Monday, January 26, 2015

On The Cusp

I am writing this post the night before we begin a 3 day induction of our 7 new staff with the week culminating with a full Teacher Day. I feel as if I have had a refreshing break and am really looking forward to the next year in the establishment of our school. Two weeks ago I set myself the goal of reading (in some cases re-reading) some key books that have been driving my thinking.

I have managed to get through three of them.

The first was Grant Lichtman's #Edjourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education. I reckon this is a compulsory read for anyone involved in or aspiring to be involved in any form of school leadership. I made dozens of notes of what I saw as key messages but the extract that resonated the most was:

"Project-based learning, flipped classrooms, design thinking, expeditions, collaborative work groups, makerspaces, differentiated learning programs, transdisciplinary courses, mutated schedules, teacher Twitter chats, performance-based assessment–the roots of all of these are found in the core lessons of Dewey: Learning is born of passion, which is founded in engagement, relevance, and the experience of the learner."

I also loved his final sentence:

"I passionately urge us all to stop talking and start doing."

The second was Ewan McIntosh's How to Come Up With Great Ideas. This book and the valuable day Claire Amos, Daniel Birch and I had with Ewan earlier in the year has been the most useful resource I have come across to guide me through the complex pathways of strategic planning and change leadership. Linking his strategies to Te Kotahitanga's GPILSEO model of change processes has been extremely useful and has driven our schools' recent strategic planning and resulted in a powerful document made up of a series of "How Might We" ponderings.

I also loved his concluding call:

"Well, start somewhere, but start. Now."

The third was Hipkins, Bolstad, Boyd, McDowell Key Competencies For the Future. Their use of exemplars based on their own areas of interest to draw out how the Key Competencies could be more central in a future focused curriculum is both innovative and enlightening. 

I also loved their call to arms in their concluding comments:

"Just jump in and go for it!"

By now I realised something weird was going on. How is it that these three important, but unrelated, books published in the last few months exhort educational leaders to do the same thing, i.e. get on with it and oversee the necessary change our schooling needs.

It reminded me of an email I got from a principal colleague who attended a workshop at our school and went home and met some stone walling from those opposed to any change with the comment, "Why fix it when it's not broken?" His response, to me, in capital letters and exclamation marks was, "IT IS F...N BROKEN!!" He'd love to stop the talking and get on with it.

I do feel as if we are on the cusp of something. Definitely at our school as we move into our second year with another group of outstanding staff,  but also right across the sector. If the esteemed authors mentioned are all calling for action this must give some impetus. As well, Twitter is alive with huge numbers of teachers who all have a part of the answer of what should be happening in schools.

What are their blockers? I hope it is not leadership!

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