Monday, 18 March 2019

Leadership in the Community Ocean

Date:March 14th from 8:30 am to 10:00 am.
Venue: Auckland Normal Intermediate on 

Presenter: Colin Dale who is the ex-principal of Murray's Bay Intermediate and has worked extensively within the community of learning sphere. 

Session: Hands-on and interactive with a focus on leading from the middle which is the original purpose for our leaders in CoL.

This morning’s meeting, including twenty-five representatives across eight the ACCoS, could be summarised in two ways. First: an insightful discussion concerning what lens we should view education and leadership through, and second: empowering us not only as a school leader but as a major part in the lives of children and colleagues as an educator.

Colin set this tone from the beginning by reminding us all of the important roles that each individual has in a collective; we each come to the table from a different context and with a different skill set. We all have something to offer, and through our strengths, we can be the change we want to see. Agile Leadership doesn’t come into place by premeditating a goal; rather, it is through setting a flexible course based on the direction of the discussion.

There were a number of challenges that we all faced entering this role, some of them including the search for ways of making new learning sustainable, trying to change the tides of deposit thinking to a growth mindset, and dealing with the social elements entangled with entering a new leadership role. These opening concerns opened the gateway to the discussion on the evolution of what leadership looks like, as more progressive models aim to level the hierarchy. At the end of the day, the question changes from “How do I get people to do what I want” to “How do I manage in order to get the best from people?”

Colin used his paper, “A Better Way to Lead”, to illustrate this point. A key concept in his article included the importance of positive redesigning: constantly adapting what we have to do to the situation. As educators, this is absolutely essential: the world we’ve grown up into is not the same as the world they will become adults in, nor will our opportunities match theirs. The first mobile app was made in 2008; nine years later, there are an estimated 12 million app developer jobs worldwide. As the world is constantly changing, our practices must as well; to stay static in our approaches to education hinders students, teachers, and leaders from growing as innovators. And it’s just plain boring for everyone.

Actively being collaborators and innovators should be a central part of our practice. Simply having fixed units, according to Colin, implies that there is a certain task to be done, and this requirement can confine the potential learning outcomes that can take place. His approach includes setting up engaging scenarios that encourage the learning and practicing of skills in order to find a solution. The learning is organic and is presented as a natural necessity, taking away the strain and pressure often tied to the concept of learning. The result: those taking part feel enabled and feel more open for learning discussions. As the teacher, it’s not about imposing authority to drive learning, but giving others the opportunity to conceptualise and demonstrate their own authority, and the same applies to the roles of leadership.

This innovation and focus on the future come into conflict with the implications behind the phrase: “best practice”. Colin redubs the term as “next practice” to emphasise that as teachers, we should never stand complacent with our practices, nor should we feel defeat from not meeting a certain standard. Next practice is about reflecting on what will cause further progression for personal growth in their career; this model applies to those thirty days into the profession and thirty years. By taking steps to grow in areas that are specific to our contexts and current skill sets, we are not only promoting progress as professionals, but it’s done in a frame that is manageable and values well being. We expect the children to understand their situations and set reasonable goals based on where they would most benefit as a form of good habit; shouldn’t we hold that expectation on ourselves?

The second article we explored, aptly entitled “The Language of the Soul”, put a large emphasis on resilience and how we respond to adversity. We get angry. We cool down and try to rationalise. The way we respond and move forward is defining both for us as leaders and for our own well being. The first step in our discussion was the importance of empathising with others. This is put into action by taking an active part in inviting the party together to develop a resolution. Whether it is with a parent or another staff member, the relationships you have will largely determine how the outcome will shape, and how smoothly it will pave out. Another attribute that factors into the outcome is your humility. Inviting the parties to discuss matters through questions like “How can I make your life better?” or “What do I need to do to help you?” show the kind of respect and humility that makes them want to take part in the conversation; not only that, but it also shares the responsibility of finding a resolution. Along with the pre-established relationship, these questions also contribute to the creation of common ground between the parties. Once established, both parties know that they are on the same side, and future comments and solutions will be stronger as a result.

            Innovation in education and leadership practices were presented in a way that was relevant, interactive, and vocalised the need for success to be measured with a broad view. Many also found it refreshing how the delivery of this professional development mirrored the pedagogy it promoted. It proved to us as leaders in training that these ideas feel empowering and motivating when put into practice, reinforcing that we should implement them in the way we conduct ourselves to colleagues and students. Danni Cook’s breakfast was a tough act to follow, but we ended up leaving with satisfied bodies, minds, and souls.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Well, well, wellbeing


On Thursday 7th March, the in-school leaders, across-school leaders and principals of the schools involved in the wellbeing initiative met with one another to make connections and discuss the ‘why’ around wellbeing. The meeting was a great success and the level of enthusiasm brought by those involved was great to see. As we worked through a few team building activities and discussions, we were able to identify several motivating reasons to explore wellbeing as well as establish an idea of what could be achieved by the end of the year.

Though the wellbeing initiative is the ‘new kid on the block’, we’re all very excited about what has already happened and what is in store this year for Auckland Normal Intermediate, Kohia Terrace School, Epsom Normal Primary, Meadowbank School, Maungawhau and Remuera Primary Schools. Across the six schools involved in this initiative, we have two focused on student wellbeing, one on staff wellbeing and three interested in both.

So far this year the across school leaders have surveyed the principals from the involved schools to ascertain focuses and current data on wellbeing, met with schools’ in-school leaders and senior leadership teams to discuss focus and data, and had our initial meeting with the schools involved in our initiative.

As we move forward this year we plan to identify what is currently being done in schools, and build upon these practises, while exploring how this could be achieved in the most effective and impactful way. Some ideas of how this might be done centres around investing in practices and environments that enhance learning outcomes as this will ensure that the experiences, voices and visions of those involved are realised.

We’re looking forward to sharing and discussing the wonderful work that’s been done to support our student and staff wellbeing.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

ACCOS: Kicking off the year by connecting our community.

Kicking things off
On Wednesday 27th February, ACCOS kicked off the year with an initial meeting of all Across School Leaders, In School Leaders, and Senior Leadership Teams. We have a number of new staff to these roles for 2019, so this was an opportunity to put some faces to the names and connect with others from across our Kahui Ako.

The event was kindly hosted by Newmarket Primary School, and for many this was the first time they had been inside the recently completed multi-story building. The session was organised and run by the Across School Leaders team.

Attendance from across the CoL

Jill Farquharson
Madeline Gunn
Across School Leaders

Jill Farquharson, our lead principal, provided an introduction and a brief history of ACCOS, from its beginnings in 2015 to its current initiatives-based approach today (see below for the initiative allocations). Each ASL (Across School Leader) introduced themselves and the Principals. Following this Madeline Gunn, our CoLs expert partner, spoke about the concept of leadership from the middle, the basis on which ACCOS is founded.


Recently Core Education published their 10 trends in education, and one trend that has been rapidly gaining recognition is the concept of wellbeing in education. An Edu-Cafe setup saw the participants discussing what the concept of wellbeing was as it relates to schools, and whether or not it can (and should) be measured. Discussion time was given to this.

Edu-cafe discussion

The event concluded with a Kahoot quiz, testing participants knowledge of the schools in our Kahui Ako.

Below is a schematic of the 2019 ACCOS initiatives:

Link to our slides

Monday, 4 February 2019

Fire at Auckland Normal Intermediate School

On 23 January 2019 there was a major fire at Auckland Normal Intermediate School that destroyed the historic school hall, the technology block, a science and visual arts block, the music suite and dance /drama studio, an ESOL rooms and the school tuck shop.

A total of 90 firefighters fought the blaze which took some time to come under control. No one was hurt and the staff who happened to be on site for a Teacher Only Day evacuated quickly and with a minimum of fuss. It has been a fairly difficult time for the school as the decision was made rather quickly to demolish all the fire damaged buildings which was approximately half the school.
At the time of the fire the students were due to return for the 2019 3 working days later. With a demolition on the horizon  there was a need to delay the start date by four days. This gave the school time to regroup and organise a contingency plan for replacement classrooms. The Auckland University ( Epsom Campus)  has been very co-operative and supportive of the school - they have provided temporary accommodation ( teaching classrooms and specialists spaces) until their students start in March.
The Ministry of Education  are also working on sourcing a number of relocatables for a longer term option until the school is rebuilt.




Further articles