Thursday, 27 August 2015

Schools and Communities Creating a Better Future - 5 global trends

Schools and Communities Creating a Better Future was the title of the recent learning session held here at St Joseph's school. This was facilitated by the inspiring duo - Mary Wootton and Brian Annan (links to early blogs that include them).  
Our staff sang a welcome waiata led by Paul Cartlidge and Leanne Brookes and fifty staff from the North Otago education sector (primary, secondary, RTLB & RTLit)  joined in. Special thanks to the North Otago Primary Principal's Association for sponsoring a scrumptious and well received afternoon tea. Thanks to the St Joe's Year 7 and 8 students who helped to set up for this event.

St Joe's staff lead the waiata to welcome Mary and Brian
This is an the overview of the session:
Infinity - where the learning never ends (learn more by going to the link).
Future focused learning, Learning Maps, Identifying school change priorities, Identifying student change priorities to grow agency,Engaging family/whanau in learning relationships.
Here are a few highlights of the session:

Future focused learning: Brian asked us to discuss this at our tables and to agree on one "big ticket item" of what future focused learning could look like for our learners.
He shared visuals that captured the shift away from adult controlled learning - past focused learning to student-adult negotiated learning.
Why can't 17 year olds assess themselves against a rubric of self-created standards ?
Five global trends : We need schools to shift their thinking around these global trends. Have conversations around these with learners and families and plan how we will shift into the future. We can either be forward thinking and action this ourselves or wait for it to happen. We need to step into the future with confidence. 
1.Schools to ecologies (not just classroom equals school but learning outside the boundaries of the school walls) 
2. Individuals to connected (connectedness to the outside world) 
3.Competition to collaboration (we learn and achieve more by working with each other) 
4.Passive to interactive (this has moved from active to interactive, then you are also collaborative) 
5.Needy to appreciative ( pld in the past was needs analysis, we need to take responsibility and appreciate learners and their families capabilities).

Passive to interactive - We had to place ourselves on a human continuum and share why we were in that place. We need to move towards the right end of the continuum. Brian suggested this would also be an engaging and thought provoking activity to do with students and parents.

 Continuum - passive, active, interactive teaching & learning environments
Brian explores the continuum in relation to future focussed learning and learner agency
Activate, collaborate, innovate : We discussed a visual that was divided into four quadrants with aspirations to be in the top left quadrant "innovate to improve". The greatest challenge is to become interactive around learning with families, community and the environment and change something in terms of industry and business. 
Brian and Mary's Infinity business offers support services for schools to work towards success in all four quadrants.

Infinity Learning Maps : These are a perfect place to start with our students, staff and families. They allow for open and jargon free conversations and can be used as an evaluative tool to learner agency. You can read more about a learning map workshop at the National Networking Hui on this blog.
Mary explained that learning maps offer a child's perception on their learning. Learning maps can be looked at within a certain school context for authentic purposes. They can be used to understand the current learning situation and then revisited again in a few months time. The learner can take a photo of their map and make a two minute video clip explaining it. This gives an informative picture over time around the learners and their thinking around learning. Research around learning maps by Jean Annan has proven that student, teacher, leader and parent practice make huge shifts. 
Brian and Mary are able to offer support in the form of workshops and seminars for teachers, leaders, students and families in the learning map process and in relation to addressing global trends and future focused learning.
Mary shares the power of  learning maps
Brian and Mary very kindly left me with a copy of their presentation to share. If you are interested in it, please email me - 
Are you actioning these 5 global trends? If so, how ?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Catholic Character review from the inside looking out

Being invited to participate in a Catholic education review is an excellent learning experience. I would encourage every leader in a Catholic school to grab such an opportunity. Spending time in the presence of lead reviewer Paul Ferris,QSM and his experienced team, Rosemary Burke and Fr Wayne Healey was a privilege. Special thanks to the principal of St Patrick's Invercargill, Callan Goodall and his enthusiastic staff and children who made us all feel very welcome. Thanks to the Dunedin Diocese for their willingness to open up the review process. I came away from the review feeling humbled by this rich learning experience and motivated to share my learning with our school community.
The following information was taken from my own notes during the review.
Left to right: Fr Wayne Healey, Rosemary Burke & Paul Ferris
As you walk into the school, it is clear that it is "unabashedly Catholic".
Brother Sir Patrick Lynch shared his thoughts around this at the Catholic Convention
These photos give you an idea of the visual impact the school's Catholic identity makes as you enter the main office, school hall and playground.
Top row - Entrance to St Patrick's School, bottom row -new prayer garden.
One of the eye catching murals displayed in the playground that emanate the rich Catholicity of the school.
More of the murals out in the playground and in the school hall that link to the gospel values and the rich culture and tradition of the school community.
Board of Trustees 
As part of the review, it is necessary to meet with the board. This is an opportunity for the board to share their passion for the Catholic school that they govern. Here are some examples of the questions that were put to the board:
What does the school do really well in keeping with its Catholic ethos ?
What has changed and improved since the last review ?
What has the board done around the formation of its teachers ?
Who holds the tagged positions and do their job descriptions reflect their commitment ?
Do the board know what papers that the teachers have studied ?
What do the board know about the Catholic special character budget ?
How is the board assured the appraisal system focuses on growth in special character and quality teaching ?
How does the special character attestation get completed ?
How often do you have a whole school mass ?
How can the board be assured that the school provides an authentic encounter with Jesus ?

This meeting commenced with a reflection on the progress since the recommendations made in the last report. I wasn't present for the whole meeting as I went and observed some teachers in action:
What evidence do you have to show the changes made in response to the last review ?
What would we see when we come back again in three years time ?
Where does your Catholic special character goal fit within your charter ?
Do you utilise the open and preference place data to guide your targets ?
Have you got links on your website and facebook page to special character resources that support parents (eg. with the sacraments) ?
Share your staff formation plan.
Does the principal and DRS have a thorough understanding of the RE teaching happening throughout the school ? Does the principal challenge the quality of feedback to ensure healthy professional growth ?
Does your data around RE support adjustments to teaching practice ?

Teaching Observations
Is their connection, engagement and participation ?
Where does the lesson and the planning fit within the strand ?
Are the children excited to learn and does the teacher demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for RE and their faith ?

Director of Religious Education (DRS)
What has developed since the last review ?
How do you know that there is quality RE teaching happening around the school ?
How do we adapt teaching practice to ensure that the children are encountering Christ in the classrooms (NZCB The Catholic Education of School-Age Children "puts the encounter with Jesus at the centre of Catholic education" page 2 ).
You can access this important document here
Are the DRS reports to the board more than a diary of events ? Do they assure the board that there is an ability within the school to make a difference ? 
Where is the voice of the child as learner ? Do you find out what is working well and not working well for the children ?
Formation of teachers - Have you got a record of the accreditation hours for the teachers ? Have you analysed it and developed targets to go forward based on this information ?
Have you shared this with the board?
How do you know that prayer takes place every morning and how is this developed ?
Parish School Relationship - What level of input does the school get into the liturgy ?
Are the teachers aware of the different criteria for preference of enrolment (see link page 114) and are they teaching to this ?

Learn how staff and board prepared for our own recent Catholic review here. 
This review experience has emphasised the importance of our Catholic schools sharing resources and working together (another post with this same message)
We need to continually nudge each other to move out of our comfort zones and ensure that our Catholic schools can proclaim the joy of the Gospel uniquely and powerfully with Jesus Christ at the centre of all that we do. We need to inject our passion and energy for our Catholic faith into our schools so that our children and families truly encounter the living God.

“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). 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

How can school values guide ethical decision making and resolve dilemmas ?

Ethical decision making and the resolution of dilemmas can be a challenging process. Having an authentic and systematic approach that links to school values can support everyone involved.

Early in 2015, I spent four invaluable days participating in a Values and Leadership course facilitated by Professor Christopher Branson as part of the Masters in Educational
Leadership. This blog post is made up of excerpts from an assignment where I aligned our St Joseph's school values to a recognised ethical decision making framework. It is possible to carefully and systematically apply the same process to school values in any school. The challenge for us at St Joseph's is to reflect on this framework and begin to action it.

The Shapiro and Stefkovich framework applies the four ethics of justice, critique, care and profession to a dilemma or situation that needs to be resolved (Begley, 2006). Branson (2010), includes a fifth ethic, that of personal moral integrity. It is this fifth ethic that focuses on the good of others rather than on oneself, that resonates strongly with Catholic school values.
I have  aligned the ethics of the Shapiro and Stefkovich framework (Begley, 2006) to our St Joseph's school values. By putting this structured framework into practice, we have access to a systematic and holistic process to apply to any ethical dilemmas. It also provides  a transparent foundation from which to confidently articulate the decisions taken and the reasons why. 
At St Joseph's school, our four values are based around Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel: respect (for oneself and others),resilience (courage to take risks, accept challenges - Tiko/Pono and stand strong - Kia kaha for what is right and just), reverence (in school, church, home and the community) and good relationships (with ourselves, each other and God). 
In the light of the Shapiro and Stefkovich framework, we could apply the following questions to an ethical dilemma -
 1. Respect (apply the ethics of care): Am I respecting everyone’s rights and best interests when making the decision? Who could feel disrespected by my actions?
 2. Resilience (apply the ethics of justice): Is there a policy, procedure or law that can be used to resolve this dilemma? How should the procedure be implemented? Have we taken into account our school restorative justice practices? 
3. Reverence (apply the ethic of critique) Am I reflecting our special Catholic character in this decision? Am I taking into account class, race, gender, privilege, power, culture, language and social justice? (Branson, 2010). How will the decision affect the whole community (home, school and parish)?
 4. Relationships (ethics of the profession): How does this decision support the best interest of the students? What personal and professional codes of conduct and standards need to be taken into account? What are the community’s views? 

Research by Branson (2004) and Gardner, Avolio, May & Walumbwa (2005), recommends that leaders should be challenged to develop a greater self - knowledge of their own values. Deep self - reflection of one’s personal values leads to an increased awareness of how one’s actual values contribute to ethical decision making (Branson, 2010). 
Understanding the relationships between motives and values and being sensitive to all categories of influence (Begley, 2004) contributes to a holistic and authentic approach to resolving dilemmas (Duignan, 2008). Ensuring that we grow in holistic authenticity as principals and leaders is vital. 
Regular and deep reflection leads to a growing self- awareness. This is reflected in our authentic presence in quality, everyday relationships in which the dignity of the human person is realised (Duignan, 2008).

The next step is to share this framework within our school community and apply it.