Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Profile of a SC Graduate

Many schools in New Zealand have developed a ‘Profile of a Graduate’ from their schools and it is a huge task.  

It was refreshing to be introduced to the 'Profile of the South Carolina Graduate', as something which has been developed for the whole state.

The framework that supports the profile of the South Carolina graduate is vital to helping our state stay competitive in today's global economy as it addresses the need and solution for a sustainable, educated and qualified workforce. More here

It undoubtedly contributes significantly to coherence between schools and across the age levels of schooling.

  • Rigorous standards in language arts and math for career and college readiness
  • Multiple languages, science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), arts and social sciences
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Communication, information, media and technology
  • Knowing how to learn
Integrity. Self-direction. Global perspective. Perseverance. Work ethic. Interpersonal skills

Does the benefit gained from the process of wrestling with the tough questions in our school community as we gain understanding and consensus around “What does a graduate from XYZ School look like?” outweigh the benefit of having a rigorously developed state profile?

Undoubtedly the people who were present at the time when the school went through this process gain enormously and get a great return on their investment of time and creativity. But over time, as more new staff arrive and go through an induction process rather than a development process, you have to wonder if the benefit of contributing to a profile that has been widely adopted brings a greater long term sense of satisfaction.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Leadership Keynote

The opening Keynote for the SCASA conference was Chris Fuller speaking on the Five levels of leadership. Chris works with The John Maxwell Company and is one of the world’s leading motivational speakers. He warned us at the outset that he speaks in Tweetable soundbites, and the next hour+ verified this.

I don’t have a hope here of reproducing his speech, despite two of us taking notes flat out. What did become apparent was that the essence of his message had been shared with us by our kaumatua, Ihaka Samuels before he passed away; “If you want to know whether you’re a leader, look behind you and see who is following. If no one is, then you’re not!” Ike had several ways of delivering this message, but you knew what he was referring to when he said, “Look over your shoulder!”

Chris Fuller quoted Margaret Thatcher in a similar vein, “Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.”

His own way of stating this message was, “If I think I’m leading and they’re not following, then I’m just taking a walk!” adding the quip, “And I’ve walked for some power walkers in my time!”

The Five Levels of Leadership he led us through:

1. Position -The Level of Rights

People follow because they have to. You have Positional Leadership. You are the Boss. They don't have a choice. They have to follow, whether they want your leadership or not.
Note: Your influence will not extend beyond the lines of your job description. The longer you stay here, the higher the turnover and the lower the morale

2. Permission - The Level of Relationships

People follow because they want to follow YOU. They believe in You. They trust You
They Don't Have to, but they want to follow You.
Note: People will follow you beyond your stated authority. This level allows work to be fun

3. Production - The Level of Results

People follow because of what you have done for the organisation. Your accomplishments.
Note: This is where success is sensed by most people. They like you and what you are doing. Problems are fixed with very little effort because of momentum.

4. People Development - The Level of Reproduction

People follow because of what you have done for them. What's in it for them.
Note: This is where long-range growth occurs. Your commitment to developing leaders will ensure ongoing growth to the organisation and to people. Do whatever you can to achieve and stay on this level.

5. Personhood - The Level of Respect

People follow because of who you are and what you represent. Your Values.
Note: This step is reserved for leaders who have spent years growing people and organisations.
Just a few make it to this level. Those who do are BIGGER THAN LIFE.

Some of his quotes captured throughout this keynote:

Every leader gets the team they deserve, eventually
The law of the lid: Your leadership ability is the lid to your organisation
No one wants to be managed, Lead people, manage things
If you don’t have a SUCCESS-OR, then you’re a failure
Start training your successor
Every team has a Swing Dog - The one who impacts whether the leader’s vision is carried out or not
People join companies, people quit PEOPLE
Teams need a dragon to slay or a princess to rescue
The elevation of the external keeps us from the squabbling of the internal
Create a leadership team - if it’s lonely at the top something’s not right.
Only secure leaders empower others
Ask the children of your employees whether they like it that Mum/Dad works for you.
If they reply “Oh, it’s a 3 wine night” you’ve got your answer.
If we're not getting better, people are getting bitter

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Innovative Ideas Institute

We were privileged to be invited to attend the annual conference of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. The title of SCASA makes it clear who the intended audience is and the theme “Innovative Ideas Institute” makes the purpose clear. Innovative leadership was front of mind throughout the three days, and was unpacked through the keynotes, sessions, vendor exhibits and networking opportunities. And clearly anyone prepared to hold their conference practically on the sand of a stunning surf beach and rely on the delegates to show up to sessions has confidence in the coherence of the group around their vision.

We had no idea what to expect and discovered a group of warm and energetic educators at an event the size of ULearn in NZ - about 1500 attendees. The focus on innovative leadership was inspiring and I will post notes from some of the sessions I attended. We sat in on conversations at the state, district, and school levels and have lots to take home from their approach to teaching and learning as well as leadership.

We knew these people were onto something, which is why we reached out to them in the first place! Back when we were first considering moving from our Ubuntu based ASUS netbooks to Google’s Chromebooks, it was Donna Teuber, Director of Technology Integration and Innovation at Richland School District 2, who generously gave us her time and the District’s resources to share their journey with us.  They were one year into the move to Chromebooks and had documented the successes and pitfalls and we learnt so much from that.  Some of us still belong to their Chromebook Google Group where we get to see and learn from daily interactions from their extensive team about what is and isn’t working with their various tech solutions around GAFE and Chromebooks. These guys are dealing in numbers that sound more like our whole country than our cluster, so they really do have sample sizes to learn from.

It is resources like this 1:1 Implementation Site  and the vision outlined, that demonstrate the power of the robust technology solutions we have learnt so much from:

In Richland Two, students will work collaboratively in digital age learning environments on authentic problem and project-based activities which enhance creativity, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving. Through personalised, authentic and collaborative experiences, our students will develop the skills to prepare them for a future that we can only imagine.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Full Day Kindergarten

In Toronto, Ontario it was a pleasure to make daily visits to Post's Corners Public School in the Oakville neighbourhood. This is a learning environment with beautiful facilities, a calm atmosphere, clean and tidy property, and a place where mothers and fathers walk their children to school and linger for chats at the gate with the teachers and each other.

We took particular note of the Junior school programme. The Full Day Kindergarten for 4 and 5 year olds would be the envy of New Entrant teachers in NZ. The class size is 15 -25 learners and has TWO trained teachers; one a fully qualified ECE teacher and the other a fully qualified primary school teacher. (NB: less than 15 learners and the teacher ratio reduces to one teacher).

Read what they have to say about it on the class site or a snippet below….

Here’s what you can expect:

Enhanced learning during the school day  
  • Teachers and early childhood educators will work together in the classroom to help young children learn and grow. This team approach will bring out the best in your child through activities and play, guided by a new full-day kindergarten curriculum.
A stronger foundation for learning
  • Research shows that early learning has long-term benefits for a child’s academic and social skills. A full day of learning early in life can help improve your child’s reading, writing and math skills later on. It also makes the transition to Grade 1 easier – for you and your child. Good for kids, good for parents, good for Ontario
  • Full-day kindergarten is an investment in our future. It’s part of the government’s plan to better prepare our kids by giving them the tools they need to succeed and build a stronger Ontario.
Read the government research published about Full Day Kindergartens.

My instinctive response was, “Imagine the progress we could make in our Manaiakalani schools if we were resourced like this!” And then remembered, well actually our MDTA classes do have two teachers and evidence to date has proven significant acceleration is possible.
See Michelle and Karen’s posts from 2014 and Steph from 2016 - all New Entrant teachers demonstrating the benefit of a powerful pedagogy and two teachers.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Capturing Great Images

Anyone of the MDTA cohorts or teachers who have worked with me on making film and teaching children movie making skills will be in no doubt about my passionate advocacy for the simple tripod.

I was thinking of my colleagues when I took these photos (no tripod, but elbows on the railing in lieu) on the Ponte Sant'Angelo spanning the Tiber River in Rome.

Professional photographers were lining up to capture the magnificent sunset followed by the evening illuminations of Castel Sant'Angelo and other buildings.

I couldn't resist grabbing my phone and capturing this unexpected sight on our evening stroll to the Vatican.

They all had set-up tripods and I think one would feel uneasy joining their lineup without one!

Right now across our Manaiakalani schools our clever teachers are up-skilling themselves to create a movie with their learners to share on the BIG screen at the Manaiakalani Film Festival 2016. Every year we dissect the difference between the movies that are a hit with the audience - because that is the ultimate test, right? - and the rest. It is always the same answer.

Three things:

  • A compelling story, to paraphrase Kevin Roberts. Engaging the audience' emotions whether through humour, pathos, sympathy, joy, adrenaline or whatever. The story is essential.
  • Vision. Are we going to feel sea sick watching this? Did you use a tripod? Did you keep your back to the light source (windows, fluro lights)? These are not fancy techniques for frazzled classroom teachers. Just common sense tips.
  • Sound. Consistent sound levels. Clear speech. Background music only used if needed and used well. The post production team can do a lot to improve the sound you if you keep the sound clear and consistent.

And yes, I do recognise the irony of using inferior 'snaps shots' to illustrate this piece :)

cross posted on Not in One Hundred and Forty blog