Monday, 28 November 2016

One bus with a new driver

Is the new principal the new bus driver ? No !!
How do we ensure we are all on the same bus, going in the same direction together ? Do we know what our ultimate goal is for our learners or for ourselves as a community ?

During this final school term, we have had a chance to reflect and renew our vision in order to go forward with passion and purpose into 2017 and beyond. Ultimately, the driver of our bus will be our agreed, authentic community vision.

Image attributed to
After eight weeks, our bus driver has emerged.
You can read the steps we have taken during our eight week process by reading these posts:
Individual culture and context drives the vision process
A renewed community vision emerges in the seventh week

Here is a brief presentation that summarises our experiences, leading to the renewed vision going forward.

As an outcome of consultation with our community, our bus driver will be :

                   Engaged and motivated learners always faithful to our loving God.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Collaboration, Co-responsibility and Co-creation

  "Collaboration, cooperation, co-creation, celebrating diversity and innovation" are words used by Greg Whitby in his presentation to the Congress of Catholic Schools in Rome, 2015. "If we are to truly transform schooling for a new age, we need to look for partnerships between schools and systems....It is the active work of the community of learners that will drive change and innovation..." 
(Whitby, G., 2016, Topics ACPPA, Vol 26, No.3)
  Although I had only been a principal in Melbourne for three weeks, the opportunity to collaborate with like minded principals through a Digital Literacy School Grant application, was a great way to build transformational partnerships. It provided an excellent opportunity for our schools to exchange best practice, ideas and innovation as a community of learners.
  I had already experienced the benefits of cluster-based school collaboration as a vehicle for school improvement, through involvement in the Learning and Change Network in New Zealand. This short video explains the benefits of such networks:
  Fullan and Munby (2016) share the values of effective outcomes-based collaboration as a benefit of focused, productive networks. In these networks, leaders, teachers and students challenge, support, innovate and learn from one another to measurably improve outcomes. You can read more in Fullan and Munby's global dialogue think piece - Inside out and downside -up at this link. In this article, Fullan and Munby describe the eight critical success factors for effective system - wide school collaboration including the need for partnerships to move from collaboration to co-responsibility to a position of shared accountability.
  When the principals and leaders from six schools came together, we came well prepared. We familiarised ourselves with the grant application and mooted ideas on a google document before we met. We shared some background on our school practices and read the article from Fullan and Munby. Rich dialogue led to the drafting of our goals and outcomes. We each chose to complete a portion of the application on a shared document within the expected timeframe. One of the principals offered to proofread and another took responsibility for submitting the application. We agreed that we would proceed with our plans to work together regardless of the success of the application. 
  As a new principal to the group, I sensed the enthusiasm and passion from the other leaders. The process of collaboration, co-responsibility and co-creation was an energising and rewarding experience. I am looking forward to our communities of learners working together to drive change and innovation in 2017 and truly transform our schooling for the new age.
Some of our leaders collaborating at St Paul the Apostle North, Endeavour Hills.
newly formed South East Digital Literacy Group SEDL

Saturday, 19 November 2016

A renewed community vision emerges in the seventh week...

  Six weeks of collaboration followed by time for rest and reflection in the seventh week, contribute to a renewed community vision.
  When I came home and announced to my family that I had been at my new school for seven weeks, they reminded me that seven was a very special number. During my seventh week as principal of St Patrick's school in Murrumbeena, Melbourne, our renewed community vision began to emerge.
  During 2014, Lorraine Frances-Rees and I collaborated on an article for the Catholic Education New Zealand magazine, Aoraki. This was in relation to change initiatives that began to evolve as an outcome of my sabbatical after seven years as a principal in New Zealand. It was then that I became enlightened about the number seven from a biblical perspective. Lorraine wrote about God resting on the seventh day in Genesis and the resting of fields every seven years in Leviticus. You can read the article by going to page 11 of this link.
Go to page 11 to learn more.

What has emerged in the seventh week at St Patrick's school ?
This is a summary of the visioning journey so far. The link to an earlier post, explains the initial process with staff: Individual culture and context drives the visioning process.

  Staff shared their thoughts and ideas in relation to four probe questions linked to the school's existing vision statements and other pertinent documents. Then staff followed the 10/4 voting process. A fifth probe question was later introduced in response to further discussions - If you had a magic wand to transform the school buildings, learning spaces and playground, what would you like to see change ?
  Interested parents who joined our newly formed POPE (Parents Open Partners in Education) group also reflected on the probe questions. Members of the Parish Education Board shared their thoughts and ideas too. Students contributed through meetings and surveys.

Staff voting during the visioning session.

All of the data was summarised and the outcomes shared with staff. Here is a link to the summary.

  During this time, we received the new Catholic Education Melbourne Learning and Teaching Framework, Horizons of Hope. It is a distinctive document, designed to support excellence in teaching and learning within the context of the central vision of Catholic education to carry on the mission of Jesus. I prepared a presentation, incorporating the key messages from Horizons of Hope, to guide staff as they formulate a succinct vision statement and future actions for our community. Here is the presentation. Slide 6 shows the link to Horizons of Hope.

Thanks go to Lorraine Frances-Rees for slides 8,10,11,13 adapted from our presentation at the
Catholic Education Convention, New Zealand, 2015.
You can access the presentation Authentic Catholic Leadership at this link.

  Below is a draft vision statement, a contribution from one group of staff as they began to plan actions going forward. This statement links very well with the existing school logo and encompasses the meaning of the five existing vision statements (Slide 7 above). We hope to have one succinct statement, easily articulated by the whole community. The statement could be the one that guides our future plans and actions.
Continual collaboration within a connected community allows a renewed vision to emerge in the seventh week...

Our existing values will be revisited as we link them to our renewed vision for all learners.