Monday, July 27, 2015

My Learning Muscles and Me

Last week at Mindlab we got to talking about the key competencies and how we show them ourselves as leaders and teachers. It’s an interesting concept. Teachers are often very good at expecting these things in students but sometimes forget about them themselves. Have you ever tried to facilitate a room full of teachers working on something and get everyone’s attention at the same time? Often those very same people who take a long time to focus their attention on the facilitator would expect immediate attention from children in their class. 

It was interesting to do a short survey of where people saw their strengths. The overwhelming response was that  the majority of people thought they had a strength in relating to others. Perhaps, not surprising in  rooms full of teachers we decided. However I happened to be sitting next to another principal and we were both quietly saying to each other that we hadn’t put that as our strongest, that sometimes it was just useful to get on with things by ourselves. Is this a signal of the kinds of people that become Principals, or a signal of the way the position can drive you at times, or a combination or perhaps just a coincidence?

At Te Karaka Area School we talk about and use learning muscles rather than the key competencies- although the learning muscles clearly relate to the key competencies. As a staff and leadership team we have developed skill and expertise in facilitating the understanding and development of learning muscles school-wide and it was our intention to try and use them to develop our staff PLD programme this year although that hasn't really happened.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on myself as a leader and set some targets in relation to our learning muscles.

COURAGE- I’ve got increasingly discouraged about the big gap out there between what teachers want to do and what they are “being allowed’ to do.  I need to have the courage to continue sharing our school story, and challenging the practices out there in other schools which are restricting innovation and growth to flourish.

CURIOSITY- One of the things I decided to do was take the opportunities for post graduate study through Mindlab. Although Ive worked with digital and collaborative technology for a while there’s always new things to learn.
I need to have curiosity to explore old and new- not assume IT’s stuff I might already know.

EXPERIMENTING/INVESTIGATING/IMAGINATION- Ive been working in the field of MLE/MLP/FF learning for a long time now- over 10 years and it’s easy to flick back to old solutions when people I work with have challenges.
I need to keep an open mind and spend time and energy collaborating and exploring all kinds of solutions rather than flicking back to some of the things that worked for me as they won't necessarily work for other people.

EMPATHY- It’s very easy in this job to get very task oriented because there is always so much that needs doing. 
I need to continue to take the time to have empathy for the stress and workload that people may be feeling and appropriately challenge and support.

STICKABILITY- Feeling a little like Ive bitten off quite a lot this term- last paper in bachelors degree, postgrad diploma at Mindlab, learning Te Reo paper by distance conference Im on the executive for and presenting at, a couple of national leaderships teams I’m on, coaching a significant number of our staff individually and in small teams, as well as all the normal principal stuff, and perhaps a little bit of teaching too!
I need to plan time carefully and stick to it!

I need to ensure I plan some time out and social stuff to balance things out a little. I need to ensure I use reasoning skills to prioritise and manage my time effectively.

REFLECTION- I tend to reflect much better on teaching and learning than on leadership.
I will put aside reflection time each week that focuses specifically on leadership

Thanks to Mindlab and @timgander for the amazing post grad study opportunity and for provoking my thinking already. Looking forward to the next 40 weeks.

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