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.


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.

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