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

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