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.

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