Saturday, August 5, 2017

Beneath the surface

In 2011, my spark for digital storytelling was born. Since then I have travelled the world talking about the impact digital storytelling can have on teams, communities and children. This video from VOGEL reminds us that everyone has a story, and when we take the time to listen, we become better people as a result.

What do you bring to the table?

Warrior Scholars - Decolonising education

The "Warrior scholars" video below shares inspiring teaching practice happening at Kia Aroha College. I have had the great pleasure of listening to Anne Milne (previous Principal) talk about her research "Colouring in the white spaces: Reclaiming cultural identity in whitestream schools" and listened to her talk about her work, she has worked tirelessly for years to ensure better outcomes for students. You can read more about her research, and a brief blurb below:

This thesis describes the 25 year journey of two schools and their community’s determination to resist and reject alienating school environments in favour of a relevant culturally-located, bilingual learning model based in a secure cultural identity, stable positive relationships, and aroha (authentic caring and love). While the research design is a case study, in terms of western, “white space” academic tradition, it is also a story in terms of kaupapa Māori and critical race methodology. More importantly, it is a counter-story that chronicles the efforts of these two schools to step outside education’s “white spaces” to create new space. This counter-story is juxtaposed against pervasive, deficit-driven whitestream explanations of “achievement gaps” and the “long tail” of Māori and Pasifika “under-achievement” in New Zealand schools. In the process of this research the focus shifted from how could Māori and Pasifika learners develop secure cultural identities in mainstream schools, to examining what barriers exist in schools that prevent this from happening already? As these issues became clear the language of the thesis shifted accordingly; “developing” a cultural identity was reframed as a reclamation of educational sovereignty — the absolute right to “be Māori” or “be Pasifika” in school — and “mainstream” schooling became better understood as the “whitestream.”

Warrior Scholars - Decolonising education from Teach For All on Vimeo.

Milne, B. A. (2013). Colouring in the White Spaces: Reclaiming Cultural Identity in Whitestream Schools (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/7868

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Play is the highest form of research....UNICEF


Nga Kiwi o Te Moana Whero - Identity in Saudi Arabia

Over the past 4 years, a group of Kiwis have been coordinating a group of Kiwi children and their families for kapahaka and significant events (ANZAC day, Waitangi day and Farewells). The purpose of creating this group was to create a sense of identity and connectedness for our Kiwi children that live in our community in Saudi Arabia.

The children are students of the International Baccalaureate program, where International Mindedness and Global Citizenship are essential parts of the program. Children are encouraged to see themselves as citizens of the world, rather than citizens of a nation. In many cases, this is absolutely true - with many children speaking multiple languages and identifying with a range of countries before they are four years old (I taught a child who spoke 4 languages and was fluent in each of these, his mother was Armenian, his father was French, he was born in Germany and was living in Saudi Arabia). While I relish this notion, I have come to realize that it is not 'either/or' rather 'and' - Identity and knowing who you are and where you come from (whakapapa) is important to me AND so is understanding that you are a citizen of the world and you can influence and make a contribution to the world.

As my family and I start our return home to Aotearoa, it is with sorrow that we farewell our Kiwis in KAUST whanau. As I reflect on the past 4 years and our original purpose of having a slice of home in our desert home, I without a doubt am incredibly proud of the kids and their families. Not only do our children stand tall and exude pride in being Kiwi but people from nations all over the world appreciate our culture and heritage too.





Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Competing committments

Recently, I blogged about The R Word. I experienced a revelation in identifying my very own competing commitments. I value reliability, its one of my trust facets and is something that I have now come to realise influences all aspects of my life. In my role as Pedagogical Coordinator I also value 'leading from behind'. Empowering others and watching others grow and learn, surpass me even. Kegan and Lahey in "Immunity to Change" call these competing commitments.  As I navigate what this means for me I have found the video below and the following article "The real reason people won't change" helpful. Now that I've identified my competing commitments, figuring out my big assumptions is my next step to becoming more self-aware.

What are your competing commitments? 

Leading from behind

Ka komutu au ki muri, ka tukua koe
I'll fall behind and allow you to proceed.

This image and story has been circulating the internet for sometime now, and while the story is complete fiction the concept of leading from behind appeals to me. To lead from behind means to empower others, to serve others, to be altruistic, to grow yourself out of a job and to see others succeed around you.

What is a true leader??

This is a pack of wolves. The three in front are old and sick, they walk in the front to set the pace for the rest of the group so that they don't get left behind. The next five are the strongest and the best, they are there to protect the front if there is an attack. The pack in the middle are always protected from attack with the strongest both sides of them.The next five behind the middle pack, are also among the strongest and the best, they are tasked to protect the back side if there is an attack.The last one, that is the LEADER. He ensures that no one is left behind. He keeps the pack unified and on the same path. He is always ready to run in any direction to protect and serve as a "bodyguard" to the entire pack. Just incase you were wondering what it really means to be a leader... it's not about being out front and for all to see. It means taking care of your whole team.




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.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The R Word

Reflecting on the team - I facilitated this process using the strategy suggested by Joan Dalton and David Anderson of https://www.leadingadultlearners.com/ - Start, Stop, Continue. To help frame this up for my team we looked at 'essential foundations' in groups of 3 and provided evidence of what we are doing well. It became apparent that the team 'know we are awesome' but we generally struggled in articulating why.
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This has prompted me to reflect on what we are doing well more often - awesome teams don't just happen. What are we doing/contributing to be intentional about creating a high-trust team? If we start articulating what we are doing intentionally, then we will continue to keep doing those things that work. Some of the things our team committed to continue are:
  • Conscious effort to get together once a month (social committee important)
  • Casual conversations
  • Using 7 norms of collaboration
  • Investment of time in people
  • Inclusion of all staff in planning (including ATs)
  • Professional sharing with team members eg. 4MWT, Pecha Kucha
  • Understanding trust facets.

The R Word - I received some really cool (meaning critical and thought provoking) feedback from my colleagues when I asked them the following: "Dear all, please help me critique my own practice by answering the following question. I would appreciate it if you left your name so that I can follow up with a conversation. The question is "What's one thing I am doing that you think get's in the way of my own effectiveness". Thank you in advance for your contribution to my growth.
I met with a few peer coaches to reflect on the different pieces of feedback I recieved. I find it useful and critical to analyze and interpret data so that next steps and ways to improve can be well thought through. The feedback I received in this cycle was profound in so many ways. The key messages that came through form the 8 contributions were (from my analysis): I am efficient and get things done, I prioritize relationships and people and I am effective in my role. There were suggestions to spend more time in the classrooms, give specific feedback, celebrate my successes and slow down. There was also a challenge to gift the people I work with the strategies I use in meetings (processes and protocol).
In my process of analysing and reflecting on my feedback I made a significant connection. Reliability is important to me (I knew this but had not yet realized how much this impacted on my actions and behaviors). While being reliable can be a positive thing, this can sometimes contradict my value of 'leading from behind'. I deeply value supporting and challenging people to be better versions of themselves and working myself out of a job. However, my values do not necessarily match my actions. If I am efficient and effective and do everything I am limiting others from having opportunities to lead from the front. I like to think I can be relied on and so subconsciously I am acting reliable and doing everything so people don't have an opportunity to be unreliable (let me down). I've just summarised hours of coaching into a paragraph but you get the idea. I have acted on this feedback almost immediately but have some work to do still.