Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An external evaluation!

We are expecting an ERO review this term! While many of us have been through this process numerous times now, it still somehow has the effect of creating a “oh my!” feeling of insecurity and nervousness in the pit of my stomach! Why is this? My reaction has caused me to reflect on how people in general react to any form of evaluation.
There are those who confidently move through an evaluative process without hesitating, with a “take me as you find me” approach and then there are those for whom any form of evaluative comment, no matter how small, rattles their world. On our staff, we have both ends of this continuum and many who are in between.
For me, the control freak aspect of my personality certainly shines out in this context, so in order to maintain control, I tend to over-prepare! Our last set of ERO reviewers wanted to take a photo of the sets of well-ordered and organized documents that we had laid out for them upon their arrival. Little did they know, it was really all about me feeling in control of the process.
Evaluation is good for us! Especially external evaluation! I know this, time to calm the nerves and get on with it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Creating the Future of Learning

Picked this up from Core Ed--very interesting

Being Connected

Now that our school has grown to almost over the 700 mark, I have been finding it increasingly difficult, in fact down-right impossible to connect with every student. Long gone are the days when I could confidently say I know and recognise every one of them by name. However of late, I have had a go at “connecting on line” with our Y5/6 kids who all have an on-line learning journal. What a great concept! The children are using their learning journals to post an archive of their learning e.g. a photo or a movie of something that have been working on, then they enter a reflective comment about what it is all about and how they are going etc. Their teachers can also comment as can some chosen peers. For me, as the principal, reading and making my own comment on these has become quite insightful, suddenly I feel in touch with that student and most importantly I am now getting kids coming up to me saying “ thanks for contributing to my journal”. The task is not that onerous, but the rewards seem far-reaching. The power of technology!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What we measure flourishes!

Having attended APPA’s breakfast seminar yesterday where a panel provoked the audience to reflect upon “where are we with educating Maori kids?” and “why aren’t we doing better?” I certainly went away with some thinking to do. What caught my attention the most was the idea that in many schools, our’s included we measure the success of a Maori student’s progress by measuring them in a very “white” space. We want them to be the same as every other student in our school—literate and numerate—this seems ok on the surface. However we should also want them to be successful in their ‘maoriness”. We want them to be confident connected actively involved lifelong learners as Maori kids, (this sounds familiar). The trouble at the moment is we don’t focus on this, we focus on where they are as readers, writers and number-crunchers.
My thoughts are that for all kids—maori and non-maori, the narrowness of being measured in literacy and numeracy is exactly that—narrow. It does not tell the whole story—it does not reflect the student’s capacity to live in the real world. What we measure flourishes—we must balance our measurement structures! Lots of food for thought!
My next step is to talk to our maori kids—what does a successful maori kid look like? I will be interested in what they tell me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Negotiating or Bargaining?

I recently attended a 2 day course on the power of negotiation. It was an interesting experience firstly as my fellow course goers were all people who work outside of the education world—this in itself can be refreshing. Secondly the content was of interest in that everyone’s nature tendency when placed in a situation requiring negotiation, most people resort to “bargaining”. My thoughts were how true this is and how destructive it can be. The situations where you “sell” something to employees for instance with the pay-back being less of something else, in other words you bargain your way into getting others to do something they don’t want to do.
According to the course provider, negotiation is much more about both parties understanding each other’s perspective and working together to reach solutions. Is this unrealistic? I’m not sure. I do know that over my years as a principal I have done quite a lot of bargaining—is this ok? Lots of food for thought.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

That sense of care

What an age since I have contributed to this blog!! Time to get going again. The start of 2011 has been an interesting one for me as I experienced for the first time a very real health scare. All is well but it certainly was a challenging couple of months.
Looking back now it was a time when I got to actually experience that sense of belonging to a workplace where care and support for each other is valued and lived out in a myriad of small but not insignificant ways. Although at times such as this, it is the love and support of one’s family and closest friends that matters most; it was indeed a heart-warming experience to feel the care of colleagues and work-mates as well.
As a school leader, I have always known that fostering this sense of care within the school staff is important, but in all honesty, I am not sure how high up the priority list I valued it. My own experience has now taught me that actions do speak louder than words and visits, phone calls, texts and emails matter when a staff member is not themselves. Parents under stress, can also appreciate that call that I might once have left justifying to myself that someone else will be implementing the care. In a big institution this can be demanding, however not impossible, where there’s a will there’s a way! Lots of food for thought.