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