Monday, 16 April 2018

Empowerment, Passion and Unified Purpose

What a fabulous experience! Thank you for the opportunity to create a shared vision as stakeholders. The process was fair and gave everyone a voice. It rekindled the passion for teaching and the blessing it is. I love that we are all on the same journey.
                                                                          -  Staff member, St Patrick's, Murrumbeena 

St Patrick's school is committed to a positive, proactive three year professional development plan to shift us from being a great school to an outstanding beacon of excellence that delivers optimum results for the whole community. 

Schools That Deliver respect our voice and our ability to create our own ways of delivering while remaining loyal to the unique personality of our school. Adapted from Edwards & Martin, 2016

Mary demonstrates Classic Brainstorming.
Bill and Teresa looking on in the background.
Bill Martin  and John Edwards, co-founders and co-authors of Schools That Deliver, are credited with the deep success of one hundred and fifty schools across six countries. Mary Wilson, founding principal of Baverstock Oakes, has been part of the Schools That Deliver network for fourteen years. Teresa Edwards, principal of St James Catholic school, has been involved for six years. An earlier article, Students become the leaders of the future through internally driven change, provides an insight as to why St Patrick's school chose to play an active role in the Schools That Deliver network.

Mary, Bill and Teresa facilitated two full professional development days for thirty-five St Patrick's staff members: office staff, teachers, learning support officers and leaders. Every staff member, with the exception of the principal, contributed to a narrative for our school vision going forward. The narrative enables our vision of engaged and motivated learners to be brought to life, through an internally driven, research based, best practice, whole staff professional learning journey. As a principal, by willingly giving voice to the staff, they have gifted me in return with their vision. I must lead the process to deliver and bring the vision to life for the benefit of every learner at St Patricks.

Thank you to the Schools That Deliver team and to our staff, for allowing me to share their responses to the shared visioning process. The combined voices of the staff reflect the significance of the journey we have begun. You can learn about the process in the chapter summaries on the Schools That Deliver website. The final iteration of our powerful St Patrick's vision narrative and our unique research themes will be shared with our community when staff have completed the critiquing process.

Staff Responses
The dream you are promoting is something that I hope people in our school really get behind and try for. Working in a performing school where people live by the core values we identified sounds like a fantastic thing and something I would love to be part of. Thanks for your engaging and fast-moving way of delivering information and posing questions. Look forward to working with you in the near future.

...You are passionate and believe wholeheartedly in this process. You made it real, it wasn’t sugar coated. It didn’t give us answers about what to do/how etc but it gave me an understanding of the journey we’re embarking on. The theoretical components, were balanced with real life anecdotes - these were engaging. It was a very non-threatening environment. It was an honour to be part of the first step...

Thank you for two engaging and worthwhile days. I have enjoyed working in small groups and given the opportunity to put forward my thoughts and ideas. I am excited by this process happening at our school and look forward to the future at St Patrick’s. Bill’s stories have been fascinating to listen to. They help to understand the process by using real life examples. I have enjoyed being able to discuss ideas with people around me and clarify meaning. Thank you.

The last two days have been stress free and enjoyable. The brainstorm and voting was great for giving everyone a voice. I like having a vision as a narrative as in the past we had statements as our shared vision. I am looking forward to having the next 12 months unfold.

Thanks for your generosity of time and spirit and storytelling. You have begun an interesting journey. Enjoyed the process and the way I felt empowered to go on and grow, learn, teach. Let the ruckus storm journey begin.

The past two days have been very valuable to our staff. You kept us busy from the get go but in a calm and stress-free environment. It was great to hear your stories and experiences from your personal lives as well as from all your storming. The 10/4 voting system was simple and easy to understand. Thank you.

Marg takes a turn to record the 10/4 voting for this group.
Thanks for your work in taking us back through the 10/4 process. It was certainly easier to follow and get things out of it with more time available to think and complete the process. Thanks also for including entertaining stories to help illustrate your points and make it all more engaging.

..Thank you all for bringing your skill sets to our school and entrusting us to follow in our own footsteps, creating our own best St Patrick’s in our lifetime. You have prepared us well for the “storm” and I hope to God that we remember your words quickly enough. You have shown me why I am a teacher and that a fresh approach is going to make my life and the lives of our children ‘delicious’. I will try to use this in my school and personal life as the time to lead my life is here!

Thank you for facilitating two fabulous days for us. I’m looking forward to moving forward personally and professionally from this moment now! I loved the stories and examples you shared with us about the difference between management and leadership. I already feel there is a new bond among us now and it will be exciting to see each other after our term break...Look forward to seeing you in our journey forward...

I have really enjoyed the last two days at the conference. It exceeded all of my expectations. I felt engaged throughout the whole experience. I enjoyed Day 1 so much that I actually looked forward to coming in today. As a group the three of you have excellent people skills and are excellent story tellers. I really enjoyed looking at the inquiry probes and being involved in the voting process. It felt great to be a part of something so special. Thanks for all of the help, tips, stories and advice..

Thank you for your time and all the things you have taught us in only two days. I have really enjoyed the sessions. I enjoyed how you broke the day into different parts. I really enjoyed hearing about your time in your own schools. I liked that I had my say in the small group as it made me feel more confident in my ideas. Thank you for your time. 

I cannot begin to tell you how much I have loved the last two days. Day 1 left me feeling empowered – NO DISCUSSION – left me feeling comfortable in my own thoughts and ideas. I have to be honest and say that at times on a regular school day I feel a bit intimidated and second guessing myself about sharing my thoughts/ideas at staff meeting – yesterday the fact that I knew my ideas/thoughts would not be judged the juices flowed and I felt quite confident to share. I am looking forward to feeling more at ease through this year. Thank you...
Staff sort and choose research themes without discussion.
Walking in on day 1 of this process was very daunting. I had no idea of what we were getting into but now at the end of day 2 I am beginning to see the bigger picture of where St Patrick’s story is going. I am hopeful that this journey we are going on together over the coming years will see big and exciting changes happening. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. 

I have really enjoyed the last two days at the conference. It exceeded all of my expectations. I felt engaged throughout the whole experience. It felt great to be a part of something so special.

Thank you for leading us through the process of forming a vision for our school. Your passion and enthusiasm encouraged us to become involved. It was great to be able to share our ideas without discussion. I really liked the voting system. There was a good balance of information being presented to us and us taking part in activities.

Thank you for a fantastic two days. As a quiet person it was great to feel like my thoughts and ideas were heard and valued. The 10/4 voting system was a tool I think works well. It is an exciting time for St Patricks and hopefully we will see changes in the future. It was challenging to not talk at times!

What a fabulous experience! Thank you for the opportunity to create a shared vision as stakeholders. The process was fair and gave everyone a voice. It rekindled the passion for teaching and the blessing it is. I love that we are all on the same journey. 
Many thanks for a super two days. To be able to come up with core values and a vision statement with everyone having a voice is extraordinary. I have never been involved in such an innovative process. The no discussion gave everyone equal footing. Looking forward to the journey.

...I have thoroughly enjoyed the stories and now know what it means to have a vision. I feel your input and inspiration will make us all more involved in our vision and work with our community.

The last 2 days have been an extraordinary journey. Usually when I go into a room and see thick textas, butcher paper, blutack etc I have a feeling of dread as I imagine someone asking ME to stand up and be either scribe or reporter. This experience was so non threatening. It gave me a stress-free window of opportunity to have MY say without feeling ‘all eyes on me’. I have not only come away with a lot of thoughts but I can also apply it to my personal life. Thanks for allowing me to realise that I shouldn’t manage but lead.
Lisa scribes for her group during the Classic Brainstorming process.
Thank you for all your hard work. It was extremely valuable. I can’t wait to get into our action plan and work on being on the same page creating unity amongst the staff. Bill and Mary I loved all of your stories. You are extremely engaging...

I have learned a lot about our school by participating in your sessions. I have a sound understanding of where we are at now and I am excited for the journey ahead. Bill I found you to be a very engaging speaker in particular. You made connections to your own life through anecdotal stories which allowed the content to become meaningful and relevant. I have taken away and will use 10/4 voting, perception checks and the notion of "if I can do something in my sleep" I should delegate it. Thank you...I look forward to continuing to work together when you all return next year.

Thank you for sharing so much information and experiences that you have gained over a long career in education. I am very excited to go on the journey of Schools That Deliver... I am very much looking forward to the adventure ahead and learning. I enjoyed the way we came to a shared vision through classic brainstorming.

Thank you for an informative and interesting couple of days. I have found your presentations engaging and thought provoking. I was a little anxious before the conference as it was all unknown and I wasn’t sure of what the expectations would be. I particularly liked the method of ensuring everyone had a say in a non-threatening environment. The concept of management/leadership was something that really spoke to me both personally and professionally and one I will continue to reflect on..

Thank you for leading us through the process of forming a vision for our school. Your passion and enthusiasm encouraged us to become involved. It was great to be able to share our ideas without discussion.

Thank you for sharing the last two days with us. I really enjoyed the whole process and particularly saw the value in the silent brainstorming. We do have a staff of some very strongly opinionated people and on many occasions, we can go a term without hearing the voice of some of the quieter or less experienced staff. This process allowed and encouraged all to participate in a non-judgement, practical way. Thanks for reading the room and knowing when a break was needed or the need to move... I am really looking forward to phase 2.
Staff agree on titles for research themes through no discussion.
Many thanks for your time and efforts these past two days. Your sharing of experiences e.g. the length of time spent on this process was honest and felt real. You also made me feel that this process along with the busyness of day-to-day school life will be achievable in our own St Patricks time....

Thank you for coming to our school and sharing this positive action research with us. I loved how you made real life connections that relate specifically to this project. It has been a great learning experience and has challenged my thinking as we think deeper to move forward as a school. I look forward to the next steps.

Liked the keeping to a time frame. Didn't like the assumption that this was a new concept. Good to be challenged and totally agree we are all learners and need to keep reviewing/reassessing etc Thanks for introducing your concept for change to us.

..Bill, what an inspirational story you are! Thank you for your courage and generosity in sharing your real life stories and Mary and Teresa for sharing your expertise, supporting us to create a shared vision. I really feel excited and ready for the next stage of this journey...

Core Values
Our staff agreed on a common set of five Core Values for how we interact together at St Patrick's. We will develop operational definitions of these values as we model and articulate them in all that we do. Our core values, reflected in the culture of our school, will support us to bring our shared vision to life.
During the course of our time together we were asked to reflect on the following:
How many things do we do in our classroom that should be delegated to the children ? 
This powerful poem, The Things We Steal from Children was written by John Edwards and his wife Sandra is a valuable reflection tool for all of us.

Video of the The Things we Steal from Children 

Finally, I share my personal response to our journey so far:

I feel blessed to have been part of such an empowering process. It is empowering for our staff to take ownership of our vision going forward. I am excited to be able to move ahead on the Schools That Deliver journey as we work towards making St Patrick’s a beacon of excellence for all learners. We will grow and flourish personally and professionally and the lives of the children we teach will be enriched

Jenny Hawkins
change 2 flourish

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