Once a term leaders from across our cluster get together to have a day long Professional Learning Group (PLG). I facilitate the day with the Education Programme Leader who works across the cluster.
As a cluster we have been working together since 2015. It has taken time to build trust in the group and to start sharing some of our ideas and issues. It has been interesting to watch the group come together and form some understanding of each others context and focus as well as pulling together in one waka as we begin clustering and we begin to be an effective team.
“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.” From Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
It has also taken time to understand the mechanics of how we are teaching in terms of using Google tools and how to support staff and learners in using the tools. Underpinning the technical expertise is the learn, create, share pedagogy we are using. All of this has been a steep learning curve and has taken a lot of time and head space for people. We are to some extent creating the waka as we go. We do have a course mapped out by others who have plotted a similar course. However this is our waka and we are still learning and inventing as we go for our context.
Interestingly we are now building a culture of trust even though some personnel have changed over time and sometimes another staff member attends the PLG due to the leaders other commitments. I wonder if this culture of trust is in part due to the fact that as a cluster we regularly meet together in toolkits and share learning in each others schools. This means that no-one is completely new to the group and is representing a school that others know something about already. People make professional connections and to some degree personal ones. We know where we are from and where we stand.
I have been reflecting on the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. A really interesting book by Patrick Lencioni written as a leadership fable. This is written from a business perspective and can be applied to any team situation. It looks at why teams are dysfunctional and surfaces some potential issues to address. It paints a picture of what a healthy team looks and feels like.
In thinking about our Leaders PLG team we are at the stage of building the team to be better. We are starting to see elements of a better team come out in our PLGs. I'm so impressed when people engage in conflict in a healthy way. We are starting to be able to openly talk about what is happening in each others schools and to recognise strengths and weaknesses in our situations and maybe each other. People are speaking up and asking questions whereas in the past they have been silent.
In working towards being collaborative we are using questions and giving autonomy to the members of the group. We looked at what leading by example meant for the leaders role in their school and recorded what we each saw as good practice on a shared sheet.
We then focussed on three specific areas to discuss:
attend and run toolkits
use visible teaching on a site and visible learning on a blog
participate in google+ communities
We were able to have discussions where not everyone agreed and we focussed on the topic rather than the individual. Sometimes we have agreed to disagree, for the moment at least, as beliefs are challenged.
We can still work on a range of areas. Perhaps the next is holding one another accountable and our regular PLGs are the obvious place to do this. We need to recognise and decide how we can achieve our shared goals rather than just our school goals. We have started with a few small things such as agreeing on when testing and moderation will occur as a cluster. The shift in thinking is one that needs to occur at all levels of the cluster; principal, leaders, teachers, support staff and learners. It is one that will be tested as we continue to look at cluster-wide data and agree on an achievement challenge.
As one of the leaders of the PLG I am challenged by the ideas about what I need to be so as to effectively help the team to function well. I choose to have these roles as goals, to be open and accountable, to seek feedback and to keep learning.
We are in the same waka pulling together. We are not in competition with anyone but we are working towards a common goal of improved student achievement in our low-decile cluster of schools. This is a goal we are all passionate about and we have taken some great steps towards our goal as we build an effective team.
Teachers learning and sharing their learning about blogs.
A frank discussion about the purpose of blogs for students and teachers. We started with the 'why' and it was interesting to see people move from 'how to' towards 'why'. As we considered this it became clear that people had different reasons for wanting to learn about blogs and for using them.
Once the 'why' was established we moved on to the what; setting up a blogger profile, personalising a blog and posting.
We also looked at the way we are planning to use blogs in a secondary school setting.
After learning about and using SAMR, I have created this screencast to share my understanding - I wanted to clearly and succinctly explain the SAMR model and to give an example of this in use.
I have found teachers appreciate this model as they can decide for themselves what part of the model they are using at any given time. Any teacher would be using different parts of the model at different times. The skill comes in recognising when is the most effective times to use redefinition to get the most gains in learning.
I have been learning some Te Reo. I enjoyed working with the learners. I found correct pronunciation challenging. My next steps are to learn my pepeha by heart. Thanks to Whaea Poipoi and students in Akomanga 8 at Kereru Park Campus.
We have been learning to use a photo editing tool to create a blog profile image.
We use BeFunky as a tool to edit the photo.
I like this image because it looks like a very old mirror. The students had a lot of fun creating their upcycled images.