Last week I attended the #GafeSummit in Auckland. The event was held at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. I have inserted access to the three presentations I attended as well as access to everyone’s presentations via the Summit Schedule.
Gets the chn curious to locate and ask good questions
Each session enabled me to make connections and reconnect with other educators and for me to reflect on my own learning. I was excited to see some of the #TeachMeetNZ presenting for their first time and had intended on supporting them, however became very sick. So once I presented my first session and the first day ended I went home to bed and put in apologies for my second session. For this presentation, I included several hands on moments after showing the attendees examples of what our students had created using google draw. Included also are links to educators who have a way with visual and graphic skills:
Here is my session description and my slides are above.
Session Description *Sonya will share how she uses Google draw to create thinking maps. She has recently used this strategy with students as part of Flat Connections Global project where students from around the world contributed to shared Google Draw maps. She has also used Google Draw with second language learners to help them plan their writing.
I will be sharing parts of my personal inquiry but from my prospective of how I have built my personal learning network. I have been asked to focus on my New Zealand connections so am extra excited to share about our part of the world to over 200 European educators in the eTwinning programme. The hashtag is #etwion so if you are up around at 5.00am do follow the hashtag. You can also follow along now and see what the attendees are learning.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I am working with a team of global educators from Australia, Bulgaria, Thailand, Nepal and the USA. So 6 school, 12 educators and 23 Global topics and 146 children.
As educators we meet with Julie approximately once a week. In order for us to achieve this across the 4x time zones some of us have to really step outside our comfort zone and learn heaps of new tools, accommodate time zones and heaps of new ways of doing this. We learn across several digital learning environments and my big one for this project is Edmodo.
When I join the educator’s meeting the time is usually from 11.00-12.00pm on a Thursday night. By 11.00pm I am nodding and trying to keep awake as I usually try to be in bed by 10.00pm as I am up the next day between 5.30 and 6.00am.
This week, Julie was away and I put my hand up to run the group meeting. I joined the ‘Week in the life’ group group after it began and wanted to contribute as I feel like I have been lurking around the edge and watching. I am experienced at running Google Hangouts and for this session I was determined to learn how to use Fuzemeeting. The notes set up for me were fabulous and it took a few sessions to get around the tool. Probably the only challenge I had was sharing a Google Doc. To overcome this I popped the link into the chat bar and had been advertising the link to the group.
I was probably so focussed on learning the tool, I forgot the importance of broadcasting and reminders about the session.
However I have learnt the importance of creating evidence from meetings so that there is always an archive for those who were not there.
I have been in and out of Edmodo for many years but could never quite get my head around it, Probably because I have never had anyone to play with. However with the other FlatConnection teachers on the site I have plenty of support. As soon as I saw the way Edmodo worked I immediately invited our senior school teachers from Newmarket School into the Edmodo environment and they are flying with their classes.
Again the benefit of joining a global project. We learn about other ways of learning with our children.
Over this past week my Travelwise team have been busy with their school leadership roles as Travelwise students. They raised money for our friends in Nepal who have been in the earthquake, therefore making a real link with real children affected by a natural disaster. They have been chatting to them on Edmodo and finding out how they have been affected. I mean how more real can the learning be? My school sent through our contribution and Brian immediately responded that it had been received and what they would do with it.
Last night I met John from Thailand Face to face via Fuze and he has been helping me and my students join the right groups on Edmodo. He asked for my help with popplet which I thought was amusing. I have used popplet on ipads with some children but have never coconstructed a live popplet with a group of learners before. I said I would help where I could but really we are learning together. Sometimes when we work with under 14 year olds we find ways of working the system as we do not want to be gatekeepers for learning.
One way of ensuring our students and teacher’s safety at Newmarket School is to always have more than one educator from my school on any digital learning environment.
In Edmodo our children have been split up into the various teams and they are working with children who they have never met face to face. Again citizenship comes into the ongoing discussions. If we are able we will skype with other classes however at this stage, it might only be our Australian team because the time zone is a real challenge. I guess we could leave video messages and that might be something that I work on this week.
A big challenge that I have with what I am attempting is that the children I have trialling this project is a small group of school leaders. I meet with them once a week in their lunchtime as part of our work. If I was able to incorporate ‘Week in the life’ as part of their class learning, then we could really fly with this project. I have spoken with their teachers about allowing them to do some of their investigation during their Discovery Fridays, Yet at this stage, as a team they are also exploring what this would look like. When they move into asking questions around global themes and how this affects us locally, glocalsation, then I know they are ready for moving into global projects.
This week I showed the Travelwise children what the children from the other schools are already doing with popplet. Again some of the Flatconnections teachers have the popplets all set up and some do not. So some of my group are learning with their global lead teacher.
I was working with Edmodo in one of the classes this week with a younger group and their teacher had ‘got’ Edmodo. She had added a link to a youtube clip and set up questions as part of an Edmodo assignment activity. I thought that was extremely clever. When I checked back today, the whole class had already responded. Therefore I will incorporate these ideas into some of my Flatconnection Edmodo posts to help generate discussion.
Where to next for me, I need to support my Travelwise students with adding to their team popplet and begin preparation for their voice thread activity. I want to pull in the rest of Newmarket School staff into Edmodo. As part of my personal inquiry I need to keep adding feedback on teachers and children’s comments and blogposts to encourage the ongoing work we are doing with digital learning environments at Newmarket School. I have to keep up with the curation of our teacher’s and children’s spaces as this helps drive the learning. Finally keep suggesting ideas for teachers about keeping their own learning visible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As an experienced educator I learnt from some of the best. One of which is my dear friend Patisepa Tuafuti and the other was Anne Saunokonoko.
Pati shows by her actions that she grows leadership. One of which is standing back. She would push me hard to do things well out of my comfort zone and then be there to celebrate with me when I ever did anything amazing. But again always in the background. She never takes credit for achievements and always focussed on the group success. I cannot count the number of times she has shared successes with me and often put me in the limelight. But really it is her driving force that has achieved the outcome.
The other is an old principal Anne. Anne would say, “when you are successful, we are successful so go for it Sonya.” When I would quibble at attending another professional development session particularly concerning ICT, she would remind me with, ” Its not what you get out of the session, but what you contribute.” Staff at my school will now hear me use the same words. At the end of most training or celebrations she would be there for me to recap with and she would gently nudge me into trying something else new. Now I would call that downloading and rewinding strategies with a critical friend as part of reflection.
I often observe presentations and watch who is hovering in the background like a mother hen. More recently with social media I observe who is broadcasting the success of their teachers. Yes that person could be at the front in the spotlight. But often you watch them hovering to ensure that the sessions go well and only step in when needed. They are there to help celebrate their teachers achievements and to be the person to recap with and help identify next steps.
At the same time we all need mentors. We all need someone we can download with and rewind our learning. We all need someone who helps us identify our next steps. Some schools use the term critical friends because often they ask the hard questions. They provide opportunities for staff to step up. They are the ones pulling the staff forward to take a jump into unfamiliar learning.
In your workplace, who do you identify as your critical friend? Who is the staff member who pulls staff hardest out of their comfort zone? Probably those of you who are reading this, it is you. If you are arrived via twitter or if you are from my school, then you are my one of my critical friends and you know me, I welcome discussion. Click below.
Reflection near the end of term allows me to sort out my thoughts and helps me make sense of the speed that sometimes happens in my thinking. This post is a way of sifting through how I am thinking.
Science at Newmarket School has many links. The school has recently completed a science contract under the guidance of Susan Heeps. Last year Virginia Kung and her work with science was featured under the Future Focused Learning site.
During the recent #TeachMeetNZ meets #Science session Belinda Hitchman @BelindaHitchman from Newmarket School shared her work that was carried out in regards to using coding. She explained the links between understanding coding and understanding science. Recently I led a #scichatnz live twitter chat. You can read about the how the session was developed on a post on the Scichatnz blog.
The TeachMeetNZ meets Science session was a collaborative process between myself and Catherine Battersby from the Science Learning Hub. However what began as a duo chatting face to face soon became a full group of science educators making connections on twitter and google +, creating a presentation to share in a google hangout, learning and supporting each other with the tools, celebrating during and after the event and then sharing via a reflective blog post for the education community. As part of my collaboration with Cath I was interviewed by Melissa @NZScienceTeachr on behalf of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators. You can read that interview here.
Using Social Media for learning
My goal this year is to understand how social media works and so I have been investigating how everything links across platforms and how traffic is driven. I observed the TeachMeetNZ youtube channel with interest and was particularly interested in the way the channel took a spike during each session and then how this was sustained over a period of time after each event.. Through my online involvement I stumbled across Thunderclap which is a social media tool that allows broadcasting across several social media sites at the same time. A thunderclap was activated to help broadcast the TeachMeetNZ Science session and also to see how traffic was driven. In addition I set up tickets in Eventbrite and could identify the integrations that this site has with Facebook, Twitter and instagram. In addition, I have reactivated my Mailchimp account that has been dormant for a while as this allowed access to subscribers to events.
I used the TeachMeetNZ meets Science session to play with many of the social media tools.
Recently I had a discussion with Julie Lindsay and she asked me what my goals were for TeachMeetNZ. My goal for TeachMeetNZ is for the process to continue to evolve. I have identified that my work with teachers and the site is moving into relation thinking using SOLOtaxonomy because each year I have had a teacher take on the task of hosting an event. Therefore other educators are making the link of the importance of teachers sharing their practice. A few other educators have indicated a willingness to host a session. So far I have had Tim Gander hosted a TeachMeetNZ meets PE, Steve Mouldey hosted TeachMeetNZ meets Geography and now Cath Battersby hosted TeachmeetNZ meets Science. Coming up there is a session for Samoan teachers and a session for Maori teachers. In October Matt Esterman has agreed to cohost with me again as we run a second ‘Across the Ditch’ TeachMeetNZ where we combine TeachMeetNZ with TMSydney.
The real goal of TeachMeetNZ is about educators making learning to network and make connections with each other outside their school bubble and having fun learning collaboratively.
Youtube as a vehicle for sharing continues to evolve and for the next topic focussed TeachMeetNZ I recommend a drop in presenter numbers and having a larger support team. For example having a separate time keeper then enables me to move silently in the background and concentrate on cameras and sound. In addition having the twitter broadcaster join the hangout and even have a live blogger record the event in progress. It does take time to train a team, however the event quality is worth it. For the next subject specific TeachMeetNZ these recommendations will be put to the host because ultimately the session is for a teacher to practice reciprocity and help with coordinating and running the session.
Leaving a legacy
TeachMeetNZ is about teachers leaving a legacy for the education community. This can be in the way of twitter microblogging and being curated using storify, it is in the youtube clips, the slides that are made available to the community via the wiki, it is in the reflective blog posts that eventuate about the sessions and the process.
Where to Next:
Currently TeachMeetNZ educators create their own presentations on something they are passionate about. Each session is about bringing a group of educators together to make connections with each other online and to share their learning.
Using all of my own learning frameworks, I have identified that my next big step using youtube is all about collaboration. I am planning for teachers to work together and create an artefact like I learnt how when becoming FlatConnection Certified. Through the work I do with Pam Hook, I have identified networking to learn as thinking relationally because teachers working collaboratively together strengthens their understanding about making links with each other and with a topic.
If an artefact is co-created then abstract thinking is extended. This was highlighted in the edbookNZ project that happened during Connected Educators month. The educators taking part informed me that they had more fun learning with each other during the process.
Teachers collaborating and networking to learn
So the edbooknz collaborative site is ready and I have put my hand up to organise and coordinate this during Connected Educator month in October. I will use all my learning around social media and educators to drive this years #edbooknz project. It will be wiki based so all learning will be public. This will drive extended abstract thinking because many educators come together, make links and cocreate a product in live time and with a realtime audience.
Will you say yes to this collaborative opportunity? Will you allow your learning to be on display in real time? If you are keen to be one of the team leaders, then let me know.
Yuss!! My Flat Connections Global Educator certificate arrived on the last day of 2014 via @julielindsay. I was thrilled to receive it.
What an incredible journey I have had with Julie. Beginning early in 2013 when I was planning my global journey to visit educators around the world. I was able to deviate slightly from my travels and begin in Hawaii because Julie was running a session for global educators face to face. There I worked with a group of total strangers who after one day became friends. We had a lot of fun learning with and from each other.
Then early this year, I heard she was on her way to New Zealand to present as a spotlight speaker at the Google Apps for Education Summit that several of our staff attended from Newmarket School. We caught up briefly before the summit and I attended one of her sessions and again was totally inspired with how she ran a face to face session and was able to motivate so many teachers to collaborate and co construct learning.
Next I spotted her call for interested applicants for the Flat Connections Global Educatoraccredited course but at the time was feeling a little swamped with all that I had undertaken. So thought I would leave it for another year. However a change in circumstances allowed me the opportunity of joining this round.
Those of you who know me and have worked with me know that there is not much I am unable to do in an online setting. However taking on this challenge was an amazing experience.
By taking on the challenge of taking part with other like minded educators I was stretched in my thinking about online collaboration, I was stretched in my technical skills and I was stretched in time management.
“The Flat Connections Global Educator course aims to provide educators at all levels (K-12, Tertiary/Pre-service, Teacher educators) with resources and skills to go global! This includes how to introduce and sustain global learning into your curriculum as well as how to join and complete, design, implement and manage a global collaborative project. Focus is on connected and collaborative learning using Web 2.0 and other technologies. Weekly workflow and regular assignments and challenges provide pathways for teachers to build confidence to interact globally and to bring opportunities to their schools and classrooms.”
Most of my thinking is underpinned by SOLO Taxonomy and I was excited to be able to step through my SOLO thinking and apply it to Global Learning. A lot of what I have achieved I had previously identified as extended abstract thinking and at that time seemed just out of reach.
When working with my colleagues to complete collaborative and co constructed artefacts I was able to understand the challenges I will face when I work with children along the same ideas.
During the 10 week course I was exposed to new ways of communicating, learned new technical vocabulary, comprehended the importance of actively taking part, left evidence of what I had achieved, reflected on my learning, gave and received feedback from my colleagues and was responsible for my own learning. I devised my own way of coping with what was asked of us.
Where to next as an accredited Flat Connections Global Educator? I am looking for interested educators to join us online at Newmarket School as we lead a Global Project for The initial idea of this project is exploring getting to school safely with a focus on health benefits and turning city planning around – not just keeping pedestrians safe but building cities for pedestrians. So if you are interested in being part of my first Flat Connect Project, then do make contact via twitter @vanschaijik.
Each of the following education documents stresses the importance of working beyond the classroom in a connected and collaborative way.
The New Zealand Ministry of Education put out a report from Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye’s 21st Century Learning Reference Group titled Future Focussed Learning in connected communities. This report highlights the importance of understanding Global connections and learning as an educator.
The New Media Consortium states that ‘young learners need skills to analyze information,
communicate effectively, and collaborate in global environments to solve complex problems.’ under Complex Thinking and Communication.
Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2013). Citizenship. In Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds Move towards Collaboration One step at a time. Pearson.
My 2014 year began with my inquiry and setting a goal of involving staff at Newmarket School with social media as part of personal professional development and encouraging them to build their own personal learning community. Has this been successful you might ask? Using SOLO Taxonomy to frame my thinking, I believe we are multistructural as a school with pockets of staff moving to relational. I say that because we have lists. Lists of teachers on twitter, lists of teachers on the Virtual Learning Network, lists of teachers on Pond, lists of teachers on google +. So what! You may say. However I can confirm that every teacher at Newmarket School has activated an account in these online learning spaces. Therefore as a school we have a strong beginning.
I look forward to the day when staff say, I can’t believe how dependent I am on these tools for learning.
As teachers make connections with other educators in online spaces we have a few tweeting back. One teacher joined me in a TeachMeetNZ session sharing her learning. Two teachers shared their learning as part of a ministry initiative. Eight of our teachers are on the blogging journey. I have had our principal part of a national digital book project. We had three teachers present at Ulearn. My principal and myself co constructed and co presented at Ulearn. In addition several teachers visited other schools so are breaking out of being cocooned in our school learning bubble. However the challenge I see for 2015 is ‘coercing’ more from our teachers with sharing their learning in a visible way. So if you want to do any more school visits, show me a blog post of why. When you have visited a school, show me a reflection of what you learnt. If you want to attend a conference show me your abstract proposal and when the conference has finished show me your reflection including your slides hosted somewhere.
There is a stunning example of our assistant principal highlighting all her learning and able to show online evidence of where it all has taken place. The key words for us is ‘online evidence’. If I can’t see you or what you have been doing then is this visible learning? I believe too that face to face professional learning is also important and to make it really explicit, move to the next level of learning and show how the learning has taken place with a blog post, an upload of slides to slideshare or maybe a google doc sharing if teachers are conscious of student data. These are just some of the beginnings of how to share in a visible way.
My coercive goal this year is to get every staff member registered with a reflective blog, take part on an NPS Twitter chat or an #edchatnz twitter chat, create a presentation and share it outside of school either via eduignite, conference presentation or online in an NPS TeachMeetNZ special session. Is my goal too big? Yes it is. But I know I can be persuasive and those of you who have joined me online in some way know how absolutely incredible this experience is for personal growth.
Connections can be made with our children, their families and our community through sharing in a visible way as can be seen by one of our teachers with a class blog. So by being coerced to doing something first for online learning, then moving through to this valuable level is so much more manageable.
How can we be asking our children to blog, if our teachers are not blogging. How can we be asking for collaboration between our children if our teachers are not collaborating and co constructing between them. The next step for us is online portfolios for our children. Again how can we ask this of our children to maintain a digital portfolio if our teachers have no online portfolio themselves. How can we ask children to give peer feedback if our teachers are reluctant to comment on other educators work.
So Newmarket teachers I issue a challenge to you in a visible way via twitter. Please respond using our #NPSfab hashtag or if you want to comment fuller, then click the link below. You know how much I love feedback.