I’ll Have What She’s Having

It’s easy to look at schools down the road and to want what they have.    What we tend to see in these situations is some sort of evidence of success.  And we want it.  And we think it must be easy to achieve by creating just that role,  and by getting just that right person who will do just that job.   We think if we write it into our strategic plans and make it a focus with our groups, then it will happen.  And a priority is for it to happen quickly.   A nice fit for a yearly plan might be a 6 month period.   6 month periods of change always achieve a nice write up in a report of the year don’t they?  Ticking boxes is always satisfying.

What has really led to that state of perceived success however, is much like the iceberg image below.     5 or 6 years of baby steps.    5 or 6 years of pushing the agenda to encourage people to think a little differently and to do things a little differently.     5 or 6 years of decision making that at times wasn’t quite strategic in the true sense – sometimes more just a case of people taking a leap of faith in one of our beliefs about the way forward.  5 or 6 years of personal frustration at the slow pace of change.   5 or 6 years at glimpses of success that would drive us further.  5 or 6 years of the occasional opportunity that fell into our laps that we could then build on.  5 or 6 years of building partnerships and relationships with people that would provide benefit to both parties.

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And are we there yet?  Absolutely not.  There is much to do and it is tiring and amidst change above us, often pushes us to the brink of exhaustion and self-doubt.    I see where we are and sometimes only recognise how much there is to go.    And I also tend to see how many challenges are placed in our way and how many blocks are left there from decades of ‘We have always done it this way’ thinking.

The biggest blocks however, are in our minds.  What I have recognised is that mindset shift is the hardest thing to do.    This can take years, if it ever happens at all.   Mindset shift for teachers is often moving them away from something that, to them, has always worked.  Mindset shift moves people to uncertain ground, challenging them to think differently, to question and to not assume that the well trodden path is the right path.  In much the same way that we must challenge our parents to recognise the alternate paths for our kids’ futures, we must also continue to challenge our teachers to lift their heads from the work that is overwhelming them and to place importance on learning and being a learner.    It’s also up to us to continue the momentum despite challenges and change, placing importance on high quality teacher learning and providing the time and space for this to flourish.

So, in summary, good change is not about ticking boxes, about putting people in roles, assuming they will check in with you occasionally and just get the job done.  Managing and embedding change at a leadership level means providing the vision – the vision that is achieved through collaborative and creative efforts with our people and then supporting people to reach it.  It’s about recognising the unique nature of your site and your own community and leveraging this to work differently, work harder or work smarter.  It’s also about keeping your eye firmly on the future and taking small and solid steps constantly to get there.

 

 

 

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Change – is it a clear choice between floundering or thriving?

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Change – do we descend into a ‘pit’ or do we open our arms to opportunity?

When something changes with little warning,  which in turn impacts on a state where elements appear to be flourishing, it’s almost natural to regard that change with a certain degree of disappointment and dismay.   A feeling of being slightly shell-shocked can remain with you for days or much longer.   You view the short-term future as something that you must endure and something which is bound to descend into negative territory before it improves or indeed even gets on a steady footing resembling what it was before.

Essential however, at times like these, is to remind oneself that,  hidden beneath the layers of disappointment there may be, as yet, some unrealised opportunities for growth, clarity, progress and further evolution.

You may start to see the need to define your key steps and direction as an opportunity rather than a hinderance and the chance to gain clarity with the existing team as a time for a meeting of minds which will strengthen the way forward rather than as a time where things threaten to fall into disarray.

And even if one does flounder, there’s nothing to say that this state isn’t beneficial.   Floundering as a metaphor paints a picture of splashing desperately or being unable to gain a foothold or perhaps a less extreme one like being slightly unsteady in the shallows.  And being slightly unsteady may simply mean that you aren’t taking things for granted and that questioning is part of your mindset.

I just came across this description whilst reading about ‘Pause 2018’ – Australia’s Premier Innovation Festival.

This years theme is: Journey = Destination

A great idea doesn’t just come from thin air. It takes a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and even some failures along the way. We want a no-holds-bar-warts-and-all story that will inspire our attendees to pursue their own journeys, take risks and be the changemakers of tomorrow. The only mandatory request that we have is that your address be: ‘Content You Can’t Google’, so keep that in mind when you are preparing your submission.

Is it a clear choice?  Of course it is…….

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The organic nature of great teaching

So, with the Digital Technologies Curriculum – we have two choices.  We can take on board custom designed, packaged solutions and ‘deliver’ them or we can go to the effort of understanding the curriculum, collaborate with others, allow ourselves time to explore links with other learning areas and then design the learning experiences that suits our own learners.

I’ve seen beautiful evidence of the value of the latter lately.

As a school we’ve been looking at the Digital Technologies Curriculum for around 18 months but working effectively in both the ICT and DigiTech space for much longer.    We have had some formal learning sessions and are now in a year where each teacher will be assessing some aspect of the curriculum.

At the end of last year, a teacher in Yr 4 preparing some mapping co-ordinate activities realised the value of designing an activity using robotics.    She came to me with her idea, we considered our resources (and the ones she already had) and she created a learning experience which has since involved every class in Year 4.  This involved using Dash robotics and some blockly coding to move the students around a map of Australia.

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A Year 2 teacher, passing the activity and seeing us using the Yr 2 class robots (Dash), realised that a similar idea could support her own children’s work in mapping and then went away and designed her own.    This involved lots of opportunities for children to articulate the language around grid coordinates and direction, the pass a ‘drivers licence’ for using their Dash robot and then to use the ‘Go’ app for Dash Robots to plan a route visiting parts of Australia and to control Dash to follow this path.

This was done with the children this week, we have since discussed how to tweak it and we will do the second round of it soon.

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And this is what I love and this is what I value – teachers knowing their kids, knowing the curriculum and then creating and designing experiences that will support one or more parts of it.    Importantly, what comes next is just as important if we look across a whole school –  the collaboration that can occur between teachers which allows these ideas to grow, spread, take root, change and get better each time.

Hats off to my teachers and the organic nature of good teaching.

Entrepreneurship and Design

So, this is what I am working on right now.    Last year, we implemented our first prototype of our Young Innovator Program and it was very much a prototype.  It was a dipping of our toes into the water of digital creation and creativity/design.  The kids were working on a range of segmented and isolated skills and as valuable as it was, I have always known we needed to take it to the next level this year – especially (at first) for our older students.  So, we come to our Moonshot Program.   This is Prototype 2.

It’s helpful to think back to where this started.  At the end of 2015,  when we had a ThinkTank with our community, we generated a range of ideas from which there were clear patterns  or categories.   The ‘safe bets’ were very much based around after school clubs.    Many of the ‘darling’ ideas were to do with industry interaction, kick-starters and entrepreneurship – see below:

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The below flyer is only a draft.  I am meeting with several people over the next week and hoping that their input can further shape the potential and possibilities of our ideas.   The idea of a ‘moonshot’ (“Moonshot Kids”) is fascinating for me.  Seth Godin:  “Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.”  And I would like to think that part of my work in my own work situation does this.   I would like to think that I challenge people and that I am brave enough and confident enough to keep doing this.   Moonshot Thinking came  from Google’s “Solve for X” project and has its roots in the genius of crazy, audacious ideas from people who don’t believe there is a ceiling to what they can do.

Video on Moonshot thinking

From the video:

We are a species of moonshot thinking – People can set their minds to magical, seemingly impossible ideas and bring them to reality through innovation, science, and technology.  This sets others on fire.

Human progress has been a series of amazing, audacious things, Our ambitions are a glass ceiling in what we can accomplish. When you find your passion you are unstoppable. You can make amazing things happen. It has been true through history. I believe in the human spirit.

If we become afraid to take these risks, we stop inspiring people, we stop achieving things. The biggest nightmare scenario is that we won’t have what it takes to solve the really big challenges.

The power of moonshot thinking is the mindset it harnesses and supports – the idea that problems can be identified by anyone and that solutions can be attained.    The enormous attraction for me of the Digital Technologies curriculum is that at its heart is the creation of digital solutions.    Deserving of this focus are our students and 10-12 yr olds are more than capable of working to develop the mindset, skill-set and toolset that this requires.

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Musing…..when does ‘Best Of’ become just what we do?

So, our little prototype that we are ‘holding lightly’ keeps getting accolades, receiving interest from others and being the subject of very keen discussion and questioning from those outside of the school:

“Is this something the whole state could roll out?”

“Can you tell us how our own school community could get this happening?”  (See here)

“We have blockers…….how can we run with this despite them?”

“Tell us how you started?”

“What has made it work so well?”

And I’m feeling a tad weary……….an array of things have combined to put me in this state I suppose…..the juxtaposition of a day of questioning and doubting, followed by a day of admiration for what our school is  achieving  (on a number of fronts) from a group of innovative, creative,  forward thinking folk …….followed by a day of winning an award for that which we must continue to hold lightly.

And I wonder……when does ‘best of‘ –  a program of learning that happens outside of ‘real’ learning simply become just what we do?    And alternatively, at what point, are elements of our ‘best of’ program allowed to start creeping into mindsets?  Currently, our little ‘best of’  is admired by those inside – but mainly I think because of the work that is perceived to go into it……and the level of engagement that is obvious……and the commitment of those involved in it……BUT is it really valued by those inside as something that exhibits ‘best of’ or even good learning?    I don’t think so.

And when I reflect on the admiration and accolades we have got this year – and the deep questioning and interest I receive from outsiders as a result – I realise it’s because these outsiders want to know how to duplicate what they see as tangible evidence of a different kind of learning.    Their challenges are often vast in achieving this – deeply embedded structures that serve to maintain the status quo,  deeply embedded mindsets that make it difficult to see any other way or, indeed any reason for any other way.   Additionally, these people asking me the questions are outside the system or have left the system because of the factors I mention in the previous question.  So, the challenges are often seen as so difficult that a starting point is not even clear.  And that’s why they ask me.

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But I think of this program and simply think of how much further we have got to go.   And sometimes this is overwhelming.   I do value what we have done, that path we have taken and what we have achieved………. and I see clearly the crucial part that design thinking has played in our journey – an important and integral role that is deserving of a whole post on its own…….but I am dwelling on how much further there is to go…….

And I think of a presentation that was made at the e20 Awards Evening last night.  One of the most interesting presentations during the evening for me came from Megan Forward, an educator and artist who submitted a project which addresses the beautiful, organic nature of good learning.   It had nothing to do with technology and nothing to do with progress or innovation – rather,  it was stripping away everything and getting to the  very bare basics ……. it was fabulous.   This photo of one of her slides presents her ideas   And as I read it I realised how much alignment there was to our little “Best Of” program…….

Thanks Megan – for bringing me back to what is always going to be most important……and for reminding me why we keep going despite our weariness.

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My Actions Post Palooza

I have had an awesome few days at iPadPalooza on the Gold Coast as summarised by the blog posts below.  I like to take a copious amount of notes at these events as I find my memory later fails me for details when I am speaking to others..  So, this is what I will do and then over the days that follow – I tend to reflect and think on actions that might be relevent for my own site.

It’s interesting to me that my take-aways from events like this are no longer about the technology.   Of course, there were some great tips on apps from some truly talented iPadPalooza greats – especially to do with coding, art, connecting with nature and STEM – but my key learnings are always now about change and how it can be managed to cater for the future of the kids we work with.

So here are my take-aways:

Change is an opportunity to do things differently

This is something that has been at the forefront of my mind for years now.  I really need to accept however that this is not how everyone views change.   Design thinking is currently providing us with a tremendous opportunity – It’s providing teachers with a tool for change, innovation and reflection  and it’s providing teachers with a tool to design curriculum.   This is wonderful change.    Let’s keep the momentum going.

The need to keep going

We have come so far.   And it’s tempting to start congratulating ourselves and to risk ‘resting on our laurels’.    But when I hear from people like Richard Wells – I feel quite simply overwhelmed at how much further there is to go.   And I’m pretty sure that our system is 20 years behind that of New Zealand.  But what we have to do is to understand and appreciate that the small steps we have taken have to continue.   We have to stop accommodating teacher comfort and assumptions and the industrial model that we all still naturally operate comfortably within and we need to start evolving our community of learners towards a new model of learning – one that places students at the centre and one which fosters THEIR creativity, THEIR independence, THEIR resilience and THEIR knowledge of self and what THEY are good at.

  • We need to realise that our school vision is a tremendous opportunity to justify doing things differently.  We need to keep the conversation evolving regarding its implications.
  • We need to keep placing the reality of the future in front of our community ALL THE TIME.  Assumptions are quite powerful and we need to start initiating conversations with the reminder to put them aside.
  • We need to carefully consider groups like Yr 2 and 3 because they are the ones who will be the proof of our vision in 3 years time.     Are those groups starting 2017 with a new focus on process over product and design?  Are they?  How will their beginning of 2017 be different from 2016 after a year of learning?   WILL IT?

The need to include wellness in our approach

  • Michael Carr-Gregg was excellent in the way he made it so crystal clear that if we aren’t managing children’s wellness – then they aren’t learning at optimum levels.
  • Our new Social and Emotional program presents many opportunities in this regard.
  • There are clear alignments between children managing and growing their own independence and wellness.  We need to recognise the importance of this connection.

So, moving away from my broad ideas –

Practical ideas and possibilities:

  1. Can the school visit in Week 1 of Term 4 from NoT be focussed on Yr 2 and 3 teachers?
  2. Can the 2017 year start with activities designed to remind staff of our vision and what this means in a practical sense.
  3. The Yr 5 work on Design Thinking with Geography/DigiTech unit needs to be shared with staff.    Similarly the Yr 6 work using design thinking.  We need to actually hear from the teachers involved and learn from their experiences – warts and all.
  4. Is it possible that Week 1 of 2017 for every class has a focus on Social and Emotional Learning AND the Design Thinking process?  And that they don’t jump straight into more teacher delivered content?
  5. Can we speak to our student high achievers and ask them how learning could be different and what frustrates them?  Then share this
  6. Can we continue to work with our teachers to encourage reflection and growth in learning.
  7. The pitches from Round 2 PI need to have outcomes/results.

 

 

Reaching their Potential – iPadPaloozaGC

Taj Pabaris of course the Yr 12 student at John Paul College who is an entrepreneur, running his own company “Hello56”.

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Taj spoke in his usual dynamic manner, speaking directly and honestly about his school experiences and about the things that inspired him.   He cited three key elements that he would like to see developed in the students of today:

    1. Flailing  (Failing+learning)
    2. Creativity
    3. Digital Literacy

Bella Paton- Yr 12 student at St Hilda’s spoke about her journey as a singer/songwriter.

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She discussed how she had liked singing at school but had got bored with choirs and performances and how she knew she had needed to find her niche.   She had been shown Logic as a music design and production tool and had started writing and creating her own original music which she sells through iTunes.   She finished her address with her own song which, when combined with her story, quite inspirational and humbling.

She has uploaded her songs to iTunes

Christopher Hills 

Chris is of course quite well known for his use of assistive ‘switch control’ on apple devices and how this allows him to be so much more than his disability.

The impact of this technology on his life has been amazing as he has a career that is flourishing.  Hills lives with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia, and is able to toggle through screens, surf the web, edit video content through the use of this program.

He was, quite simply, amazing and had the audience completely 100% awe-struck by what technology was enabling him to do and be.

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Michael Carr-Gregg

Michael is a well know and widely respected authority on wellness in young people we were fortunate to listen to a keynote presentation by him at iPadPaloozaGC.

His website 

He started talking about the findings from the annual Mission Australia Survey in which the data shows a worrying trend each year.  This survey collects information on what young australians are worried about.

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15 000 students are surveyed each year.

Their biggest problem is coping with stress

And when they are stressed, their learning is impaired.   This fact is undeniable.

He asked us to think about what we are doing about conflict resolution, anger management as schools – what are we doing to educate students about how to deal with these things.

A picture of student in Yr 12

30% are depressed

41% are stressed

18% are suicidal

  • Do students know the difference between sadness vs depression?  We need to raise their awareness of emotional coping strategies.
  • Mission Australia – Youth Survey showed that over 60% of our young people don’t know how to cope with stress.

Rates of suicide

Latest figures – 2864  suicided             60 000 thinking about it

Suicide rates – highest in 13 yrs

Suicide accounts for over one third of deaths in this age group.

Girls – 50% increase in 15-24 age suicide rates

The cost of supporting people with a mental illness  is enormous.

ANSWER:

Shift to a 21st century model of health

Give them the skills and strategies to manage their well-being

Technology matters to young people and so we need to leverage it.

  • Face-time – the most confidential way to have a conversation
  • It provides them with the flexibility and confidentiality
  • It is the way they communicate
  • Their worlds are seamless
  • Their real work is both off and online.
  • Teenagers check their phones on an average  56 times a day – once every 15 mins.
  • 9 out of 10 teenagers use their phone when they spend quality time with their parents.
  • 7 out of 10 – mates

This does not mean that there aren’t dangers and we have to acknowledge the dangers and educate them.   Let’s stop demonising technology however.  It is too much an integral part of their lives.  What we have is an unprecedented opportunity to manage kids.

Office of Children’s eSafety Commission

iParent – great resources for parents.

Case Study   How might we use technology to enhance the well-being of a student on the gold coast?

  • Case study student presents as anxious and has taken cannabis, her anxiety interferes with everything.

Single greatest predictor of well being in young females – friendship

  • Admits she is a perfectionist.
  • Physical manifestations – dry mouth, not sleeping, anxious, won’t stay asleep, can’t concentrate
  • Diagnosis – Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Treatment:

  1. Make sure she is educated about her disorder.     3 different ways to do this.

    And then start dealing with her problems:

1. Sleep (9 hrs)  They need this.  Single most important.   Psycoeducation in sleep.

  •  He will send her information about sleep and provide infographics.   
  • Show  her a TED talk by Geogie Prof Russell
  • Use an app ‘Recharge’ which teaches them about the importance of sleep.
  • Use an app Snorelab – to monitor snoring

2.  Breakfast – most teenagers don’t eat breakfast and they are incapable of learning if they have not had breakfast and haven’t slept.

  • he sends her information on the importance of having breakfast
  • he lets her know about the mood/foodl ink
  • he gets her using an app for the mediterranean diet.

3.  Anxiety

Interesting to think about what the research is saying about meditation.   Harvard Uni took volunteers through this program and they spent 27 mins a day on it.  The scans documented improvements in grey matter in the hippocampus and this is the area of the brain associated with stress.

4.  Exercise – personal trainers via an app.  Couch to 5 k

Zombies, Run – for boys

5.   Frienship (as she is worried about how her friends are).

Use The Check-In  app – YouthBeyondBlue

6.    Cannabis – Clear Your Vision

14.   App – Icope

iPadPaloozaGC – Richard Wells

Richard Wells – Twitter: @eduwells  His Web which is a collection of some awesome resources including posters and infographic collections.

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Richard is originally English and moved to NZ after he saw the potential for a different kind of learning.   He actually spoke about visiting NZ with his wife and young child and passing a school with a front fence you could step over and several students up a tree.  Both of these things seemed symbolic enough  (pointing to a different kind of Education system to what he was used to) for him to move his family from England.

He started by talking about the way USA and Australia viewed schools and teachers and that the entire system is basically built on a distrust of teachers and the view that teachers need to be manipulated to get them to do what we want them to do in order to get the results that are seen as optimal.

Podcasts mentioned – “Curious Minds”, “The Originals”   and the term ‘Vuja De’ – the idea of seeing school for what it is.  Comedy is often a clever way to make us see things for that they actually are.

The vuja de mentality is the ability to keep shifting opinion and perception.  It can mean reversing assumptions about cause and effect or what matters most versus least.    It means not travelling through life on automatic pilot.   

Bob Sutton – “Stealing up for Excellence”

WHY do we need to change?    (Making a case at our sites)

We were shown an image of Spok and a tricorder:Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 6.10.07 am.pngWell, this is now near reality and already in clinical trials – see this link with the winners to be announced at the beginning of 2017.

The point of this is that we hear a lot about manual jobs disappearing but the reality is that – high end jobs (those of the middle class) are going to be under threat also from the exponential change that is occurring.

  • Driverless cars – there are 100 000 on the road now.  Statistically the man asleep  in the clip below is safer than the man holding the iPhone.   UBER and google have signed up.  Google have a fleet.
  • Image of man asleep in driverless car
  • Richard discussed how the light bulb killed the candle industry – but then employed about the same number of people.  But now…this is not happening with the jobs that are disappearing.
  • Driverless buses and trucks already being trialled.

We are entering a phase of heavy disruption where a wide variety of jobs are being replaced…..

Top 20 skills

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  • People will change jobs every 3 years for the students who walk into the world of work after school.   One element of this to understand is that technology is changing  rapidly but we also need to understand that the younger people have the expectation they can have things now.
  • Amazon are replacing factory workers with robots.  They are also looking into drones for delivery.   This YouTube clip shows this.

Yr7@30 47% jobs gone  This could well be a CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE   – let’s halve that – still looking at tens of millions of jobs.

“Public outrage in this transitional period is unavoidable” – Oxford Uni.

The picture that’s in everyone minds won’t be realistic  – the picture that kids move from orange school buildings to purple uni buildings to blue work buildings – this is just not going to be the future for our current students.

Kids need to be resilient enough, self-aware enough and skilled enough to be able to cope in this world.

21st century schools in NZ – the whole focus has to shift from doing stuff (the focus is on output)  to be based around answering the question ‘who are you?’    We train them out of thinking about this within the first few years of school and we end up training them to  be a factory worker.

We need to be focussed on the individual….not the product.

This year, 7 governments have voted on the universal basic income Finland (guaranteed $2000 a month)……Switzerland has asked ‘ what would you do if your income were taken care of?”   WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?  needs to be answered.

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Traditional Model

1 teacher responsible for the whole class – usual model

21st century model 

All the layers have to shift so that the individual learners see themselves as being responsible for their own learning.

21st century school in 20th century buildings

Blog Post on Leadership by Richard with useful links to Ted talks etc.

Hobsonville Schools – NZ  “You have to lead with the community” and make it clear that    “it looks scary because it doesn’t look anything like you did at school”.

  • Kids – what is their mindset?   I am here to better myself  OR I am here to do work – because school was designed to create factory workers.    
  • NZ – the future is that every learner will plan their whole year.   No exams.  This is in 5 yrs time.   
  • Students often ask …”IS THIS ENOUGH?” and this is because they don’t see themselves in their work .  Another one:    “IS THIS IN THE TEST?”

Students who manage themselves are enterprising, resourceful,reliable and resilient.

They establish:

personal goals

make plans

manage project

set high standards

Recently at a conference in NZ – various schools were asked to present and each one, independently, chose Learner Agency  as the theme of each of their presentations.

Strategies for schools to initiate and manage change:

  • start with learner voice
  • start with the top students – the high performers – get their voices – they will be the compliant high performers.   We need to let the high performers fly.   Students have turned up because they have to.
    • Get some quotes from kids.   –  Examples from Richards students when he went searching:  top Yr 7 student     “They have templated inquiry”   “I started my journey to head girl in Yr 7”  “I made it to head boy because I make my bed”

Because girls are compliant – they perform better because our systems encourage compliance.   We should be looking for independence rather than compliance.  We are still stuck in ‘teacher issued’ education and a major part of change is simply getting adults to have faith in kids.

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Key elements –

Parents  (Why)    

Student Voice (top students)

Independence and adaptability

Faith in young people  (christchurch earthquake example)    #eqnz

Teach Process (How might we….?)  Design thinking can be one option.

Managing self

Teacher PD – visit schools

How to make learning visible?

Teach resilience

GOALS, TASKS, RELATE

When a teacher talks this is what happens:

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IDEA: “flip your teaching and then make learning active and personal for all”.

HOW MIGHT WE……..Why is this such a powerful phrase?

how – optimistic word

might – no correct answer

we – collaborative

SPACE    TIME   STAFF

IDEA – A week on design thinking at the beginning of the year.   Fun and nonsensical version  of design thinking so they have the process in their minds.

What can I do today??   What is my life going to be after school?

drawtoast.com – use this for some great resources for design thinking.

Learning must be visible 

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We need to provide kids with tools to track and discuss their own progress etc.

The teacher’s job should be to develop the individual to be able to set their own goals and monitor their own learnings.      Kids should know what to do when they are stuck….they should have strategies similar to the reading strategies that kids in JP know.

Idea – buy portable whiteboards and line the walls with them.   Make every wall an active space.   Get them to not sit down – spend an hour standing

Look further at:

Hobsonville Point Schools

Breens School

Look at solo taxonomy.