Just Go To Sleep Will Ya!

So I ready should just be going to bed, I’ve got a bit of a headache and a queasy tummy. My mind is buzzing. I have soooo much to do and for the first time in my life I think I am experiencing real work related stress, unfortunately “Marama Stress” induces insomnia … What’s up with that Brain?? No fair! You see some how I have ended up an idealist in a position of leadership, bugger me if that don’t cause stress I don’t know what does?!
Last week I attended my annual big week out at the uLearn12 conference in Auckland. I looooove uLearn, I always leave inspired and ready to up the anti in my classroom with my students and community. This time however, I now need to figure out how to infect our staff with my inspiration and vision (in a good way mind you, not a you will do this or else kinda way). Add to that I have five amazing initiatives I wish to implement (inspired by five of my amazing uLearn breakouts, promise I will blog about that later) and I have just realized that I need to delegate – I forgot to add perfectionist to idealist leader. I see this amazing big picture, now I need to train my scatter brain to plan and deal with the small puzzle pieces in order to engage our staff into a shared journal towards a cohesive vision (wow, sorry I’m rambling, tricky to compose on my iPhone). Anyway, I just thought I would try blogging about my “mind buzz” to help me beat the insomnia. I’m ok, I have amazing support from my super PLN, old friends, colleagues, a husband who politely nods when he has no idea what I’m talking about and an appraiser who’s worth his weight in gold, but some times I just need to vent – which brings up a point which has bothered me for a while now and has made me avoid blogging: As a teacher,
I blogged about my practice and classroom, as a sole charge principal I blogged about my practice and classroom. Now, as the Principal of a five teacher primary school, how do I blog about my leadership and management practice without invading the privacy of our staff …?

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Stacey and I in our ULearn12 awesome dinner gears, go disco fever!!! Whoop, whoop!

First Time Principals’ Programme Presentation

This is my presentation for the FTPP April Residential Course 2012.  Click here to reach the information website and below is the presentation Prezi.  I would love any feedback added to the comments below :-)

A Letter of Recommendation from my Board Chairman

The Magic Apple by Andrew Law (Chairman of the Board, Pukeokahu School)

There was a young teacher, I’ll call Harriet Potter
When she got an idea in her head nothing would stop her.
She had done all her research, she knew all her business
Harriet had a great big ginormous wish list
We need new computers, these old ones are stuffed
I done my very best but enough is enough
What sort do you want, asked the Board of Trustees
After all the moaning had brought them to their knees
Compaq, Asus, HP, Acer or Dell?
Harriet frowned, looked down and said, They all smell!
I need something special, magical classy
Something with style and cojones a brassy
A machine reliable and super dooper good
Saving money’s not an option, is that understood?
The one that I want is the magical Apple
It’s the one this school needs to snaffle
So the Board counted it’s pennies and doled out the cash
For the magical Apple to make a big splash
Harriet was pleased, she chuckled with glee
Now all I need is another three!
What! cried the Board.  This is not cricket
We seem to be playing on a sloping wicket
I need them, I need them, I need them, cried Mrs Potter
And once again, nothing would stop her.
More Apples were purchased, they are very good
Incredibly reliable the Board understood
Then came the sad day when the magic was gone
An Apple broke down.  What’s going on?
Did the Apple have a worm or coddlin moth
Harriet didn’t know, it had to be sent off
To the Apple workshop to have the magic restored
Meanwhile of course the kids were all bored
Cause school’s no fun without magic Apples to educate and amaze
Wistfully and sadly the Chairman looked back through the haze
To a time when all a school needed were paints, pencils, and paper you see
And Boards could afford to send Chairmen on trips to Fiji.

Andy wrote this for me last year and read it at our end of year celebration assembly.  I just had to share it because it is so good :-)

Shifting Leadership to the 21st Century

A very short post, I should be in bed asleep not blogging.  Actually I should of done this earlier instead of watching the first season of Sherlock.  Best ever, now addicted.

So I last year, I managed to volunteer to be chairperson of my local New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) cluster.  Therefore, I now represent my cluster at the annual NZPF Moot.  Thankfully I quite enjoy this, despite what certain other principals in Auckland mutter about ‘fossils’, and met a whole bunch of very knowledgeable, interesting educational leaders.

Unfortunately, I have noticed, that about 95% of the leaders of our education leaders were completely missing the 21st Century boat :-/  In fact, I doubt most of them would understand that emoticon I just used … *

So I am on a mission, a Social Media mission, to shift the thinking of our educational leadership to the awesomeness of the 21st Century Waka!!!  Well after whole school camp that is …

I shall begin my campaign to ditch the eighties at the First Time Principals’ Programme Residential in Auckland (this holidays).  Unfortunately this means rejigging my entire presentation, but hey ho, it’s not like I need sleep ;-)*

*translation :-/ disappointed face

*translation ;-)* cheeky wink with a zit.

Managing Your ICT Infrastructure

On Monday I am presenting the Prezi below at Massey University to Sector Leaders involved in the NLC Cluster programme.

Click here for resource website - https://sites.google.com/site/managingict/

The Big Questions.

Just Because I Meet Richie McCaw :-)

Just Because I Meet Richie McCaw :-)

I wrote this little piece this morning for the school newsletter.  To be honest I am not quite sure where it came from, but there you go it’s out now.  Anyway I was quite proud of it, then I received an email from our local reporter asking permission to publish it in our Taihape Times.  I had a good hard think about it, and he sent a second one pleading so I said yes.  Anyway hopefully I get a few people thinking.

Earlier this week I was having a chat with our senior students about how different primary school is compared to when attended in the Eighties.  The kids were amazed when I explained that we had ask permission to leave our desks, go to the toilet or to get a drink of water.  For these 21st Century Kids who were sitting on a cushion in front of the fire, doing their math book work while munching on an apple, the thought of being confined to one’s desk was just abhorrent.
I guess that’s what much of education was like back in the bad old days (which really is not so long ago).  Children confined to a classroom, a year group, an achievement level, a set of standards or a desk.  Learning was confined to Three Rs, and occasional PE.
According to Sir Ken Robinson and many educational experts, this is called the Industrial Model.  Schools were formed to create batches of cookie cutter graduates that fit into an industrialized society.  Below is a link to a fabulous Youtube Video, which explains how education needs to change and move away from this industrial model in order to meet the dynamic needs of our 21st Century society.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U
The wonderful thing is, that New Zealand is already way ahead of the ball game, when it comes to dynamic education, with it’s world renowned New Zealand Curriculum.  The Vision Statement for our curriculum is to have “young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners”.  How wonderful is that!
I believe that it is really important that our community have a long hard think and begin a robust conversation about what we really want for our children in education. Our society has changed irrevocability, as a consequence shouldn’t our education system also evolve to meet our society’s needs?
Lately the media has been full of accusations that our education system is in a ‘crisis’, and how we need to get back to the ‘basics’.  Well, I say (and I will probably get in trouble for this but …) rubbish to that!  Can’t you remember how bored and uninspired you were at school?  Sure, if you were lucky you had one or two teachers who inspired you and broke the mold, but in general we were confined to our desks waiting for lunch time.
As I watched the kids this term, bubbling with excitement while preparing the school fundraising fair, experimenting with technology and science, and interacting with Richie McCaw on our Richie Day a horrible thought occurred to me.  If we went back to the basics, if we conformed to aspirational standards and league tables, if we turned to national testing like Australia, we wouldn’t have been able to participate in any of our exciting learning this term.  We would have been too busy pushing our children into their prescribed achievement levels, so that we could report that they weren’t ‘failing’.
I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem right to me.  I just want the school I teach in to be a place that inspires children to shine in all areas of their life, not just where the politicians deem necessary.
So that’s what I want for education, my question is what do you want?  And do those Suits down in Wellington know it?

Earlier this week I was having a chat with our senior students about how different primary school is compared to when attended in the Eighties.  The kids were amazed when I explained that we had ask permission to leave our desks, go to the toilet or to get a drink of water.  For these 21st Century Kids who were sitting on a cushion in front of the fire, doing their math book work while munching on an apple, the thought of being confined to one’s desk was just abhorrent.

I guess that’s what much of education was like back in the bad old days (which really is not so long ago).  Children confined to a classroom, a year group, an achievement level, a set of standards or a desk.  Learning was confined to Three Rs, and occasional PE.

According to Sir Ken Robinson and many educational experts, this is called the Industrial Model.  Schools were formed to create batches of cookie cutter graduates that fit into an industrialized society.  Below is a link to a fabulous Youtube Video, which explains how education needs to change and move away from this industrial model in order to meet the dynamic needs of our 21st Century society.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

The wonderful thing is, that New Zealand is already way ahead of the ball game, when it comes to dynamic education, with it’s world renowned New Zealand Curriculum.  The Vision Statement for our curriculum is to have “young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners”.  How wonderful is that!

I believe that it is really important that our community have a long hard think and begin a robust conversation about what we really want for our children in education. Our society has changed irrevocability, as a consequence shouldn’t our education system also evolve to meet our society’s needs?

Lately the media has been full of accusations that our education system is in a ‘crisis’, and how we need to get back to the ‘basics’.  Well, I say (and I will probably get in trouble for this but …) rubbish to that!  Can’t you remember how bored and uninspired you were at school?  Sure, if you were lucky you had one or two teachers who inspired you and broke the mold, but in general we were confined to our desks waiting for lunch time.

As I watched the kids this term, bubbling with excitement while preparing the school fundraising fair, experimenting with technology and science, and interacting with Richie McCaw on our Richie Day a horrible thought occurred to me.  If we went back to the basics, if we conformed to aspirational standards and league tables, if we turned to national testing like Australia, we wouldn’t have been able to participate in any of our exciting learning this term.  We would have been too busy pushing our children into their prescribed achievement levels, so that we could report that they weren’t ‘failing’.

I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem right to me.  I just want the school I teach in to be a place that inspires children to shine in all areas of their life, not just where the politicians deem necessary.

So that’s what I want for education, my question is what do you want?  And do those Suits down in Wellington know it?

Last Day of Term and Stuff

Today is the last day of Term One and I am sitting in my office thinking.  There is a lot of stuff that I could be doing, or reading, or replying to, or leading.  But today I am going to have a little bit of “it’s all about me” time.  I have blogged about this before, feeling guilty about taking time during the school day to self-review, but I am happily over that (and because I know I will be in school most of the Easter break to catch up anyway).

So as most of you know I have been rather busy creating my first ever Strategic Plan, you can read about some of the troubles with that here.  But other than that small hiccup, I have really enjoying the process and now understand the importance of a strong school direction.  Honestly, I have never bothered to read a Strategic Plan before, I could never see the relevance to me as a classroom teacher, and as I had such a fantastic management team around me, I could just get on with the job with being the best teacher and learner I could be.

Now that I have switched to the ‘dark side’ ;-) I can really appreciate the hard work that goes into this process, even those awful surveys I hated filling out.  It is a real art, coming up with a valid community consultation process, which accurately gages the needs and values of a community without letting the ‘haters’ use it as a subversive means to undermine you (not that I get that here at all, I am very luck in that respect).

As I am in the unique position of having only, don’t laugh now, six families and one teacher to survey I decided to do this a little differently.  I wanted to find out three things – the values, the attitudes and the skills my community believe is important for their children to have by the time they leave as a Year Eight.  To do this I used a ‘Role on the Wall’, an old school reading activity commonly used with guided reading groups.  Basically you draw a hollow person, and the kids brainstorm the characters attributes.  On the inside of the character you brainstorm their personality and beliefs etc, while on the outside you brainstorm their physical characteristics.  For my consultation I asked the community to complete the brainstorm below and I am pleased to say that I received a 100% return rate, yep that’s right 7 out 7 ;-)

Community Consultation 2011

Ok, so getting 100% wasn’t so hard, but the information I received from the community (I was able to survey the kids too) has been invaluable to me while I flesh out the Strategic Plan.  The BOT also really enjoyed going through the information, collating the data (I just typed it out, verbatim, then cut it up so the BOT could sort it and stick it to the three headings Values, Attitudes and Skills) and discussing what really was important to them as well.  In the end we came up with ten fantastic values and attitudes which will help set the direction of the school.

Creativity; Self-Motivation; Individuality; Courage; Respect; Integrity; Enquiring Mind; Community Minded; Responsibility; Being the Best We Can Be.

I do realise, that this kind of method would be impossible for a larger school, but using this with staff, or a BOT maybe a really valuable process to work through.  One BOT member commented that it was really nice not being told which values they could choose from and they they felt like they could have more ownership of the process.  This made me feel great, I mean isn’t this exactly what our wonderful NZC is all about? :-)

Good Advice from the Auditor-General

My buddy, the Auditor-General (not really my buddy, just exaggerating) sent out a “summary of a recent report that our Office has done on analysis of variance reports”.  This caught my eye as it mentioned school charters, and as you all know I have been having some discussion lately, with the MOE, about Charters …

Basically, the report has a lovely little check list for Boards and Principals to use when setting Strategic Goals and Annual Targets.  I won’t go into detail, as it is a really easy read – you can see the summary here.  Personally I like it and I will be using it as one of my resources while we develop our new Charter.  What I like the most about this little report is that it emphasizes the importance of “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely” strategic goals.  And that, annual targets should relate strongly to these goals.

Therefore, I’m inferring that the Auditor-General would think it a good thing, for me to not rush the process of setting strategic goals.

So I’m not.