Saturday, 12 December 2015

December feedback

As part of my appraisal process I am using Interlead Appraisal Connector.  This allows me to seek anonymous feedback from staff, board, or students and community.

This survey ranked me as 'proficient'.  An area I could aim to improve in 2016, based on the results of the survey would be improve to collaboration within the Board and school.  We (the Board and I) have discussed some activities for 2016 which could facilitate this, including reviewing our Charter and values to ensure that all parents and BOT members are aware of what we are doing and why.

Click here to read the report from December 2015 based on the BOT completed survey.

(I have also realized while posting this, I need to add in the leadership criteria in the pages / tags for this blog - - a job for the summer holidays)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Self directed learning

Do no limit yourself to what other people can't do ~
Challenge yourself to discover how much YOU can do

I was thinking of this year's Professional Development opportunities, or the lack thereof, and lamenting that it was again not what I hoped it would be.  The provided support was lacking in depth and at best a repeat of learning we achieved 3-4 years ago and had no impact on the teaching and learning within the classroom and therefore no effect on student achievement.  As such I suppose it was a waste of resources... So what are my choices, complain that yet again we were under-served?  That due to our location our school was again handed second best?  toss my hands up in the air and do no more because those who 'led' pd cannot deliver what we need to improve our pedagogy?

These certainly are the easy options.  They would excuse us from having responsibility for not progressing in our own skills.  But I wouldn't accept this of my students.  I have taught my students through our exploration of Building Learning Power that this is not what good learners do.
So what will I change for 2016?

Self directed learning - a challenge to once again lead my own learning and that of my staff.  Until we find a professional development provider that can actually provide for us what we request, we will have to lead ourselves and leave the others to spin their own wheels.

Saturday, 12 September 2015


 Carol Dweck's research focuses on the development of a Growth mindset to improve the learning opportunities of all learners.  A Fixed mindset limits the learning opportunities by focusing on the barriers,  
This research is part of what informs Guy Claxton's BLP.  This fundamental change in understanding of the ability to learn is essential to reframing education

Strategies to Build Intrinsic Motivation

On Friday we had a staff meeting session using Story Hui to help teachers reflect on an aspect of their practice that they have changed or developed.

Some of the main themes that came through all the examples given throughout the school was student choice, student ownership of learning, and student responsibility.  Common outcomes from these innovations included greater motivation in most students to learn and greater engagement in learning activities where there attributes are present.

I stumbled upon this article today by David Palank about strategies to build intrinsic motivation of students.  His comments about getting rid of both the carrot and the stick fit in with the developments that we have been putting in place.

It is great to see that these innovations are happening throughout the school and developing naturally based on the improvements that teacher are noticing.  David's article adds a few new possibilities to consider for our next innovations.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

boys writing

Boys and writing, like  oil and water, are difficult to mix.  I stumbled upon this link on the MOE site and am keen to use it in my class with my reluctant writers.
Starting a story is often the hardest part and these celb starters may do just the trick.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

positive feedback

Sometimes when we are caught up in the chaos of all we have to do it is difficult to see if anything we are doing is making a difference, if any one is noticing, or if all the changes and extra effort is just extra work having no impact.
But there have been a few (unexpected) things turn up that are encouraging to see and to help keep the momentum of what we are doing.
This shared doc is by a keen learner in year 6 who decided to share the reading/writing task with those in the same group to help each other.  This is a great example of Ako, shared learning, collaboration, building learning power, etc etc that we have been trying to foster with the children.

This message came from a parent regarding the BLP section we have added to our newsletter this year.  It is great to know that at least 1 parent is reading the section, finding it interesting and better yet, able to 'see' it is happening and having an effect on their child's learning.

These small actions certainly encourage me to keep moving down the path we are on and encouraging the staff to keep being resilient, resourceful, reflective and reciprocal in their learning and their teaching.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The Learning Pit

The Learning Pit
Karen reminded me of the learning pit earlier this year and it fits in very well with BLP and growth mindset.  The idea of the learning pit was something I had explored at a previous school and as Karen had introduced it to the students, I thought I would also reinforce the need to get into the pit to really learn.  
The above video effectively relates the learning pit with Growth mindset and while the terminolgoy isn't the same as used in BLP - the strategies to get out of the pit certainly fit with Guy CLaxton's work.
I think this is a concept I need to revisit with the students and provide some learning opportunities to enjoy getting into (and out of) the learning pit.

Friday, 8 May 2015

beginning BLP

Week 2 Term 2 - Introducing Absorption
In class development
We have decided to introduce the students to an aspect of BLP each week.  We initially considered 1 per fortnight, however at that rate it would take into term 1 next year to get through them all.
One per week will be difficult I think, but if we can manage to demonstrate how they fit together it should be ok.
Absorption was a tricky one to start with.  I began by introducing the fact that we would be looking at an aspect each week and gave the students a chance to discuss what they thought absorption might mean.  Some did reach the idea that cloths, sponges, and mops were absorbent and they 'sucked water up'.  So I used that analogy to explain that they were the water and the learning was the sponge - and they needed to get sucked into their learning so they were caught up in it.  Most seemed to understand what I was meaning and related it to being caught up in a good book or movie and you didn't hear what was happening around you.  We discussed how we needed to be on the look out for classmates (and ourselves) getting absorbed into our learning.  
This proved difficult.  After a long weekend the students were chattier than usual and found it difficult to settle into their work, let alone get absorbed!  We did have a few examples though.  At the end of the day we discussed if they managed to get absorbed or not.  Most were honest about not being able to and why they weren't - main reason... too much to talk about!  So I asked what could they do to change that and consider their actions, and their environment.  They concluded that they should be taking more responsibility to tell people to stop talking, and to stop distracting others by talking.  They also suggested some changes to the room layout (which they set up last term) that they thought would make it easier to stay focused.  
A couple of students turned up at 4pm to start changing the room around.
Day 2 was a slight improvement - the students enjoyed the new larger quiet area and having the teaching table away from it.  While they were a little more on task, absorption in learning was still difficult to see in action.
The other classes had used similar strategies.  Ingrid's class seemed to have more success in staying absorbed in their learning than mine did.  I think given some more time and reviewing the usual class expectations will assist the understanding (and use) of this concept.

Next week focuses on Managing Distractions - this will be a great follow on to our first concept.

Whole school development
We discussed the introduction of Absorption in staff meeting including what our understanding of the concept was, how we introduced it, and how successful our class was.  I provided some video links for staff to listen to Guy Claxton and Carol Dweck to use as review and support and building our understanding of BLP and improving our practice to improve student outcomes.

We also discussed the next aspect - Managing distractions and how that may be introduced and implemented.  The suggestion of playing quiet music ( mellow jazz) was interesting to all and is one that I would like to try, and get students to reflect on it's effectiveness.  An example of this was seen by Ingrid and myself in Bromely School where they were using Reggio Emilia to inspire their teaching and learning in the junior classes.

After the staff meeting I thought about the fact that so far we have introduced, or are introducing new concepts and expectations for our students - but not yet for ourselves.  I don't think that we will be successful in implementing long term change without revamping what we expect of our selves.  Based on that I sent out the week 4 and 5 concept sheets for the students along with pages explaining how teachers build learning power.  These will be discussed at our next meeting.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Appraisal PD

Appraisal PD
1 April 2015 - Course - day 2
This was a difficult day to stay focused, being to close to the end of term - off topic discussions quickly devolved to the chaotic, stressful term it seems to have been for every school and the workload / stresses that have caused this.  While this was not the focus for the day - I think it is important to consider in relation to appraisal in that what we do for appraisal needs to be relevant to our core job (student achievement) and the gathering of / reflection on / discussion about our goals and progress towards them needs to be managed in a way that does not add to already stressed workloads, but if possible simplifies expectations and makes jobs more rewarding and easier.
 the day looked at what we have been doing so far, how we are gathering evidence - what is enough and the different between gathering 'stuff' or gathering evidence and reflecting on it for a purpose was a common theme of the day.
 some good readings were shared including Teacher's Voice This will be a good  starting point for discussion of what the ideal reflective teacher is with staff.  The idea of developing a rubric or scale of what a 'good' teacher is was again discussed.  I feel this would be a valuable exercise for both teachers and bot to be involved in.  It was also discussed about the inclusion of student voice and parent voice in this process.  As an add on to this it was also mentioned the importance to understand that not fitting 'good' meant that you were not meeting the standards and the pathways that may lead to either through support, competency processes, and the use of the code of ethics.   I feel this is an important process for the BOT to be involved in - particularly due to my law studies last year.  It was also demonstrated by several other attendees, the value of having a school based document that combines related criteria from RTC and Tataiako to success indicators, what good at your school looks like, possible evidence, and actual evidence.  This could  be the end goal of the discussions suggested above and become a strong reference document for teachers.
 The inquiry / appraisal process was also discussed and some suggestions for how that might look in different centers.  there was also a suggested starting template for a co-constructed summary report which I think could also be developed to build the robustness of our current process.
 All teachers have begun developing an online site (similar to this one) to allow them to record their evidence/ reflections etc.  I believe that we should discuss possible ways to use this effectively - to allow the gathering of 'stuff' to develop into the gathering of considered evidence.  From there we can develop meaningful reflection processes and ongoing personal development strategies.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Appraisal PD part 2

22 March 2015

As part of Appraisal of Teachers: Phase Two: What is Evidence? We need to watch a webinar and gather some evidence.

also needed:
Registered Teacher Criteria
Success for all
Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017
Webinar goals:
By the end of webinar you will have:
  • Used a range of resources to strengthen your understanding of 'good' practice with regard to professional relationships, values and knowledge as described in RTC 3, 6, and 11, RTC 9, and 10
  • Started to determine what evidence you might use in your appraisal and how you will organise your evidence
So that you have
  • necessary and sufficient evidence to show how you are meeting a range of RTC
Webinar notes:
Focusing on 9 & 10
Professional knowledge in practice

 Key Indicators
 Reflective Question
 What would 'good' practice look like?
 what would you regard as valid evidence that you could use to demonstrate 'good' practice?

respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of akonga 
 i. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of social and cultural influences on learning, by working effectively in the bicultural and multicultural contexts of learning in Aotearoa New Zealand

ii. select teaching approaches, resources, technologies and learning and assessment activities that are inclusive and effective for diverse akonga

iii. modify teaching approaches to address the needs of individuals and groups of akonga
 How does the knowledge of the varied strengths, interests, and needs of individuals and groups of akonga influence how I teach them?
 Tangata Whenuatanga

 Acknowledgement of all learners 1st language, culture

Exploring learning & curriculum through lens of cultures represented in the classroom

Learning contexts are appropriate to learner's cultures

use of appropriate pedagogy



high expectations of all learners

inclusion of all learners and welcoming to all families

Student ownership / responsibility for learning

 Student voice -

Parent/whanau voice

Class displays demonstrate cultural value - languages used, motifs used

involvement with appropriate organisations such as marae


achievement outcomes
 #10 work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand
 i. practise and develop the relevant use of te reo Maori me nga tikanga a iwi in context

ii. specifically and effectively address the educational aspirations of akonga Maori, displaying high expectations for their learning

 appropriate use of language and tikanga within the class



What evidence do I have? and what more do I need to gather?
- mainly planning and assessment data
- informal parent / student voice, but not gathered specifically or recorded robustly
-some observations and reflections, again not gathered strategically or robustly
Do you consider that you gather necessary and sufficient evidence that will help you understand good practice with regard to values, relationships and knowledge as described in the RTC?
- No - my evidence is limited. Principal appraisal process - which includes my teaching has largely been a Q & A session with some documentation review. I would struggle to put my hands on any evidence of my teaching practice - or principal practice other than planning documents and student achievement data that is MOE requirements.

Back mapping -
Reviewing how evidence demonstrates RTC and Tataiako criteria

How could this be developed on this site?

What to do from here:

- collect evidence for workshop 2
- reflections of PLG meetings
- prepare to share thinking about what you consider to be necessary and sufficient evidence.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Exploring Key Competencies through BLP


Building Learning Power - Guy Claxton
Building learning power is my main inspiration for pedagogy development this year. 
 I believe that this addresses the HOW of learning rather than focusing on the WHAT 
of learning.  I believe that teaching improved attitude towards learning and strategies 
for achieving true learning will be of greater benefit to our students than just aiming 
for national standards.  
Building Learning Power (BLP) splits learning into 4 areas Resilience, Reciprocity,
 Reflectiveness, Resourcefulness - which are further broken into 17 attributes of an 
effective learner.