Monday, October 24, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
It seems like every piece of quality teaching has to be backed up with evidence and data. Every decision we make has to have measurable outcomes. After spending a few hours at the NZPF education summit it became a little more obvious that there was some discourse around what truly is measurable. Several comments around measurable success: is it really about PISA and OECD or is it something less measurable but more tangible. Sometimes as a teacher we have the gut feelings and gain lots of success but not necessarily in a reading age or maths score/stage. Sometimes its an innate knowledge of where to go next, we must always have these opportunities open and celebrated.
A challenge laid to teachers around Maori and Pacifika learners is that without identity and relationships then academic success will not happen. Seems simple and obvious but do you measure identity and relationships. Are they measurable? If you don’t measure them then have you critiqued what they are, broken them down and set a plan for implementing them. Ka Hikitia is not a strategy, its a philosophy/framework, schools need to devise a strategy, make a plan for all students and implement it. Schools have break down what works for their learners and set some reachable goals and scaffold these on their values and beliefs. Its not all about data or test results there are other more important things. Define them, articulate them, do them.
So i’m going to ask, what does your living local curriculum look like sound like smell like?
What are the non negotiables ?
Friday, October 7, 2011
In 2003 a boy who I taught was playing at the rugby world cup for Tonga. He was a New Zealand age grade player and had been a schoolboy star in New Zealand. After playing overseas he was selected for Tonga and played at two rugby world cups. They played the All Blacks and lost by plenty. After the game he rushed into the opposition changing room to see his friends who were now All Blacks, he took with him a bag to fill up with freebie All Black gear, jerseys socks, shorts, some stuff for his mum, after all these were his childhood friends. Sadly those 2003 All Blacks just looked straight through him, they said "hi" and turned back toward their teammates. He knew at that time, that things had changed. He was telling me this story when he said "they will lose, they will get what they deserve". It has stuck with me and he was right. I watched it repeated in 2007 when the All Blacks holidayed during the world cup and capitulated in Cardiff. Wind the clock ahead 4 years and how they have learnt. They have reached out to the country, many many children have met their heroes, they have signed everything, turned up to everything and they even went to Kaeo! They may not bring home the bacon and win this cup but in my eyes they have done what is right, they have kept their feet on the ground and stuck to their values. This has been highlighted this week with photos that parents have shown and sent me of their children with the men in black. I think that as parents and as a community it is important to keep the values that are important to us no matter what our status, fame, or salary because in the end as my friend Sililo said "you get what you deserve". When I look at the our schools values this little story reminds me about integrity, being truthful to yourself and others.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
check out this awesome reply from Damon when questioned after the speech
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The Orewa College scenario (all kids get ipads, its a stationery item) happened at a slow news time in the NZ school holidays but it certainly highlighted a few different issues within education. Paying for our own technology seems very anti “free education” however we seem to be increasingly paying for everything, and if this has benefits for our childrens education then can we afford not to. Some schools have creatively solved this issue by making the device and the internet affordable and children are able to work to pay for there own technology. Factors might be how long will your iPad/netbook last? Imagine asking parents to pay between $400 & $1000 and you need a new one in 24 months. How about all this purchase/investment in technology only to discover that your school has no idea how or what to do with the hardware. Imagine schools wasting kids time with digital portfolios of kids that teachers spend hours on, only to discover they made no impact on learning. Or doing electronic worksheets because you can. The worry could also be schools just wanting to keep up with their neighbours by jumping on the band wagon.
So we need to know what actually does make a difference and then make a plan for how. Nearly every school I talk to have an ipad trial, I'm wondering how they sync, what apps they use and importantly what is at the center of their decisions schoolwide and in classrooms, no question its piecemeal.
I have been lucky enough to get an opportunity to actually do some research into mobile learning. I have been granted the Auckland Primary Schools Association Traveling Fellowship Award. This means that in 2012 I have been granted two terms leave to travel the world to look at mobile learning. My goal is to shake aside the rhetoric and schools wanting to buy gear without making good decisions, replacing them with decisions that put learning in the center.
I will be asking my twitter, Principal and ADE networks for help with finding time to talk and share with me. It will mean lots of NZ travel as well as looking across the pond (Cadel country) the USA and beyond. It should be exciting and probably about three years too late in terms of 1 to 1 mobile devices but regular schools will be taking a bit of time. The early adopters are already over the line, and I hope they are starting to provide the evidence later adopters need.
A few years back I had a friend ring me asking if I wanted to be a millionaire, I said yeah mate, turns out he was selling Amway and wanted me to join him in the money. I said I would wait three years and when he was millionaire he could ring me and I would start then, I was happy to wait. So if you are waiting a bit to see what happens with these ipads then a few months more wouldn't be too long (he never rang back, some mate).
If you are a school or district or cluster who have the mobile devices rampant and are making connections beyond the classroom then I'd love to hear from you. I'm interested in sync, infrastructure, apps, research and more importantly learning/teaching/kids.
I wouldn't mind hearing from people about their thoughts on having a device on their stationery list.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Aren’t leaders supposed to motivate the team, have the staff firing? Who motivates the motivator? As a principal, you are it, so who or what gets your juices flowing?
I reckon its important to think this one through.
I have a few theories, some ideas and possible answers but I wouldn’t mind your 50c worth, please contribute.
So before you can answer who or what motivates you, you may have to understand where your staff are coming from. The lowest level for staff could be survival mode, they have a job but lots of things are going on, stress comes from every side, they worry about everything, the kids are hard work, they aren’t well organised, the rent is hard to pay, negative mind set, “leadership is doing things to me”. Next comes safety mode, you are a solid teacher, you have job security, no risks, the boss is ok - a bit fickle but ok, mindset steady, leadership is mixed, things are steady. Then you have belonging mode, teamwork, mostly motivated but needing someone to motivate you, enjoying being at school and appreciative but on their own terms, part of a team but sometimes a click, sometimes even teaming up against the boss, but usually this mode is a very positive environment. Probably strolling. After this is achievement mode, I reckon this is the time when you move out of that stoll and fink “strolling” mode, people are motivated to move past and really achieve, teamwork and self motivation, ownership and belonging are inherent, staff are celebrating achievement, genuinely happy for others, collaborative.
You can be achieving at survival mode, and indeed in all of them, but if you want to get results back you must get to achievement mode.
You may ask what this has to do with the motivating the motivator, but it is actually the staff that motivates you. They are the people who get you rocking, they are the ones who boost those around them. I know that I feed off staff who get on a roll, staff who go that extra mile. I pick up their vibe, I love it when they achieve. I love it when they celebrate kids learning, celebrate discoveries they have made. Those stories of kids achieving just keep you bouncing. Yes I am motivated by wanting to do things really well, to turn out the best possible performance. I love working things out and doing a great job of it, seeing it through, but these things pale in comparison to when a staff member nails it. When a staff member gets it, when a staff member makes everyone proud.
So the key for me is to make sure you know what mode your staff are at, and help them get to achieving mode, there may have to be some challenges, some awkward conversations and some uphill battles but if you aren’t motivated then it all goes flat.
So it seems that if you want to be motivated you have to do the motivating, and get staff through those modes and over to achieving.
Most good leaders who stay in their schools are motivated from within their school.
The other muppets who stay (too long) have staff in safety mode, they are in safety mode.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Following all those conferences from rural northland: google teachers #gta2011 - apple educators #adeanz - #nappgen2011 aspiring principals - #slide2learn australian mobile learning.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
"is seen in the minds of boys as being aspirational and being serious about their exam marks"
Clearly this Principal has completely forgotten his "after India" experience.
Often we have special needs students and they are very hard work. Over the years I've seen these kids come and go, they provide a massive challenge to schools. The parents can often be stressed, many times I have heard people judge these parents. I always pause and take a dose of reality, imagine being that parent, they have that special needs child forever. These people live with a massive dose of reality.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Every school has sorry cases, I have seen some really bad shit when it comes to kids. Stuff that made me so angry, mainly because I was powerless. However there were people that held power in this case and they failed the children.
I know the school and teachers didn’t beat the kid, but they more than anyone should, and will be, asking themselves “could we have done better”.
Maybe we should all ask, what can we learn from this?
Every teacher can take a lesson from this: stand up for kids when no-one else will, trust your gut feeling, say something, take special interest in those children without friends, listen, get to know your kids, get to know the families of your children.
Every leader can learn something here: trust your staff, listen, get to know your families, make it your business, don’t accept peoples word - actions are far more trustworthy.
I know that over the years I have hesitated over Cypfs and making that phone call, only to find out after making the call that the family has a track record as long as your arm. It’s a bit like accepting bad behaviour and then putting your foot down, if you were vigilant all along you wouldn’t need to shout or even raise your voice, it’s about setting standards and maintaining them.
I cant blame people for this sad shit, I don’t know the truth, but I can and will learn from it.
I know NZ wants the best for these poor kids. I hope they are with a great family enjoying life. And want to say how sorry we are for what happened to you guys!
So if i teach say, History for Y11, 12 ,13 at Grammar/any cambridge school, I don't have any classes after October the 7th, I have no marking either. I will however teach again in early February 2012. Possibly getting nearly 4 months out of the classroom. So if they are on an average salary of about 80k ( a unit of two) then they are getting about $1000 a week in the hand for 4 months of what.
Yes this is a simplistic view, but its getting quite laughable, its not Grammar here, its every Cambridge school.
No moderation, no marking final exams, a three term year, 4 months non contact.
Who is really getting the advantages?
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
So iphone is going to be a wifi distributer, great news you say. Well here is the first thing you need to do. GET OFF VODAFONE NOW. I had 4 years of vodafone on 3g and then 3gs and Voda kindly gave us 3gig per month. So in 4 years the most I used in a month was 240mb, here’s why, the network is so slow that it crawls, forget youtube it just spins, forget app store for anything of a decent size (5mb) and basically wait ages for mail and twitter to refresh and safari to load. If you are in denial then sit beside me and we will speed test, you will lose!
So I went to iphone 4 and went to Telecom XT, the hated network with the bad reputation. Result ? = unbelievable
I’m in rural northland tethering to my Air and internet sharing, son on ipod using Vonage talking to his mate in Wales, wife on ipad getting email and clicking through to links to online shopping, daughter on macbook (god knows what she is up to) me using the air to bet on the TAB and send texts on the iphone while thethering. The pages are loading with a snap.
In exactly the same spot using 3gs with Vodafone I couldn’t use the browser on the iphone because it timed out. It was slower than dial up !
I speed test from rural northland on the iphone and get 5.4mb down and 1.2mb up. I go to Waitangi, same news, Whangarei marginally slower but blistering compared to that other nonsense.
The answer is in the bandwidth that vodafone (900/2100mhz) and telecom (750-850mhz) networks run on. The iphone is built to run on Telecoms 3G (850mhz) frequency, it can run partially on Vodafones 3G frequency. So this is a known fact but that doesnt mean anything, it’s just a sales pitch. Well you carry on with Vodafone and your 2 and a half G network and I will blister away with endless mobile broadband in my hand. Oh there is a possible savior on its way for the vodafone iphone users, the new phones for Verizon may have a different mhz, but you would need a new iphone and a long wait (something you are used to if you're on Vodafones network).
Good luck suckers, enjoy your iphone at half speed.
Monday, January 3, 2011
In a year when our news was dominated by reports of earthquakes and mine tragedies, collapsed companies, droughts and cricketing disgrace, it was great to learn that our 15-year-olds are still in the top echelons of the OECD in reading, science and maths.
In the latest survey, New Zealand students were ranked fourth out of 34 OECD nations in reading literacy, fourth in scientific literacy and seventh in mathematical literacy.
Why isn't it front page news?
Why don't we celebrate the achievement of our schools in producing so many bright students, with so little per capita expenditure?
At this time, when schools are completing their academic year, and plaudits are being handed out to our top sports teams, business leaders and media stars, we should be congratulating our rank and file teachers for drawing the best out of thousands of children, and showing the world that we still have a great education system.
As in all past OECD surveys, New Zealand students were shown to achieve near the top, surpassed only by countries with ethnically homogenous populations such as Finland, Korea and Japan.
A quick glance at our results in literacy shows that our mainstream Pakeha students had a mean score higher than any other country. We may value our ethnic diversity, but we should also allow for its influence on educational outcomes when evaluating the quality of our education.
This year we showered congratulations on our All Whites, for making it into the top 50 nations in the soccer world.
Our 15 year-olds were fourth in the OECD survey.
This year we celebrated when our Silver Ferns defeated Australia in netball. Our 15-year-olds beat Australia in reading, science and maths. This year we proclaimed our All Blacks as heroes for shutting out South Africa, Australia and each of the UK teams. But so did our 15-year-old students. Did anyone notice?
There is much more to learn from the comparative results of the OECD survey.
While New Zealand students maintained their position near the top, Australian authorities are deploring their "significant decline since 2000" on all the skills measured.
The Ministry of Education in England has called for wholesale reform as their own report shows that, in the survey of all 65 nations that participated in the survey, their students slipped from seventh in 2000 to 25th in reading, eighth to 28th in maths and fourth to 16th in science.
Meanwhile, another country we like to compare ourselves with, the United States, languishes well down the scale, around the average of all OECD countries. So much for former President George W. Bush's hopes for the No Child Left Behind programme.
All three of these countries spend more per capita on education than we do, yet all show lower performance levels.
Perhaps there is a lesson here for our Minister of Education.
Throughout this period, 2000 to 2009, all three of these countries have had in place a system of national (or state) standards in primary schools, with annual compulsory assessments, reports to government and league tables designed to rank their schools.
We too are introducing a system of national standards, compulsory assessments, reports to government and league tables in our primary schools.
How long before we start to drop off the top of the OECD scale? It is no wonder that teachers in all these countries are continually protesting against the obvious drawbacks in this system. It is of note that the significant decline in the Australian figures was caused largely by a drop in the proportion of high achievers.
Is that where we are heading?
It is true that the latest survey still shows a wide dispersion of scores among New Zealand students.
We have more high achievers than other countries, but still too many at the lower end of the scale. However, the proportion of Kiwi students who did not reach Level 2 - the OECD benchmark of being able "to participate effectively and productively in life" - was 14 per cent, not the much-vaunted 20 per cent claimed by the Government.
These under-achievers are readily recognised in this survey. They can be identified by gender, by decile level and by ethnic group, but repeated studies overseas show us that compulsory assessment and league tables do not change them.
The recent Council Educational Research survey revealed that 85 per cent of principals and 86 per cent of teachers believe that National Standards "will not change the patterns of achievement".
The Minister of Education may welcome the positive feedback she is receiving from some parents about clearer reports of their children's achievement levels, but only 5 per cent of principals believe that they will help under-achievers.
The problems lie not so much in schools' efforts, but in such social problems as poverty, dysfunctional families, and home language traditions. In a year of frequent teacher-bashing, we should recognise that we have many dedicated, competent teachers, doing great things for our children's minds, and our future national prosperity.
Merry Christmas New Zealand teachers. Pat yourselves on the back.
By Warwick Elley