Gilberthorpe school

Gilberthorpe school

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Designing and implementing Change ideas, with NoTosh

So, this hit my Facebook feed this morning. I duly saved it, along with the screeds of other "Saved Stories" that sit in limbo until time (Or holidays) afford them attention. A sick son intervened today, so I was able to afford it the attention it had been seeking... The immense productivity that can be achieved on a "sick day" is cause for far more in depth self assessment and a further blog post!

I have been a fan of NoTosh since having the pleasure of professioanl development around Design Thinking, as well as attending 2 ULearn Confernce Worshops around it in 2014. I really identify with the lens that they view education through.
This video has some great quotes along these lines:

"Education is about evolution. If you're not changing, what are you doing?"

Speed of Change:

The speed of change is often bandied about as an excuse to place a boulder in the water. I challenge that, when that overwhelming sensation begins to set in, when there is so much going on all at once... Perhaps we just need to take a step back. Change the lens that we are viewing through... Think of the changes we are implementing as "prototyping".  
Some people are quick to adapt a mindset where they view the amount of changes taking place in education as "treating our åkonga like guinea pigs". We want our children to learn to test theories and make mistakes and then learn from them... Why are we afraid to do this as teachers. We are no longer the keeper of knowledge that we were, even just twenty years ago. We are no longer delivering education from the front and centre of the room. 

This video prompted me towards a number of considerations, which are very topical at the moment. We have been in our new space just a few weeks, heading into the holidays. We have the luxury of a term where we can begin to set some key objectives for the term. We often set objectives for what we want the students to achieve... but why not what WE want to achieve, in terms of pedagogy and practise.

If you are making structural changes, you are making pedagogical changes.

  • What are the "Pain Points"?
    • If you are making structural changes, you are making pedagogical changes.
"If you're making structural changes, you're making pedagogical changes." Teaching in post quake Christchurch, has enabled a transformation of learning environments. The schools who have been fortunate enough to front-load the transition with developing the pedagogy have, I believe, been far more successful in implementing change. So many changes have taken place, all in one hit. Those who have been fortunate enough to view it with a "prototype" mindset, who have perhaps been more open to adapting to change, have been far more successful in the way structural change has occurred. There is some fantastic stuff going on down here, in little ol' Christchurch New Zealand. Flexible bell times; play first, eat last initiatives; modifications toward ILE or MLE or whatever we want to call it next week... Most of these schools are sharing their journey too!

Prototype Culture

Heading towards planning for Term 4, I prototype mindset makes logical sense as a lens for mapping out what needs to be covered: Curriculum coverage; AO's; Topic/strands etc... The ability to map out when this "might" happen in terms of timetable or term plan... Stressing the word "MIGHT"! By mapping things out... Prototyping, it gives clarity on what the outlook is, providing frameworks for all teachers to work within. We all need fences sometimes. Some who get intimidated by change or new thinking ideas etc, are made more comfortable by knowing the perimeters that they are working within... Some of us, probably need the framework to minimise the tangents and keep us on the same track as everyone else (Which probably helps everyones ability to cope with us and our foibles too!)


"What do we want to change and let's change it."
Set key objectives for Term four.
  • What do we want to achieve in terms of Teaching and Learning?
    • Prototyping Teaching Approaches?
    • Developing Student Voice?
    • Assessment Capability?
    • Shaking up the programme?

Sunday, 24 September 2017

New Zealand Principals' conference 2017

The recent conference in Queenstown, which was attended by over 600 principals throughout the country was fantastic, on a number of levels.
There was great mix of quality speakers, time with colleagues and an opportunity to refresh and learn in order to grow!  I had several lightbulb moments at this conference and I intend to put much of my thinking into action immediately.

I will briefly outline some of the key messages and their impact on my own thinking below.  I will also include some quotes that resonated with me.

Dr John Edwards
The learning pit was discussed again with Dr John Edwards, he stressed the importance of teaching students about why the pit is so important and that everyone goes into it when learning new things.  We need to make students feel comfortable in the "pit".  This develops resilience and confidence, core skills for being a successful learner. This made me reflect on how often we actually , explicitly teach students about meta-cognition and how they learn and the thinking process.  My feeling is we need to do this more often, showing them strategies and allowing them to gain the understanding that this is normal behaviour and what to do when this happens.  We need to remember that above all else, we are wanting to equip our students with skills for life, not just skills to get a task done.

Staff discussion-  What evidence to we have that we are teaching students how to learn?  What do we need to put in place?

"Work out what a student already knows and teach accordingly"  Do we do this authentically enough?

"Get close to them, ask great questions and listen" John Piaget.

Judge Andrew Becroft - NZ children's commissioner.
  • 23% of all New Zealanders are under 18
  • There is NOTHING more important than having children actively engaged at school
  • Talk to students more, get their voice, at all levels.
There were some alarming statistics around ethnic groupings and various ages but we must be focused on the students in front of us, create passion and excitement.  The children we are teaching are the future, don't underestimate the enormity of that statement.

Mike King
I was completely captivated by Mike's speech.  I am sure most are aware of the work he is doing to work with our youth around suicide prevention.  Having lost friends to suicide when younger, and also students, I could relate to what he was saying.  Far too much of what we do is ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, waiting for something to happen then reacting. We must be pro active about this, fencing off the top of the cliff so that no one falls.  How can it be that in a country as beautiful as ours, we have the worst youth suicide rate in the world? We need a complete attitudinal shift here.  We need to be more and more positive, finding the good in every child.  Help them discover what they are good at and allow them to develop this.   As parents and adults, we need to let children, adults and friends know that we are there for them, that we love them and that if they need to talk they can, unashamedly and without judgement.
According to his findings, talks etc... 95% of people have had a suicidal thought at some time in their life.  It may have been once and fleeting or recurring.  Clearly the recurring thought is a major concern.  How often do we hear at a funeral "He was such a fantastic boy" "She had everything in front of her"  This effects everyone! We need to do better.
I also believe NZ's tall poppy syndrome has a role to play in this.  Too often when someone tells you their success, be it a colleague or a friend, people shoot them down or choose not to celebrate this.  We shouldn't show our envy and begrudge others, let's celebrate with them and build a new culture for the next generation!

Mike also spoke about the teacher that he loved and cherished.  He never skipped her class, he wanted to succeed because she believed in him, versus the teacher who he hated, he repeatedly skipped his class, failed tests and would avoid him at all costs because he made him feel stupid.  No one wants to be that type of teacher.

Self esteem is the solution to this problem, let them have a voice, listen, we need to create a society where it is ok to ask for help. Kids want permission to talk and express their feelings but they are following what US the adults do... we need to role model more positively.  Students learn by what they see, not by what they say or are told.  An unbiased view is important, what you would say to your best friends child is quite different to what you would say to your own...

Mike speaks with  thousands of students and there are two things they want :
1) They want to be loved
2) They want to know that their thoughts and opinions are valued by adults.

Staff discussion- Are any children without a friend?  Do we know what each child is good at?  How to we capitalise on this knowledge? Children in our community are dying, this is real,  enough is enough, we must do more to be pro active in being part of the solution.

I personally am going to reach out to more people and as a father I intend to do my best to role model for my boys... I will also be more deliberate in my discussions with others, especially students.

Dr Melinda Webber, researcher involved in MACS- Maori Achievement Collaborative's
MACS have been established throughout the country to lift the achievement of our Maori students. Schools are working in clusters, together to drive this.
The research is showing that increasing whanau engagement is the key to success, empowering them to support the learning process, vital.  Give them the skills that they need.  Lots of positive communication helps develop that bond between whanau and school.  Typically we contact whanau when a student is in trouble or we want something.  Let's turn that around and ask whanau - What can we do for you? How can we support your family?  Positive communication and dialogue increases the chances of them engaging with us much more often.

It also made me reflect on the type of student we want to leave our school, let's brainstorm what that would like like and ensure we are giving authentic opportunities for this to develop.

The final speaker was Sir Graham Henry.  A man who has developed arguably the most successful "team" in the world and there are huge amount of similarities between the two professions.
It is also worth noting that he, along with Mike King and Judge Andrew Becroft described principalship as the most important job in the world.  Food for thought.

I really enjoyed the blunt, matter of fact way that Sir Graham spoke, "be solution focussed" "no excuses" "get it done" "do the business" if there are issues with staff or performance , ask the question- "How can I help?, what's holding you back?"

"What do you need to do to be the best that you can be?"   He made a strong connection between the physical and the mental, we need to be on our toes, have a spring in our step.  His leadership team exercised daily in order to be physically fit as well as mentally fit.  This hit home with me and I have made my own goals here. For me personally, too many excuses, for too long.  I need to "do the business" I need to "get it done"

"We need to be careful that the little things don't hold us back, what are the things that are going to make us go faster?"

The All Blacks use a simple system to reflect on performance - Keep doing, stop doing, start doing.  I am going to use this with our staff, a great chance to be able to stop and reflect under a simple but effective framework.

The more that our staff are empowered, the better they perform.  The All Blacks look out for each other, they want to support each player to improve their performance, they are held accountable when this doesn't happen, within a supportive environment. Sounds pretty to similar to school if you ask me!

All in all, a great few days of professional development.  Several goals and targets set for myself and I look forward to getting stuck into them.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Uru Månuka Student Summit

Twelve Gilberthorpe students were privileged to attend the first inaugural Uru Månuka Student Summit, at Hornby Primary today. 6 students presented Toolkits to other åkonga in pairs. 
They attended (and presented) Toolkits on topics ranging from robotics, voki, scratch coding, using apps... 
Afterwards, the 90 students were able to take their new knowledge back and share it with the åkonga in their classrooms.

You can read our earlier posts about the Student Summit here.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Unpacking Learn Create Share in a way thats not so scary

Recently, I ran a staff meeting around Learn Create Share.
Ironically, it was the first staff meeting that I'd attended since joining my new school. The upside to this was that there was no precedent to follow... No pre-existing notion of what it "should" look like.
Here's the basic presentation to guide the discussion:

We looked at each definition, without the "Learn" "Create" or "Share" attached to it, in order to ensure that we weren't overthinking it. 
Within our cluster, our Uru Manuka Leaders of Learning PLG has identified that we do have a shared understanding of what Learn Create Share is... it just differs slightly from what it should be, by the Manaiakalani definition. After much robust discussion, we came to the conclusion that the initial definition was accurate and we needed to align our own understandings with it. After all, the immense research that has gone into the concept backs it up... who are we to question it through our own ignorance!

What next... How on Earth were we to take this eye opener back to our schools!
We were all in agreement that going back and telling our colleagues that everything we had thought about what Learn Create Share was wrong (after two and a half years of building that pedagogy, I might add...) was not an appealing option.
My approach, was to utilise the feelig that I had that everyone was doing a lot of things already, but they didn't understand how their great practise actually aligned within Learn Create Share.
I decided to take each definition and put it to the teachers: 
What happens in your hub that falls under this heading?

We compiled our ideas onto large sheets, using post-it notes...
Here's what we came up with... Compiled into a piktochart Infographic:

My next step is to align my Critical Inquiry etc, with a lens that accommodates a Learn Create Share view, from a teachers perspective also:

Monday, 18 September 2017

Learn Create Share fliped on its head

So... it's Friday. You walk into a room of your colleagues, leaders of learning within your cluster. You all have like minds; excitement and passion to drive successful practice etc... Within an hour, we were all sitting back thinking we'd all been on the wrong mindset for the ast two and a half years!

We cracked a can of worms (which obviously needed to be cracked!) around whether, as a cluster, we had a shared understanding of Learn Create Share.

On the bright side... It was quite apparent that the schools across the cluster DO have a shared understanding. However, our shared understanding does not align with the Manaiakalani definitions:

Learn: any activity where the objective is to access and engage with existing knowledge.
Create: any activity that results in remixing existing knowledge, the development of new knowledge, and the use of imagination.
Share: any activity that involves the sharing of knowledge.
The result is often building new knowledge

We had huge discussions... and came to a few conclusions.We questioned their definition... but by the end, concluded that the definition was sound, but we needed to shift our thinking around our own understandings. We believe that we (as teachers/schools) have been operating under a literal definition of each term, with a heavier weighting on the "Learn" component.
I challenge that, in actual fact, the gold nuggets... the Direct Teaching Practices actually occur within the "Create"phase as this is where knowledge and understanding is synthesised. When looked at with a visual, until now the Learn bubble would have been larger, with the Create and Share bubbles feeding into it and each other... Now It is the other way around.

Under this thinking, If the direct teaching and learning opportunities aren't utilised then the Create phase in just skimmed across the top.

So What...

Well, we are certain that there are a number of teachers who don't understand what Learn Create Share is. They probably believe that they "don't do it". We are quite sure that they do, without realising where it fits.

The danger is that if this was brought back to our teachers, they would freak out!
However, if they were given the definition only (without the title) e.g.:
  • Any activity that results in remixing existing knowledge, the development of new knowledge, and the use of imagination. (without the word "create")
and asked to find things that they do that falls under that category...
...Repeated with each of the other two definitions... And then place the "Learn" Create" or "Share" above afterwards, this may draw understanding.

It may still install panic attack or ten!