Archive for the “school leadership” Category

This from Doug Johnson is gold!

The premise can be applied to any sort of inovation or proposed change too I would be thinking.  I would add though does it address a need of a specific group or a wider audience?  And is that need real or perceived?

The full post from Doug is worth a look too (as usual!).

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Some things I have been reading/watching in the last few days:

Interesting from the Huffington Post in the US re Charter schools and National Testing.

Interesting vids on neuro-psychology and learning topics.

Snapshot of what one teacher is doing with e-learning in their classroom

Frazer Speirs wonders if we need to be using managed networks at all

TED according to 9year olds – wow!

Perils of standardisation – Seth Godin and Dan Pink reframe a school leaders thinking.

School leaders PLN's … I blog – read and write, Twitter is not for me

Accountability and responsibility for teachers.  reflections on Mark Treadwell

Some TED talks by teachers



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5 min that sums it all up.  Well done Claire!

Ignition 2012 | Claire Amos from Emerging Leaders on Vimeo.


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Education has become increasingly low trust.  We have to keep proof of everything we do, all the decisions we make, the progress kids make in their learning, the progress we make in ours.

A big focus is on the evidence.  We have to document the evidential breadcrumbs to show the trail.  I believe strongly though we are collecting huge amounts of evidence (which takes a huge amount of time!) when we could often be a bit smarter and use exemplars.  When we talk about evidence we often mean every little thing that can find to show we did the right thing.  If the brown stuff hits the spinny thing we have to have enough written down – or stored online, portfolio-ed, blogged, pintrest-ed, moodle-d or whatever – to show it was not our fault, we made the right decision, the kid did know what we said.  We did everything we could and should have done.  Teachers keep huge amounts of data – scores, notes, observations, and so-on.

Apart from the sadness of no longer assuming competence and the rise of the blame culture I think we need to focus more often on exemplars instead of simply gathering piles of evidence.  Exemplars are quite different in my view.  They exemp-LIFY.  They are carefully chosen artifact that shows a whole trail of thinking or logic or learning.  An example may show what I mean.  We could keep a lot of data/evidence of a kids ability to multiply basic facts, solve problems, understand place value, etc …. or …. an annotated sample of a 2×2 (or more) digit multiplication problem solved quickly and with working that then shows:

  • basic facts knowledge – tables facts must be knowledge or they would have taken a lot longer to work it out if they had to solve each tables problem with materials or on their fingers.
  • place value knowledge – they must understand PV to keep things in columns if solve in an algorithm or if 'split' in some way into tens and ones as a strategy
  • understanding of multiplication as a concept – repeated addition, whatever the strategy used shows
  • addition knowledge – depending on the strategy chosen
  • strategy – and the sophistication of the strategy shows you the 'level' or 'stage' of mathematical understanding

…. and are a few more things too, but you get my point ….

(Information for formative purposes is different.  But is doesn't need to be exhaustively comprehensive – just focused and informative of the classroom/childs programme.)

In order to be an exemplar the sample, or the collection of samples, also need to be annotated.  This should include things like:

  • date – we can only be certain what the kid knows now, today, in this context …. we are making no claims they will have it sussed tomorrow, the next day or especially weeks or months into the future.
  • context – how was the activity set up?  How much teacher/peer support was there?  Was this at the end of the learning sequence or at the beginning?  How heavily was it scaffolded?
  • achievement – does it show what the kid can do ….in your overall experience of the topic is this a representative sample or did they blow it or fluke it?  This could be a short note …. and only note something if you need to.
  • summative assessment – overall how have they done?  Is there a level this shows? 

Much of this information is generic to all the kids who completed the task and so can be cut-and-pasted.  The judgment is the bit that that is individualised.  It is information that could be kept in a form as simple as a class list; with the generic information detailed at the top.  Only the exceptional things need to be noted.  If a student did as we expected and performed to a particular level a simple letter, symbol or number may tell us everything wer need to know.  We have to be smart about this stuff. 

The same is true of documenting our professional learning.  We have a multitude of requirements to meet from different regulatory bodies, or from our school.  Lets keep exemplars of practice that show we are meeting a range of requirements through a single activity, reflection, change in practice, etc – rather than what are often simply a list of activities that may or may not have actually had any impact on our pedagogy.

Keep it simple, keep it effective, keep it focused.

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Been a busy week or so for things coming through the RSS and in the different projects I am involved in.

Some of the more interesting ones….

Learning and Teaching:

* Another list of top 10's but interesting to note the alignment in the thinking that these have around specific trends.  Comparing with the CORE 10 Trends for example –  There are more and more references to this mag (for the ipad) assuming it is at the same sort of level as the Edutopia site which is a pretty meteoric rise.

* iPads v Laptops – short but good post outlining the benefits-pitfalls of each

* Alllanahs great google site on iPads in education.  Have iPads you need to have a look here.  Deal Extreme ( is a good place to get some of this sort of gear and they do free international postage.

* Harvard Teaching for Understanding Framework.  I came across this through some work in the Future Schools in Singapore.  Similar to Inquiry but project based and more teacher directed.  Some great reflective questions and resources.  A site worth taking the time to browse around.

* The spaces we learn in are critical.  The size of the bodies makes no difference to this truth but it is often only the smaller ones we think about.  The Reggio philosophy for example has a specific focus on the physical classroom as a 'teacher' for chidlren.  I have always had a fascination with this and the Learning Spaces space on the Enabling eLearning site has some great links and resources.  Have a look if you are planning any upgrades ….

* quite a different view on learning.  Good to challenge yourself a bit ….

* GREAT post about using data.  The importance of collaboration in making OTJ's and for the learning of the team.


Geeky Stuff:

* tips and tricks with iOS.  Slow to navigate but some geeky wee things

* Some people have just too much time on their hands!!

* Interesting new player in the ISP game in NZ.  Very different pricing model and getting the squeeze from the big boys after less than a week it would seem.

* iPads and other tablets now account for 40% of the mobile broadband market globally.  WOW!  There has been talk of the inevitability of BYOD …. so it is happening even if it is not sanctioned by the school.  I know our kids friends tether to each others devices to get around school filtering to get to facebook at break times for instance.  There are increasing numbers of 'how to' and 'readiness' posts on the BYOD topic – heres another good one.

* speed up the reaction time of the home button on your iPhone – this worked!!

* Slow motion capture on the iPhone …. not actually tried it but sounds great for PE skills.


Other things:

* There was a blog I used to follow ages ago with lots of these wee venn diagrammes. this is a snappy but still useful list of things to think about.  With reference to rutts – I once heard them described as a grave with the ends knocked out … mmmm

* photography posing guide – the series of these are great!  This is the couples one but they cover all sorts of situations.  Could share with older kids to work on their composition and shortcut to 'what works' too.

* find free Kindle books – the good ones, the best sellers.

* A Blog title designed to get attention but some wonderfully funny and cleverly written posts – Stuff white people like

* creating success quickly as a key factor in development.  Leadership Freak blog is a great place for succinct leadership tips.  This is important in our work as Facilitators as well ….

* If you need something special in the clothing line and want to go custom made.

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Following links from the video below I found these on Michael Fullans site.  He is one of my 'heroes' in educational leadership.  His change forces work was the basis for my educational leadership study a few years ago and one of the best leadership seminars I have ever been to was one he ran.  A prolific author as well.

He has a list of the 20 best educational leadership books here.

and best educational leadership websites here

An absolute TON of research and thinking in the links on these pages.  WOW!

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Just reading Dereks blog

Watch the video for yourself:


Michael Fullan on What Doesn't Work in School Reform from Chris Landry on Vimeo.

Fullans "wrong Drivers":

  1. Using system accountability as a 'stick' – Fullan argues that the various forms of external accountability and judgement that are being promoted at a system level simply don't work, but what does is greater a greater degree of what he calls 'transparency of openness'. 
  2. Focus on indivdual quality rather than team development. Fullan argues that it is the collective that is important in terms of achieving system change in education. 
  3. Over-reliance on technology – on it's own it won't fix anything, but used to support effective pedagogical practice it can be a powerful change agent. (Something I've[Derek] blogged about before in pedagogically driven UFB and the Promise of UFB)
  4. Fagmented change – rather than a coherent, whole of system change approach. Fullan points to the many examples of systems that focus on just individual elements such as literacy and numeracy in isolation, instead of taking a more coherent, bold approach.

Interesting when thinking about Jacqui's post about the latest Interface survey too.  Teachers struggling to keep up with changes in ICT…. and my intentionally provocative response on her blog post:


I do think sometimes though we need to remind teachers that eLearning is not an optional thing any more.

We are an eighth of the way through the 21st century and we keep referring to technology and online tools as if they are something out in the future somewhere.

I absolutely agree that the change management is VERY difficult at times and all that. Man I have lived in that world as a principal!! Is it also not a professional obligation to keep current – who is still teaching 'process writing' or slavishly working through the pages of the blue, green and red maths books? Would anyone think that was OK for their colleagues to still operate like that? Yet we tolerate ignoring eLearning?

I may be being a bit harsh to make my point but we really can't afford to molly-coddle people who won't get with the programme …. for the sake of the kids. After all that's why we are all in schools isn't it?

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This rubric/infographic from Edudemic Magazine outlines their thinking on how to decide if an idea/product is worth reviewing or looking at further:

This also provides a useful framework for looking at any idea or initiative in a school:

1.  Does it make sense.  Do you understand it in terms of your kids, their learning ….?

2.  Does it fill a need we have (or are we creating one just to get the shiny toys?)

3.  Is it gobsmackingly simple to use and does it actually do what it says it will, and well (any unintended consequences?)

4.  Is there a better option?  A free/cheaper one?

5.  Does it fit in the overall way we do stuff – with the school culture and ways of working?


5 outa 5?  Go for it.

Notice there is nothing about $$$$ … if it is important enough you can make that work (usually, in some way)

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