March 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
For the past 12 months I have been focusing on staff appreciation. I considered all of the different ways that I could best appreciate the hard work and commitment of the team and it boiled down to organisation. There was great help on hand from my mentor/coach and it was a year of putting in place routines, processes and feedback loops so that I could achieve the goal. There were 3 Ideas that proved very helpful in my work:
1. Write down your annual focus every day
I have many tasks to complete and not enough time to complete them so I have to make decisions. I was sick of doing 8 things half heartedly each year so I decided to pick just one task. Organisation. I enjoyed the Peter Bregman article and chose to write down my one task on a new post it note each morning. Each day I would write down organisation at the top of my post it note and each day I aimed to do at least one thing to help reach this goal. On other days I could put in a few hours work on this task.
2. Schedule your most important work in the calendar
Most important work that I complete is not urgent. Most important work that I complete doesn’t have a 24 hour deadline. Urgent work can sometimes take over our focus on a regular basis and we need ways to combat this. I had a permanent booking with my mentor so that I could ensure the meeting would take place. This meant that I always had the opportunity receive feedback on my progress and could give account of my decisions. George Couros always asks good questions about priorities and effective planning.
3. Have a routine to measure progress
It’s easy to begin work on an annual goal but with the busyness of a school year it can be difficult to remain focussed. I found that by booking a one hour meeting with myself each week I could ask questions about my progress, reflect on aspects of my project and then see if changes were required to keep on track. By asking the same questions every week I was able to benefit from a consistent framework and enjoyed looking back on my reflections.
What routines do you use to focus on important work?
What accountability do you need to reach your goals?
October 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
I’m preparing for an ocean swim race in a few months and right now I’m building fitness by running. I downloaded RunKeeper to help record some of my times but never did I realise the impact that it would have.
Every 5 minutes, during my run, I get an update on how far I have run and the average number of minutes per km. At first these updates were annoying, but now that I’ve got into the swing of it, the reminders are pushing me to achieve times and distances that are well beyond my expectations.
I’m getting regular, objective and consistent feedback on my running and it feels great.
The key part of the feedback that was helpful related to when I was ‘cruising’ during my run. I found that along flat sections of the run, instead of trying to maintain a fast pace I was simply moving along but without much thought or motivation. So now this hits home to my normal day or week at school. How can I identify the times when I enter cruise mode and what can I do about it?
When am I most likely to cruise?
– If I begin a day without a plan. I like to use some of the elements from Peter Bregman’s 18 minutes.
– If I don’t have times assigned to the tasks that I wish to complete.
– If I haven’t clearly laid out the tasks of a project.
– If I sit in a work space where I will be distracted.
I have always found it helpful to reflect on my day and then see which parts were fruitful and which parts were not optimised. It has been satisfying to build up some self awareness of my productivity and I hope that it will continue. My mentor has provided some great tips and advice too.
What is your productivity level like?
Do you have a more successful Monday/Tuesday and then reduce productivity during the rest of the week?
Are you aware of your good and/or bad habits?
Do you need a mentor or coach to help with aspects of your productivity?
May 31, 2014 § Leave a comment
As I reflect over the past few years of professional learning I realise that I need to pass on a thank you to each of my mentors. They have played an important role in my development and these are some of the key ways that I have benefitted from their service.
1. Confidence – Each mentor has helped me to make sense of difficult and complex situations and offered advice that has provided me with confidence going into new situations. They have provided frameworks for decision making, routines for organisation and procedures for continually developing in leadership skills.
2. Humility – We all make mistakes and it was interesting to hear about how each mentor learnt from their failures. It spoke volumes of their character and convictions and has reminded me of the great importance that humility plays in leadership.
3. Courage – They have all encouraged me to reach for the stars, and this has made a huge difference to my outlook. They have encouraged me to have the difficult decisions, to get alongside team members and to not give up.
Thank you to each mentor who has invested in me.
February 23, 2014 § 1 Comment
I spent a team day with @cwoldhuis and we created memories. Our goal was to make progress on a Year 9 Mathematics Learning Project and it was a very enjoyable day of professional and personal development. We started by visiting some Year 1 and 2 students at our school who were participating in a Maths experience where each student was teamed to solve a problem. The students we spoke with were aiming to describe their classroom to a teacher in Austria who wanted to build a similar classroom. It highlighted a number of important elements within the process that we were about to use. The PBL elements that we used stem from the Buck Institute (link below)
Next we considered the development of our big idea. It was an interesting process because the first few attempts that we wrote didn’t stick but all of the follow up suggestions were debated to an eventual outcome. We also got some help from our critical friends at this stage. This is the protocol that we’ll continue to use.
Within these learning experiences the students will get to make choices about how they present and communicate their work. We wanted to design a statement that gave direction but also allowed for student voice/choice.
The entry event for these projects is a time to give students an inspirational experience that can help to direct their thoughts and ideas. We plan to enlist some other staff members and ensure that the students are impacted on many levels. The discussion around this event got everyone excited about the possibilities of this project.
The timeline is an important aspect to plan and we will continue to work on this in the next few days. You’ll see that feedback and critique is a vital part of the process. This example helped for some of the team members to see its power. The public audience is another vital ingredient so we will lock in our location and times soon.
We are in the learning phase of Project Based Learning for Mathematics at our school and it is an amazing journey. If you can see any gaps in our process or would like to offer some advice then we will be all ears. It’s helpful to note without the PBL process, real world problem solving can be both boring and unengaging as Dan Meyer points out. We are using PBL because we want to provide room for student curiosity and personalisation within an environment that normally treats every student the same.
December 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
I’ve just signed up for Deeper Learning MOOC which begins in January 2014. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to spend a few days at High Tech High (a leadership partner of the MOOC) and it was a great experience. The leadership of the school have set in place a culture of learning for teachers and students alike.
Through a series of workshops, conversations and sessions I was able to learn about their use of physical space, the design principles for project based learning and the priorities for mentoring of teachers. A number of twitter friends will also take the MOOC and I’m looking forward to learning by debating, reflecting, reading, prototyping and comparing.
The first MOOC that I undertook was the #howtolearnmath course with Stanford University Professor Jo Boaler. It was a fantastic course that offered some amazing insights relating to learning, psychology and motivation. There are three main reasons that I enjoy taking MOOCs:
I can listen when I need to. I can reflect when it suits me. I can chat with others at most times throughout the day. I’m being presented with learning opportunities from some of the most respected leaders in the field and I like to have freedom in when/how I respond.
Professional Development doesn’t have a good reputation for assisting ‘development’ in one’s learning journey. Most of the time it’s just ‘sit hear and listen to this’ and then we’ve ticked the box. I like how this DLMOOC has been set up to model purposeful and passionate learning. One of the lines from the course states:
Our aim is for you to leave each session with a new idea, tool, or practice that you can put into practice the next day.
I want to ensure that I am modelling learning skills to my students. There must be aspects of critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration to my professional learning. To go beyond the ‘surface level’ learning and into the territory of deep learning, teachers need to be intentional and consider routines/opportunities that students can develop. A few months ago Ron Ritchhart presented in Sydney and provided this helpful self assessment that I’m going to begin using in 2014. By participating in this MOOC I hope that I’m not only developing great skills for teaching and learning but I’m also developing skills as a learner.
November 5, 2013 § 1 Comment
On Thursday we are beginning the first session for our book club. @eduruminate has got the ball rolling and suggested John Hattie and Gregory Yates’ ‘Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn’. I’m excited for a number of reasons:
- Reading new research makes me feel good. I like to know what researchers are investigating and then finding out the implications for teaching and learning. Education is a very exciting field right now. Research is constantly providing new insights and ideas that requires us to evaluate our practices, structures and beliefs.
- The people in this reading group are going to provide good debate. They are from all different parts of the school and I can guarantee that with the number of different perspectives I will learn things that I would have missed without their contribution. Lately I’ve found that primary teachers provide very helpful strategies for high school teachers because they care about students and they care about learning. (Some high school teachers may be known for just caring about ‘their subject’).
- John Hattie has a great reputation for providing insights that are focused on learning. I spend a lot of time focusing on aspects of technology, Maths, leadership, team work and productivity so it will be nice to focus in this direction of student learning.
- It’s always nice to share learning and so I’m looking forward to tracking the journey of twitter. We’re in the process of confirming a hashtag and I’m pretty sure that #hattiechattie will be used.
October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
Great question mentioned by @robmarchetto
Let’s look at some quotes from Professor Jo Boaler from Stanford University:
When real Mathematics is taught – problem solving, creating ideas, exploring puzzles and discussing methods then many students succeed.
Students have the potential to be more engaged when a teacher brings passion to the classroom. I’ve always been inspired by the learning culture of High Tech High. It turns out that teachers actually lead the way as learners. The organisational structure is such that teachers can collaborate, receive mentoring, participate in learning groups and are provided with feedback.
The teachers model learning and then replicate that in the learning spaces. Watch this video and catch a glimpse. Now teachers don’t have the ability to change the organisational structure of a school however they can create aspects of the HTH model by participating in teachmeets, on twitter and with blogs. This then leads to teachers being exposed to other ideas of what could engage learners. We are embarking on a problem based approach to the teaching and learning of Maths at NBCS. This means that students will begin with a scenario, problem or puzzle rather than a lecture. They will get stuck. They will get really stuck. What should I do when I can’t clearly see the next step? I like this summary. There are loads of people who are asking interesting problems and Geoff Krall has compiled some amazing problem based work.
There are two versions of Maths in the lives of people; the strange and boring subject that they endured in the classroom and the interesting set of creative ideas that is Maths in the real world.
These are some interesting starting points to see Maths in the real world. Sometimes though, there won’t be easy connections to the real world and it doesn’t really help to make forced connections. I have seen more successful engagement when students are faced with a ‘need-to-know’. They ask authentic questions and have a better chance of developing their personal interest.
Students need to solve ill-structured problems, ask many forms of questions and to use, adapt and apply methods.
There are very few schools that boast of offering a Maths class that is full of ‘ill-structured problems’. No teacher wants that. No parent wants that. Students needs a lecture, three examples and then they can answer questions from the text-book. That’s learning. What does a teacher need to let go of so that they feel good about providing students with open ended problems? Ron Ritchhart from Harvard provides some good food for thought.