Birds of a feather

 “O Manu o le lauamanu e felelei mamao” ‘Birds that fly together go far.’ #edchatNZ

— Sonya (@vanschaijik) August 13, 2015

Each goose flaps its wings creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in this formation whole flock adds 70% greater flying range then if each bird flew alone.

  • Educators who share a common sense of direction can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are travelling on the thrust of one another. Making links to this week I had this experience when by talking with Nathaniel Louwrens , we were both on the same track about tracking New Zealand educators blogs. I was watching how the the RSS feeds change as educators update their blogs. When the RSS feed changes a new blogger takes the lead. site. That is what gave me the idea for this reflection. My opening quote came from the #EdchatNZ session that took place this week on Authentic Learning. I thought how amazing the conversation had been and how thinking was deepened with the discussion closely guided by leading questions from Danielle Myburgh.

When a goose flies out of formation it feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It then quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird flying in front of it.

  • That is what I thought of the carefully challenged devil’s advocate role. Someone who comes in and drags the conversation by challenging the discussion. We can feel the drag in the conversation and then justify why we think the way we do as we move to the speed of keeping up. Stephen Lethbridge was the Devil’s Advocate for the #edchatnz twitter chat.

When the lead goose tires it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

  • As educators it is important to take turns sharing the load and take turns leading as we are interdependent on each other. I often see this when I see the same names leading events. A classic one is TeachMeetNZ. I am often grateful when an educator approaches me to host a session. I see this too with the educamp events that take place around New Zealand when different lead educators step up and coordinate an EducampNZ event in their own neighbourhood. We are all interdependent on each other and by taking turns to share the load of leading free professional learning  for educators across New Zealand.

The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

  • As educators we need to ensure that our honking from behind like on social media is encouraging. But also ensure that our voice can be heard if we think those leading need to hear a change in direction. As we continue to embrace social media for our own professional learning it is important to celebrate what we do here in New Zealand. We have stunning educators and I love seeing and hearing their stories. At the same time I am conscious of not too much enthusiastic praise and remember to include some kind of feedback and to celebrate those educators who are our devil’s advocate. It takes courage and broad shoulders to have a voice of constructive criticism.

When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls, two geese follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again then they catch up with the flock or launch with another formation.

  • As educators we can launch a new formation or join with those who are headed the same way we want to travel. We can look out and encourage one of us to step forward in the lead roles and always help each other in times of self doubt by being there to talk through ideas. We can stand beside and support each other  even if we are unsure of new ideas.

I thought about this part as I reflected on my involvement on the EELWebinar. I thought about how I became involved because Tessa Grey believed in the work that I do and encouraged me and motivated my ideas using Google+ hangout. I thought of how Ewan McIntosh did not hesitate to say yes when I asked to use some of the ideas to develop for TeachMeet. I thought of Virginia Kung giving me some analogies to think about for my presentation and how she was willing to help me clarify my own thinking for my presentation. You can check out my slides below.

I also thought about how we take turns at Newmarket School to host others schools visiting. On Friday we had several visitors come in and Wendy Kofoed reminded me of how many of our ideas develop through the generosity of schools we have visited sharing their ideas and systems.

Finally I think about learning on the thrust of one another. By learning in this formation, can we add 70% greater range than if we learnt alone?

I think about how we are all interdependent on each other. I had a conversation with Pete Hall. ‘Leading Teachers to share their practice.’ First I agreed to be the trial teacher for his new initiative and in turn he agreed to step in and present virtually with me at the recent GAFE conference. You can hear the podcast on the POND.

I can really see this learning thrust happening on the EdblogNZ site. I believe that by making the blogs visible teachers have come together and are now flying like geese. Each educator is prepared to move into the leader position by updating their blog.


Lessons from the geese”, was written in 1972 by Dr Robert F McNeish of Baltimore.

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