Thursday, June 16, 2016

Stop hiding, losing my ego and infecting waterways

Its the last day of work for the 2015/2016 Academic year, my list of things to do has grown exponentially in the last few days. Like most years I tend to wind up instead of down as the year comes to a close. I am a little bit addicted to learning and the thought of not being around my colleagues and being challenged and inspired on a daily basis freaks me out a bit. 

I plan to read a list of non-work novels over the summer and a long list of professional books too. However, the point of this post is to make my learning and thinking public (totally vulnerable) to my team and colleagues in the hope that I gift something back for the incredible journey they've taken me on this year.

Losing my ego - I made a statement in a meeting with our consultant Tony from Interlead about the teachers I work with, how I have learned from each and everyone of them and how in the past year I've learned to let go of my ego. I have 20 years of early childhood experience, that counts for something in some places. But in coaching you leave all of that behind and draw out the very best in each of your people. I learned to let go of my experience, trials and errors and learned to walk alongside them. Tony asked "how did you make the shift?" It was one teacher who asked in coaching sessions - "What do you think Naketa?", then it was me learning to paraphrase a bit better and pushing back her ideas, thinking and learning through rephrasing, then realising in one meeting that I stopped hearing "What do you think, Naketa?" It was loud and clear that all along it was within her. That was the tipping point. 


Stop hiding - So Tony shared this slide with us. It resonated with me, so much so I bought the book straight away. I am a Pedagogical Coordinator and I have not yet got my head around PYP.  I understand pedagogy, I understand adult learning and I understand teaching and learning. But when it comes to PYP Planners I am not conversant. While I wouldn't say I am hiding that fact, I haven't really broadcasted it either. My hope is that next year, our K2 team will be in a position to share weaknesses and collaborate and inspire each other to be better versions of ourselves.

Infecting waterways - The last of the takeaways from Tonys visit that I will talk to here is the idea of 'waterways'. He proposed a model that suggests that engaging in professional practices (Upstream) impacts teaching and learning (Downstream). I need to unpack this more but the gist of it for me is "You can be a solid teacher, but unless you collaborate, journal, engage in coaching aka Professional Practices your waterways downstream will always be infected".

Progress Principle - Tony recommended 'The Progress Principle' book a while back, I bought the book and it sat on my shelf (for ages), Robyn sent an article that referred to this book, I started reading the book, I finished the book, I loved it! What did I learn?
  • There are three types of motivation - extrinsic, intrinsic and altruistic (The third one was new to me)
  • Progress/Small Wins is important - what does this look like in an education context. I don't know yet but I'm excited to explore this next year.
  • Being psychologically safe is important and necessary
And that's a wrap for the year! Looking forward to next year already :D


Monday, May 30, 2016

Dunedin Family Daycare Project

Description: This is one of a series of four films directed and produced by the late Anne B. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Education and Childhood Studies, FRSNZ, CNZM The films were made between 1978 and 1993 and concern political and pedagogical issues for early childhood care and education during that period. They were very influential and widely used for Kindergarten and childcare training at the time, and went on to be used for teacher education in colleges and in various education studies and women's studies university programmes.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

20 Ideas to Promote More Creativity in Your Classroom


I came across this post the other day "20 Ideas to Promote More Creativity in Your Classroom". One of my favorite ideas is "Incorporate humor into your classroom". In several of our classrooms, teachers have been using GoNoodle for brain breaks, there are some funny brain breaks on this website. There is a famous quote by Loris Malaguzzi that says "Nothing without joy". What does humor and joy look like in your classroom?


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A school is iconic because of its people

I want to frame this blog post entry up with another whakataukī/Māori proverb.

He aha te mea nui o te Ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!

We can have the most modern school building, the most fanciest teaching resources, the most amazing technology and the perfect location. But a school is iconic because of its people. In my opinion, teachers are our most valuable resource in a school. The more and more I read about coaching and leadership, the more I am convinced that the teacher-led appraisal system at TKS and the introduction of Pipeline 2/Pedagogical Coordinators/Coaches is a testament to how much the school values its teachers. I am fortunate in my role as a PedCo to be working with competent/capable thinkers who I learn from in coaching conversations and group collaboration. Through discussions via Twitter/Blogs/Email/Facebook chats etc I am gleaning insights into how far our school is in our thinking and approach. This was further reaffirmed when reading "Teacher self-supervision" by Bill and Ochen Powell. While we have a fair way to go, I am excited about where the school is heading.


It's been a little while since my last blog post. In that time I have had lots of significant learning opportunities (one of which is Adaptive Schools training). What I have learned from using the fencepost questions and my own learning is that I implement change better if I stay focussed. So rather than use this post to list of all the learning I have enjoyed over the past month I am going to identify my key learning takeaways and follow-up on what I said I would do to influence what's not happening.

WHAT'S HAPPENING?

Read 2 chapters from Adaptive Schools text I read the first two chapters of Adaptive Schools before heading off to Adaptive Schools training in Bangkok. My key learning from the first two chapters was the idea that both "Things" and "Energy" matter. "Improving schools requires two ways of looking at the world. One view focuses on "things", the basic stuff of good management (this is the logistical technical stuff, and structure of schools) ... Another leadership perspective focuses on energy. (this is the ways of working, relationships, commitment, norms, knowledge and skills etc).  We need both ways for effective change leadership. In Adaptive schools, leaders pay attention to things and energy. You can find my tweets from #adaptiveschools here.
Key phrases from Adaptive Schools
"Leadership is not a title, it is a function" - I interpret this statement in a way that suggests that everyone has a leadership role in our school and that teachers and students benefit from the opportunity to facilitate, lead, share ideas and self-regulate. I have seen teachers take a leadership role by sharing their Pecha Kucha presentations, facilitate AT workshops, create communal spaces in our building, organise whole school trips/events etc. I am wondering what opportunities can be created for teachers and students to execute their leadership skills?

"Everyone is responsible for creating a community of learners" - I interpret this statement in a number of ways - I am responsible for being an active and effective member in communities of learning, and we all have a shared responsibility for student learning and group collaboration.

Peer-coaching to talk through feedback - I am fortunate to have a peer coach that meets with me every 2 weeks. I like that I don't have to start from the beginning with my coach and that she has been making connections by identifying threads of my thinking from one coaching session to another. We have already talked about some of my quantitative feedback and my recent conversations with her have been about some of the comments I am getting through the Interlead Feedback function.  One recent 'thread of thinking' my coach recognised was that I get tied up in outliers. This means that even though the whole picture or the bulk of the feedback is positive I spend my energy thinking about the outliers. I notice the "what's not happening" more than I notice the 'what's happening". I could list 100 "what's not happening's" but choose not to so that I can maintain focus and set achievable goals. This doesn't mean that I am beating myself up about everything I list, I am just a little bit addicted to pushing my own boundaries and working every day at creating a better version of myself.

It is people, it is people, it is people - It is all about people in my team. We have come to the end of our monthly workshops for our Assistant teachers (you can see the list of workshops here). Next month we will evaluate the effectiveness of these workshops with ATs and forward plan for next year. I already have ideas on how we might make this better for next year, but before we craft what this might look like I will invite our ATs to share their thoughts. I was asked a while ago why offering professional learning for ATs was important. For me, it comes down to the whakatuki I shared earlier. We want "good people" working with our kids, who have a sense of ownership, who believe that they are part of a team and believe they can make a difference to children's learning.


What makes a great leader?

At my recent Adaptive Schools PD the quote "Leadership is not a title, it is a function" resonated with me. For years as a regional IT facilitator in New Zealand my aim was to work myself out of a job. To empower the teachers I worked with so they wouldnt need me anymore. I'm thinking about my professional inquiry for next year and wanting to explore the notion of leadership capacity of the teachers in my team. 

I'm not aspiring to be a principal, superintendent, administrator or manager. I'm as removed from the classroom and children as I want to be. The following list found here identifies ground rules for principals, but are just as relevant for teachers, coaches and all members of a school just as they are for appointed leaders in a school. 

Do you have any other suggestions?

"Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou - Seek after learning

The guiding whakatauki for this journal reflection speaks to the importance of continual learning, growth and development. As we come to the end of the school year and ECC teachers (including me) experience end of year learning conversations, we have the opportunity to articulate and consolidate our learning and development.

"Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou - Seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing" is a beautiful summary of this year for me. I have been so honored to be a learning partner/coach with 18+ people this year, engaging in coaching conversations, celebrating successes, identifying challenges and being a reflection board (paraphraser) to their thinking.

On a personal level, I have learned and grown so much I'm "all full up". There's no more room for more learning right now ;)

WHAT'S HAPPENING?

Explicitly role-model and identify Adaptive School strategies in team meetings and Coaches Community of Practice - I have morphed some of my learning from adaptive schools and Art of facilitation into my team meetings/pod meetings but haven't been very explicit about calling them Adaptive Schools. When I was developing my Pecha Kucha from my Adaptive Schools conference I quickly realised that some of the "Adaptive Schools" strategies can be classified as "better ways of working" Im choosing not to call them adaptive schools strategies, instead I am going to use the "What, Why. How" strategy to make explicit my rationale for using particular strategies.

Honesty is the best policy, be careful what you ask for I have the pleasure of working with a high-functioning, hard-working, super committed and HONEST team. So honest, that they have been very forthcoming with critical feedback and ways that I can improve my practice and my coaching conversations. I appreciate all of the comments, this one had me laughing so hard I can't help but share (with their permission of course). As I progress in my coaching skills it starts to become a part of who I am. Many people noticed or commented that they appreciate that I was a novice and still learning (one teacher saying, It was kind of weird, I figured you were learning so went with it). This Ted Talk by Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music is a great way of showing the progression of a learner. I sounded/was clunky in the beginning but as I work hard at aspects of my coaching I hope to get a little bit better over time.



WHAT'S NOT HAPPENING?

Keep practising the Reflective and Planning Coaching Conversations Map (remembering the last region) I haven't really practiced the map recently due to coaching conversations primarily focussing on End of Year conversations and Vital Teaching Practices. I will prioritise this towards the end of the year and early next year.

Share Adaptive Schools Pecha Kucha with team - In two weeks I will share my Adaptive Schools Pecha Kucha with my team. It's ready to go I just haven't had a chance to share it.
Pop-ins to classrooms - As the end of year meetings (planning for next year meetings, curriculum meetings, PedCo meetings, Leadership meetings etc) across TKS start kicking up a notch I am not in classrooms as much as I would like. I had quite a bit of feedback saying that teachers appreciate my presence and pop-in visits to classrooms and haven't prioritised this enough this year.

What, why, how - I'm cringing and giggling at the process I introduced to my team at recent pod meetings. I need to get better at explaining what we are doing, why we are doing and how we are doing it (the process). I invited my team to bring their pedagogical documentation from our recent unit to share with their pod. I meet with Pod A, B , C back to back on a Monday. Pod A just arrived and I threw them into sharing without really explaining the whole process, Pod B I explained the process half way through and by the time I got to Pod C I had my script/explanation well thought out and shared what was expected. I need to get better at making the what, why, how more explicit.

Here's how it played out...(or was supposed to play out)

A) Briefly share your inquiry using your documentation as a visual (no cross-talking from other members)
B) Each pod member will ask a challenging question to encourage the author/sharer to think.
C) Author/sharer will get the opportunity to answer and clarify their thinking to group.
D) Next member shares their documentation, the process continues till all members have shared.

Please stay tuned as I walk the road of self-improvement and offer more examples of "better ways of working" '


Adaptive Schools - Pecha Kucha

In my team, we have introduced a new way to share our learning from professional learning opportunities with the team. You can read more about it here and take a look at my Cognitive Coaching Pecha Kucha. Recently, I attended the Adaptive Schools Foundation course in Thailand. You can see my key learning takeaways below.