Saturday, November 16, 2019

Who Needs to be in the Conversation?

Garvey Berger (2019) says “The complexity of the world requires that we understand the greys, that we resist black-and-white solutions, that we ask different questions about unexpected and tangential options. But alas, we humans are built to simplify and segment, and it goes against all of our natural pulls to take another person’s perspective or to see a system in action.”

At a recent hui I attended with regards to assessment and qualifications someone said “We need to start this conversation about valuing different measures,” and someone else replied “ With respect- why are we still having this conversation? Some of us have been having this conversation for many years. The conversation should be resolved by now, yet we are still talking about the same stuff twenty years on.”

What we actually need to do is to ensure we are having the conversations with the right people or all that happens is we become an echo chamber. There are groups of educators out there who know we need to do more than just change the practices and pedagogies in our schools and classrooms. They know we need to change the way that success is measured. But until that gets changed system wide there will continue to be conflict, suspicion and tension at every level of the system.

Until systemic change and embracing of different measures of success become mainstream these educators are fighting against a system too big, even in New Zealand, for small groups to make but the smallest waves and impacts.

The advent of flexible learning environments and the change in practice this has required for some has been both a help and a hindrance. It’s made us aware of different pedagogies and practices possible. But those being judged the most successful in these environments are those that still measure up against the old measures. The measures that just simply aren’t the most appropriate measures for the world going forward, in my opinion anyway. The message, both implicit and explicit is we can only change our practices if we still succeed with the old measures. 

 As a profession, at every level of the profession,  we need to put the past aside, embrace the uncertainty and complexity that represents the world we live in today and be prepared to live in that grey. At every level of the profession we need to be able to stand back and look with new perspectives at a system that was designed for another time and the measures that support this.

One of the biggest impacts on me over the last 6 months has been understanding a theory that the wise Mary Chamberlain shared with our leadership team. (Cant remember the original reference sorry.)
She told us about this triangle where you have a vision for learning, the operational capacity of the school and the authorising environments. Like any three legged stool if one of those corners of the triangle is lesser than the others the stool can flip right over.
We talked about how our vision for a new way of learning oozes out of every pore in our school, from the people to the environment to what is said, to the actions seen, but that this could all fall over if we don’t get those authorising environments at least giving us enough space to continue to develop our operational capacity without compromising our vision. 

Yet recognising that the system and everyone that represents it is part of our authorising environment presents challenges. 

How do we ensure that those in the system, often technically our superiors, are prepared to acknowledge the grey, when they operate themselves in an environment of strict balances and measures? How do we influence the operational capacity of the system to live in complexity rather than the certainty of clinical measures of success. How do we allow a less risk averse system to develop? How do we influence enough to ensure those tasked with moving the system are reading deeply and widely and prepared to look from different personal perspectives?

While support networks on social media like twitter and groups like #disruptED are absolutely valuable, and have kept me going in this battle again and again, over time the energy and momentum goes unless we can get the right people into those conversations. In the last twenty years  I’ve seen some great people and excellent educators come into those networks,  contribute greatly for a few years and then disappear into oblivion or give up on the system all together and leave as their efforts for reform and transformation struggle to gain momentum outside of their small sphere of influence.

As the Garvey Berger quote at the beginning of this blog says “as humans we are preconditioned to simplify and segment.” It seems the more complex the world becomes, the more the authorising environments in our system, both school based and government based are trying to simplify, procedurise and segment our learning and our responses into controlled measures that disregard the complexity of our environments and the future. 

Living and being okay in the grey is not celebrated or encouraged and is actually disincentivized and criticised at all levels of the system we find ourselves in. Collective voice is needed to challenge this.  

We need to invest serious attention to looking at our schooling systems from different perspectives before they become completely irrelevant to the future for our young people. And we need to leverage the collective power of the people within the system to influence those authorising our system.   
“In the long run, we will neither need nor want professionals to work in the way that they did in the twentieth century and before.”


Berger, J. G. (2019). Unlocking leadership mindtraps: how to thrive in complexity. Stanford, CA: Stanford Briefs, an imprint of Stanford University Press.
Susskind, R. E., & Susskind, D. (2017). The future of the professions: how technology will transform the work of human experts. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Berger, J. G. (2019). Unlocking leadership mindtraps: how to thrive in complexity. Stanford, CA: Stanford Briefs, an imprint of Stanford University Press.

Susskind, R. E., & Susskind, D. (2017). The future of the professions: how technology will transform the work of human experts. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Berger, J. G. (2019). Unlocking leadership mindtraps: how to thrive in complexity. Stanford, CA: Stanford Briefs, an imprint of Stanford University Press.
Susskind, R. E., & Susskind, D. (2017). The future of the professions: how technology will transform the work of human experts. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Berger, J. G. (2019). Unlocking leadership mindtraps: how to thrive in complexity. Stanford, CA: Stanford Briefs, an imprint of Stanford University Press.
Susskind, R. E., & Susskind, D. (2017). The future of the professions: how technology will transform the work of human experts. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Saying Goodbye is Personal

Recently we’ve had a few staff leave, and others announce they are leaving over the next few months. 

While it is natural for some to second guess these departures and announcements it is important to remember that arrivals and departures at a school are often pretty common place, and especially so at a new school when everyone has started at the same time. We need to remember that changes in staff can represent where people are at in their personal and professional lives as much or more than being reflective of something in the school.

As a school leader over the last twenty years I have farewelled numerous fantastic teachers and other leaders, and been farewelled myself, saying goodbye to tremendous practitioners and valued friends. I’ve left, or others have, for new opportunities both personally and professionally. Schools become like families and it is wrenching to pull yourself out of that family and move on. The tension and inner debate between developing your career and breaking the bonds of family you have created with other human beings is ever present.

A few years ago I wrote this blogpost  about moving on and saying goodbye from the vantage point of being a Principal in another new school. Much of this blogpost applies at Haeata too.

To create a school from scratch is no easy task. We have great privileges. New property, new resources, lead in time to develop thinking, and unlearn and relearn, to debate philosophies and create vision.  
But it’s also hard work. Really hard work. Creating relationships from scratch. Amongst staff. Between staff and students. Amongst students. Between schools and whānau and the wider communities. Building processes and procedures and systems from scratch with both the advantages and disadvantages of not having tradition. Being innovative in the design and delivery of learning while still being measured by indicators of success from a different system.

As a new school we attract immense attention, immense interest, immense acclaim and also immense criticism. And all of those form their own challenges. We are challenged sometimes from people who have never put a foot in the place but make assumptions based on hearsay. Sometimes from people who should know better. So for people in our place a certain level of resilience and and a level of courage to remain committed to a vision despite those challenges has been a vital disposition to grow. Nowhere in a school is holding that vision more important than in the role of Principal. So the news of an imminent departure of our foundation principal is certainly unsettling. Without diminishing the significance of the other departures we have already had, and those that are imminent, the announcement of a Principal leaving is always major.

What we need to remember is that when anyone leaves they leave a legacy, and for a Principal that legacy is in not just the vision they have created but in how they have created the living breathing day to day representation of that vision. And if that’s been done well, then there are many people who are able to keep developing that vision. 

So as we prepare to say goodbye to a principal who has been vital and instrumental and an absolute key in the success of our school so far, to a Principal who has shown courage in the face of adversary over and over, we remember that we are saying goodbye to the person not to the vision. And as we have said goodbye to others, or prepare to soon, we remember they have all been part of growing that vision too and the practice they leave behind is a part of everything we are, everything we be every day and we take a part of all of them into the future with us. We will always be linked by that vision that has been created together.

Creating that vision together and making it come alive is what makes so many schools special places to be. And it is what makes saying goodbye difficult. In the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh ( AA Milne) “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

As this post is titled, saying goodbye is personal. We are saying goodbye, or preparing to, to people who have become like family, to people we have worked hard to grow a vision with. 

But saying goodbye is personal- it is to the person. 
We are not saying goodbye to the vision.

 That will continue to grow.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Motivated, Heartened and Plain Excited Again!

Wow- totally feeling energised and hopeful heading into the second day of the Leading a Digital School conference in Melbourne.

After some recent times of feeling disheartened  and disillusioned by the education system, my faith in the future of education and schooling has gone a long way to being restored after a fantastic first day at conference yesterday.

The conference kicked off with the MC- Rick Noack- sharing a pearl of wisdom about collecting driftwood on the beach not sure what art you will make out of it and encouraging delegates to apply this to the conference- attend with an open mind never knowing where you will get the nuggets of gold from.

Jane Hunter kicked off the first keynote with a fantastic rendition of some of her recent research. So refreshing to hear an academic researcher speak with such passion and understanding of the schooling system and give such practical examples of her research and the implications coming from it.

Some of my favourite quotes from Jane’s presentation:

“STEM can’t be stand alone subjects, they need to be thought about in terms of arts and humanities too.”

“We are not going to solve the world’s problems if we remain in our silos, if we keep teaching sciences from a pure science viewpoint, we need to move to a transdisciplinary approach.”

“The answer is not to put in Specialist teachers but to deepen the capacity of all teachers.”

Jane finished her presentation by sharing this quote from Ruha Benjamin speaking at ISTE- “We must incubate a better world in the minds and hearts of our students...” 
The video of this keynote is now on my to be watched list.

First workshop up was us presenting about our challenge to the status quo in schools- about about how we are trying everyday to make practice at Haeata about learning not about schooling.  Having decided to not centre our presentation around a slideshow that we talked to we had created some infographics that compared our learning approach to that of a conventional school and spent a great hour leading a discussion with the delegates in our session about this. Great to hear Jono talk with such passion and clarity about what teachers and learners at Haeata do.

Next up was a session with Adrian Camm on developing the visioning process. He took us through a visioning process he has used successfully. The thing that struck me was his point about making sure you are asking the right questions- the questions he got us to work through were indeed powerful to surface our beliefs about learning and schooling. As Adrian said Developing a powerful shared vision begins with deeply understanding your own beliefs and purpose.”

My unexpected jewel of the day was attending a session run by Josh McQuade. Josh is in his 3rd year of teaching and he was just so humble and honest about how he is trying to disrupt the system, leverage technology and engage his learners. He shared his successes but also his failures so honestly. He has developed great thought provoking questions for students t guide them through their learning processes. He had such a heart for teaching and young people and he proved to me that pockets of innovation even within big conventional systems are so important.  I was just quite blown away by his absolute commitment to keep challenging things and to not be in that large statistic of teachers who leave within their first five years. The future of education is so much brighter when we can retain young teachers of Josh’s quality and commitment in our profession.

The final keynote of the day was Adrian Camm- what a motivational and thought provoking way to end a fantastic day of thinking and learning. Adrian talked about the principles of leading change and then the innately human principles of leading a digital school. Some of my favourite quotes:

“I’m more excited now than I’ve ever been about the potential of what school can be.”

“Schools must think systemically and acknowledge they are complex human centred places of learning.”

“Being a leader is one of the most exhausting but satisfying things you can do.”

“What it means to be human is going to be challenged, and students must be able to regulate, be ethical global citizens Our moral imperative is to support students to be an ethical global citizen.”

I love the challenge that Adrian left us with- lets stop the continual harassment on social media- of conventional vs non conventional educators, of this side or that side, lets come together as a professional group and stand up and be counted for contributing to the future. Let's be those ethical global citizens we need to be educating our young people to be.

As a direct result of today I've purchased two books that Im hoping to get into over the weekend- Jane's book on High possibility classrooms and a book on Gamestorming recommended by Adrian

Thanks to @iwbnet and Margot and Rick for such an inspiring first day.

You always think twice about spending valuable time away from your school on school days.

And there are times I have wondered and questioned the value of face to face conferences given the amount of access we now have to resources and speakers online.

But this day was one of the best I have spent at a conference for many years.

Looking forward to the next two.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New Practices and Teacher Autonomy

In a chance online encounter for another purpose I ended up in yet another conversation with a teacher frustrated and challenged by teaching in a MLE. She was “yet to be convinced” of any value or advantage. She feels she’s lost her autonomy and her ability to be creative. She now has to teach reading, writing and maths groups to a timetable that matches perfectly with the three other teachers she shares a space with. While there may be some advantage in that the grouping they can use over four classes means each group has more similar needs and the academic  content can be closely targeted, isn’t this just a form of streaming? Aren’t we starting to learn that ability grouping causes as many issues as it solves? I remain concerned that primary teachers, many of whom have decried the use of streaming and adherence to rigid timetables in the secondary system are now doing the same instead of using new teaching spaces as the driver to actually interrogate and change their teaching practice.

I’ve heard many times now- A modern learning environment is not a modern learning environment if all that has changed is the space and our practice has not changed. If we are going into these new spaces and putting four groups of learners and four teachers and multiplying what we once did by four then all that is likely to occur is stress and burnout. 

I love collaborative teaching for the flexibility it could bring to the learning experience for our learners. The ability to tap into different passions and skill sets. The opportunities for modelling of and experiencing social situations and learning. But I wonder whether we are taking enough time to consider as leaders what that actually means for learning and then taking the time to support our teachers into interrogating their practice and then most importantly giving them licence to explore new practice. New practice is not doing the same thing just with four teachers in a bigger space. Too often I’m thinking the new practice stops at the organisational stage of how will we make this work?

Yes, I agree teaching in a MLE can feel like a loss of autonomy for a teacher if nothing else but the space changes and now you are having to cater for and cooperate with multiple adults and learners.  But if practice changes autonomy is possible.  Autonomy within a collective agreement responsibility and towards a collective outcome for our learners. 

Agency is one of the important keys in a modern learning environment.Developing multiple opportunities and pathways for learner agency requires us to change our view of agency in a learning environment. If we organise and stream our learners and tell them where they have to be and with whom they have to be every moment of the day are we providing opportunities for them to have agency over their learning? A vital skill for their growth and their future. 

Teacher agency and autonomy now fits under a much bigger umbrella. Within a team having a vision for learning that is clear, with teacher actions and decisions able to be linked to that. Flexibility within the learning environment for learners to take multiple pathways towards that vision, teachers relearning their roles in order to provide scaffolds within those choices, rather than their role being to dictate those choices. . So for teachers rather than creating the big picture of the learning themselves, then giving students some limited choices underneath a clearly adult designed pathway, it’s about working together to provide the pathways as learners start taking them. This requires a much more responsive approach that needs flexibility in approach and timetabling and planning, and some different measures of success.

Which brings me to the crux. If we keep measuring new practices with old measures we will continue to move at a glacial pace in schools. 

We need to have courage to change our practices, which also means changing our organisation and changing our measures.  And leaders need to have courage to let go of some of the old. What point is there in giving teachers freedom to innovate, or ask them to give learners lots of agentic opportunities and then insist on measuring the success with the same measures that were used and more appropriate to another time.

If we don’t work to change things at every level, then we will continue to simply frustrate and burn out teachers as we move more and more into modern learning environments.

Some Previous Posts I've written on similar topics:

MLE and MLP- a returning fad, or something that could be truly transformative?

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Collaboration On A Whole New Level

I’ve worked with collaboration in a school for a long time now- started collaborative teaching in 2001, and then led the development of collaborative teaching throughout three different schools in the following fifteen years. I’ve written previously about the power of collaborative teaching practice here and about collaborative leadership here.

I’ve worked with collaborative teams, spoken at conferences and other schools on collaborative practice and the stages of collaboration, and the rewards of pushing through the comfort zone stage to the stage where there is real empowerment of all teachers within the collaborative team and the even further to the stage of cohesiveness where the 
learning process flows and there is no obvious leader to the team, each teacher contributes skills where needed, often without a lot of discussion needed the group works as one to meet the need of all students.

At Haeata we believe teachers have a number of different roles throughout the course of the learning week. At Years 7-13 this looks like this:

  • We design and deliver kaupapa for our learners with the intent that the kaupapa will spark them into their own inquiries.
  • We design and run MAI Time (My Area of Interest) workshops that may spark an interest or may just provide something different for students involved in their inquiries
  • We conference all students- not just the ones that have attended our kaupapa or MAI times sessions but anyone who is currently working on inquiries and projects.
  • We staff spaces- being available to help students navigate their learning in the various spaces available to them- performing arts, visual arts, science labs, makerspace, weights room, dance room etc
  • We collaboratively run a Puna Ako group of about 50 students with three teachers (the ratio being this low because at Puna Ako time all teachers are on the floor). This is the time we design and deliver positive education, social and emotional learning. It’s also a time where we hold students to account for what they are doing in the rest of their learning day.
Last year I watched the group of four middle leaders who lead 25 other teachers and  support staff in Year 7-13 review the learning they had designed and delivered and take it to the next level. While there was some amazing learning happening they thought that Kaupapa had become a bit short and a bit forced with all kaupapa coming off one theme and were not necessarily leading to connections for students to in depth inquiries.

They decided that they would run kaupapa in five week blocks, but there would be no theme. That teachers would design kaupapa ideas and then pitch those ideas to the rest of the teaching team and the together the 27 teachers would collaboratively agree on which kaupapa would run for the next five weeks. The catch is there are only so many learning blocks a week for kaupapa learning if teachers are also to run MAI times, conference and staff spaces, as well as have their entitled non contact time. So everyone is allocated an equal amount of all of these blocks for a week and then this was multiplied by five for the first five week block. The idea was that once the kaupapa were agreed to teachers would be able to swap their allocations between themselves.

When teachers pitched their ideas for a kaupapa they had to state how many kaupapa blocks they would need to run this kaupapa. They also needed to demonstrate how they would include all five of our school essential agreements- communication fluency, Te Ao Māori, intrapersonal development, hauora and transdisciplinary learning. And most importantly they needed to show a sense of how the learning in this kaupapa could lead to personal inquiry learning for any learner from Year 7-13 that might sign up to it, which included how to integrate NCEA for students Years 11-12.

I was very fortunate to happen to be in the hapori (learning community) when the the first pitch session happened. Anyone wanting to pitch a kaupapa had two minutes to do so, and then there were one minute of questions with no responses allowed. This was an amazing sense of collaboration- with specialist teachers suggesting all kinds of things that the teacher doing the pitch may or may not have thought of. Some pitches were individual, some were by pairs or groups of teachers wanting to collaborate on designing and delivering a kaupapa.
Fortuitously the set of kaupapa pitched just about exactly matched the number of kaupapa blocks available so all kaupapa pitched are running for the first block. There are 21 kaupapa running- some of them run for two days, some of them run 3 times a week for the entire 5 weeks. Some teachers wanted to spread their kaupapa with 2 or 3 blocks every week, some wanted to run a kaupapa for 15 blocks of time but all in a couple of weeks. The flexibility of the system designed allows this.

With the kaupapa agreed to the swapping of allocations got under way over the next couple of days. If someone had a kaupapa running for 25 blocks, but they only had 16 in their allocation they needed to find someone who didn’t need their kaupapa allocations and swap them for something else.

Then timetabling day arrived. Everyone had their allocations in the form of tokens for each of the teacher roles with their names on.

The people running kaupapa went first and selected where to put their kaupapa- spreading them over the whole five weeks, or bunching them into a couple of weeks.
Then everyone started putting on their MAI time workshops, their conferencing times, their space staffing and their non contacts. Further negotiation had to occur throughout the process when someone maybe wanted to do an extra conferencing and swap their MAI time, or when someone needed to do something in a block that had no gaps so others then agreed to move where they had placed their tokens. This allowed groups like our kaiārahi and pou leaders to build meeting times into their timetable by all selecting the same block as a non contact. Same for tutor teachers and the provisionally registered teachers they are mentoring. Teachers also got five blocks to place on the timetable for doing their own personal projects- to be written about in another post.

I have never, in twenty years of leading, and thirty years of teaching in schools, seen anything quite like this. It was amazing to observe. The collaboration was magic throughout the process- the input from a range of specialist teachers into your kaupapa, the ability to constructively question each other and not take offence, the swapping of allocations, and the negotiation of where to place them.

It took 27 teachers about 80 minutes to collaboratively construct their timetable together for the next five weeks. What a change in power structure in a school from when the teacher in charge of timetabling held all the power. 

Then a few of the leaders of this team digitised the timetable that had been constructed for easy access for all.

An example of one block of the week in digital format::

It was a first time and I’m sure the process will be refined each time. Because it was the first block of the year there was little student voice, but the intention is to have an ongoing digital display running where students can add ideas they would like developed for the next set of kaupapa. And I believe the intention to have student representatives at the next pitch session to help make those decisions about which kaupapa will run.

The kaupapa running this time:

What a great start to our third year. Examples of teacher and student agency everywhere we look. There is also some very exciting learning happening in the Year 1-6 hapori (learning community) which I will write about in an upcoming blog.

Andy, our principal, has always talked about wanting extraordinary- extraordinary learning, extraordinary wellbeing.

Well this was extraordinary collaboration and I look forward to observing it develop even further and documenting further developments here.

I really feel like I had the privilege of seeing magic happening last week.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Tensions Within

As we head into the 2019 school year I reflect back in order to move forward.

In many ways I will see 2018 as a year of tension. Some of that was external- there is always tension when as a leader you make decisions and take actions that not everyone will agree with or can live by.

But significantly for me, 2018 was a year of the tensions within myself. There are so many conflicting demands in my head as I work as a school leader.

Complacency vs commitment to something new.
I wrote an earlier post about this last year. My concerns that a drive for student agency and self determined learners gets mistaken for a culture of complacency where we allow learners to do anything with no systems of planning, reflection or accountability set up with them.

Collective practice vs individual empowerment
We all know the importance of vision, the importance of everyone in an institution moving the same way towards the same aspirations. Getting the balance right between creating school procedures and expectations and allowing the space for individual empowerment of individuals is a continual balancing act for anyone in any level of school leadership.

“What does a culture look like if it so values developing the capabilities of all its people that it seeks to fashion a space where everyone can bring their full, imperfect selves to work every day?” Robert Keegan et al Developing A Deliberately Developmental Organisation

Strategy vs Evolving
Again, we all know the importance of vision, but the importance of 5 and 10 year strategies are surely past their best use. To be responsive to the world around us and our learners continually evolving role in that surely our long term forecasting needs to be much more flexible and responsive. The tension between knowing this and being required to produce longer term strategies needs to be addressed.

“Collaborative teams typically make progress not by carefully executing an excellent plan to achieve agreed objectives, but by acting and learning from this acting. In stretch collaboration, therefore, we advance through processes that are primarily emergent rather than deliberate.” Adam Kohane- Collaborating With the Enemy

Expectation vs Wellbeing
Another continual tension for leaders. We all know the importance of wellbeing- more and more so in today’s world. Gone are the days, hopefully, of heroing the person who works endlessly, or the teacher who doesn’t sleep enough but instead works through the night. In past times that was worn by some as a badge of honour. Hopefully we’ve moved on from that. But teaching is still have complex job requiring many aspects of practice outside the hours of direct student contact. Getting that balance between expectations of practice and allowance of time and space for personal wellbeing is another leadership see saw. In addition there is the added tension of personal responsibility for well being rather than blaming others or the situations we find ourselves in for our lack of it. This is a post I wrote earlier in 2018 relating to that.

“What we really want is both freedom and safety, but they are strange bedfellows. Freedom gets confused with liberty (which means we are not oppressed). Freedom is not doing your own thing, but just the opposite. It means we are the authors of our own experience. It means we are accountable for the well being of all that is around us.” Peter Block- The Answer to How is Yes

Professional Practice vs Professional Learning
Something I hold close to my heart is professional learning. In all times, but particularly the times we are in today I absolutely believe we need everyone of our staff to be as much a learner as the young people they work with. The labels of teachers and learners in schools need to change. We all need to be learners, in order to continually evolve in these times of rapid change. For some the tension exists in taking time out of their daily practice- the marking and preparing for the next day in order to concentrate and give quality time to doing and processing our own learning. But for me, until all teachers see that as an absolute must part of their professional practice, not something extra to fit in if or when they have time we will continue to perpetuate the same things in schools we always have.

“Do you “exercise your learning”? Not just in terms of frequency or duration, but for example, do you allow distractions to get in the way of your learning? Do you think you need to address that in the future, and if so, how?....... How well can you articulate why learning is important to you? Does that impact the priority you have for your learning, and importantly for those around you- staff, colleagues, friends and family?” Bruce Dixon- Modern Learners Blog

Effectiveness vs Efficiency
Getting things done is important. Getting some things done on time is vital. But sometimes we are so busy getting everything done in a timely fashion that we fail to take the time to consider how effective that is. I’ve seen individual parents completely converted to what we are doing at Haeata by Andy, our Principal, taking the time to spend 60-90 minutes with them one on one touring and talking about the learning occurring. Not an efficient model- many people would say it’s much more efficient to get 100 parents in a room and talk at them, but so less effective. To take this approach means it will take a long time to work with a large range of parents, but how much more effective will the outcome be.

Letting go of day to day Teaching
There will always lie a tension within me for wanting to spend time day to day teaching. Although I believe all effective school leaders should spend time in classrooms and working with young people in order to remain in touch with the realities, I know it is no longer the significant component of my job and thus creates a tension not just within me myself but when looking at the bigger concept of school leadership. Too often we are lining up our most effective practitioners and then pulling them out of classrooms to lead. I guess it happens in all professions but it remains a tension for me.

Letting go of day to day Learning Design
Over the last couple of years much of my day to day work has been occupied with leading the design of learning on a longer term and shorter term basis. Its a real passion and joy area for me, yet I know our middle leaders are now more than capable of continuing this development with their teams themselves and my role needs to move to one of empowering and coaching them rather than direct involvement with the ongoing design on a day to day basis.

“In a daring leadership role, it’s time to lift up our teams and help them shine. This is one of the most difficult hurdles of advancement, particularly for those of us who are used to hustling, or don’t know exactly where we contribute value once the areas where we contributed value before are delegated to those coming up behind us.” Brenē Brown- Dare to Lead

I guess that’s the tension I feel the most- the continual need to re-set where my priorities and passions lie. An ongoing challenge yet a joy in itself. The opportunity to keep being a learner and help others to do so themselves.

Block, P. (2003). The answer to how is yes: Stop looking for help in all the wrong places. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. New York: Random House.

Dixon, Bruce (2019) It's Time for your Professional Learning Check Up Retrieved from

Kegan, R., Lahey, L. L., Miller, M. L., Fleming, A. T., & Helsing, D. (2016). An everyone culture: Becoming a deliberately developmental organization. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Kahane, A., & Barnum, J. (2017). Collaborating with the enemy: How to work with people you don’t agree with or like or trust. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

One Word 2019

2019 is all about sustain for me. 

Ensuring the practices we have set up at Haeata are sustainable for any staff looking into the future. 

Ensuring that all staff are empowered to continue the development and refinement of those practices.

The continued development of all of our developing leaders- current middle leaders, emerging leaders, and even discovering those who don't yet know that they want leadership in their future. Helping leadership at all levels develop in order to preserve real sustainability in the school

On a personal note I know I need to sustain my personal motivation. In the second half of last year I took part on Change School with Modern Learners and subsequently did a huge amount of reading as well as took part on online conversations. This was incredibly motivating to continue wiht the work we are doing, and I intend to carve out time to sustain this as we move through 2019.

Personal health is always a complex one. I need to eat well and I need to get fit. I start every year off well but then as things et either busy and/or stressful it tapers off. My focus on sustain means I am determined to sustain these efforts throughout the year this time.