Thursday, May 18, 2017

Amazing things happen...

I loved the simplicity and elegance of this video that was shared at our Community of Practice in Kindergarten yesterday. We are all wired differently and this is something we should celebrate.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A song that reduces anxiety

The Creation Of The Ultimate Anti-Stress Music

Researchers at Mindlab International in the U.K. wanted to know what kind of music induces the greatest state of relaxation. The study involved having participants try to solve difficult puzzles — which inherently triggered a certain degree of stress — while connected to sensors. At the same time, participants listened to a range of songs as researchers measured their brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing.
Interestingly, the song was specifically designed to induce this highly relaxed state. Created by Marconi Union, the musicians teamed up with sound therapists to carefully arrange harmonies, rhythms and bass lines, which in turn slow a listener’s heart rate and blood pressure, while also lowering stress hormones like cortisol.
In fact, the music is so effective, that many of the female participants became drowsy — to the point where lead researcher Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson advises against listening to it while driving.
But don’t take their word for it. Experience it for yourself here:
(Original post here)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Leadership videos

Last week, I had the great pleasure of engaging in 3 days of leadership learning with Chris Wright. I was introduced to the most fascinating take I have heard on leadership in my 21 years in education. It is somewhat common to hear the same types of messages in leadership training e.e. vision, strategic, goals, relationships etc and depending on your experience you tend to lean more towards/and listen to advice that fits with your own values and beliefs.

A key highlight for me from this learning was the words of wisdom from Tim Brighouse, he succinctly captures the skills he feels leaders need in crisis, these are

* intellectual curiosity
* unwarranted optimism
* crisis is the norm, complexity is fun
* complete absence of paranoia and self pity

What do you agree with and what do you disagree with?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Student Led Conferences in Kindergarten

Here at The KAUST School Kindergarten we've just wrapped up this years Student Led Conferences. The purpose of Student Led Conferences is for children to share and reflect on their learning with their parents and families. It's always so wonderful to see children take the lead in their learning.

Below are some examples of the learning engagements available for children and families in K2 (4-5 year olds), what types of learning engagements do you have in your Student Led Conferences?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Team synergy and collaboration in BIG teams

Over the past two years I have been exploring various ways to create synergy and collaboration in my team. In K2 (4-5 year olds) we have up to 48 people working alongside each other for the greater good of children's learning. That's a lot of people!! (see breakdown below).

With so many people in a team, what opportunities do you see for team collaboration and synergy in a team with 48 people? We've tried a few things such as Humans of Kindergarten, Who am I? Digital stories and a Social Club Committee. I would be keen to hear how you work on team dynamics in your school, please comment below.

K2 Team Breakdown:

12 x homeroom teachers
12 x homeroom teacher assistants
1 x tech Integration/Library teacher
1 x library assistant
1 x tech integration assistant
1 x Arabic language teacher
1 x Arabic language teacher assistant
1 x PE teacher
1 x PE teacher assistant
1 x Performing Arts teacher
1 x Performing Arts teacher assistant
1 x Islamic Studies teacher
1 x Islamic Studies teacher assistant
1 x Pedagogical Coordinator (that's me)
1 x Principal
1 x Assistant Principal
1 x Receptionist
2 x Substitute teachers
2 x Counselors
1 x Learning Support
1 x Health Nurse
1 x Health Coordinator
1 x Speech Language Therapist
1 x Gifted and Talented Coordinator

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The power of many, the challenge of one.

What is happening and why?

Feedback: Over the course of this academic year I have invited my colleagues to share feedback with me using the Interlead Feedback tool and most recently the domains self-assessment. I have been reading the book "Thanks for the Feedback". Early in this book, the following quote captured my attention "The key variable in your growth, is not your supervisor or mentor. It's you!" I reflected with my coach this week on how far I have come in receiving feedback. I welcome critical feedback, cognitive dissonance and synergy and have learned to use this as a tool to mould myself into a better version. As I read through this book I find myself reflecting on my own role in giving and receiving feedback. The authors suggest that there are 3 types of feedback - appreciative, evaluative and coaching. We need all 3, but we can often mis-communicate the type of feedback we are offering. As I explore the anonymous vs open feedback debate (mostly with myself) I am more inclined to think that open feedback is most useful, this way you can can get others perspective of yourself and align that with your own story of yourself. I also realized that people have offered me feedback in the past, i just haven't been in tune with their type of feedback or haven't been open to listening to it. 

The power of many, the challenge of one: In our Cognitive Coaching training we learned a strategy called "Danish circle", the idea of the Danish circle is to support people in using the states of mind to explore possible solutions. I presented a challenge I was having in my work, teachers used States of Mind questions cards to ask me questions and rather than responding with the answer I thought of the answer in my head, then nodded when I was ready for the next question. At the end of the semi-circle I identified the question that helped unlock my thinking the most. We then opened up for dialogue at the end of the questions, and the next person had a turn at sharing their challenge. Some of the questions were: "Why is this important to you?", "Of all of the options, which of these might have the biggest impact..?" I can see that this would be a useful strategy when supporting teachers with challenging behaviour in their classrooms. This goes to show that collectively we are stronger. 
Kindergarten teachers were invited to critique the TKS Social Competence guidelines this week, we fielded some great critique and most importantly engaged in some wonderful cognitive dissonance about social competence. This certainly proved that the voices, perspectives and ideas from many people will make this a stronger document. 

Leadership Intelligences Pecha Kucha:
I will be presenting my Pecha Kucha about Leadership Intelligences to my team next week.

What is not happening and why?

  • Exploring the link between Social Competence and Executive Function - the social competence guidelines have been shared with the Kindergarten staff, I havent yet looked at the impact of this on the social competence guidelines. My hunch is that there is still more dialogue to be had and collectively some of the 'big questions' can be answered by teachers and assistants.
  • Refining data/collection and coaching 

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

  • Continue to use 'Danish circle' in Pod Meetings to support teachers and share other coaching strategies that might be useful.
  • At the end of each coaching conversation ask coachees "How has this conversation helped you with your thinking?" (one form of feedback).
  • Ask for critique in coaching at Meta-coaching sessions with other PedCos.
  • Revisit Norms of Collaboration with my team to re-assess where we are. (Thanks to Derek for this Norms Poster).

Leadership Intelligences