Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NZConnected Zest Practice

NZConnected conference day two.
I had a great day on day 2 where I sat in on Tony Ryan for most of the day. Let me first say that if you have heard Tony talk about thinkers keys then hold onto your hat. Tony is not a one trick pony. Most Aussies are loud beer swilling uncultured rugby league followers (all australian readers exempt and your families, as well as my aunty Shirley in Sydney). No, Tony has a kindness built into his persona, he appeals on many levels to your common sense, he has perfected the power of the pause, he doesn't have to fill the silence with words. And he doesn't talk shit.

Tony gave a great keynote on “zest practice” which was his play on “best practice”. Tony had many observations on motivation in the classroom and the power of proactive dialogue (always talking from a positive mindset). Always praise effort.

He had a few messages that resonated with me.

1. If you have a child at school ask yourself this. How good is the feeling you have when you know your son/daughter has a passionate teacher who does a great job. Now turn that on yourself as a principal and teacher - Do your parents sit at home and feel great about you as a teacher/principal.

2. Luck isn't always a factor, it happens to those who make it happen. We get lots of visitors and I will often say, "we are lucky, our kids are great". Often the reply is "yeah you guys are so lucky". The reality though is kids are great everywhere and it comes down to hard work and a few laughs, luck isn't a factor.

3. Video your practice. It can be personal and private. While on sabbatical 2 years ago I went for a golf lesson. We walked outside with clubs ready to go. The guy gave me no tips, he just said play a few shots, he videoed from behind, the side, and did a close-up of the grip. We walked inside, he put it on the TV. My first reaction was "Oh My God" I need to do this and that and this. You are an expert teacher, listen to yourself, watch yourself, watch your movements, listen to the class. This is a no brainer, do it for a short time frame, 30 minutes or so therefore you don't bore yourself to death.

4. Zest practice. Every moment you model an inspired teacher you are modeling an inspired school. The sky is your limit.

5. What Tony did real well was give teachers thinking tools to use with kids, fast simple and full of common sense. All sorts of discussion tools, inquiry tools and more, You should have attended. Brilliant.

A list of books, videos and things to google from NZC and my notes;

Bounce, Matthew Syed - great book even I have read this, the penny will drop - easy to read and makes absolute sense.

Models of the worlds we live in - John Holt

Julia Atkin EPS educational positioning system

TED - Elizabeth Gilbert

TED - Daniel Pink autonomy mastery purpose.

Fierce Conversations - Susan Scott

How to talk to so kids can learn - Adelle Faber

Learning Talk - Hyerle

The ripple effect - Tony Ryan

follow him on twitter @aussietony

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Leadership Structure x 2

Day one at the NZConnected conference.
It was a Julia Atkin day for me. She is here only one day so it was a great opportunity to get my fill of common sense. Something this conference provided all day long.

Following on from my quality post from last month. Julia talked about that very same leadership structure.

So the hierarchy model is a shocker we know this but what model have you most experienced ? What is our mental model of school leadership?
Is your schools model of leadership the collaborative model ? Of course it is - according to you. But what do your teachers think the model of leadership is ?
Who is telling the truth? Can you be both?
You may be operating in the collaborative model of leadership and everyone at your school may actually think you are in a hierarchy. Teachers may actually want a hierarchy (make a desicion - tell me what you want done). Part of the confusion is because of the mental models people carry. They are hard to break, because what we know, is our default position.
When I went to school many moons ago, a fire engine going past the playground with the siren blasting meant only one thing, FIRE. Today the fire engine comes past, what is the mental model we hold and where is the engine actually going. People rely on their mental models by default. That engine could be attending traffic accidents, chemical spills, whatever. Julia Atkin says we need to work with teachers and children in breaking down our mental models and reforming re-imagining them. I asked how do we do this ? Julia says with a sledgehammer. We agreed too that living the collaborative model, referring to it, owning it, will continually break down the mental model.