Tag Archives: Leading Change

The Learning Pit – James Nottingham

I shared this video about the Learning Pit with my team last week as the professional development part of our meeting as I was very impressed with the positive responses from the teachers. I absolutely love the concept and want to promote it further within our team and the wider school.

The video generated a great deal of discussion and as a result, I am wanting to have a look at how we could implement this question everything type approach in to our final two ‘theme’ units.

PD on steroids

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If any educators have heard of Ewan McIntosh or notosh publishing undoubtably they will automatically think of this book. I have heard great things about this book and am keen to get into this copy that I have recently been gifted! The main idea of the book considers the following question “Can the education world innovate, share and build on new ideas, taking them out of individual classrooms?

Ewan say the following about his book, “This book will help you achieve ambitious visions for learning through swift innovation. We will borrow from the people who invent what we all end up using tomorrow, create much from very little, and refine their ideas with a swiftness few of those in larger corporations, Government or schools have seen.”

As I make my way through the book I aim to add ideas, activities and thinking below.

Principled principals

Today I was thinking about the various principals I have worked with over the years and the diverse range of principles or philosophies that they hold about school leadership. A couple of questions  struck me. Hopefully all the principals I have worked with want their students to achieve and be as successful as possible, but how can the approaches to leadership vary so greatly? Which leadership style is most conducive to student progress?

I guess the principals I have worked with in the past fall roughly in to one of two categories: Transformational Leaders and Instructional Leaders. As I pondered on the different approaches to leadership I received an email from Educational Leadership. See here if you would like to subscribe to the magazine (it is really worthwhile!). The article entitled Impact Leadership makes for very interesting reading. If you are too busy to read the whole article I will give you a brief synopsis of the article which I hope will entice you to read the entire article.

Impact Leadership is written by John Hattie and discusses the findings of a study carried out by Robinson, Lloyd, Rowe (2008). In the research Robinson et al. (2008) define the two types of leadership, Transformational and Instructional. They found transformational leaders set a vision, create common goals for a school, inspire and set direction, buffer staff from external demands, ensure fair and equitable staffing and give teachers a high degree of autonomy.  Basically, these leaders focus more on teachers.

In contrast, instructional leaders focus more on students. They are concerned with the teachers’ and school’s impact on student learning and instructional issues, conducting classroom observations, ensuring professional development that enhances student learning, communicating high academic standards and ensuring that all school environments are conducive to learning.

Interestingly enough, more than 80% of leaders claim to be transformational leaders (Marks, 2013). Here’s the crunch, Robinson et al. (2008) discovered that the overall effect from transformational leaders was .11 compared with the overall effect from instructional leaders being .42. That is a huge difference! The key to the huge difference is leaders who see their key role as evaluating their impact and getting everyone in the school working together to know and evaluate their impact. There are a great deal of other approaches that have been proven to be highly effective. If you want to find out what these approaches are you should check out this page. 

The take away point: “Effective instructional leaders don’t just focus on student learning. They relentlessly search out and interrogate evidence of that learning” John Hattie.

 

Coding in the classroom

In today’s modern world I think it is time for coding to be taught more widely in New Zealand primary and intermediate schools. Not just through extension or ICT groups, for students who are already computer savvy, but to every school aged student in New Zealand. I see that coding fits naturally within the New Zealand English curriculum framework. I realise some educators might argue that writing code fits into the Technology curriculum but I feel that including coding into the English framework gives the skill a much more prominent place in the curriculum. As a primary trained teacher I know that often Technology is one of the areas that gets ‘squeezed out’ when things get busy. Aligning coding with the English curriculum may help elevate this problem and help to ensure that it is taught more widely in primary and intermediate schools.

The introduction to the New Zealand English curriculum, ‘What is English about?’ states that ‘English is … communicated orally, visually, and in writing, for a range of purposes and audiences and in a variety of text forms. Understanding, using, and creating  written, and visual texts of increasing complexity is at the heart of English teaching and learning. By engaging with text-based activities, students become increasingly skilled and sophisticated speakers and listeners, writers and readers, presenters and viewers.’

Surely coding fits perfectly with this rationale for English. After all, in five years time coding will be a key way that individuals communicate with audiences. Teaching coding is beginning to happen in schools around the world. If New Zealand is truly wanting to become world leaders in technology it is important that we begin to equip our future citizens with these skills now. An interesting website which is dedicated to teaching students to code can be found at https://code.org/educate.

Writing code helps students develop the capabilities for living and lifelong learning. All five key competencies can be developed as students write code. I also like the idea of students working collaboratively with others from around the world as they begin to write and refine code. Sites like http://exercism.io (don’t be put off by the name:-)) can help students achieve this.

I would be interested to hear about what other schools are doing in regards to incorporating coding into their curriculums.

Thanks to all of those who feed back on twitter about this subject. I would especially like to thank @gmacmanus for all the resources that he shared, including docs.google.com/document/d/1eC… which is an invaluable source of information.

An interesting article from the New Zealand Herald explaining how Britain has introduced coding and programming into their school curriculum. Hopefully it won’t be long before the New Zealand Ministry of Education realises the need and relevance for coding to be introduced here!

A great post on coding at iPads 4 Schools. Check it out!

Managing Change

As I was preparing for a Professional Development session I came across this interesting diagram. I think it sums up brilliantly the processes that need to be considered if changes are to be made.23010261I also think that we need to constantly remind ourselves of the following quote from Frederick Douglass – “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

 

Flipping the Flip

Toward the end of Term One I was leading some Professional Development with the staff around using MyPortfolio, the ePortfolio that PNINS Senior Management had chosen to adopt.

Many members of staff who are late adopters of technology began to grumble that they didn’t see the point of using MyPortfolio as they were too difficult to use compared to what they had always done. And yet other members of staff were disengaged because they found the technology extremely easy to use and didn’t see the point of the Professional Development when they thought they knew it all already. My initial thought was, I guess you can’t keep everyone happy all the time… and as Nelson Mandela once said “It is a grave error for any leader to be oversensitive in the face of criticism.”

As I rode my bike home I began to think, would I have been happy if that were a lesson in my class?

Of course not!

I decided that differentiation was the key. The next time I led a Professional Development session I asked some of the earlier adopters to lead small groups. Staff could then choose which ability group they would attend. This worked extremely well! Staff were much more positive about the session and the progress that individuals made was far greater.

As I thought about this approach some more I wondered if there were other classroom techniques that could be applied to Professional Development and staff training.
As I began to research this train of thought I came across the following fascinating article: Continue reading Flipping the Flip