Monday, January 22, 2018

Walking on a tightrope

  1. Get-up-and-Go (be determined and full of energy) 
  2. Stop and celebrate [even little] Successes 
  3. Look after myself (no school work after 6.00 pm)
  4. Continue DOing [something] despite difficulties (stick-to-it-iveness) 
  5. Do what I believe to be best for ALL my students as they are my number one priority 
  6. In my role as Assistant Principal and ICT Lead, I will take the 'bad days' in stride and remember that I get to start fresh tomorrow 
  7. Blog more regularly
I will DO more of what I like to regain my energy and to be successful.

For me, 2018 would be like walking on a tightrope... balancing and keeping my eyes to a fixed and un-moving point at the far end of the wire, not to say that I won't take my eyes of that point... but if I do loose my 'balance/focus' for any reason whatsoever, I will return my vision to 'that point/my goal' to regain my balance. And if I get tired walking on the rope, I will stop and take a minute to catch my breath again. If I fall, I will pick myself up and although falling hurts, I will remember that 'the show must go on' and the only thing that I can do to get myself back on the tightrope is to get focused on that point and continue on.

The un-moving point will be my DO 'one word' and if I persevere, not give up and hang in there, I will accomplish the almost impossible this year...

~ "Critics risk nothing. It's the creators who must face the vulnerability of failure with the possibility of success." - Justin Dillon ~

Friday, December 22, 2017

Changing the Paradigm

I finished in my role as Learning Facilitor with Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru on 6 December 2017. I really cherish this time in which I have been privileged to be working alongside teachers to enable shifts in teacher practice. At times, teachers were reluctant about changes they had to make, but they were encourage to adopt 'a beginner's mindset'. 

At times the journey was unpredictable, but when meeting with teachers, I had been looking at the challenges they might experienced and how to overcome difficulties to enable change. What also impressed me was their willingness to seek feedback once they tried something new that I introduced in the learning environment. 

The outcome was one of great satisfaction, as shifts were made in practice and teachers were eager to move forward [even more] to support students in their learning journey.

~ "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams ~

Friday, December 15, 2017

End of Year - A Quick Reflection

With my 'Possibilities, Options and a Course of Action' post at the start of the year, I was looking forward to pursue the many things that was twirling around in my head...

Unfortunately, I did not always 'stand firm' mentally and emotionally when challenges arise, so my one word, prudent (adj) 'acting with or showing care and thought for the future' did not always come to fruition, as there were days I was not ready for some unexpected challenges / bumps in the road.

One of my biggest 'problems' was that I felt tired, tired and tired. I question myself constantly as to my lack in motivation to effectively use my PLN (Twitter, VLN, EduCampNZ) and colleagues to create productive working relationships by learning from others, asking questions to find out the thoughts of others and to reflect understanding. 

Many days, I felt like "Forget Everything and Run" rather than to "Face Everything and Rise." (the two meanings of F-E-A-R according to Zig Ziglar).

The following post on a closed group also made me wonder if this showed what teaching became for so many in 2017... yes there are other stories too... unfortunately.

Throughout my unexpected challenges, I think I stayed true to my students... one example:
Two of my ‘at risk’ Māori students (Student 2 and Student 3) experienced difficulty with oral language. 

I reflected on why this might be and came to the conclusion that the pronunciation of Māori vowels in relation to English is quite different, which could very well contribute to their specific areas of need. A ‘non-confident’ Māori student, can find this extremely difficult and result to them finding it hard to follow instructions, process information etc.
I planned deliberate activities that meet the needs of these learners, whilst also capitalising on spontaneous authentic learning opportunities that support oral language development. 
Steps was to:
- Locate, create and utilise a variety of activities/resources support sequencing development.
- Use Big Books and Cards, and use the planning support that accompanies these to develop oral language.
- Use guided reading lessons to continue modelling and promoting retelling of text with a focus on oral language.

Although Student 2 still requires some support, I am delighted with the overall progress - as this was a student who did not talk at all to start with.

Progress can be seen as shown in the end of year spreadsheet below. 
All the blue areas, were areas of concern. Now it is only the two green areas, which I am confident will be shifting further [as well] in the coming year.

One of the best parts of this year [for me] was working in classes alongside teachers and ākonga to develop capability in pedagogy (teaching and learning) and the use of technology as a tool to support learning in my role as 0.2 learning Facilitator with Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru. Part of our (my) role was to working through and with the wider community to enable ubiquity (every where, anytime) of learning, honouring an authentic Rotorua and Arawa context, foster collaboration for learning across Rotorua (I have a G+ community for junior school teachers where we share resources / ideas) and to build knowledge about Future Focused Learning. I have been working with teachers and school leaders (I engaged regularly with principals about growth in teacher adaptive confidence and professional development) by embedding effective future focused teaching, using learning technologies to build learner competencies. 

End of Year Highlight:
Received a choc bar with this lovely message from a student! #EndOfYear #FeelingBlessed

~ "Ships don't sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don't let what's happening around you get inside you and weigh you down... stay up." - Unknown ~

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Constant Improvement

Our school had been very fortunate to secure Anne from CORE Eduaction and CLA as facilitator for our PD this year. One focus was on parent engagement... This has been something that I have been talking about in one of my past Inquiries... How can we get parents ENGAGED in their child's learning? Many people think that attending sports events means that parents are engaged, however; parents are here only 'involved' in what is happening at a school... therefore the importance of getting them engaged... in students' learning, especially class and individual student blogs as an ePortfolio is crucial.

A good starting point for us as a staff was to look at the elements of a positive learning environment for us individually. This also help us to understand each other a bit better (I think)...

Anne lead a session with parents around the eLearning Planning Framework. Feedback from parents and teachers both were very valuable...

As teachers, we also brainstormed our ideas...

Closer to the end of our PD, we went back to a Padlet we started at the beginning of the year and revisited our ideas...

So where to next for us at this stage?

Exciting times ahead...

~ "Excellent schools don't believe in excellence - only in constant improvement and constant change." - Dan McCabe ~

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Discussing Computational Thinking and 'playing' with Sphero

Hancine started our Connected Rotorua session by showing us a very interesting video on 'Computational Thinking'...

There is also a free course available for educators through 'Google' to help with integrating 'Computational Thinking' into the curriculum.

It was great to be around educators who knew that Computational Thinking is about problem solving...

Getting an explanation from Neil on how 'sphero' works...

Having a play while being talked through by Shaun...
Photo Credit: Sue Winters (Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru)

~ "There's nothing magical about any tech tool. Real magic rests in the minds and hearts of teachers using digital tools to introduce students to new individuals, ideas and opportunities." - Unknown ~

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Toolbox 101 - Senior Management 'Need to Know'

Although this seminar was aimed at Senior Management looking at obtaining a Principal role, it was obvious to me that the information shared, was also very valuable to an AP/DP.

Things covered were:
  1. Appointments (Appointment letters, fixed term, permanent, job sharing and beginning teachers)... The discussions we had for fixed term and support staff appointments and whether they adhere to the PTCA and the Employment Act was definitely an eye opener. After working through a couple of scenarios, it became clear that commonly cited reasons for these appointments are not always that straight forward.
  2. Unit Allocations... A fair process is to look at what is the needs at school and to have a conversation with staff. Put out a job description for the unit. Open to anybody who would like to apply. Needs to be clear, fair and transparent. 60% of units should be permanent and 40% can be fixed-term.
  3. Leave (Sick, parental, bereavement, discretionary, refreshment)... Some very interesting clarifications came out of this, e.g. Stress and mental health are not considered illnesses for sick leave. It is also important to have conversations with staff about the entitlement for bereavement leave, so that they are clear about what this is.
  4. Support Staff Review (Variation of hours, grading, annual salary reviews, surplus staffing)... It is important to look at allocation hours for the year coming up, as you cannot change hours in a school year (although, e.g. T/A - 10 permanent hours & 10 fixed-term, you can change fixed to 5). Variation should not be more that 20% of their permanent hours.
  5. Competency / Conduct / Impairment Issues... The main message that came through was that the process should be fair to the parties involved. Discussion is absolutely crucial to ensure the non escalation of the issue. The mana and dignity of a person should be intact during this time. When this was discussed, it made me think of a thread I read a while ago and a discussion on a well know programme...  

An overwhelming body of research is highlighting the excessive stress faced by New Zealand’s educators. Therefore, it is my opinion that no-one needs any 'uncertainty' added to any process that might impact on their well-being. Communication is vital...

~ "Compassion is an action word with no boundaries." - Prince ~