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.
Student Centred is one of those vague buzzwords that is used regularly but never really defined in practical terms. This post (based on an Ignite talk I gave last week) attempts to paint a picture of what student centred practices actually look like, both in the classroom and from a leadership perspective.
For me, the key to student centred practices is empathy. Truly seeking to understand how students are experiencing their learning, where each student is at and what their individual needs are, so you can help improve their learning. Student centred practice is focused on doing what is needed to help each student understand and excel in their learning.
As I have written about previously, data is a great place to start in getting to know your learners, but there is a whole lot more to do if you want to understand them. Achievement data, personal data, surveys, observations and good old fashioned conversations should all work together to help you empathise with your students.
Student centred teaching is not just about what they like but about thinking how what they like/are interested in links with what they need to understand in class. How can their interests be used to help them understand the key concepts and skills from the curriculum. Continue reading →
In my last blog post I wrote a narrative of my day shadowing a Year 10 student. This was a real highlight of my first term as a senior leader. This post shares some of the questions that I have either been grappling with or am about to start grappling with in my role as DP. Some of these developed out of reflecting on my day shadowing, many of them emerged from other events throughout the term.
How might we build upon the great content learning to develop more autonomous learners?
What if students didn’t all move through lessons at the same pace?
How might student understanding be checked in ways that don’t stop progress with learning? Continue reading →
Many of you will know that I am at a new school this year and have made the step up to a Senior Leadership position. This meant that I jumped at the chance to take on the #ShadowaStudent challenge that was created by School Retool, IDEO and the Stanford d.School. What a great way to gain empathy for the student experience at Lynfield College – to really find out what it is like to be a student here.
I asked a student if I could shadow him for the day and explained why I was doing this. Let the teachers know why I would be in their classroom wearing a school uniform and got prepared for a day outside of my office!
2015 was a great year professionally for me. It contained many highlights in school, some great conferences, an epic year as an eFellow and ended with me getting a new job as a Deputy Principal. So, how do you follow that up?
To follow this up, I will be focusing on one word to help guide me in 2016: BALANCE.
Early in 2013 I attended an Information Evening about foundation teaching applications for Hobsonville Point Secondary School. I had always liked the idea of being part of the foundation staff at a school and getting to develop the culture of the place, so was quite excited about attending this and finding out more. The meeting was everything I hoped for and more. Maurie, Lea, Claire and Di set out an exciting vision and I was amped about what this school was going to look like. So amped, I was ringing my partner before even making it back to the car, to tell her I needed to get a job teaching at this school – it sounded like my dream job!
I spent a great deal of time at the end of Term 2 focusing my thoughts on how Design Thinking applies to educational leadership. This is something that we have been doing at Hobsonville Point Secondary School, but a couple of presentations I did in Term 2 meant that I had to clarify my thoughts about what it really meant to lead with Design Thinking.
For me, part of why I find Design Thinking an effective approach to school leadership is captured in this quote:
Design Thinking is a Human-centred process (or mindset) for dealing with open, complex problems. Now, to me, ‘open, complex problems’ sums up education in a nutshell. And the focus on empathy that a Design Thinking approach brings is ideal for focusing on the right question – the cause of issues arising rather than the symptoms. Continue reading →
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 →
This last week at Hobsonville Point Secondary School has felt to me like we are shooting out the end of that image on the right. Suddenly all kinds of things are aligning and we are shooting forward in our latest iteration.
Our Specialised Learning Leader team has a focus on visible thinking and learning. For us that means seeing explicit use of the learning design language in what teachers are using and saying day to day in class. To help this along, a couple of us (Kylee and I) have it as our focus for our 30 Day Sprint. This awesome on 2 levels for me. 1) I see the use of this language as incredibly empowering for our learners. 2) Utilising 30 day sprints alongside 90 day team goals is giving our team a renewed focus this year and has helped us get into that Start-Up frame of mind that served us so well when creating the original structures for our school in 2013.
Friday morning’s PD session saw a focus on 2 things: Setting our goals for the year and planning our Teaching as Inquiry. Our 3 personal professional goals had to align with the school principles: Continue reading →
Last year we started using the phrase “warm and demanding” to describe our approach (Maurie and Lea to blame for bringing this phrase into common usage). I remembered this from Restorative Practice workshops and quickly saw how it could apply across much of what we were planning. Initially I viewed this as being a phrase for our students, now I realise it describes how things are for staff at Hobsonville Point as well.