the comfort zone. Stretching and challenging learning to the proficient and expert level is necessary to truly engage in deep innovation for success...." (Hawkins, 2018 Disruption, creativity, innovate2flourish )

    Acknowledge the University of South Australia - Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition 
    Five Principles of Deliberate Practice 
    Dunn shared five principles of deliberate practice:
    1. Push beyond one's comfort zone
    2. Work towards well-defined specific goals
    3. Focus intently on practice activities (this links clearly to the Schools That Deliver Practice Field's)
    4. Receive and respond to high quality feedback
    5. Develop a mental model of expertise.

    Slide acknowledge Dunn
    • Dunn introduced the Clarify Canvas below. It is a valuable tool for staff preparing to present task descriptors for recommendations based on twelve months of action research for the future Schools That Deliver Network conference.
    Slide acknowledge Dunn
    • The Check-in Meeting Norms shared at the SWIF day by Dunn contain elements that align with our current Schools That deliver work especially our core values.
    Slide acknowledge Dunn
    "Snap !"As the SWIF team review short term school improvement goals to ensure they impact positive pedagogical practices, we can be reassured that there is alignment between our work, our vision and the expectations of the regional education office.

    Sunday, 24 February 2019

    Michael Carr-Gregg - 10 Ways to Optimise Well Being

    Fortunately, one of our local Catholic school principals is a friend of the well respected Dr Michael Carr - Gregg. Dr Carr-Gregg gave a presentation to twenty principals at our first network meeting for 2019. I have to admit, having been away from Australia for many years, I wasn't familiar with Carr-Gregg's immense portfolio of work. "Michael is one of Australia's highest profile psychologists working in all form of media..." You can read more at this link.

    Here are ten research based steps for supporting leadership, staff, student and community well being. Let's all find time to action this valuable advice.

    Michael Carr-Gregg presents to the South Eastern Catholic Principal Network

    Carr-Gregg commenced by sharing a number of recommended resources:
    • The first one focused on exercise and brain function in Brain Rules by John Medina. Spending time with family & friends is valuable for managing stress.
    • K10 test is a screening instrument and it can be downloaded from the Beyond Blue website. It only has ten questions and takes two minutes to complete. It is great for all of us. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. We all need to recognise this.
    • Mental Health First Aid Australia Each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people are not knowledgeable or confident to offer assistance. Physical first aid is accepted and widespread in our community, however most do not cover mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches people the skills to help someone who they are concerned about. 
    • A starting point for us to take back to schools or workplaces is to think about our current life energy as  psychological eggs in a basket. We have 30 eggs and 3 baskets. One basket is for life/self, a second for family and the third for school/education/work. What’s the distribution of our own eggs ? If too many eggs are in the work basket - it is a disaster for us and our health.

    Image from  FreightWaves
    The optimal balance is: 15 eggs for self, 10 eggs for family and 5 golden eggs for work. If we function at our optimum level, then the quality and output of work is very high. It's time to start thinking about how we can put eggs into our own baskets.

    Here are 10  research based proactive strategies for an optimum work life balance:

    1. We can change the way we think about things by reframing what’s happened to see the positives. Change your thinking by Sarah Edelman is an excellent read. Online e couch (effective for many/ researched and approved) developed by Australian National University - free online Australian therapy, valuable for everyone.
    This Way Up (Victorian) therapy

    2. Gratitude: See life as it is and focus on the good bits. Three blessings technique. Free app. Three Good Things - A happiness technique. Research has proven that we can rewire our brain for the positive. We can be quantifiably happier and have a higher level of well being (16 years of research has shown it is sustainable). The more positivity in your life, the more it expands - you sleep better, have an effective immune systems and this reduces any anxiety or depression.
    Gratitude Journal app

    Three Good Things app

    3. Why Kindness is good for you. The more volunteering we do the longer we live. Supporting and helping others sends feel good endorphins through our bodies. Feel good, do good. Apps for classrooms - The Kindness App 
    The Kindnes App

    4. When we’re together, everything is better. Greatest predictor of well being is a rich repertoire of friends. We need to support and encourage the importance of socialising and doing things together.

    5. Be active - 10,000 steps is beneficial. Relax with mindfulness, meditation and prayer. We require eight hours sleep. Sleep hygiene is vital. Ted Talk Professor Russell Foster - Prof Sleep Studies - Oxford. Include link for staff. This video is a crash course on the science of sleep and suggests to dim the lights half an hour before bed to prepare for a good night’s sleep. Reading with a lamp is much better than looking at a device. The room needs to be cool, quiet and dark so that the body temperature drops and melatonin is produced.
    Couch to 5K app is a great challenge for staff, a 13 week challenge. It is a gentle exercise programme. You can lose weight and oxygenate the brain. This gets the endorphins flowing. Exercise means less anxiety.
    Couch to 5K app
    Relax App is the mental health app of the year. It helps you to get a better night’s rest
    Relax Melodies: Sleep Sounds

    6. Mindfulness App - the favourite one is smiling minds. It has developmental stages and has revolutionised the whole practice.  We can all benefit from 10 mins of mindfulness per day. It will lower blood pressure. If students practise in schools, there are lower levels of bullying and mental health for children

    7. Find time to lose yourself in something your love. Learning new stuff - research shows the more you learn the higher your level of wellbeing.

    8. It helps to know what you are looking forward too. Have a bucket list. Bucket List app
    We benefit psychologically by creating our very own bucket list.

    9. Don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides. Accept your own strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the good bits of us. Good Blocks 
    Improve your mood, self esteem and body image
    10. The meaning of life  Finding a sense of connectedness that transcends the material world is beneficial to our wellbeing. We cannot underestimate the benefits of spirituality. Findings from psychological literature have proven the value of this form of connectedness.
    Image from Spiritual Healing
    As leaders, modelling these 10 ways to optimise well being will help ensure that we put more eggs into our self basket.

    I wish to acknowledge Dr Michael Carr- Gregg for the material shared above. Anyone wishing to contact Carr-Gregg can do so directly through his website at this link.