Saturday, January 7, 2017

Leadership intelligences, coaching and social competence

Reflect on blindspots: It's interesting when working through the reflection map looking at feedback with a coach how you are prompted to look at things differently. I have acted on and responded to most of the feedback I was given via the feedback tool. You can see my reflection on these in a previous post. Generally, the feedback is positive. And I am currently toying with ways that I can extend on this feedback and gather critique on what I am doing.

My new inquiry: Over the first part of the year I was meeting with many teachers and counselors and we identified that there is a need for us to explore and put a lens on the social/emotional curriculum in Kindergarten. The K1 team are exploring this wholly. Over the past two days, this was reaffirmed for me by our new School Psychologist who made the direct relation between the social/emotional curriculum and links with learning. Without nurturing and care it is very difficult to develop learning. The Kindergarten Leadership Team are in the process of drafting a very raw social/competence policy that will be critiqued by the wider Kindergarten community. I have done some intense reading over the last month on this topic (3 page bibliography in attachments) and am convinced that over the past 20 years in education we have seen a shift from:
"Behavior management" to "Positive guidance" to "Social Competence" and I can see the shift moving towards "Executive Function".
Ultimately, this means in early childhood that we are strongly encouraged to understand the physiological and neurological make up of young children and use this to inform our teaching practices. It's bigger than curriculum! It's the fundamental way in which children learn...Im kind of excited to explore this more (along with 3 of the teachers I am working with who have a similar inquiry). <<notice the change in gear from my previous inquiry?
More feedback from team: I haven't yet explored this, but have recently found another framework which I am hoping will prompt the K2 team and others to share specific feedback on my practice. As the diagram suggests, there are 3 questions. I am going to use the Interlead function to send this out to my team today :D
Leadership: My most favorite quote of all time is "Leadership is a function, not a title". Everyone is a leader and has leadership potential. By the pure nature of our community, I am conscious of the fact that leadership opportunities are few and far between here. Given this fact, how might we best support teacher leaders in Kindergarten? What opportunities can be created to nurture and develop teacher leaders? Over the past 4 years, here in KAUST I have harnessed opportunities to 'practice' leadership. They are not as profound as you might think. These include: presenting at Partners for Learning, mentoring TDPS (and other teachers), presenting workshops inside and out of Kingdom, adding my 2 cents worth to contribute to group dialogue, establishing opportunities within the team e.g. Pecha Kucha, Sunday Sweets, Recognizing AT Potential workshops... Can you think of any other ways that teacher leaders can develop leadership skills?
Christ Wright visited KAUST and presented to a group of Instructional Leaders the 7 Leadership Intelligences, these are:
  • Strategic Intelligence
  • Cultural Intelligence
  • Entrepreneurial Intelligence
  • Heuristic Intelligence
  • Pedagogical Intelligence
  • Relational Intelligence
  • Reflective Intelligence
I would love to share my learning from this with the team (among other things) to hear what their take on these are and ways that they see themselves exhibiting these intelligences.
Getting better at coaching and teaching coaching: Coaching is such a profound resource! How might I share this resource with my team and how can I ensure that I get better at it. Over the next 3 weeks my coaching session with teachers will be on collecting feedback, for this I will use a planning conversation. To ensure that I can better improve my coaching I am going to ask at the end of each conversation "As you reflect on this conversation, how has it supported your learning?" This way I will get specific feedback on the benefit of the coaching process. I am also curious about ways that I can teach coaching to teachers who are interested? If you have any ideas, please feel free to let me know.

  • Explore the link between Social Competence and Executive Function - read more about social competence and finalize social competence guidelines.
  • Send new feedback framework/questions out to teachers
  • Develop Leadership Intelligences Pecha Kucha to share with team

Monday, October 17, 2016

Who am I? - Outside of my teacher self #tkskg

    Who Am I? Digital Story - Last year I sent the email below to my team...

    As an extension of our Humans of K2 wall, I am inviting of you to take our connectedness and stories one step further by creating a short video expressing “Who Am I?". Over the summer break, capture and find photos that best reflect you and what is important to you. Compile these in iMovie (or another app) over the break or wait till you get back and upload them to our shared folder here.

    * Please only share what you are comfortable sharing in our team
    * Please limit the movie to 2 minutes
    * We will host technical support sessions in afternoons leading up to the K2 Movie premiere

    You can see my EdTalk on this topic here (4 years ago) and my own “Who am I?” video (6 years ago) here my most recent one here

    We hosted the Who Am I? Digital story event on Thursday at our local movie theatre with 35 staff in attendance and it was so fantastic to see a piece of each team member (including assistants/office staff) on the big screen.

Norm of Collaboration & Trust Workshop #tkskg

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Creating the 'glue' of trust and collaboration in our team

Over the next two weeks I am going to:
  • Invite K2 and K3 teachers to contribute to Humans of Kindergarten (email already sent just waiting on contributions)
  • Create Humans of Kindergarten wall in Faculty lounge
  • Facilitate and run Who Am I? Digital Storytelling afternoon
  • Co-facilitate Trust and Norms of Collaboration with Grade Level Coordinator.
  • Refine my professional inquiry

  • What is happening and why?

    • Cognitive Conflict for myself and my team
    • Effective team meetings. Which lead me to think what my team might consider an effective team meeting. This is a great opportunity for Mike and I to put a survey out and actually as the teachers "What does an effective team meeting look like/sound like/feel like?"

    What is not happening and why?
    Coaching sessions have started, and while I loosely use the term "Coaching sessions", it has got me thinking about being more explicit with the purpose and process of coaching conversations for the people I work with.
    I haven't booked my own coaching sessions with my peer coach, and should do this soon if I am to be as effective as I can be this year.

    What am I going to do to influence what is not happening and why?
    • Send a survey to K2 team "What does an effective team meeting look like/sound like/feel like?"
    • Put Humans of Kindergarten wall together (lots already in, work on getting everyones story)
    • Create a Coaching Menu for teachers (Done below)
    • Book my times with my own coach

    So our K2 Grade Level Coordinator and I facilitated the K2 Norms of Collaboration and Trust workshop with our team. It was very cool! (Even if I do say so myself). Each team member marked themselves individually on a Norms Inventory and then collectively placed stickers on a big K2 Norms Chart. When we invited the team to reflect on what the data was saying, it became apparent that Pausing and Paraphrasing were areas we can work on. The 'when appropriate' suggestion came up too. When it is a information sharing meeting, pausing and paraphrasing may not be the best use of our time. However, when we are wanting to hear everyone's contribution and seek understanding in team meetings, then it is appropriate.

    Trust - As we facilitated the trust workshop we invited teachers to choose their 'Number 1' trust bucket for now. Not one teacher identified Benevolence as their number 1 - when I asked teachers to reflect on this, one teacher shared that its because Benevolence is already inherent in our team culture. We do look out for each other and their is a sense of camaraderie so that is not high on our minds and almost expected.
    Check in with my Principal
    So I've been having regular check ins with my Principal each week. In my last session he asked me what I might like to work on this year and what my success criteria might be. I hadn't thought about Success Criteria for myself this year but have had many "If I see this happening and this happening in meetings I'd feel pretty chuffed". When I unpacked what was in my head a bit more and how I assessed myself against the practices. My success criteria would be:

    Create Cognitive conflict for my team and for myself

    What is Cognitive Conflict
    What is Cognitive conflict? Cognitive Conflict is the term educationalists use for the idea of cognitive dissonance and can be broadly defined as the mental discomfort produced when someone is confronted with new information that contradicts their prior beliefs and ideas.

    Why is Cognitive Conflict important to me?
    Years ago I heard the phrase TTWADI and facilitated lots of workshops to encourage teachers to think about TTWADI. TWADDI is a term created by Ian Jukes and it stands for Thats The Way We've Always Done It. This phrase comes from an EdTEch world but applies to education in general with the belief that the world is changing at such a rapid pace that we can't keep doing what we've always been doing to best serve the children we teach and the future they will live in. TTWADI links with Cognitive Conflict for me. I'm excited about interrogating why we do what we do instead of just doing it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Start of the 2016-2017 year!

What is happening and why?

While I've been back working for a few weeks now, this week marked the arrival of the K2 children into our new Kindergarten space. What a great start to the School Year. Like most years there were a few children upset with the transition, this is always expected, however the majority of children were "rocking and rolling" in their new school. This has to do with the fabulous way the K1 team prioritize social/emotional skills and build on their foundations for learning. We are always so grateful for this in K2 so I sent a quick email on behalf of the team to say THANK YOU!

Late last year Tony B visited and we reassessed the vital teaching practices for Kindergarten Pedagogical Coordinators. There was an aspect of curriculum missing in our self-assessment so we were added to the Leadership Reflector which opened up a whole range of vital practices relevant to our work. I've just completed my own self assessment in the following areas:
  • Managing self
  • Relating to others
  • Thinking
  • Participating and contributing
  • Contributing to School Culture
  • Contributing to Pedagogy
  • Contributing to Leading Change
  • Contributing to Problem Solving
Needless to say there is a lot that I can be working on this year. Last year I worked on "You encourage new ways of looking at problems" and "you utilize expertise within the school to expedite development of teachers" and "highly skilled at generating breakthrough thinking by reframing issues" all of which fit well with the Cognitive Coaching PD that I attended last year. I was pleasantly surprised by two of the indicators in my new self-assessment - "Skilled at experimentation and looking for innovative ways to move forward" and "Takes a hands on approach advancing professional conversations about teaching and learning by engaging in them with passion". i I am really excited at the few initiatives we implemented in K2 last year - Tuesday Treats (now Sunday Sweets), Pecha Kucha and Humans of K2. This year we are taking it up a notch by inviting teachers to create a digital story about themselves to share with the team. 

What is not happening and why?

Our K2 Grade Level Coordinator and I were very conscious about not having too many meetings in the set up time before school, especially as we were all in a new building. On top of classrooms being organized, communal areas such as library, resource room etc were a priority in organizing before children arrived. As a result, we have lots to attend to as a team (curriculum and team building) and we have not yet achieved this. In a brief check in with the K2 Grade Level Coordinator today we both agreed that "less is more" and will do lots of work around prioritizing and achieving what we can, when we can. 

What am I going to do to influence what is not happening and why?

 After reviewing my self-assessment data I have identified several key areas that I would like to work on this year:
  • Managing group decision making processes
  • Demonstrating curiosity regarding other people's views and experiences
  • Ensuring best ideas are selected
  • Paying full attention to what is happening during interactions with others
  • Testing out ideas and proposals by considering a variety of scenarios; asking “What it...?”
This is not an exhaustive list by any means but it has lead me to believe that there is more I can be doing to influence our team, team meetings, curriculum meetings etc and our growth as a community of practice. In Adaptive Schools we learned about affective conflict and cognitive conflict, our team is great and I think this year is a great opportunity to take this even further by creating some cognitive dissonance, cognitive conflict and debate. 
Over the next two weeks I am going to:
  • Invite K2 and K3 teachers to contribute to Humans of Kindergarten (email already sent just waiting on contributions)
  • Create Humans of Kindergarten wall in Faculty lounge
  • Facilitate and run Who Am I? Digital Storytelling afternoon
  • Co-facilitate Trust and Norms of Collaboration with Grade Level Coordinator.
  • Refine my professional inquiry