Thursday, November 12, 2009

On Tour

Last week I had a great opportunity to visit 6 schools in Chch with 11 staff. We tried really hard to take the attitude that we didn't want to be like those hundreds of visitors that visit us. We didn't want to be shallow, looking at artwork, and laminated things and surface features. By gum its easier said than done. I think its just so enticing as a teacher to borrow a very simple idea that someone else has done in such a creative way and use it for your self. After wading through the surface features (let me tell you there were some great examples of cool simple ideas) we dug into the ideas bucket. Its amazing what you can achieve when a large group from one school get a license to brainstorm when motivated, inspired and away from the chalkface. Either I have an amazing staff (true) or we were in a very good space, the PD was perfect and all the ducks were in line. SO how did it work and how could you replicate this for your school.

Flew red eye to Chch, carry on luggage only, rental van, try to arrive 830 at first school, which should get you ahead in terms of getting to all 3 schools. debrief 3 to 4pm, free time, dinner.
Arrive at 830 on day 2 at first school. Debrief in airport lounge. Catch a late plane home 6pm or so, which eliminates stress on the road and at check-in.

Two days was enough, three would have been too many days away from home and classroom, and it would have sunk our banked staffing.
Six schools was a rush (but worth it), time your travel well, be planned, have the cell numbers of the future visitors so you can text ETA's.
Visit a range of deciles, include a private school too.
Do your homework on the principals, they hold the key to the schools performance.
Debrief all the ideas, surface features are as important and big ideas, make sure everyone gets a say.
Have a chat with the school well before you arrive so they know what you are keen on looking at.
Take the chance to invite the school principals you visited to join you for dinner, you get a chance to ask a few deeper questions.
Accommodation is too easy to scab on, make an effort.

We have some great ideas being flicked around and now i'm looking forward to the next 12 heading to Wellington, as well as a local tour in Aukalani.


Manaiakalani said...

Sounds like you had a great PD time there. This is an excellent post, coming from the school that probably gets THE most visitors in NZ, giving ideas from a wealth of personal experience.
I applaud your 'invite the principal to dinner' one. Wouldn't that be nice - or even lunch. I often wonder as people leave our gates and drive up the road to Nosh for lunch why they don't flick out a simple invite to join them. We could pay for ourselves if they are short of $$$. They take so much from us and sitting down with them and hearing their honest reflections would be a very valuable Koha.
And you so seldom have time to hear about THEIR schools when you are hosting visitors who, quite rightly, are full of questions about your place.
And as for valuable Koha.... I think when people leave saying they have just received some of the best PD of their large group's life, that a box of Roses and a bottle of wine for a staff of 30+ is underwhelming.

Podgorani said...

Yip that is so true dorothy. I think that some people that come in have ideas and skills and stuff that i would really like to listen too and talk about- sometimes being reciprocal is what is needed, especially over a coffee, meal etc.