External Critique

I have had multiple conversations lately about the power of critique in forcing deeper thinking and the lack of critique occurring in many schools. A couple of years ago I wrote about how we might develop a culture of critique within a school. This was focused on actions within the school and looked more at the individual level. I have had great experience of how a Critical Friends set up can help. At Hobsonville Point Secondary School we were all paired up with a critical friend. This worked so well for me that when I left, Claire Amos and I kept up our critical friend relationship going. My recent thoughts have been more around how an external critical friend could help provoke at a school level.

Critique is not something that we do or take particularly well in schools. Often within school we can be threatened by someone asking us why about our actions. Our typical response is to get defensive rather than being open to digging deeper. I have a hunch that external critical friends who are there with that clear purpose may not be so threatening. They aren’t challenging you personally but trying to prompt reflection on why the school has made certain decisions.

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NZ Education’s Biggest PD Need

MLE, 1:1 BYOD programmes, Dispositional Curriculums, new Timetables, new SMS & LMS, GAFE or Office365. All ‘new’ ideas coming into schools across New Zealand and all ideas being slammed by people because of the poor implementation.

Speak to teachers at conferences or scroll through any social media and read teachers comments. You will find teachers questioning or slamming ideas because of how they have been implemented at their school or a friend’s/local school. Teachers absolutely have the right to challenge the ideas being implemented but so many of these challenges are not of the ideas themselves, it is actually about the way they are being implemented.

Not enough PD or time spent helping staff upskill and see how they can best use *insert new idea here* is not a fault of the idea, it is a fault of the change management. Continue reading

Working in an MLE

This post was originally written for The Network – a newsletter for the New Zealand Board of Geography Teachers:

Modern Learning Environments (MLE) seem to be springing up all over the country and all new builds or developments in schools now are supposed to be under this model. I have been teaching in a brand new MLE this year at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. So what is it actually like to work in an MLE? Continue reading