Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Principal as learner on an energising rollercoaster ride: why 2014 has surpassed any other

I have been inspired to record my reflections after reading this blog post by Eric @E_Sheninger entitled A Principal's reflections: 2014 was one wild ride.

My personal goal as a principal of  six years in 2013, was to achieve a 4-5 year Education review (ERO) and be recognized as a high performing school. After finishing last year on a high with the teaching and learning of our passionate and hardworking team of staff being acknowledged by an outstanding ERO report , I didn't think that anything in my career could match this. Well, I was wrong. 2013 pales into insignificance against the prolific personal and school wide learning that took place in 2014.
Image credit:http://megapapers.com/news/roller-coaster-reaching-new-heights/
Hold on tight and share the roller coaster ride - the new learning highs and the reflective lows that provided a chance to take a breath before the next invigorating high.
Here are some personal, professional reflections from 2014:
  • Taking a 10 week principal sabbatical in Term 1 (Feb-April). This gave me the chance to travel and be inspired by enthusiastic colleagues around the world. Special thanks to @MarkMoorhouseMM principal @MatthewMossHigh in the UK who introduced me to Carol Dweck's growth mindset work, project based learning and transactional analysis. My sabbatical experience led to further studies and I am now studying a Masters of Educational Leadership part time.
  • Having time away from school during my sabbatical gave me a chance to explore and embrace social media and digital learning. I joined Twitter and sent my first tweet in April. I have since shared blogposts ( I began my Principal's blog in April too) about the benefits of Twitter for educators
  • Connecting through Twitter with dynamic UK author @DavidPriceOBE and reading his book entitled Open: How we'll work, live and learn in the future. I challenged myself to write a blogpost about each chapter of the book. Applying my learning from this transformational resource into our workplace has contributed to our school becoming a much more open and transparent place for all learners and their families. Exciting and engaging learning developments during the months that followed my return to school (including a proliferation of class and student blogs), meant that I have only reviewed seven out of the nine chapters of Open. I will be completing my reviews early in 2015.
  • Teaching myself to create a 4 minute video encapsulating the messages from my sabbatical report. I had never made a video before, but followed the lead of a colleague @THE0BALD who had used @VideoScribeApp to create a video. I have since made several videos focused on deep engagement in learning.
    Screenshot from my sabbatical video
  • Leading a cluster of schools as part of a Learning and Change network (LCN) with @janine simpson26 and Rob Mill. This has provided further exposure to innovative teaching and learning research and practice as well as inspired us to challenge the ways we engage with our learners and families.  Parent meetings evolved into our signature Family Learning Huis (Maori name for gathering) that have supported our transition to Collaborative Team Teaching Learning Hubs for 2015 further inspired by a visit to Tim Lovelock @timl27 and the team at Myross Bush School.
  • Presentations to share my learning to the Otago and Southland Catholic Principal gathering in Invercargill, Future Focused Learning Workshop in Dunedin ( with @brian_annan,@NickyRyan11 @MSBeenz@annekenn & @janinejnz ) North Otago Probus in Oamaru, Whitestone Women's Dinner Club, Catholic Principal's Convention in Wellington and the LCN Southern Regional meeting in Christchurch.
  • An invitation to represent the North Otago Pasifika Cluster and give a presentation with our board chairperson to guests attending the University of Canterbury Pasifika Talanoa Success Fono (Pasifika name for gathering) in Christchurch
  • An invitation to publish an article in the Aoraki Catholic Journal
  • An invitation to be part of an LCN reference group at the University of Auckland with the vibrant @brian_annan , @mareswootts@kellylayton99@hkkh18, @michaeljfletch@JeanAnnAnnan & more and be nominated to contribute to the working party planning a National LCN Conference for 2015
  • Working with student Learning Leaders to remain firmly focused on our school wide goal To engage every student in deep learning for success @StJoesOamru
  • Nurturing staff and student leadership across the school. Both of our Deputy Principals (@siobhanp2 and @LorraineFRees) being appointed to Principal roles, promotion within our talented teaching team (@sburke7 & Paul Cartlidge) and the heart-warming graduation of our talented Year 8 students (every one of them is interviewed and appointed to a leadership role ). 
 Opening up to the engaging world beyond the school walls has reignited my passion and love for learning. Through embracing social media and digital technology, I feel confident to take our school further forward in 2015 with the support of our capable staff. If we wish to fully prepare our learners to succeed at high school and beyond, then as leaders we must be willing to be passionate activators of deliberate learning and change. A HUGE thank you to everyone who has contributed to my exciting roller-coaster ride of learning and change this year.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

What happens when the school environment that you grew up with starts to disappear ? Supporting parents through purposeful and planned learning and change.

In 2015 every teacher at St Joseph's will teach in partnership with one or more teachers in collaborative learning hubs. Teaching and learning across the school from Year 1-8 will go live and be fully accessible to everyone inside and outside the school via a teaching and learning site. Everyone will be able to access all teaching, planning and communication in one place (developed in response to feedback from parents).

Our Deputy Principal Mrs Frances-Rees has designed our new Teaching and Learning site for 2015.

Focusing closely on our school wide learning goal for the past few years; "Engage every student in deep learning for success", has meant that we have continually reflected on our teaching practices at St Joseph's. This latest development is an outcome of our ongoing hard work, inquiry into our teaching practice, research and reflections. It is a natural next step to for us, to support the planned engaging and personalised learning environments that we wish to create for our children, to fully prepare them for future success at high school and beyond. 

Our school wide goal was also the focus of my principal sabbatical in Term 1. You can learn more by watching this 4 minute video.

For parents, this significant shift in teaching practice is one that takes them far from the traditional classroom system that they grew up with. This means that some parents will naturally feel a little nervous and anxious and may have many questions.

Being part of a Learning and Change Network (see this video link to learn more) has helped us review our existing partnership with parents. Our work this year with families has been focused firmly on learning relationships. We held four "Family Learning Huis" (hui is the Maori word for gathering) and numerous parent workshops. You can go to this link to learn more about our Family Learning Huis. Our huis have enabled families to be immersed into informal, social, collaborative and engaging learning environments that mirror much of our school wide teaching and learning practices. We have already planned more of these for 2015.
Family Learning Hui in action. All staff attend and families bring their tea (fish and chips) and digital devices.
Explicitly encouraging parents to come and talk about any questions, concerns or worries and then being available to respond is the least that we can do to support our parent community. We have a fortnightly parent reference group who meet with the principal to discuss "What's on top?"  Making changes to classroom layouts and moving our Year 6 class upstairs into the Senior Learning Hub with Year 7 and 8 for 2015 resulted in much discussion.
The main themes for discussion with the Senior Learning Hub evolved around:
Siblings - The focus on personalised learning and engagement will mean that siblings are in learning spaces with three teachers who together will ensure that relationships between siblings are respectful and responsible.
Safety of devices - Year 7 and 8 have been operating a BYOD learning environment for the past 2 years. Digital Citizenship, BYOD contracts and learning licenses all contribute towards the safety of devices in digital learning spaces.
Number of hours on devices - Our Family Learning Huis have helped parents to understand that the devices are a tool to support deep engagement in learning. Children will not be sitting on devices playing computer programmes but will utilise the devices to access learning links to support their learning at different times as appropriate. Mrs Frances-Rees prepared a pie chart in response to this same question from our parent reference group.

This chart gives an indication of where digital devices fit into the big picture of  deep learning across a week in Year 7
 Challenges for able and less able learners - Children will have three expert teachers collaborating to support and engage all learners. Differentiated skill based learning workshops will ensure both extension and support for learners is managed effectively. Children will work closely with the teacher as they move to independence as part of a licensing system. A benefit of team teaching is that while one teacher is running a workshop, there will be another teacher available to give more attention to the other children working in the learning spaces. 
Social challenges- A major focus in Term One across the school will be learning relationships and expectations across learning hubs (treaties). This is something that all teachers do with a new class at the start of the year and involves collaboration and contribution from the children as well as the staff. 
Parent expectations- We will be looking at creating a parent treaty with parents early in 2015 to explicitly support parents to participate effectively and engage in deep learning with their children across the school.
Children off task- Teachers in the senior school have access to Hapara Teacher Dasboard. This enables teachers to have access to any sites that children spend time on. "Teacher Dashboard saves teachers time, helping them track engagement and improve student outcomes with a snap-shot view of student activity across Docs, Sites, Blogger, Picasa & Gmail. Teachers can push out docs in a differentiated format to their students, and view all student work organized chronologically by class and by student."

Taken from the Hapara Teacher Dashboard Information site. Go to this link

This  shift for 2015 did not happen overnight. It is the culmination of several years of focus on effective pedagogy and quality teaching and the drive within a proactive school culture to best achieve our school wide goal. I am proud of each and every member of our staff who has embraced this challenge with open arms and  their commitment to remaining resolute to this cause.
So far as staff, we have focused on how we can change our teaching practice to best meet the needs of our learners. Next, we will be asking our children and our parents to have a growth mindset and take greater responsibility in this learning process. Together we will continue to support and challenge each other to make sure that we "Engage every student in deep learning for success."

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sharing the Oamaru Cluster's Pasifika Success Story at Canterbury University

Spread the mat....Keep casting the net into deeper waters... Do it from the heart, if it's not from the heart then don't do it....( Tufulasi Taleni's powerful messages to us all )

Tua Misiloi our Board Chairperson and I were privileged to be invited by  Leali'ie'e Tufulasi Taleni, Pasifika Education Facilitator on behalf of the Oamaru Pasifika Cluster to Canterbury University (UC) Christchurch on Friday 21st November. We were asked to present our St Joseph's school successes, highlights and challenges as well as our cluster's story of sustainability to the Pasifika Education Advisory Group and guests at the launch of a new Pasifika DVD education resource. Our experiences were based on the powerful and inspiring professional learning shared with us by Tufulasi Taleni and Janice Tofia during our participation in the Pasifika Success Talanoa Project.

Jenny and Tua during their presentation (Thanks Tufulasi for the photo)
Tua and I represented the 8 schools in the Oamaru Pasifika Cluster ( Oamaru North, Fenwick, Pembroke, Oamaru Intermediate, St Joseph's, St Kevin's College, Waitaki Girls and Waitaki Boys high schools ). Recent figures show that 21% of our schools have Pasifika learners. We are dedicated to supporting our learners to strive to succeed and shine in all that they do by valuing their identities, languages & cultures and creating culturally responsive school environments.
You can learn more about our Pasifika Cluster by going to this link and visiting our blog. Rowan Stringer is the curator of this excellent blog and we thank her for the time she puts into this on behalf of our cluster. Jan Plieger is the enthusiastic Secretary of our sustainability cluster and Tracey Bell is the Chairperson. Thanks to both Jan and Tracy for all of their hard work within our cluster. We meet termly for a fono and a different school hosts the fono as well as shares their learning and progress. The cluster has recently expanded to include participants from RTLB, RTLit, Waitaki Library, Fale Pasifika and the Kindergarten Association ( 4 kindergartens).

Message for us from Tufulasi Talenei
A big fa'afetai (thank you) to you both for your part in the talanoa yesterday – as I said yesterday that during your presentation, I felt quite emotional about hearing your story and the story of your cluster – a very special powerful piece to listen to, everyone felt the same – quite a bit of reflections going on around the room and strongly mentioned your message and how your schools/cluster picking up pieces of the puzzles and weave them together.  The mat is no longer disconnected – you will keep working on as a cluster and keep connecting the mat so that you are all able to sit on it together and around it!
Tufulasi addressing the guest during the launch

Jan – you must be proud of Jenny and Tua, they represented you and your Oamaru cluster well.  Your Oamaru cluster has been one of our success stories, congratulations and thank you for keep spreading your mat and for keep casting your net deeper, the catch is plenty and soon have enough to feed the whole village.  Nothing is impossible as we heard yesterday –  " E o'o lava ile sami sousou e mafai lava ona folauina - even the choppy sea can be navigated'.
 We listened to presentations from the Hornby, Levin, Dunedin, Invercargill & Christchurch East clusters. All of them have made a huge difference in achievement outcomes for their Pasifika learners. We were particularly moved by Rachel King's story from Levin. She spoke passionately about their work. Afterwards, one of the Pasifika elders described Rachel as being a Palagi (European) woman with a Pasifika mind. Rachel would be an excellent person to bring to our Oamaru Cluster and talk as a guest at one of our termly fono (meetings). We will try and organise this for 2015.

The second part of the day was the launch of the new Pasifika DVD Resource called 'Saili Matagi' (seeking the winds). The resource is based around one of the trips to a Samoan Village that Tufulasi regularly organises for teachers and principals to help them become immersed in the Pasifika culture. Gary Roberts, the principal of Hornby School featured in the DVD and was present for the launch along with other staff who were on the trip. The Deputy Principal from St James who also featured in the DVD brought some children along to perform at the launch. This excellent resource will soon be available for schools to purchase. It is a resource that every staff member must view in order to help them have a deeper understanding of their Pasifika learners. As soon as we get the contact details for this resource, we will share these with you.
St James' children performing at the launch
Looking forward to attending the Fiafia Celebration Awards this Friday at St Kevin's College and celebrating the progress and achievement of our Pasifika learners.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Catholic Leadership Reflections and Recommendations

Last weekend, I finally completed my second essay as part of my first paper in the Masters of Educational Leadership studies through the Australian Catholic University. It took several weeks of reading and then at least three dedicated weekends to complete my essay. This is part of the commitment that we must all make when we study part time while working full time. Despite this mammoth effort, it was genuinely a worthwhile process for my own professional growth and development.

I related my essay to our role as leaders of Catholic schools in relation to the important document released this year by the NZ Bishops (see image and link below).This is a document we can't overlook as Catholic educators. It has many very powerful messages for us.  If you wish to read my essay, you can go to this link (open and download it to get the whole essay).

You can access a link to this document by clicking here
After being inspired by public feedback about my sabbatical report (you can access the 4 minute video here) and the message to be 'bold and brave', I was motivated to share my recently completed leadership essay with our Catholic Education Office in Dunedin. As I result, I felt privileged to be invited to contribute a 'studying principal voice' to a recent meeting as part of a review of professional qualifications and courses available through the The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New  Zealand (TCI) 

Here are my reflections as a result of this meeting and my own thinking and research:
  • In a  recent survey I carried out with Catholic Leaders in our diocese,100% of participants agreed that a programme of professional learning specific to the context of leaders in contemporary Catholic schools would be beneficial 
  • Believing that 'having a Catholic background' is all that we need as teachers and leaders in Catholic schools is not enough. It is an invaluable starting point. But just as we teach our children to learn and grow, we must also have a 'growth mindset' towards our Catholicity and develop our theological knowledge and spiritual leadership skills 
  • Boards can support teachers and leaders in our schools by offering financial support towards furthering their qualifications (many of our boards are already doing this). We also need diocesan or national funding support here through access to scholarships to encourage and support our dedicated staff towards furthering their qualifications
  • I suggest that schools explore a study release option along the lines of the existing Classroom Release Time (CRT) for primary teachers. I would recommend one day release per paper- RE Study Time (REST) for any staff studying to enable some quality time towards completing their assessment and to recognize their existing workload. (Our board will be offering this to our staff in 2015).
  • There is a definite need for explicit study pathways for future and existing teachers, leaders and principals of Catholic schools. These need to be established sooner rather than later and become an expectation for leaders and staff (mandated through our Catholic Education Handbooks and guidelines). We have high expectations of success for our learners, we must be role models and set the same high standards for ourselves as part of our commitment as educators in Catholic schools. Here is an example of such a pathway created overseas (taken from Cook & Durow, 2008 full reference in my essay see link above)
  • Setting up 'open formation' model schools for leaders to put into practice some of their learning and to experience contemporary Catholic schools in action would provide a practical element to the widening gap for existing and future leaders of Catholic schools. (We have the expertise and willingness to develop and offer such a model of professional and collegial support and guidance at St Joseph's in Oamaru)
  • Forming networks of Catholic schools based on the Learning and Change model ( further information and referencing in my essay -see my LCN video link that explains this model) would further support principals, Directors of Religious Studies, leaders, boards and staff of Catholic schools to increase our combined capacity to address challenges, share best practice and grow together. 
Let's join together and inject our passion, enthusiasm and creativity for life and learning into our Catholic schools across New Zealand.

“School can and must be a catalyst, it must be a place of encounter and convergence of the entire educating community, with the sole objective of training and helping to develop mature people who are simple, competent and honest, who know how to live with fidelity, who can live life as a response to God’s call, and their future profession as a service to society ” (Pope Francis, 2013). 

Pope Francis. (n.d.). To Students of Jesuit Schools of Italy and Albania (7 June 2013). Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/june/documents/papa-francesco_20130607_scuole-gesuiti.html

Friday, 24 October 2014

Myross Bush School in Action

I travelled south for 315 km to Myross Bush School (MBS) and combined it with a Catholic principal's meeting in Invercargill (10km further south) on the following day. The long  journey was well worth it. Having heard Tim Lovelock and his team share their learning philosophy a few weeks earlier at a regional learning and change network meeting in Dunedin, and with our staff eager to team teach for 2015, I was looking forward to seeing MBS in action. Read more here or watch the photo slideshow below.
A breakdown of the MBS philosopy in post it form

Although Tim described MBS as a school with very traditional buildings, the creative transformation of the buildings and grounds with multicolored poles and bright yellow signs gave the school a contemporary and welcoming feel.

I was greeted warmly by Tim (principal) and Evelyn (DP) and grateful for them giving up over two hours of their precious time during my visit. All of the staff and the children made me feel very welcome.
The breakdown of the MBS shared philosophy was evident on the large whiteboard in the staff room.This was the groundwork behind the school's vision that is now articulated around a 'Simon Senek golden circle' of why,what,how.

Junior boys screening up their milk video for all of us to view
I was interested in learning how the apple TV connector  in the staff room made streaming from IOS devices so easy. Tim and Evelyn demonstrated by streaming up some of my photos immediately from my i phone. The highlight for me later on was seeing a few of the junior boys 'screen up' a milk video they had just made on their ipad and share it on the TV in the classroom.Not only was the video very engaging but the screen view was excellent as well.
Here are some answers to the questions my staff asked about MBS. We will definitely organise for our  junior and senior teams to visit. 
Maths planning template on ipad
Using single cell classrooms for team teaching - how is it different from cross-setting / streaming?  How is it different from the traditional teacher roaming / group teaching set up? 

They are not running single rooms with single sets of resources. You will have different learners during the day. You treat the two classes as one large class. For example, a class of 56 with 2 teachers. Each class has one teacher allocated for pastoral care & the daily register and the written reports are the only times that you work on your own. If there’s a meeting then they aim for both teachers to be present. apart from parent interviews.

An example of the junior action station record that they highlight
Two classrooms become one :all resources, furniture etc all go into one room and you need to reduce the doubling up of resources. The rooms were initially 'gutted'. There are no teacher desks and no filing cabinets. The rooms were made more colorful. There are individual blogs from Year 1. There is a blogger app that the juniors use to take a photo (one a week from Yr 1). This becomes a record of their progress over six years at school. This is like a sample book of progress.
What have they done to their spaces to make them suit particular learning styles and learning activities? No class sets of desks, movable learning spaces, kids design the two rooms - one for workshop, one for action station. The rooms change regularly and everyone needs to be flexible. Less is more.
How is the furniture arranged/organised-is there any? How are the rooms laid out? How do they manage the team teaching aspect? What does it look like? All planning is on the iPad with notabliity.School expectations are a guide.Whatever works for the teaching pair goes and if they can show that it meets the needs of the learners then that's fine. Each teacher has an iPad and laptop. The teachers working in partnership with the i pads make the single cell rooms become open plan.

How do the children know the expectations? How are the digital next steps made accessible/managed? Can we have a copy of what the children use? Google apps, learning pathways - say it proportions/ratio in maths for learning. First they sit together as a group. the teacher asks them what they already know and what they need to work on next. That informs the workshop. Then they must show evidence of what they can do via links on their blogs. Learners opt in and out of workshops and digital pathway.Learners move across different groups. They Integrate mixed ability workshops and continually build up evidence. They got rid of ultranet and now they just put all evidence on individual blogs. These are public go to this link Akatoa (Yr 5 & 6) There is a governance site for the board and a staff pedagogy site. Both of these sites are private.
How did you get the whole staff on board and motivated to adopt changes in practice?It morphed through pedagogy and practice. 
How do you keep track of what each child has done when opting in and out of workshops? Originally learners moved names on Velcro on boards but they are now moving away from this to total student agency. Activity tracking sheets and digital group planning records are used.
How much support is given to children when identifying their next steps? Support happens with the workshop teacher. Teachers agree to swap weekly, fortnightly and plan together.
Do you find assessing children much easier with another teacher in the room? Only one teacher still in each room but you can get two opinions and you can discuss progress and learning together.
I'd like to express my sincere thanks to Tim and Evelyn and their team for making me feel so welcome during my visit. I am further inspired to be bold and brave and keep creating those ripples that will keep our learners engaged in deep learning for success.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Practice Drives Theory for Change Leaders @MichaelFullan1

I have had this post in draft form for a few weeks and have since completed my first essay (read more below) and am now in the process of writing another one. Yet, I am determined to still continue my blog reflections and Tweets @jennyljackson as they are helping me to stay connected and grow as a future focused learning leader.Time to share a little of my learning with you.

Read a leadership book of substance, react to this in a personal, reflective way and develop a narrative that integrates your understanding from the book with aspects of your personal and /or professional life as well as to the course literature.

This is the first assessment task in the Masters of Educational Leadership studies that I am studying part time. Since writing a sabbatical paper and creating a video focusing on engaging students in deep learning, I have been motivated to model and explore being a deep learner myself. A 'growth mindset' attitude has rekindled my love for learning and it is with passion and enthusiasm that I venture along this new learning pathway.

As with everything I  do in my work as lead learner at St Joseph's school in Oamaru, I make sure that nothing is ever done for the sake of it. There must be an authentic purpose that relates directly to enriching the lives of all learners in our school community (children, staff and families). If we truly want our young learners to 'engage in deep learning for success'  then we must be doing the same as adult learners. Hattie's evidence from a  synthesis of learning (2009) proves that the biggest effect on student learning occurs when 'teachers become learners of their own teaching and when students become their own teachers'. Visible teaching and learning by teachers and students is the key to activating deep learning for success.

One significant way that has helped me to reflect on my personal learning has been to make my learning visible and to share it with others. In doing this, it not only helps me but possibly provides a springboard for other learners to reflect on and deepen their own learning. Through sharing my reflections in this blog format, I have a transmission vehicle to give the task authenticity and thus a purpose. If through my reflections, at least one other learner has deepened or challenged their own thoughts about learning, then this task has been justified. In saying this, I'm aware that this public blog reaches out to a wider global audience, beyond our school community, such is the power of digital technology. This gives that springboard greater bounce and increases the chances for other learners to grow their thinking and motivates me to continue sharing and deepening my own thinking and learning.

Is this practice driving theory?

I chose to focus my reflections on Change Leader by Michael Fullan, a book that I have had for some time but never really given a priority in the busyness of my day to day life. However, after participating in a conference with Fullan in Melbourne 2013 and linking much of the learning in my sabbatical paper to 'A Rich Seam, How New Pedagogies in a Deep Learning'  by Fullan and Langworthy 2014, I revisited Change Leader with a renewed energy and passion and completed my first essay a few weeks ago.

I have since viewed this 8 minute video by Michael Fullan from the NZ TKI Educational Leaders site. He discusses the benefits of job-embedded professional learning and how it can be sustained. I have shared this with our staff as I believe it encapsulates much of our focus on learning and change at our school at present. I am interested in your feedback and learning (hover on the blue title below to access the video). 
Also view this short video featuring Michael Fullan talking about Learning is the Work.
In Depth with Michael Fullan

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Flip the MLE building. Team teaching can work with single cell classrooms.

As a future focused principal of a traditional style school building in Oamaru, listening to Tim Lovelock and his DP's share learning at Myross Bush school in the far south was sheer bliss. At St Joseph's, we have an enthusiastic, pedagogically switched on staff keen to experience team teaching but only two of our junior classes have been able to make it happen. We thought that we would have to knock down walls between classrooms. At Myross Bush school, effective team teaching happens within single cell classrooms. Learn more from my notes here.
Team teaching model at Myross Bush school, Invercargill
  • Children experience one – three teachers a day and are moving around different spaces. School looks traditional on the outside but revolutionized inside.
  • Team teaching is  visible to each other and to the kids – totally transparent. No busy stuff!!
  • What is team teaching? We share it with the parents and show them what it looks like.
  • Team teaching helps. It started with the new entrants and moved through the school. Teachers have agency. No planning checks. Come and sit in the room and talk through your programme.
  • Team teaching makes it sustainable – each pair makes a philosophy on how they work together. Keep changing and mixing teams. Have different combinations and strengths.
  • Team teaching but still in single cells classrooms.
  • Go to the link here to learn more about team teaching at Myross Bush
  • Myross Bush's school vision is articulated around Simon Senek's golden circle of why, what,how.
  • Philosophy based on Dean Finks Sustainable Leadership
  • Attend U learn as a whole staff – immersed in future focused learning as a staff and all have a growth mindset. See expert practitioners in action.
  • Child is always at the centre and learning all around the child. What sustains and compliments it?
  • Always go back to the why and the pedagogy to check they are on track.
  • One teacher in the cave/workshop room teaches traditional groups. Opportunities for kids to opt in and out.
  • Workstation/ action station sheets, other teacher alongside/ flipped learning model
  • Agency really important – learning centredness to opt in and out of workshops
  • Action research alive, no place to hide when you team teach and plan together
  • Environment has changed to aide the why and thus a MLE. Cloak bays have change to become extra classroom spaces
  • Digital efficacy – bring it back to the why
  • High agency & low agency students paired up
  • Use SOLO thinking taxonomy for everything
  • Students Hyperlink evidence from goals on progression to their blogs to share with whanau
  • Prefer blogs as its totally open compared to ultranet (closed network). Parents RSS feed by using cellphone numbers when new blogposts come up.
  • BYOD More than the device-but why you want to use it and what you want to do with it?
  • What is it you want to do with it? – go with a tool that will give you the most connection over time, teacher dashboard,
  • Have a go together as a staff. Just jump in. Won’t role out an official BYOD policy unless we know the why, what and how.
  • Alvin Toffler quote ......... shared with parents: 'cannot learn and unlearn, and relearn'
  • It’s NOT about the thing that you want them to bring ie. The device. 
  • SOLO – Ask children, where you think your SOLO thinking is and why do  you think you are there?
  • You don’t always need a rubric for everything.
  • Don’t talk about reading , writing and maths but talk about ‘thinking and learning via SOLO'.
  • Kids aren't pigeonholed into the red reading group.
  • Numeracy is focussed on agency groups rather than ability groups in the senior school
  • Movement within workshops all the time.
  • Materials for maths at Solo 1 etc Solo stations – prestructural using materials
  • Keep SOLO simple.
  • One day a term is an inquiry time for a team as well as crt. Time out of your room as a team of 4.
  • Apply the key competencies to staff as adults – ask questions!!!! Powerful and hard conversations.
  • Growth mindset http://prezi.com/fqwtgh3cfnu_/growth-mindset/
  • Why? – We keep coming back to it as a staff.
  • Give staff time and space to experience everything together as a staff.
  • New staff: We look for potential and initiative. Can they think outside the square ?
  • Learner Licenses : Creates acaccountability for learners.Only level 3,4,5 can choose  independently Not reflective on learning ability based on solo taxonomy. How you work fits in with how you think.
Next steps for us: Visit Myross Bush as a staff and learn more

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Ch 7 Open Learning at Work: 5 key ingredients for creating dynamic learning environments for staff

Learning environments that offer opportunities to explore, trial, play and collaborate allow innovation and creativity to flourish for all learners (staff and students).

I have just reread and reflected on Chapter 7 Part 1 of the powerful book  OPEN: How we'll work, live and learn in the future by David Price. This chapter refers to workplaces. I have  adapted the learning to suit a school setting. How can we develop a 'creative workplace' within our schools along the lines of the successful and inspiring Edison, Google & Facebook models? (page126)
Source reference - Google workplace image  
This fits with the changes we are seeing within classrooms as we move away from the traditional 'one size fits all' settings.
For example, this video explains the flipped approach to the way we have been conditioned to have classrooms and staffrooms set up in the 'same old' way for years.
It is called called Expanded Learning Opportunities 

Price refers to 5 key ingredients for creating dynamic learning environments:
1. Create a Machine-Shop Culture
Here is a challenge particularly for our high schools. Imagine all disciplines or subject teachers planning together and creating combined learning environments rather than separate disciplines. Thomas Edison believed that a group of people with varied backgrounds could be the most inventive.
A machine shop culture reflects the fact that 'heads and hands are equals' (p127) Everyone's skills and talents are important and they all need to be valued irrespective of rank or responsibility. Tinkering, playing and 'doing' are vital.

2. Keep it Social
Allowing chances to socialize informally in the workplace contribute to creativity as well. Are we 'wringing an ounce more of productivity' out of our teams, or are they truly loving being engaged at work? Rather than talking at people, we need to talk with people.

We have recently transformed our weekly senior leadership team meetings into Friday Forums. These are open and optional for everyone including support staff, board, parents... We have them from 8am to 8:30 with croissants. Learn more about this here:

3.Make learning horizontally relevant
Be open to new ideas and put them into practice quickly and easily (p131) 

Giving my staff a 'sabbatical' away from meetings, gave them the time to explore and put into practice some of our ideas. We often spend time talking, planning and proposing ideas. Yet we don't plan time to activate these ideas. We also need to allow downtime to provide the freedom to make this happen.

4. Give learners the 'right to roam' on the commons
Offer choice in the workplace and options to be involved in a range of projects, as well as time to pursue interests and passions. Don't limit opportunities to only one person but allow many to take on multiple responsibilities.Distributing responsibilities among staff helps to cover what needs to be done. How would this work if we opened our lists of responsibilities to the whole group?

5. From individual to collective, from formal to informal
Social media has transformed accessibility to knowledge through Personal Learning Networks. Informal, social learning is more powerful than formal training. Leaders need to create the right conditions for learning to flourish. Understanding the power of social 
networks can only happen if you experience it personally. I'm encouraging staff to explore Twitter and share this link to my experiences to help.
I also share my Twitter experiences on this video when I first starting following Price and learnt about the book Open. You can access it here.

We need to intentionally foster learning and build vibrant learning cultures not only for our students but for our staff, parents and ourselves. As leaders, we need to model the learning that we wish to see in others and ensure that our personal learning journey never ends.
What's the difference between creativity and innovation?
Creativity = new ideas
Innovation= the ability to produce something with your ideas

Engaging in your work for the challenge and enjoyment of it is a motivational driver for developing expertise and creativity. It must be intrinsically driven.

As part of a Learning and Change Network, we are participating of our own accord and driving the learning and change together with students, families and the community with very little financial support. You can lean more about this here. Or watch this video.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Family Learning Hui No 2 Monday August 25th

Every Student Engaged in Deep Learning for Success
The evening began with a reminder of our school wide goal:To engage every student in deep learning for success.
 Digital devices are one tool for supporting engagement in deep learning. We use a range of ways to make this happen. These thinking progressions help to explain what we mean by deep learning.

Stage 1 of 4 stages leading the children to deep learning for success
The image above is the first of four stages showing how we encourage children to think more deeply about their learning. You can access all of the stages via this link.

Keeping track of multiple school blogs
Go to the google plus symbol and click on it and add the author of the blog into your circles. You will then be able to open a page of multiple blogs and keep up with the latest published news from classrooms.

A day in the life of a BYOD classroom
Mrs Frances-Rees and the manuka class presentation shows how BYOD (bring your own devices) works in a Year 7 classroom. You can access this by going to this link.

Our Year 7 and 8's have been BYOD for the past couple of years. Now we are getting ready for the other year groups to have this opportunity. By offering a reasonably priced, reliable device like the chromebook, we are taking away the need for competition that can come when children bring a range of devices to school. There will still be class devices to access for children to use but the children that own their own can take these home to continue the 'beyond school learning' experiences.
Our focus is understanding that learning happens all the time. It's not limited to just between the hours of 9-3 at school. Now the children have access to school learning via our blogs and sites at home. You as parents and caregivers also have access and can support and reinforce learning at other times. If the learning is engaging then the children are more likely to want to learn themselves.
Here is a link to a video of Year 7 students articulating SOLO learning, Key Conpetencie's & digital technology and how these engage them in deep learning http://ln.is/youtu.be/LcuU4 

 Chromebook information
Gareth and a team from Harvey Norman explained how chromebooks work. We have flyers available in the office that describe the special deals only available to schools. Families can contact Gareth or the team from Timaru and Dunedin for more advice. We have their contact details in the office. We will share more information about this at our next meeting as well.

Extras to think about before our next get together early in Term 4
Bringing our families and students together with staff, is a way to learn together. It's also a way for families and students to actively contribute towards our vision to achieve our goal for success for our students.
Our work as part of a learning and change network has encouraged us to engage about learning with our students, families and community. This is a link to a recent video that I made explaining how we can achieve much more by sharing our own knowledge and expertise together.

We look forward to learning together again at the next hui planned for early Term 4.