24July2010

Spit, Rinse, Move forward

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

Leadership in education often mirrors “real” life I think. Perhaps it is real life.

Interpersonal skills: great communication, building and sustaining positive meaningful relationships, working together, advocating, inspiring, modeling.

Significant as leaders; significant in life.

Ebb and flow.

Can we feel used? Absolutely.

What about abused? Well that depends on how you see it, but probably. What do I think? I think yes.

How about spat out? Definitely.

How does it feel? Bad? Demoralising? Devastating? Bewildering? Makes you question yourself? Makes you wonder if what you do as a leader is the “right” thing?

Yes, all of those. And more. In short, its not a nice feeling. At all.

So what to do? Its a lesson learned in what not to do as a leader. How not to treat people.

Its just not good enough.

So?

Rinse. Reflect. Refocus. Regroup.

Reflection is a key tool in growing as a leader. Learn. Lead yourself. Lead others. Grow.

Spit out the bad taste, rinse and move forward.

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15July2010

Innovation and Moving Forward

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

Over the past few days there has been much conversation relating to leadership, change, learning, experience, innovation and even comfort.

We all have different skills, we all have different experiences, in fact we are all different. 

Moving forward, changing what we do and how we do it, setting new directions certainly doesn’t reject or devalue these skills or the people who have these skills.

Innovation isn’t about doing away with what we know, but it is about a commitment to what could be, the possibility of a future that embraces new understandings, new meanings, new directions. For us at Macquarie Fields, its about Planning School. We set about creating the environment to make this a reality for our students.

As leaders, it isn’t always easy to create learning and experiences for teachers that engender enthusiasm, commitment, excitement. There are times when leading from behind is what is best, other times when the leader needs to be at the front and other times when the leader simply mingles.

Have a look at this post where Roger Pryor discusses change metaphors and keeping your eye on the rearview mirror. Change happens. He says that those icons of the past that we bring into the future should only be those that have a purpose, meaning. He talks about looking both ways and being precariously balanced between the past and the future.

Hiding behind what we know, what is comfortable, what is easy will never bring about the wonder, the brilliance, the excitement that is possible.

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18June2010

Renewal and Purpose

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

This week has brought a varied set of complex challenges: complicated, unpredictable, diverse.

For some of these, I have relied heavily on policy, systemic and mandatory requirements as well as broad interagency collaboration. In essence, the outcomes have been positive for the students concerned and the staff at my school.

For others, I have relied significantly on my “inner circles” and my interpersonal skills. I refer to the School Leadership Capability Framework. The three inner circles relate to Emotional Intelligence, Way of Thinking and Diagnostic Maps. To quote professor Geoff Scott “It is the combination of brains and heart that ultimately makes the difference.”  I believe the outcomes have been largely positive. Disputes have been resolved, potential dramas averted, dilemmas sorted, tears turned to half smiles.

Some issues still need more work and all of these certainly need follow up.

For others, I have just been me. Both within and beyond my school. In formal and informal situations. These are sometimes the hardest because we have so much of ourselves invested in the outcomes. Its not always enough to be happy for others.

So, “What’s in it for me?” A question with an almost impossible answer.

Perhaps nothing, perhaps everything.

As leaders, we are givers, but we need to take time to reflect and sharpen the saw.

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27May2010

Wheels, hubs and holes

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote:

 “Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub,

It is the centre hole that makes it useful.

Shape clay into a vessel,

It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room,

It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there,

Usefulness from what is not there.”

 I came across this short passage recently and was struck by its relevance in a 21st century learning paradigm.

 This passage firmly supports the construct of Tight Loose Tight that we work with in our school.

 Tight: around our expectations, what we see as important, our vision and our hopes for our students.

Tight: around the demonstration of clear outcomes and how we will evaluate these, measuring our success, our growth, operating within a systemic context.

 But

Loose: where we can implement exciting possibilities in pedagogy that embrace our “Excellence in Teaching and Learning Policy,” that reflect the specific needs of our students and teachers; which engage and enthuse; which say Connect Collaborate Create (CCC); which pay-it-forward; which tap into the amazing opportunities surrounding technology. 

So, as teachers and leaders within an educational environment and within our paradigm of Planning School, we want to be creative, innovative and exciting. We can do this by creatively engaging students’ imaginations by planning for some white space, by allowing our students time to think, to develop their own ideas and theories.

 If Tight Loose Tight works for us, it works for our students.

 Shape clay into a vessel,

It is the space within that makes it useful……….

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29April2010

Loyalty and Leadership

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

Leaders can sometimes be placed in a position where the very essence of their personal values and beliefs may be confronted. The question is then, what action should the leader take?

Loyalty is fundamental to the development and maintenance of a strong leadership foundation. We can’t build leadership based on quicksand; it needs to be underpinned by robust values and beliefs.

First and foremost, loyalty is the result of a reciprocal relationship based on many values; trust, fairness and integrity possibly top that list.

Loyalty is a feeling that we perceive and it is a behaviour that we demonstrate. So what is loyal behaviour?

It is about carrying out our determined duties to the best of one’s ability with integrity and honesty. It is being sensitive to, and acting in, the best interests of the organisation and the people we work with. It means being honest and trusting, treating people as individuals, responding appropriately to needs, providing resources, encouraging discussion, working towards common goals and, most importantly, acting with integrity.

As leaders loyalty must be visible and the bar needs to be set high. We can’t expect loyalty and then allow others to gossip, for example; to openly display inappropriate behaviour; to embellish the truth; to openly and unacceptably criticise others. Leaders need to model and clearly demonstrate what they believe, what they value, a positive vision and ethical human values.

Trust. Relationships. Reciprocity.

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18April2010

Wordle

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

Great to see that the most prominent word highlighted in this wordle is “LEARNING”.

The wordle is a summary of all the words appearing throughout this blog, so it shows emphasis and demonstrates intent.

Have a look.

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9April2010

Mentoring and Leadership

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

The link below provides you with a quick overview of the Collegial Support Program.

This program runs within the context of the MFHS Planning School model and is about teachers helping teachers.

It shows how professional learning is structured to allow CONNECTIONS, COLLABORATION  & CREATIVITY.

It demonstrates how learning is based around the Quality Teaching Framework and incorporates the Professional Teaching Standards.

Every teacher is a mentor and every teacher is a leader within this structure. Even NST are leaders as they connect and collaborate with preservice teachers through the school ning, through connected learning and face-to-face discussion forums.

Teachers are divided into four tiers for professional learning, leadership development and mentoring purposes. Executive staff mentor the tier four teachers, senior executive mentor the executive and the senior executive have both internal and external support and mentoring.

The program is supplemented with strong, focussed and structured professional learning across the school encompassing the MFHS Excellence in Teaching and Learning Policy which is based on nine key skills and four values.

Thank you to Luisa (Highly Accomplished Teacher, MFHS) for developing the prezi you will be viewing.

Collegial Support Program

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23March2010

Peaceful Interlude or Intellectually Violent Revolution

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, where he coined the notion of “paradigm shift.” Specifically, he is talking about scientific advancement and argues that it is a “series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions.”

A paradigm shift is, to put it simply, a change in the way we view the world around us; a transformation. It doesn’t happen by itself but is driven by people and events.

Paradigm shifts are not new, they are not something created by leaders to justify change. In fact transformations through paradigm shifts have been pivotal factors in the development of society as we know it.

Examples include: early primitive history when agriculture changed a fundamental way of life. Rather than wandering the earth, searching for seasonal foods and water, cultures settled and grew their own crops; movement from the Ptolemaic system to the Copernican system; from Newtonian Physics to Relativity and Quantum Physics; from verbal communication to the invention of movable type which resulted in significant changes in attitude as people were able to access written material freely.

So change isn’t new. I think its apt to describe the status quo as our peaceful interludes. But soon enough we will find ourselves confronted by the intellectually violent revolution where we are forced to rethink, to reflect, to find better ways, to build new directions, new understandings, new meanings, new experiences, new technologies………..

Thomas Kuhn believed that for a new paradigm to be effective then the old must necessarily be destroyed. (YouTube clip: Kuhn’s Paradigm Shift)

In education, that can’t be the case. So,what form might those revolutions take?

In schools, its about our students and how we can best cater for their futures. How do we do this?

We build, relearn, grow. We keep what we have and use it to move forward. Not by “tweaking what is” but by looking to “what might be.”

How?

We connect, we collaborate, we design, we create. We Plan School.

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14March2010

Leader or administrator? Who leads anyway?

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

Schools: big, busy, bustling, brimful of boisterous individuals. Within: the notion of self is powerful, resonating across the whole school community.

Choose a school. Any school.

Connecting with this community, with all its different personalities, needs, wants, beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions; so much knowledge, experience, skill; an environment that requires dependency, interdependency, commitment, passion and confidence, is no easy task.

The world is turning, it’s the 21st century. Blink and the opportunities to make a difference will be gone. As an educator I put out my hand and I take the chance. I build my skills as a leader, I listen and watch, I practise, I establish networks, I find mentors, I try new things, I make mistakes. I learn. I grow.

And now I’m a Principal. And that’s hard. But it’s great and I love it. But I am no administrator. I am a leader and even more importantly, I am a learning leader and a leader of learning. If its good enough for Michaelangelo its good enough for me. I’m still learning – Michaelangelo

Yes, I am accountable; for absolutely everything that happens or doesn’t happen in my school.

Yes, I am responsible; for absolutely everything that happens or doesn’t happen in my school.

Yes, that means there is a lot of administration as well as management, organisation, knowledge, understanding and implementation of policy, mandatory compliance and endless meetings.

BUT, they are within the context of learning. Unless I wholeheartedly make that connection explicit and meaningful in the daily operation of my school then I believe I fail my school community and most importantly my students. That means that I fail to create an optimum learning environment for my students so that they can capably access a future filled with possibility, excitement, significance and relevance.

In making that connection every teacher in the school needs to take a step forward. Every teacher becomes a leader and every teacher becomes a learner. We connect with each other, with other teachers, schools, communities, with technology, with learning. We collaborate with each other across regions, across schools, across staffrooms, across classrooms. We create new understandings, new meanings, new directions, new skills, new technologies.  We reach out across the great divide and bridge the gap. (CCC, Pip Cleaves)

‘Within this framework of clarity around expectation and evaluation, you have permission to make this happen in ways which suit your context, and which are undertaken to provide the best ‘lift’ possible’. (Tight Loose Tight, R. Pryor)

Have a look at this clip called “A Vision of 21st Century Leaders.” Its a great demonstration of teachers connecting, collaborating, creating and leading.

But teachers also need support to be the best leader possible and within my school I willingly take on the challenge and the responsibility of facilitating leadership capabilities and capacities in others. I certainly don’t have all the answers: BUT

“As an educator I put out my hand and I take the chance. I build my skills as a leader, I listen and watch, I practise, I establish networks, I find mentors, I try new things, I make mistakes. I learn. I grow.”

Who am I? I am a leader.

What am I? I am a leader.

Why? I love learning, I love giving, creating…….. Earlier posts explain this more.

Am I an administrator? No. Absolutely not.

Who are the leaders in my school? We all share that responsibility. I am the leading learner.

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think – Socrates

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2March2010

3Rs – What are they exactly?

Posted by Jan under: Uncategorized.

Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic

Relevance, Relationships, Rigour

Tonight, following the release of the national curriculum, Twitter was totally buzzing with tweets backwards and forwards, indignant, critical, provocative, heartfelt, passionate. Tweets and tweeple from all over Australia. Tweeple who love learning and who have developed relevant relationships filled with rigour (as we embrace technology…..) in an online environment. Most tweeple have never met in person but value, trust and respect the professional learning networks that have been built through the Twitter environment.

Beautifully though, in and around the posts discussing national curriculum, were recommended readings, queries for help and support in creating lessons and/or presentations, invitations to join specific professional learning forums….. You may recall an earlier post relating to Diffusion of Innovations Theory. Clear resonance? Yes, I believe so.

Before you read the posts I have chosen to share with you, I suggest you listen to Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man. I am serious. Really listen to the lyrics (not just THAT line). Additionally, listen to The Seekers – Keep A Dream in Your Pocket.  Complete contrasts? Yes indeed, but, you may really feel moved and find quite a strong correlation to teaching and learning.

Enjoy the following posts (in no particular order) which have been borrowed from the Wide World of Twitter:

Julia Gillard just said ‘That’s how children were learnt to read’

 (Aus) parents, who elect political decision-makers, want ‘back to basics’ education, 3Rs & all. Why?

‘Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic Taught to the tune of the hickory stick’ 1907

actually, that makes sense – irony isn’t a ‘basic’, so probably not learned until year 10…if then ;)  

That makes no sense – ALL parents want a return to basics and grammar. As a parent you should love NAPLAN drills. 

Some people collectively imagine that what ‘could be’ is a school with great spellers & NAPLAN scores.

 well Sam (4) has no trouble with CAT – mind you wanted to spell twenty while doing Mathletics tonight rather than write 20 :)

Spoken language skills include: tone, intonation, rhythm, tempo, pace, stress, sound fix, and silence…absent from language strand

 Or..No Rs at all..Let’s go with Tight Loose Tight. It’s the way we all enable and support learners..and how they create –

‘Basics’ is seductive, caries the promise of clarity, measurability, simplicity, ‘nostalgia’ in this crazy changing world

I worry that narrowed curriculum could push even ‘planning schools’ to plan for poor goals. I’ll have to think about this!

Teachers will rely on school leaders to frame the curriculum within a quality learning environment

Frankly, always cared less about what, more about how, why & what with to teach. Last 3 deal with ppl. Curriculum? Meh, come & go

can you teach me some grammar – I missed out as part of the whole language approach

Disappointed little specifics on visual and digital literacy in English – should be explicit. ICT is more than word processing

Have always remembered: ‘Language, in use, in context’.and added sense of ensuring vastness of the horizon of possibility

thanks for good discussion tonight. the lived reality of curriculum change poses many changes to plan for!

That learning can evoke such fervour among some amazing educators fills me with confidence for the future of our students. It tells me that we are on track. We are thinking of the future and of how we can create the very best learning environments for our students so that they can experience success. We are thinking of what might be, what could be and how we might make that happen. That is exciting.

Professional discourse can only serve to enhance educational practice; providing a forum for reflection on self, on what happens in faculties, in schools, in the broader school community, in our systems. Such evaluation and focus loudly proclaim the importance of creating quality learning environments where students are engaged, challenged, motivated, given opportunities to grow as individuals and where learning is valued as a lifelong fascination.

 

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