Distributive Leadership

Hellen Keller said, ‘The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

In Samoa we have a saying: “O Manu o le lauamanu e felelei mamao” meaning ‘Birds that fly together go far.’

Introduction

I have selected to evaluate distributed leadership. As I researched background information when I supported a principal friend of mine on his assignment, the works of Gronn, Splianne and Elmore confirmed my beliefs of leadership experience within my current and previous positions. Previously, I have held a variety of teacher leadership roles. These have included:

  • School Lead Teacher for the 2001 and 2010 Information and Communication Technology Professional Development (ICTPD) contracts
  • Director of Religious Studies in a Catholic school
  • Steering committee member for national conferences
  • Webmaster for two educational associations
  • Executive member for ULIMASAO Bilingual Teacher’s Association
  • Steering committee for the Edchatnz Conference
  • Member of the advisory board for the National Diploma of TESSOL
  • Led a Samoan Bilingual Team and run the school library.
  • Host a national virtual TeachMeetNZ each quarter and have had 80 educators share their story.
  • Develop and maintain the school’s hidden infrastructure for digital learning

With many of these positions, monetary gains, in terms of a Retention unit or a Management unit, are often and have been non-existent. However, the teacher leadership experience has enabled me to learn about distributed leadership. The lack of monetary recognition is minor compared to my vast ongoing personal growth, critical reflection with professional development, community experience, networking, mentoring and being mentored, and having access to a range of knowledge, skills, mentors and leadership practices which have been part of my learning journey.

With this reflection I intend to look at the leadership practices associated with the concept of distributed leadership. I will examine both the educational and the practical utility of this approach to leadership. The reason I have undertaken this task is to further my own understanding about developing leadership in teachers as I believe teachers also need support, guidance and encouragement to undertake many tasks that sit outside their normal classroom practice and yet is an indication of leadership. My personal inquiry is to continue to explore the greatest variance that makes a difference to student learning and that is the teacher. Leadership also plays a role in making a difference to student learning and in particular distributive leadership.

 

The concept of distributed leadership.

In my readings, I found varying concepts of what distributed leadership is. Key ideas associated with distributed leadership, such as sharing, growing leaders within an organisation, recognising skills and knowledge, mentoring, group responsibility, group accountability, critical reflection and self efficacy appealed to me. I found defining distributed leadership in a way that made sense to me, increasingly challenging.

Defining

Probably the closest term to describe what I believe distributed leadership to be, is an organism that grows and changes depending on the environment it is in. It is constantly changing, living and adapting. MacBeath (2003) defines distributed leadership as ‘something in the gift of a head teacher, allocating leadership roles magnanimously while holding on to power.’ Hence the term distributive which implies a holding, or taking initiative as a right, rather than it being bestowed as a gift. In other words, it is a value or ethic, residing in the organisational culture. Harris (2008) defines distributive leadership as leadership shared and extended within and between organisations.

He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata

I strongly believe that distributed leadership also has heroes. Bass (1997) describes them as ‘transformational leaders with highly developed moral and ethical values that reflect the culture and community that they work in’. However, they are far from the ‘super hero’ concept. They stand out because the decisions made within an organization are based around their ‘inner voice’ input. They have people at the heart of all decision making.

Elements of Distributive Leadership

Senge (1990) suggests designer leader, teacher leader and steward leader are essential in distributed leadership. I will discuss teacher leader and steward leader further on in the writing as I have had personal experiences with these concepts of leadership. However within my current growing understanding, I have hesitations with designer leader as I feel that this leadership concept does not align with the concept of distributed leadership. In further searching for a concept to clarify my understanding of distributed leadership, I came across the National College for School Leadership Spring Report, (Bennett, Wise, Woods and Harvey, 2003). The report elaborates on the elements of distributed leadership. These elements are:

1) An emergent property or network of interacting individuals.

2) Openness of the boundaries of leadership.

3) Varieties of expertise distributed across the many, not the few.

I intend to take these elements and explore them further under practices associated with the concept of distributed leadership.

The leadership practices associated with the concept of distributed leadership.

Using the above elements, I will clarify what they are in leadership practices and because I am a teacher, I will reflect back on practices I have observed.

Element 1) An emergent property or network of interacting individuals.

Teacher Leader

In the research I read, the term Teacher leadership appeared regularly. This first came to my attention with the work of Senge (1990). I thought that this term clarified the first element discussed. In describing practices associated with teacher leader, I found it exciting to use the word Teacher Leader as an acronym and to search for practices that describe each letter. The following is what I developed around the various researchers.

Teacher leaders are action researchers who regularly use qualitative data to guide their practice. They are action researchers, peer developers, mentors and decision makers.

Emotional intelligence is one of their traits as described further by Fullan (2001).

They have high ethics and moral values that reflect the culture and community with whom they work. Teacher leaders act and think sensitively to the school culture in which they work. They critically reflect on practice and are constantly changing, adapting and improving their practice. They are committed to self-review and actively encourage critical feedback from their peers and students. Teacher leaders have high student achievement and work with qualitative data. They seek out embedded professional development that focuses on pedagogical knowledge and subject knowledge. They are morally responsible for improving the quality of instruction- not just their own but also the peers with whom they work.

Teacher leaders learn to create and manage learning culture. They have ethical principles, which drive their decisions. They acknowledge all stakeholders and are active stewards in the role they lead. They are daily communicators and ensure that information is accessible to all with whom they work. Teacher Leaders are effective educators.

They see one of their roles in education as supporting leadership activities with resources.

They equip students with the civic, moral, and personal skills and behaviours to live in a multicultural society.” (Cuban: 2001)

An example of teacher leader is the Sustained contract we were recently a part of. The delegated lead teachers and senior management pooled their ideas and expertise, and shared them around the schools within the cluster. At the same time, staff within the schools were part of the skills and expertise group. If any teacher showed signs of leadership within an area of digital learning or SOLO Taxonomy  they usually contributed to the cluster, by sharing their skills and expertise.  Everyone within a school was accountable and responsible for the success of the contract. Benchmarks were monitored, feedback was given and qualitative data gathered. This data was used to drive the next round of professional development. I became really skilled at curating evidence of our teacher’s learning and continue to do this even now.

2) Openness of the boundaries of leadership.

Leadership

Once again, I use the term leadership as an acronym to search for practices that describe each letter. A variety of leaderships are defined in Alphabet Soup. (MacBeath, 2003)

However, in this case when I focus on the practices of leadership, I am writing about leadership practices associated with the concept of distributed leadership.

‘The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.’ (Keller, H)

Leadership is about life long learning and is an inner drive about self-improvement in order to better interact with others. It is about empowerment. Empowering the learners, the peers, and the community that all are part of the community of learners. Leadership is guided by action research and can begin with a simple question. Leadership is distributed.

Elmore (2002:15) promotes distributed leadership in “which formal leaders widely distribute leadership responsibilities among various role groups in the organization while they work hard at. Leaders create a common culture, or set of values, symbols, and rituals.”

Leadership is about examining practice and using reflection to guide the practice. At Newmarket School nearly all our staff have taken this onboard and have developed their own reflective blogs.

LEadership is about shared decision-making. One of Lambert’s (2002) key assumptions about leadership is that  ‘leading and learning must be shared because school change is a collective endeavour.’ We know the importance of this at our school. I always say to our staff show me your example of what you are asking the children to do. A classic example of this is creating videos or asking the children to write.

Leadership is   holistic and supportive. It is about instructional improvement. One of Elmore’s (2002) principles states that ‘the purpose of leadership is the improvement of instructional practice and performance, regardless of role.

Finally leadership is about a professional learning community. Sergiovanni (1992) discusses the importance of ‘building a learning community by reorganising educational values, beliefs, and practices’.

I have established a learning community outside of school with the work I carry out with teachers on the #TeachMeetNZ project. I have explored many digital communities with our staff and each year brings a new one. I have recently set up one in Edmodo because maybe this year is the year where I can get more than a few contributing in a visible way.

I think back to the work of ULIMASAO bilingual teachers association to raise student achievement for Pasifika students in South Auckland. This is leadership in action, the association worked with school principals, teachers and the community to raise awareness about the benefits of Pasifika Bilingual Education. They used Cummins’ (1996) research on community empowerment, and Colliers’ (1987)  research, to drive best practice for student achievement. The community was very much a part of the process. All involved in the children’s learning are responsible and accountable for their achievement. Students’ results drove the work of Ulimasao. Pasifika Teachers came from all over Auckland to share best practice ideas, to support and nurture any new teachers, principals and community to Bilingual Education.

This was leadership in action.

Element 3) Varieties of expertise distributed across the many, not the few.

This element sums up the distributed leadership

Principles and Practices of Distributed Leadership

In order for varieties of expertise to be distributed across the many, not the few, the following leadership practices are necessary.

Daily quality communication takes place. Information is continuously fed through at all levels of the school. Murphy (2002) discusses stewardship. Stewardship is about “the willingness to be accountable for some larger body than ourselves – an organisation, a community“. ‘Stewardship is to do with our choice for service over self-interest, with being willing to be accountable without choosing to control the world around us.’

Transformational leadership provides the vision and inspiration that is intended to energise all members of the school community.’ (Leithwood and Jantzi, 1990.)

Distributed leadership is about actively taking responsible roles. Teacher leaders focus on instructional change. They have implicit and explicit goals.

Distributed leadership is about building sound relationships by strengthening webs of social relationships. It is about being a social architect. This concept is about understanding culture, symbols, rituals, ceremonies, and traditions. It is about knowing the community in which you work. This is telling our stories, and redefining our goals in educational concepts. From my previous experiences in Catholic Schools I believe that telling stories is particularly strong in Catholic School. My past schools celebrated and revisited their history each year. They created memories that were archived and shared with the community. I try and do that at Newmarket School with the wiki that was created for this very task. However because I often am the only person curating memories of our stories in a digital way that the work can be overwhelming.

Transferring control is another principle of distributed leadership. It is about sharing leadership even when the school leader makes limits explicit. It is about examining daily practice and embracing the daily macro and micro tasks and using them to critically reflect on daily practices. When all elements are aligned, the result is improved academic outcomes for all. Often the teacher thinks that this is a top down approach but as our understanding of accountability develops and our understanding that we are all on this journey together for the success of our children then this becomes ‘business as usual’.

I see stewardship as an integral part of this element. The Samoan Matai system in which I was brought up helps me relate to this element. A Matai is chosen to lead his village and to speak for the ideas and goals of his village to the council of chiefs. When a Matai is selected, he is selected as the steward of the village, the guardian of values and thoughts of the village he is representing. When Matai come together they represent more than individual villages, they present a presence, a concerted dynamic that moves the world along. In Samoan we say: ‘O le ala o le pule o le tautua.’ Translated this is ‘ The path to leadership is service.’  At my school of Newmarket this is also our historic motto, ‘Not self but service.’

 

Likewise, in a Catholic school, a similar process takes place. Leaders are appointed to be a steward of the school for which they are responsible. However, the role goes further than that. Leaders are responsible not just for their school, but also for the schools in their neighbourhood and all the surrounding community. When they come together, they become one group, one concertive dynamic which pushes the world along.

Te Hiringa i te Mahara, the Power of the Mind Project by the Ministry of Education uses this same concept – we are all responsible and accountable, for each other as teachers and for our children’s learning.

Educational significance of this approach to leadership.

The educational significance of this approach raises the following questions:

  •     How practical is distributed leadership in education?’
  •     How are we preparing for the future?

Taking the elements already discussed, I revisit them and view their significance to distributed leadership.

Element 1) An emergent property or network of interacting individuals.

Teacher Leadership

Schools cannot change teachers’ behaviour unless they discuss the teachers’ beliefs and values first. Fullan, Rolheiser, Mascall and Edge, 2001) argue that ‘Real change, occurs when teachers are fully engaged as active agents in the process of research and development and when it observes the three cardinal principles of responsibility, mutual accountability and collaboration.’ I have often used the term active agents of change and compared it to baking powder in baking. When baking powder is added the cake rises. At the same time, I use the term disruptive educator or the educator who asks the tough questions. The educator who questions the why of the system. Part of accountability is standing up and asking the tough questions of people leading our schools and leading the education system.

As we prepare our students for a future that is changing, it is not easy to prepare for a moving target. The work place of the future is continually changing and evolving. Teacher leaders recognise this paradigm and use it as a challenge for self-review. Teacher leaders must be life long learners. They must learn new ways of learning with the students that they teach.

Element 2) Openness of the boundaries of leadership.

Leadership

Elmore, (2000) links distributed leadership to the school’s fundamental task of helping students learn. He promotes ‘distributed leadership in which formal leaders widely distribute leadership responsibilities among various role groups in the organization while they work hard at creating a common culture, or set of values, symbols, and ritual.’

Leaders must forge closer links with external influences that help shape the system.

Sometimes, a true leader is able to be a led. They understand that by employing great people and know when it’s time to get out of the way.

Element 3) Varieties of expertise distributed across the many, not the few.

Distributed leadership

Johansson (2006) discusses distributed leadership in depth.

This is a values informed leadership a sophisticated, knowledge-based, and skilful approach to leadership. It is also a form of leadership that acknowledges and accommodates in an integrative way the legitimate needs of individuals, groups, organisations, communities and cultures – not just the organisational perspectives that are the usual preoccupation of much of the leadership literature.’

Leadership is about going beyond the four walls of the classroom and even including the students themselves. Leadership is about a professional learning community; it is about shared community knowledge and is organisations and people focussed. Prior knowledge is acknowledged. All members are empowered and are committed and accountable to the vision. There is trust between all stakeholders and normality is diversity.

An evaluation of the practical utility of distributed leadership to leadership.

When I refer back to the practices of distributed leadership, I have chosen to focus on five aspects to evaluate. There are: shared leadership, common vision, outside constraints, budget constraints and time constraints.

Shared leadership.

The leader must be open to shared leadership. Some leaders could feel threatened as they feel their leadership role is being eroded when they share the leader role. It can be equally frustrating for those who prefer to have someone lead him or her.

Having a common vision.

For distributed leadership to work, it helps if everyone in the school has bought into the school vision and goals. This works well in the New Zealand integrated school system, which allows only 5% to be a different faith. The Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975 dictates this.

However, in Australia, where Catholic schools, are private schools, not integrated, some schools can have as many as 40% of their students from other faith, or no faith traditions.  Distributed leadership would also work in a Bilingual Unit, such as O le Taiala, in Findlayson Park School. Parents, students and teachers buy into the concept when they apply for their children to be included in the units. There are other examples of schools having a common focus.  Examples include a schools with an elearning lense such as the schools in the Manaiakalani cluster, or a school based on Emilia Reggio principles. Difficulties can arise if not all stakeholders have bought into the concept. Such stakeholders must suppress their own views for the sake of the school’s common vision and goal, even if they are not in agreement.

Outside constraints

Outside constraints can affect the common vision, and these have implications on distributed leadership. Distributed leadership is about setting the communities’ educational goals. However sometimes outside agencies dictate the education goals. Examples of outside constraints include the Ministry of Education in their National Educational Goals, the Education Review Office in their school reviews, and the Proprietors of Special Character.

Budgets constraints.

Professional development is central to the idea of distributed leadership and the opportunity to critically reflect on one’s own self. However schools’ budgets are usually limited, therefore any money spent on professional development needs to be seriously considered, as in practice, the concept of distributed leadership takes a long time to implement and carry out.

Time constraint.

When leadership is distributed, more demands are placed on individual leaders. It takes time and commitment for school leaders to build a professional learning community. It takes dedication for a person to take on more responsibilities over and above an already heavy workload, and also to reflect on their learning while so doing. I know when I ask staff to do this I am asking a lot. When they reflect on their learning I make a special effort of acknowledging this and give them written feedback on their posts. I also give them a shout out on social media. A passionate belief in education is required to undertake leadership roles, which often comes with no extra monetary gains. I share this from personal experience over the thirty years that I have been teaching. Many times I am asked, ‘why do you run learning sessions for teachers?’ My response is ‘why not.’ I am an older teacher and it’s time to give back. I also take great pride in seeing their development. I take an even greater pride when I see this transfer to their classroom practice. Ultimately a learning teacher is learning children.

Conclusion.

Even with the challenges associated with the practical utility of distributed leadership, my current belief in this form of leadership is effective in sustaining lasting effective, learning environments. I identify with the Helen Keller quote, which I have rephrased to suit a school situation. ‘The tiny pushes from each stakeholders pushes the school towards a goal of long-term effective learning environment for all.’  My background has distributed leadership as a way of making decisions. From the Samoan Matai system, being taught and having teacher leadership modelled in the many of the Catholic schools that I have attended and taught in and having led a Samoan Bilingual Unit where as a team we had a common goal of student success. My current role is with second language learners and the teachers who teach them. We all have the common goal of student success.

Distributed leadership can be seen as a weakness in the current market of instant outcome based models, but I view the aligned elements of distributed leadership as a clear pathway to improved student achievement and the future for lifelong learning. Distributed leadership creates a professional learning community that continually reflects, grows and changes depending on the environment it is in.

 

Where to next

When I reflect on my understanding of distributive leadership using SOLO Taxonomy, I can define and list elements and practices and am beginning to make links with what is happening at our school. I can see that we are growing stronger as a staff in distributive leadership but still have a way to go. Analysis of data suggest that distributed leadership impacts positively upon student achievement. (Hallinger and Heck, 2009). But change takes time because the whole school needs to come on board with the concepts and share the same vision.  At Newmarket School we have recently embraced Google Apps for education. I can see the visible learning of our teachers. Our teams have changed and teachers have new roles and responsibilities.  I can see our professional learning community constantly changing, living and adapting as we move to a deeper level of learning cultures. I hear ‘Business as usual’ and for me that is the way we do things at Newmarket School and that is growing leadership capabilities in our teachers and our students.

 Finally a shout out for my friend Greg. We need to have another chat Greg. 

References

Bennett, N., Wise, C., Woods, P. and Harvey, J. Distributed Leadership. National College for School Leadership, Spring 2003. Retrieved April, 2015 from

http://oro.open.ac.uk/8534/1/bennett-distributed-leadership-full.pdf

Bass, B. (1999). The Ethics of Transformational Leadership. Academy of Leadership Press.

Retrieved April, 2015 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1048984399000168

Cuban, L. (2001). Leadership for student learning: Urban school leadership- difference in kind and degree. Retrieved March, 2015, from

http://iel.org/sites/default/files/Leadership-for-Student-Learning-Series-4-Urban-09-2001.pdf

Cummins, J. (1996). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society. Los Angeles: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Collier,V. (1987).Age and Rate Acquisition of Second Language for Academic Purposes. TESOL Quarterly, 21 (4). 617-641.

Elmore, R. (2000). Building a new structure for school leadership. Washington, DC: The Albert Shanker Institute. Retrieved March, 2015, from

http://www.shankerinstitute.org/Downloads/building.pdf

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fullan, M., Rolheiser, C., Mascall, B. and Edge, K. (2001) Accomplishing Large Scale Reform: A Tri-Level Proposition. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

Retrieved March, 2015, from http://www.michaelfullan.ca/media/13396045990.pdf

Hallinger, P. & Heck, R. (2009) Distributed leadership in schools: What makes a difference?  In A. Harris (Ed.), Distributed leadership: Different perspectives. Retrieved April, 2015,

http://philiphallinger.com/old-site/papers/Harris_chapter_2009.pdf

Harris, A. (2008) Distributed leadership in schools: Developing the leaders of tomorrow. Routledge & Falmer Press.

Johansson, O. (2001) Swedish school leadership in transition: in search of a democratic, learning and communicative leadership?, Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 9:3, 387-406,  Retrieved April 2015 from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14681360100200122

Helen Keller. Retrieved April, 2015 from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/helenkelle105698.html

Lambert, L. (2002). A framework for shared leadership. Educational Leadership, 59(8), 37-40. Retrieved April, 2015 from http://www.ascd.org/author/el/2002/05may/lambert.html

Leithwood, K. and Jantzi, D. (1990). Transformational Leadership: How Principals Can Help Reform School Cultures. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Vol 1, No.3, pp 249-280.

MacBeath, J. (2003). The Alphabet Soup of Leadership. Inform Number 2. Retrieved April, 2015, from https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/centres/lfl/about/inform/PDFs/InForm_2.pdf

Murphy, J. (2002). Recultering the profession of educational leadership: New blueprints. Educational Administration Quarterly, 38 (2),  171-191.

Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization New York: Currency Doubleday,

Sergiovanni, T. (1992). Moral leadership : Getting to the heart of school improvement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

A New Education Paradigm

yong

Yong Zhao @

http://zhaolearning.com/

http://zhaolearning.com/category/blog/

http://www.slideshare.net/uocunescochair/world-lass-learners

Last week at the World Education Leaders Conference 2015, held in Singapore I attended Yong Zhao’s master class session titled ‘Designing and developing an education for the age of globalisation’. Yong shared the ingredients of a new education paradigm and these included student autonomy, product-oriented learning, and globalized campus

He spoke about redefining excellence and the need to abandon the current mindset entrenched in the obsolete employment oriented educational paradigm. Our children are being educated to exist in an existing society that no longer exists.

Research shows that the more successful an educational system is in the traditional sense as indicated by test scores the less likely it is to cultivate entrepreneurs. Therefore the less prepared it is for a globalised society.

Student autonomy

Diversity must be treated as a strength. We must identify that we must bring more than uniqueness  and creativity because globalisation reveals that we are not as unique as we think we are. Our students must be prepared for high skilled jobs that cannot be substituted by machines. We must give our student voice and choice. Student autonomy is essential if we are to help students identify and develop their talents because middle class jobs are going and currently there is massive youth unemployment in the world.

Globalised Campus.

We must have the students create their own courses which include creativity, entrepreneurship, and global competence and provide them with opportunities to experiment with their interests, their strengths and weaknesses, and engage them in authentic work. Our children must embrace entrepreneurship. In order to do this we need a new education paradigm—entrepreneur-oriented education, instead of the current employee-oriented education. Our children will become global, creative, and entrepreneurial,

Product orientated learning

Localisation and uniqueness support the development of diverse talents.  Students must connect with a global community because small niche skills are becoming sought after skills as  we become consumers of psychological products. We need independent young thinkers who are willing to use their learning differently to create jobs and contribute positively to a globalized society. We need to think about the the skills that cannot be acquired from another. Low income jobs are growing as we move into the age of abundance and choice. We no longer have a monopoly on education. Schools are not a museum. Teachers and leaders are not curators of school learners. We need to teach our children that we must work together. Glocalisation is embracing the localised culture. Creativity is entrepreneurship. We used to prepare employees but now we must prepare entrepreneurs.

Managed versus employable

If you want to be managed, you are not employable. Simply following orders is no longer employable. Current employees mindset seldom go an extra mile. Entrepreneurs look at extra miles as opportunities and have creative minds to come up with a solution to a problem.

Schools must forget about preparing employees and embrace entrepreneur education.

3x elements for a good school are

  • What: Student Autonomy
  • How: Product oriented Learning, student driven
  • Where: The global campus

Collaboration is a misused term. We must focus on social intelligence, social network and social capital. Human to human contact is the key. We must work on group mentality rather than individualism. Take the phrase, ‘It’s good to be nice to others for your own benefits.’ Start with what the children know and then the reading and maths follows. Have the students create courses for each other. Learning is a human activity so teachers will always be needed. Schools must provide opportunities for student voice, choice and personalised support and lets get the learning right first for adults. Lets create a sense of research and professional development because this builds trust between members.

If the outcome measured is only the test scores, then the process is ineffective.

Project Based Learning is not as effective as Product-oriented learning to test learning. Does the work we do produces authentic learning? The passion can drive the motivation.

We must ask the question, Has the student produced anything that matters to them or to someone else?

We must build resilience, empathy and the ability to overcome hurdles.

Learn about others, then learn with others and learn for others.

I got a lot out of the session but in particular the connections I made with other members of the group. I especially liked the discussion between the sessions.

Overall I think that our students need to connect with a global community in order to  achieve global prosperity. Our children must develop the knowledge and skills to live and work across cultural and national borders as global citizens in the global village.

My take aways from Yong’s session

1) Let us redefine excellence in our schools and not limit this to test scores.

2) Let us provide opportunities for our children to take part in global activities with children from other countries.

3)Let us allow our children to choose what they want to learn. For example do not limit their reading to their levels.

4) Let us create a sense of research and professional development within our school.

TeachMeetNZ Bloopers and Troopers and where to next.

TMNZ Anniversary

Yesterday was the second anniversary celebration of TeachmeetNZ. WOW I can hardly believe how fast the past two years have evolved with the project. To anyone who has taken part as a presenter, audience or the support crew, I say thank you. I cannot tell you how far the reach of TeachMeetNZ has been. All I can do is share some of the numbers I have such as having over 80 educators share their learning.

After each session I push out the evaluation form and use the feedback to drive the next session. Currently most of the feedback comes from the presenters. The feedback allows me to identify areas that need addressing.

Bloopers

One day I must put together a TeachMeetNZ bloopers clip. To be honest most of the major bloopers will end up being me. I still have a giggle when I recall one session going live with my opening slide telling the world that I was outside hanging up the washing and to get ready for the broadcast. Since that day, I now just launch straight into a session because TeachMeetNZ is not about my learning but about the current presenting team’s learning.

Yesterday was no exception. 40 minutes until live time, I could not get the hangout record button activated. The setting up has become so slick, that the link had been prebroadcasted as part of the advertising sheet I generally set up.

So I left the team on the original hangout while I problem shooted. I quickly set up another hangout, grabbed the links, readjusted and came back to the team where I gave them the new hangout link and asked them to rebroadcast the new link like mad over twitter and google+ hangout. This all happened in the space of 15 minutes. Thank goodness I knew hangouts so well that I was able to do this.

Then we went live and once I had greeted everyone, we had technical feedback happening just as the first presenter lined up for their spot. Someone had the video live and I watched the mics trying to identify who…. it was me. In embedding the new video onto the home wiki, I had inadvertently left the page open. One of the ‘rules’ I go through with the team during practice sessions.

Troopers

I will let the presenters into a little secret here, those of you who know me well know that I am not the best at multitasking. I cannot operate technically and listen to conversations at the same time. Therefore it is important for me to see your slides before the session so that I may prepare myself better as a host. During a live session, I am so busy watching cameras and mics that I have no idea what you say. I come back and rewatch the session after the event and then give you feedback via twitter. My feedback is usually positive because I know how far you have travelled technically as educators during this period of preparation. I know preparation has been intensive and I know how much work you put into your presentation. In addition, I know that you have already had feedback from your peers during the practice run throughs. I believe that last thing you need at this stage would be critical feedback.

Where to Next: TeachMeetNZ Leadership Panelist Discussion

From a presenter’s perspective TeachMeetNZ  is all about connecting and collaborating with each other to create a product for education. But from an audience perspective TeachMeetNZ  is about consuming. Yes there is some feedback on twitter and sometimes with the Q & A on a hangout and generally it is all positive. I have had some of the audience reflect on a session via blogging.

I do have an idea for an upcoming session. I can see a TeachMeetNZ critical discussion happening but will need to select the panelists carefully.  Maybe only have 4x. I envisage a depth discussion happening where we can come together as educators and have dialogue. Kind of like a debate, or a critical friend discussion. Where we are taking someone’s work or research and critiquing it. Not in a critical sense but yet in a critical way. From my experience in education I have identified very few educators who have the skills to cope with discussion like this. I do not believe I could cope with discussion like this because I am an educator who has better discussion after the fact.

I have to choose carefully and firstly I need a strong host. The major challenge is identifying who because I know what happens when school leaders get together, they can be worse than teachers in keeping to a time schedule. I am looking for dialogue leaders who are strong in their field of research and practice and can handle the discussion. That they are willing to be open to the critical dialogue. That they would treat this session as learning for their own professional growth. That they are open to having their views swayed with the discussion. That are happy to create a recording for education.

So I need some whos, I already have in a mind a host. Who do you think could cope with this task. In education who have you heard speak in a critical way and I am not just talking about blogs, I am talking about real time. Maybe this is the leadership TeachMeetNZ that many have asked for. Drop me a DM via twitter and give me some names.

To find out more about TeachMeetNZ, check out the previous sessions.

 

@vanschaijik Reflection

Thanks to @chasingalyx @boonman who tagged me.

I want to keep the connections going and make more connections. So maybe a blogging meme will work.” Reid Walker @ReidHns1
If you get included in the blogging meme: copy/paste the questions and instructions into your own blog then fill out your own answers. Share on twitter tagging 5 friends.


1. How did you attend the #Edchatnz Conference? (Face 2 Face, followed online or didn’t)
I was there in person and online and had the privilege of being part of the organising committee.
We planned the #edchatnz conference in 18 weeks totally digitally.
edchatnzjpg.jpg


2. How many others attended from your school or organisation?
I had two others attending from @newmarket school and they were Anna Speir @MissSpeir  and Renee Hogg @MissRHogg.













3.How many #Edchatnz challenges did you complete?

I achieved 10 of them and that is another blog post. I made it a point of talking to lots from preservice because I was so happy that they could join us. In addition I was the vehicle for Dr Cheryl Doig’s virtual session.
She and I practised the session virtually until she was comfortable with using the tools. On the day she ran her session through me virtually using virtual tools.
4. Who are 3 people that you connected with and what did you learn from them?
@arti_choke  @BridgetCasse @mattynicoll It was just fabulous to catch up with SOLO taxonomy educators who’s work I have read and who inspire me to shift deeper in my thinking and practice.
solo.jpg

I also connected with @beechEdesignz who shared about design thinking and with @fFreemansbayScho who shared her principal’s journey into school design.


5. What session are you gutted that you missed?
I would have liked to see some of the coding and 3d printing session and the gaming. But generally, I am happy with what I attended. I did miss out of getting my image lazer printer.
6. Who is one person that you would like to have taken to Edchatnz and what key thing would they have learned?
I would liked to have brought @ginnynz01 but due to circumstances that was not possible. However because she is now on twitter I know she was following virtually.
7. Is there a person you didn’t get to meet/chat with (F2F/online) that you wished you had? Why
I love science and missed meeting and hearing Nanogirl  @medickinson.
I love photos as memories. So I will say I missed out on a photo opportunity with my TeachMeetNZ team. The TeachMeetNZ teachers have put in a lot of effort and time to share their teacher stories and it would have been great to have that as a memory.  I also would have liked a #grelfie with Pam Hook aka @arti_choke. She is my eduhero.
8. What is the next book you are going to read and why?
I want to read SOLO Taxonomy in Physical Education written by Nicola Richards and Pam Hook. I want to see how SOLO is used in PE.
9. What is one thing you plan to do to continue the Education Revolution you learnt about at #EdchatNZ?

I will continue on my journey of learning more about how I can support  ‘The greatest source of variance that can make a difference to student learning–the teacher and how they share their learning.’ My principal Dr Wendy Kofoed @newmarketschool and I will be sharing this at Ulearn so do join us in our session. Breakout Four A on Thursday 09 Oct 2014 at 13:45 to 14:15.

10. Will you take a risk and hand your students a blank canvas?
I am willing to take a risk and handing our teachers a blank canvas and coaching them as they take the risk with our students.


Who do will I tag with this meme:
Having been involved with a meme before and knowing how it works, I am tagging
Anna Speir @MissSpeir   
Renee Hogg @MissRHogg
Terry Beech @beechEdesignz
Bridget Casse @BridgetCasse


I am adding one more task to this meme. Using my SOLO taxonomy lens I know that this meme is at relational level because we are making connections with each other. However to push my meme to extended abstract I need to make my meme visible in a sharing way. So I have added mine to the #edchatnz Listly and I challenge anyone reading and who are tagged in the meme to do the same.

TeachMeetNZ Interface

Titled: Where Teachers Meet
TMNZ.png
(Educators involved in TeachMeetNZ in 2013)
This post is an update of that article.


In 2013, I launched TeachMeetNZ as part of my TeachNZ Sabbatical. A TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. TeachMeet originated with three Scottish educators – Ewan McIntosh, David Noble and John Johnston. Currently all over the world there are hundreds of TeachMeets that take place regularly in a variety of venues. As Ewan Macintosh commented, TeachMeet was never about technology 100%, it was about the Teach first of all, and the tech was instrumental to achieving what we wanted to achieve pedagogically and never the other way around.” Ewan Macintosh.
This article will describe how I developed TeachMeetNZ, the process of the on-line organised collaboration using Google Hangout, the relevance to teaching and conclude with future development for TeachMeetNZ.


TeachMeetNZ
I developed TeachMeetNZ after two years of research, investigation, then the trialling of a variety of online products, with Google Hangout being selected as the preferred platform.  
A small team of willing educators agreed to join with me to learn how to use Google Hangout as a way of presenting, demonstrating good practise, sharing and celebrating teaching with technology. Each term, a group of inspirational New Zealand educators develop and deliver a series of presentations. These sessions are live streamed, and are attended virtually by educators from around New Zealand and globaIly. In addition a TeachMeetNZ wiki was  developed for participants to communicate and share their presentations with a virtual audience.


Collaboration and participation
TeachMeetNZ is about New Zealand teachers connecting online. They collaborate and problem solve using online tools. These educators support and mentor each other before and during the practise Google Hangout sessions. To take part, teachers prepare 12 slides that auto cue every 15 seconds so their presentation is three minutes long. The slides are hosted on Google Presentation or Slideshare and must be live before the session. We learnt that the most viewed YouTube clips are just under three minutes long so this is the preferred length. A three minute video is created of their presentation and may become a resource for use at a later time.
After the live event, discussion usually follows via twitter using the hashtag #TeachMeetNZ. Many teachers go on to blog a reflection of their session, and they can embed the YouTube clip into their blog.  A TeachMeetNZ presenters badge is awarded to those educators who present on TeachMeetNZ..  Participants and viewers willingly give feedback and regularly give their time to support and help others.


Relevance to teaching
Online spaces are useful for portfolio development and fostering interaction and collaboration. Google Hangout is a tool that can be used to collate and present resources, to support community interaction and contributions, and as a platform for personal expression. Google Hangout is an ideal tool for teachers combined with a YouTube account.


From creating and hosting TeachMeetNZ sessions I have learnt that teachers appreciate recognition and acknowledgement for what they do. Hosting TeachmeetNZ has pushed my knowledge of making connections with ideas and with people. Hosting the sessions has encouraged me to give better feedback to teachers who take part. The sessions have allowed me to be more focussed on my feedback with teachers and not to rush this important process. After each session I play the clip back and reflect on how I can carry out the task better next time. I make notes and begin with these notes at the next session. I have also learnt to go through the presentations before the live streaming so that I can better prepare my questions. I do this by asking for presentations to be live before the session and I usually run practise sessions for people new to using Google Hangout.


Where to next?
In the future I plan to host more discussion sessions with panels of educators. Last year I had an educator host a specialist session based on PE and this year I have planned to include similar sessions.  In addition I have planned to have single themed discussions and to have educators and practitioners who can contribute to themes at a deeper level. Some of the feedback that I have had from participants is that they enjoy the opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas in greater depth. A session, that I hosted at the Festival of Education in Auckland, featured a group of inspirational educators who shared and discussed their passions both online and with a live audience.


The TeachMeetNZ site has grown rapidly and I have now become the site’s curator. Currently the site contains nearly thirty nano presentations. This number increases each term as teachers share and celebrate their learning on TeachMeetNZ. Global visitors and viewers can watch the presentations in their own time and place.


For my own learning.
The SOLO Taxonomy practitioner in me realises that my current sessions take me back to being multistructural in my thinking.  In order to achieve depth in what I do online I need to continue to take a leadership role in other online communities. As frightening as this sounds I think that my first goal is to move from participating and running TeachMeetNZ sessions in online communities to being involved at administration level with online global projects. I would also like to continue with mentoring and developing others to host sessions. The popularity of the digital badge concept may also mean that I further develop this system for levels of participation.  


If you have been a presenter or have watched a session on TeachMeetNZ, please add your comments below.


For further information
Visit the wiki
#TeachMeetNZ on twitter


Teacher from Newmarket School
Auckland New Zealand

“One world, Many voices.”

Thanks to Siromani for this tweet that gave me such a great opening for this post.

Last night I was privileged to host a #GlobalClassroom chat session with Julia Skinner.

Our topic was inspired by a blog post from Edna SacksonEdna wrote about culture and used the analogy of an iceberg.

The discussion was fast paced over the hour and I was thankful to Michael Graffin for creating a list of questions to help guide the discussion.

I was particularly interested in hosting the session as I wanted to clarify my own thoughts about culture as this is our topic for Newmarket School. The first step in teaching a new topic is to define the term with the children. I already had two sessions with the children and we had begun to make links with what they knew about culture. As my own knowledge was not as clear as it could be I was excited to learn from the discussion. I took time to ponder the various statements by going back over the chat via the storify created by Marnel. So this is what I have created for my definition. Thanks to all of you who took part as I have taken parts of the discussion to help frame my thoughts. Thanks to to Clive Elsmore who creates an archive of all the chats as it was great to trawl the following chats for their gems too.

My definition of culture.
Culture is an iceberg. Above the water we can see national costumes, physical appearances, tattoos and body adornments, food and hairstyles. We can hear language and music. We can smell scents such as spices, food smells and nature smells including the different flower scents. We can taste foods that are sweet, spicy, salty, hard and soft. Below the surface we can feel joy, sadness, excitement, love and respect.

Above the surface is the difference between us all. Below the surface is what joins us together as part of the  human race. Our feelings is what makes us human. It is our treatment of the differences above the surface. Culture is our way of living. It is the beliefs and values of a group of people. It is the beliefs, values and traditions that we practise and celebrate in our daily lives. It is the core values that we all have in common such as respect, trust. beliefs, kindness and love. I think as families and individuals we evolve our own cultural practice to reflect how we are validated or what we learn. Learning about culture is important to accept the reality. “One world, Many voices.” It is about treating those differences that above the iceberg with actions of dignity and respect. It is about communication and being transparent with communication.

Where to next, this week I will be reworking our class draft definition and I can see how I am moving to creating a definition of culture from our school perspective. So again, I can see how I would use the above the iceberg to what we can see in schools as a difference between schools and what happens below the iceberg as a commonality we have with all our children in schools.

Finally, when I frame learning using SOLO taxonomy I use my SOLO mentor Ginny who I go to for feedback. Ginny has suggested I include way of life too and how culture is passed between generations. Therefore the idea from Siromani of ‘One world, many voices’ surmises this. Again Ginny’s feedback suggests turning my thinking upside down and begin with whats under the iceberg and use that to give examples of what is above the iceberg. Those of you who were with us last night, what definition of culture did you come up with?

Follow up, I was interested to see Dr Kofoed, my school principal include this statement as part of our teacher appraisal.
‘To enhance the relevance of new learning, in 2014 teachers will include:
developing classrooms as high-trust environments, where the teacher affirms and validates the culture and identity of each student.’ Love it.