Interim reports

Education Learning Log

George Lucas

I loved reading this, as recommended by George Lucas’ foundation

http://news.scotsman.com/education/Scot-joins-the-global-elite.3907059.jp

Go LTS and GLOW!!

March 25, 2008 Posted by | glow, leadership | Leave a comment

Privileged

Being a Head is a huge privilege and often we don’t shout that out loud enough. Moving into my QIO post I’m realising what a privilege this is too. To be able to visit establishments on a daily basis and look at what is going on in them is wonderful. I visited Cathkin Community Nursery today. I stayed for a good while and saw some exciting and innovative evidence of ongoing work.

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They have a sensory garden which the children designed and planned using mindmaps/floorbooks. Responsive Planning, pupil choice, real confidence in action!

 Loved the good news tree, which grows bigger throughout the session – different types of good news – little people who might have managed to sleep in their own bed the whole night, maybe they’ve got a new brother or sister. Huge opportunities for self expression, talking and listening, psd etc etc

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They had done huge amounts of work on diversity with their persona dolls.

Bronze, silver and gold health promotion awards have been achieved.

 Innovative planning methods- really listening to the children – for instance someone found a spider – a huge focus of work then followed covering every curricular area you could imagine, all child led.

Christopher told me all about his record of achievement, explaining how much his drawing had improved over the years from when he was a baby and next he goes to school in August.

It would need a visit to take it all in rather than me giving highlights in shorthand! Liz Mercer the Head of the establishment her Depute and staff are inspiring and have a very welcoming ethos and love to share their ideas.

Sometimes in my previous school I would be taken by surprise by something which made me cry with the joy of it. Last year’s most memorable greet was when Zac in P1 came round with a grin from ear to ear and said “Mrs Reid I can read!” A whole new world had just opened up to him overnight and he’d suddenly cracked the code. He wanted to read everything he could see and find.

Today it was the amount of work parents had been doing alongside the nursery which caught me unawares. I managed to stop myself from blubbing, but the chin was wobbling and my eyes watering – in their persona dolls room there were paintings done by a parent related to equality called “its a small world after all”. Then in the toilets which could have been dull and dismal a parent must have spent hours painting bright pictures. I’ve seen lots of murals like these before, but there was just something about what these parents had put into the work of themselves which I found very touching.

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Creativity, leadership, learning, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Leadership

Here’s a link to Don Ledingham’s blog where he has reproduced a great article on leadership

http://edubuzz.org/blogs/donsblog/2008/02/19/elements-of-leadership/

February 21, 2008 Posted by | leadership | Leave a comment

A new team

Starting as part of the SLC new quality team this week has been really interesting. There’s a mixture of experience within the four of us who will make up the area part of the team – primary, secondary – different areas of interest and expertise. We’ve also been getting to know the others within the areas which we are allocated to. So I’ve been seeing the Rutherglen/Cambuslang head of area etc. Next week I’m hoping to get to meet the Heads of establishments at the Learning Community meetings and to get time to see the others who make up the team such as the pupil support manager, ICS co-ordinator etc.

We’ve had a good induction this week and are getting our heads round how we will carry out our remits with its emphasis on continuous improvement. It’s really exciting to be part of something new which we hope can make a difference to the experience of the young people involved in the establishments.

I think my biggest learning need at the moment is to really focus carefully on a few priorities. Often as HT I felt I could lose that focus as I tried to balance many things at once and at times spent too much energy on things which had little impact on teaching and learning. I needed to stop and refocus regularly and I think I’ll need to work even harder on that! I’m also feeling a need to learn sharply at the moment on many levels. In school I had a good idea of where I was, what might come up etc as I’d lived in schools for a long time. This new post is new at all levels for me. Thankfully there are many experienced people around me who I will need to learn from who are already willingly giving time to help me. The other thing I’m intent on doing is trying to work smarter – I have to find time to think and consider things. This blog helps that – its not so much the writing of it as the time I sit and just contemplate things when looking at the screen!

February 16, 2008 Posted by | leadership, learning | Leave a comment

Changes

I’m feeling a bit wonky today. I was interviewed for a QIO post with SLC and was successful. I should be celebrating this great opportunity to visit other schools and learn from them. Don’t get me wrong I’m pleased as punch but my heart is feeling wobbly… It’s the thought of leaving a school that I just love to bits….So that’s why I’m feeling a bit sad. It’s rare to work with a team that gels so well. It’s hard to leave that when your heart is still with the team and the children.

Tonight I visited one of the teachers from our school who had a baby just the other day, and that helped put things back into perspective for me. Little Zoe was just beautiful and reminded me of why we do what we do in education. Here was a tiny bundle just ready to live and meet every opportunity on the way. Where’s my dilemma in the scale of that? Things come along in life and we should grasp them, learn and just hope we make a small difference somewhere along the way. Somber worry over – babies are marvellous things! However I’m pretty glad my two are now all grown up!

The best thing though is this change will give other staff the chance to develop and do some acting work as PT2 etc. That’s exciting and something they thoroughly deserve after the work they’ve put in.

The children meantime are covered in glue and glitter in school. Most of them are so excited just now they don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I know that feeling!

December 18, 2007 Posted by | leadership, Nonsense | | 4 Comments

WWII Exhibition

Primary 7 did really well with their exhibition – 2 corridors full of writing, laptops with slide shows on different aspects of WWII, information about rationing, leaders, evacuation etc etc. Then in their classroom they set up various WWII related activities on the dancemat, quizdom etc, fun games, homebaking, recipe books for sale, dressing up, a pretend Anderson shelter with sound and light effects were all available for visitors to buy and try. 4 of the P7 classes from nearby primaries visited and lots of parents/carers and other visitors supported all their hard work. It was a great way to round off their topic. Plus the money they raised will take down the total they have to pay for their outward bound week to Castle Toward.

Our newly appointed Depute Director is timetabling visits to all schools in the authority at the moment, which I’m really pleased about. Don Ledingham has written about his visits to schools in his authority and I have found what he has written very interesting, in particular his advice to Heads to be in classes about 2 days a week. I’m convinced this close contact with learning and teaching is the most effective way to make improvements. I learn more every time I spend time observing/monitoring in any classroom, at every stage. However this requires high levels of trust between all within a school. It’s this trust which leads to genuine accountability and growth.

November 22, 2007 Posted by | leadership, learning | | Leave a comment

ICT Case Study

There’s a case study about our school here. Other than wondering who on earth that woman might be – as she doesn’t look like I do in the mirror – it’s nice to have the work the teachers are doing recognised in some form.

ps I’m going to have to start that diet tomorrow!!

November 20, 2007 Posted by | ICT, leadership | , , | Leave a comment

Bart McGettrick-the voices of children

I listened to an inspirational talk today, by the always wonderful Bart McGettrick. It fitted beautifully with some of the things we’ve all been thinking about recently re the CFE

He talked about the following:

What is education about?

The flourishing of humanity.

The curriculum is not the purpose of education – it is a means of helping humanity flourish.

We should be looking at both personal and social well being and attainment and achievement.

We must raise people to distinction. If we can’t help children start on this road early ie in the nursery the incline will become more and more steep for them.

We need to listen to the voices of children. Converse with them – education is a conversation we have through the ages where we pass on matters of significance.

We have to develop citizenship  – our voices will be listened to if we develop a sense of courtesy. We need to develop an  identity – children who have conversations with responsible adults learn to have an identity.

The voice of a child requires a relevant space where relationships can be developed. We need to look at school architecture – there should be a variety of spaces, corners etc where children can meet and develop these relationships with other children and adults in school. We also need neccessary time. Relationships are at the heart of education – values come from our relationships. Children need confidence, emotional well being etc to develop their voice.

What is our role as teachers? We have a collective responsibility in education to provide every child with a relationship with a responsible adult. A relationship where someone hears their voice.

We need to understand that to be human is to have frailty and fragility. Perfection is not what we are about.

The driving force of an effective education is HOPE and its purpose is JUSTICE. If you don’t have justice in your hearts how can you have peace?

He asked to what extent do the children in our establishments think school is a place of justice where their time is used usefully, where they feel they are learning and developing? If we or they think something is a waste of time then more than likely it is…

He quoted the following:

“Justice has 2 beautiful daughters – Anger and Courage. Anger at what injustices there are and courage to ensure they do not remain.” Do we use this in our work?

He suggested listening to voices is not only a pedagogy it indicates a change in relationship within the classroom. Hope must be realisitc. We must have the courage to do good. As teachers we need to not just be compliant with the powers that be but have the courage to do the right thing for the children we serve.

Education is not just about Learning – we must move to make it about thinking. As teachers we need to be thinkers!

He reminded us about Michael Fullan’s book “Breakthrough” . We can breakthrough and make a difference, not when we have resources thrown at us but when every child has a relationship with an adult who really knows what that child is learning. When you know each child fully you’ll breathrough the system.

We need to move from a culture of accountability to a culture of responsibility. If we are responsible and do the right things then we will become accountable within that. We can develop a culture of co-responsibiliyt with teachers, children, parents etc.

He continued that we need not just rigid learners (shades of Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on creativity) but resilient learners who can solve problems and be creative.

The 3 conditions for transforming learning and thinking?

  1. Motivation to learn and high expectations through conversations
  2. Time on task and a real opportunity to learn and think deeply
  3. Focused learning and thinking will come from focused teaching.

In an education establishment he suggested that too much or too little structure will stop creativity – there has to be a balance.

A lot of what he said reminded me of Patrick Duignan – the tone and emphasis on the good school in the good society and the notion of being fully present for the children and for teachers. As he said – Do the right things and success will follow.

Affirmation of these ideas is always useful and always reminds us of why we do what we do – and often we do need reminded! One day I hope to grow up to be even just a wee bit like some of these heroes of mine like Tim Brighouse or Bart or Patrick Duignan (or like my English teacher Brian Duncan who planted that golden seed of wanting to learn in me)! And just as I’ve said before these people are not weans out of college they have some age and with it a lot of wisdom – the connection though of understanding how the world is shifting with change, technology etc is always there, the world changes but we are always human. As Ewan MacIntosh also says we need to stop being holidaymakers – whether digital or teaching holidaymakers – we have to encourage and remind ourselves of the privileged position we have in the lives of our children.

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Creativity, leadership, learning | , , | Leave a comment

Formal Coaching, donkeys and owls

Here are some photos from trip to Motherwell Heritage Centre.

Here are some photos from our Malawi/Scotland day.

Yaaasss! I’ve passed my coaching assignment so I’m ready to start formal coaching with a colleague. I’ve to keep a diary and log of this for the completion of my coaching diploma. This approach fits very much with a notion of working together with staff to steward leadership growth in a school.

My trainer is very insightful and I have learned a great deal from him and from my current reading about coaching. For anyone just about to embark on this there’s a great wee pocket book which has everything in a concise form. 

Here’s an interesting metaphor we discussed. Thinking about political awareness and values/integrity maybe we can imagine people as some of the following animals –

  • foxes have high political awareness but no values or integrity, they’re a wee bit sneaky and tend to be teflon coated
  • Lambs have low political awareness but have high integrity and values – they tend to be nice people but a bit naive, but as time moves on eg after being heidie for a while their beliefs shift a bit as they become better leaders
  • Owls have a high level of integrity and well defined values (lambs often become owls) they are very politically aware. They are wise, they fight the good fight, but if pushed they kill if neccessary…
  • Donkeys – well…..

Metaphors and stories are very powerful when having conversations with anyone about change, shifting beliefs etc. That’s one reason why I found this a useful way of thinking about leadership.

I find myself increasingly using stories and I suppose myth making when working within school. This is a real building brick for moving a school forward- telling/talking about  the best of what has gone before and building a buzz around this helps create an era of hope for improvement tomorrow.

In addition I’m overcome with excitement having sat down long enough to use de.icio.us properly – sitting down for a while is a good idea!

http://del.icio.us/andrea_reid

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Coaching, leadership | , , , | Leave a comment

Tim Brighouse

Our authority works closely with RM who manage our ICT service. Recently we helped RM video a case study of good ICT practice in our school, which made us all feel really delighted that the hard work being done was recognised and valued. RM’s Douglas Chappelle who works closely with us gave us a small booklet recently published by Tim Brighouse via RM. Called How Successful head teachers survive and thrive, it’s a quick read with some great advice, and certainly worth a read.

I loved his work life balance part at the end. Number 7 in his advice was “Collect Hyacinths” Here’s what he says:

“Find your hyacinth. It’s neccessary to explain this by recalling the story, which Alec Clegg, the education officer of the West Riding used to tell as justification for getting proper blance in the curriculum. As a teenager, he would visit his aunt in Grantham. On the wall was a sampler which read as follows:

If of fortune thou be bereft,

And of thine earthly store have left

Two loaves, sell one and with the dole

Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

Successful heads avoid stress and burn out in themselves and their staff by being keenly aware of their hyacinths and ensuring they have enough of them.”

I liked that! It also reminded me of something I heard Maya Angelou say at a reading. My wording will be askew but it was along the lines of – when things are going badly, remember that if you didn’t have rain, you’d never have rainbows….

Feeling a bit Pollyana like after that…. but thinking positively helps keep the role of Head in perspective. There’s a little golden nugget to be found every day in a school, no matter what crisis has hit. Getting out of our offices and being with the children remind us of the humaness around us, and what a joy our job really is.

October 2, 2007 Posted by | leadership | , | 4 Comments