18 October 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

04 September 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.

23 August 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

17 June 2016

Stop hiding, losing my ego and infecting waterways

Its the last day of work for the 2015/2016 Academic year, my list of things to do has grown exponentially in the last few days. Like most years I tend to wind up instead of down as the year comes to a close. I am a little bit addicted to learning and the thought of not being around my colleagues and being challenged and inspired on a daily basis freaks me out a bit. 

I plan to read a list of non-work novels over the summer and a long list of professional books too. However, the point of this post is to make my learning and thinking public (totally vulnerable) to my team and colleagues in the hope that I gift something back for the incredible journey they've taken me on this year.

Losing my ego - I made a statement in a meeting with our consultant Tony from Interlead about the teachers I work with, how I have learned from each and everyone of them and how in the past year I've learned to let go of my ego. I have 20 years of early childhood experience, that counts for something in some places. But in coaching you leave all of that behind and draw out the very best in each of your people. I learned to let go of my experience, trials and errors and learned to walk alongside them. Tony asked "how did you make the shift?" It was one teacher who asked in coaching sessions - "What do you think Naketa?", then it was me learning to paraphrase a bit better and pushing back her ideas, thinking and learning through rephrasing, then realising in one meeting that I stopped hearing "What do you think, Naketa?" It was loud and clear that all along it was within her. That was the tipping point. 

Stop hiding - So Tony shared this slide with us. It resonated with me, so much so I bought the book straight away. I am a Pedagogical Coordinator and I have not yet got my head around PYP.  I understand pedagogy, I understand adult learning and I understand teaching and learning. But when it comes to PYP Planners I am not conversant. While I wouldn't say I am hiding that fact, I haven't really broadcasted it either. My hope is that next year, our K2 team will be in a position to share weaknesses and collaborate and inspire each other to be better versions of ourselves.

Infecting waterways - The last of the takeaways from Tonys visit that I will talk to here is the idea of 'waterways'. He proposed a model that suggests that engaging in professional practices (Upstream) impacts teaching and learning (Downstream). I need to unpack this more but the gist of it for me is "You can be a solid teacher, but unless you collaborate, journal, engage in coaching aka Professional Practices your waterways downstream will always be infected".

Progress Principle - Tony recommended 'The Progress Principle' book a while back, I bought the book and it sat on my shelf (for ages), Robyn sent an article that referred to this book, I started reading the book, I finished the book, I loved it! What did I learn?
  • There are three types of motivation - extrinsic, intrinsic and altruistic (The third one was new to me)
  • Progress/Small Wins is important - what does this look like in an education context. I don't know yet but I'm excited to explore this next year.
  • Being psychologically safe is important and necessary
And that's a wrap for the year! Looking forward to next year already :D

31 May 2016

Dunedin Family Daycare Project

Description: This is one of a series of four films directed and produced by the late Anne B. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Education and Childhood Studies, FRSNZ, CNZM The films were made between 1978 and 1993 and concern political and pedagogical issues for early childhood care and education during that period. They were very influential and widely used for Kindergarten and childcare training at the time, and went on to be used for teacher education in colleges and in various education studies and women's studies university programmes.

29 May 2016

20 Ideas to Promote More Creativity in Your Classroom

I came across this post the other day "20 Ideas to Promote More Creativity in Your Classroom". One of my favorite ideas is "Incorporate humor into your classroom". In several of our classrooms, teachers have been using GoNoodle for brain breaks, there are some funny brain breaks on this website. There is a famous quote by Loris Malaguzzi that says "Nothing without joy". What does humor and joy look like in your classroom?

18 May 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.

What makes a great leader?

At my recent Adaptive Schools PD the quote "Leadership is not a title, it is a function" resonated with me. For years as a regional IT facilitator in New Zealand my aim was to work myself out of a job. To empower the teachers I worked with so they wouldnt need me anymore. I'm thinking about my professional inquiry for next year and wanting to explore the notion of leadership capacity of the teachers in my team. 

I'm not aspiring to be a principal, superintendent, administrator or manager. I'm as removed from the classroom and children as I want to be. The following list found here identifies ground rules for principals, but are just as relevant for teachers, coaches and all members of a school just as they are for appointed leaders in a school. 

Do you have any other suggestions?

17 May 2016

"Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou - Seek after learning

The guiding whakatauki for this journal reflection speaks to the importance of continual learning, growth and development. As we come to the end of the school year and ECC teachers (including me) experience end of year learning conversations, we have the opportunity to articulate and consolidate our learning and development.

"Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou - Seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing" is a beautiful summary of this year for me. I have been so honored to be a learning partner/coach with 18+ people this year, engaging in coaching conversations, celebrating successes, identifying challenges and being a reflection board (paraphraser) to their thinking.

On a personal level, I have learned and grown so much I'm "all full up". There's no more room for more learning right now ;)


Explicitly role-model and identify Adaptive School strategies in team meetings and Coaches Community of Practice - I have morphed some of my learning from adaptive schools and Art of facilitation into my team meetings/pod meetings but haven't been very explicit about calling them Adaptive Schools. When I was developing my Pecha Kucha from my Adaptive Schools conference I quickly realised that some of the "Adaptive Schools" strategies can be classified as "better ways of working" Im choosing not to call them adaptive schools strategies, instead I am going to use the "What, Why. How" strategy to make explicit my rationale for using particular strategies.

Honesty is the best policy, be careful what you ask for I have the pleasure of working with a high-functioning, hard-working, super committed and HONEST team. So honest, that they have been very forthcoming with critical feedback and ways that I can improve my practice and my coaching conversations. I appreciate all of the comments, this one had me laughing so hard I can't help but share (with their permission of course). As I progress in my coaching skills it starts to become a part of who I am. Many people noticed or commented that they appreciate that I was a novice and still learning (one teacher saying, It was kind of weird, I figured you were learning so went with it). This Ted Talk by Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music is a great way of showing the progression of a learner. I sounded/was clunky in the beginning but as I work hard at aspects of my coaching I hope to get a little bit better over time.


Keep practising the Reflective and Planning Coaching Conversations Map (remembering the last region) I haven't really practiced the map recently due to coaching conversations primarily focussing on End of Year conversations and Vital Teaching Practices. I will prioritise this towards the end of the year and early next year.

Share Adaptive Schools Pecha Kucha with team - In two weeks I will share my Adaptive Schools Pecha Kucha with my team. It's ready to go I just haven't had a chance to share it.
Pop-ins to classrooms - As the end of year meetings (planning for next year meetings, curriculum meetings, PedCo meetings, Leadership meetings etc) across TKS start kicking up a notch I am not in classrooms as much as I would like. I had quite a bit of feedback saying that teachers appreciate my presence and pop-in visits to classrooms and haven't prioritised this enough this year.

What, why, how - I'm cringing and giggling at the process I introduced to my team at recent pod meetings. I need to get better at explaining what we are doing, why we are doing and how we are doing it (the process). I invited my team to bring their pedagogical documentation from our recent unit to share with their pod. I meet with Pod A, B , C back to back on a Monday. Pod A just arrived and I threw them into sharing without really explaining the whole process, Pod B I explained the process half way through and by the time I got to Pod C I had my script/explanation well thought out and shared what was expected. I need to get better at making the what, why, how more explicit.

Here's how it played out...(or was supposed to play out)

A) Briefly share your inquiry using your documentation as a visual (no cross-talking from other members)
B) Each pod member will ask a challenging question to encourage the author/sharer to think.
C) Author/sharer will get the opportunity to answer and clarify their thinking to group.
D) Next member shares their documentation, the process continues till all members have shared.

Please stay tuned as I walk the road of self-improvement and offer more examples of "better ways of working" '

Adaptive Schools - Pecha Kucha

In my team, we have introduced a new way to share our learning from professional learning opportunities with the team. You can read more about it here and take a look at my Cognitive Coaching Pecha Kucha. Recently, I attended the Adaptive Schools Foundation course in Thailand. You can see my key learning takeaways below.

10 May 2016

What is it that you do? Ummmm

Back in August 2015 I started my new role as Pedagogical Coordinator. When people ask me, "What do you do?" my tag line usually goes something like this...

Other person: "Hi, what is it that you do?"
Me: "Um (<<yes always um). I'm a Pedagogical Coordinator.
Other person: Blank stare
Me: "Well I am like an educational coach/curriculum coordinator/mentor kind of person. - Basically I work with teachers supporting them in their professional learning and development"
Other person: Blank stare

Not quite the role I dreamed of as a kid, but one I am truly grateful to have, love and thrive in.

This year we have been journaling in Interlead as part of our professional practices at TKS. I recently found this reflection I wrote over 9 months ago in my journal...

This year I have taken on a new role as K2 Pedagogical Coordinator. I'm not too certain what this entails yet as it is a completely new role at The KAUST School. In the ECC we are fortunate enough to have three PC's (now termed PedCos) The beginning of the year has been a hectic blur. I arrived in Saudi Arabia on the 31st July and walked straight into a meeting about scheduling - can't say that was the easiest transition from holiday mode. It feels like I have been running ever since. This week however, with the children settled into routines and teachers getting into the swing of things I feel like I can take time to organise my thoughts and ideas. So, that's this weeks goal: Slow down, take time, if it doesn't get done - leave it for tomorrow.

While I'm still looking for a better tag line and way of explaining what I do every day at work. I am enjoying the wonderful challenge and opportunity I have to work alongside remarkably committed teachers who inspire me to be a better version of myself every day.

27 March 2016

12 types of play infographic

12 types of play infographic from http://www.famlii.com/12-types-of-play-infographic/

1. Preparing Children to Start School Ready to Learn and Thrive - Marshall Memo Update


1. Preparing Children to Start School Ready to Learn and Thrive

            In this article in The Bay State Banner, Ron Ferguson (Harvard Achievement Gap Initiative), Jeff Howard (The Efficacy Institute and the Black Philanthropy Fund), and Martin Walsh (Mayor of Boston) describe the Boston Basics Campaign. “Our goal,” they say, “is to help parents and caregivers adopt five easy practices that research has proven are essential to brain development from birth to age three.” Here they are:
            Maximize love and manage stress. “Showing affection and patience at every opportunity helps children build confidence to explore the world on their own,” say the authors.
            Talk, sing, and point. “Talking and singing to infants and toddlers stimulates their brains and develops their skills,” say Ferguson, Howard, and Walsh. “Pointing helps them connect words to the associated objects.”
            Teach counting, grouping, and comparing with everyday objects. “Having fun with numbers, names, shapes, and patterns is how children learn to understand their world,” they say. “And it prepares them to learn and love math.”
            Let children explore through free movement and play. “Curiosity is a child’s built-in engine for learning,” say the authors. “It’s our job to encourage it and provide safe outlets. At home or in the playground, help kids dive into their environment and develop their ‘mind’s eye.’”
            Read and discuss stories. “Whether made-up or factual, the people, places and events of stories are the building blocks for our children’s imagination and much of their learning later in life,” say Ferguson, Howard, and Walsh.
            “We know that raising kids is hard,” they conclude, “and it’s only made harder by the stresses of work, money, illness, violence, and more. So we want to make our entire city a relentlessly supportive place for all those who care for young children.” Introductory videos can be viewed at www.bostonbasics.org.

“Five Simple Habits to Help Our Children Thrive” by Ron Ferguson, Jeff Howard, and Martin Walsh in The Bay State Banner, March 17, 2016, http://bit.ly/22yLwXb

What is Marshall Memo? Each week our Superintendent at TKS sends us the weekly bite of Marshall Memo. If you haven't heard of Marshall Memo before check out the details below.

Mission and focus:
This weekly memo is designed to keep principals, teachers, superintendents, and others very well-informed on current research and effective practices in K-12 education. Kim Marshall, drawing on 44 years’ experience as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, and writer, lightens the load of busy educators by serving as their “designated reader.”

To produce the Marshall Memo, Kim subscribes to 64 carefully-chosen publications (see list to the right), sifts through more than a hundred articles each week, and selects 5-10 that have the greatest potential to improve teaching, leadership, and learning. He then writes a brief summary of each article, pulls out several striking quotes, provides e-links to full articles when available, and e-mails the Memo to subscribers every Monday evening (with occasional breaks; there are 50 issues a year).


Individual subscriptions are $50 for a year. Rates decline steeply for multiple readers within the same organization. See the website for these rates and how to pay by check, credit card, or purchase order.

If you go to http://www.marshallmemo.com you will find detailed information on:
• How to subscribe or renew
• A detailed rationale for the Marshall Memo
• Publications (with a count of articles from each)
• Article selection criteria
• Topics (with a count of articles from each)
• Headlines for all issues
• Reader opinions (with results of an annual survey)
• About Kim Marshall (including links to articles)
• A free sample issue

Subscribers have access to the Members’ Area of the website, which has:
• The current issue (in Word or PDF)
• All back issues (also in Word and PDF)
• A database of all articles to date, searchable
    by topic, title, author, source, level, etc.
• A collection of “classic” articles from all 11 years