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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

True collaboration or just another meeting?


Meetings are a big part of what teachers do. We have all sorts of different meetings which serve different purposes and for different reasons. Every school I have worked at meetings are a point of contention. No one really likes to meet, let’s face it. We would all rather get on with it. Yet, we also understand that meetings are very important as it paves the way for being as purposeful and meaningful as possible in the way we teach and the way students learn.

A normal week for me equates to around 6 hours of meetings. That is an awful lot of time. And this doesn’t include the time I spend on preparing before and the follow-up after a meeting. I am sure this is very similar for most people in a school.

This is a typical week of meetings for me…..

Monday: 2 periods numeracy planning meeting (every two weeks)

Tuesday: 1 hour (whole/primary school) meeting

Wednesday: No meetings

Thursday: 1 hour primary school meeting, 2 periods UOI/literacy planning meeting

Friday: 1 hour Grade level leaders meeting

Without opening Pandora’s box about meetings, I would like us to think a bit more about ‘who’ attends a meeting and why are they needed in the first place.

Sam always talks about the fact if people leave without a ‘job’ to do from a meeting, then they should not even be there. I wholeheartedly agree with him. This doesn’t mean a meeting is designed to load up our ‘to do’ list, it just means that a good meeting will have clear action items to move planning from discussion to tangible action. This will drive the meeting forward till the next time you meet again.

Support teachers are very important complimentary pieces to support teachers and students alike. They have been hired for their unique skills and knowledge in their specialized area. They are teachers too, just like homeroom teachers. Yes, their role is vastly different, but they contribute in ways homeroom teachers can’t. As a school we have worked very hard on pulling them into the learning and benefit students in whatever way they need.

We had a Grade 5 meeting on Thursday and had a language-integration teacher, gifted and talented teacher and an IT integration teacher. It is great to have extra voices, ideas and perspectives planning together, but only when these teachers are naturally integrating with the learning and pushing-in. It is a welcome sign that these teachers want to know what is happening in the classroom. But, if they are not integrating or on the agenda, then they don’t need to be at the meeting. As a grade 5 team, we have realized that we achieve so much more, when the conversations are focused and pointed. Too many people in the room can sometimes get in the way, as most people feel the need to talk. And as teachers, we all like being heard. Right?

So my question is, “How can you tell support teachers, that they are are not needed at a meeting without making them feel unwanted or not valued?”

There seems to always be a huge chasm between homeroom and support teachers in terms of validating one’s position, role and how best to collaborate. The biggest thing here, is that no matter what position or role you have in a school, if you are not impacting student learning, then please understand that you may not be required at that particular meeting. Don’t see it as a bad thing, see it as an opportunity to use that time and put into another area in the school that will be of benefit. And the best way to know what a grade or class is doing, is not through a meeting, but spending that meeting time in a classroom instead.

We all attend a lot of meetings and often over-meet in schools. Time is precious. Whether you are a support teacher, specialist, homeroom teacher, whatever, always ask yourself, ‘Am I really needed here?’ And if the answer is yes, then stay and contribute, if it is no, then leave. And know that it is ok. People will respect you for it. We all need to rise above this idea of, if I’m in a meeting I am being productive and useful. Why do we take things so personally? It’s a very sensitive topic of conversation.

Do you have the guts to challenge if people really need to be in a meeting and do they have the wisdom to acknowledge it themselves?

How do you manage this at your school?




Time Turtle

When we get to the “expressing” part of your Exhibition your art piece will need to tell a story too.

I am just sharing this with you now so you can start to play around with ideas while you are thinking about our current focus – developing questions.

What story did he tell about the time turtle?

Are you going to be as knowledgeable as Ethan when talking about your art piece?


Eagle or Pigeon?


Do you want to stay on the ground or take flight and soar?

I cannot get you off the ground unless you lift yourself first.

Are you a pigeon or an eagle?

How do you know which type of bird you are?

If you are an eagle, how can you keep soaring?

If you are a pigeon, how can you be more like an eagle?

Read this article and give some feedback on how you made a personal connection to it….

Fly with Eagles,
not Pigeons!

Pigeons live in the past. They spend a lot of time talking about what was, what used to be and who did them wrong. They often focus on things they have no control over and rarely focus on the things that they can do something about.

Pigeons love to make excuses. They live off excuses.

Pigeons don’t like risk. They love safety and security.

Pigeons spend all of their time in their comfort zone. Their urge to grow beyond their comfort zone is NOT stronger than their resistance to change.

Pigeons live in, and make all decisions from, Fear. Pigeons are afraid to step up.

Pigeons are double minded do nothings. They say one thing and don’t do another.

Pigeons love to be around other Pigeons. They love mediocrity and want to blend in with all of the other a pigeons of the world.

Pigeons are lazy in learning.

Pigeons lack mental toughness. They are quitters who are easily discouraged.

Pigeons want something for nothing.

Eagles live, and act in the present. They have a constant focus on a clear concise mental picture of a bigger and brighter future.

Eagles NEVER give or accept excuses. They simply get it done.

Eagles don’t look for security, they look for opportunity.

Eagles understand that the uncomfortable growth zone is often where breakthroughs happen.

Eagles take 100% responsibility and go out and make it happen themselves.

Eagles are unstoppable. They simply will not be denied. They are singularly focused until the task is complete and then they move on to the next great challenge.

Eagles allow their actions and results to speak louder than their words.

Eagles look at what the Pigeons of the world are doing and they do the opposite.

Eagles know that they can always learn and become more. Constant never ending self improvement is what they fly by.

Eagles are mentally tough. They stand up for what they believe in and they soar.

I know that you’re an Eagle because Pigeons don’t read or go to the blog regularly.
Just keep flying with other Eagles!

What does good look like?


Sarah and Jai are interested in the same thing – learning about coal and the impact this has on the wider-environment. They are learning and working together. Both of them are researching information and using this to deepen their understanding and shift their thinking. They are discussing, challenging, reading, writing, listening and organizing their ideas and thoughts to help them find the answers they are looking for.





Which path do you desire?


Today I shared a very personal story with you. This is how relationships deepen and become stronger. When people reveal the human, sensitive side that determine the path we take in life. We all have choices in life. Sometimes we have many choices, sometimes few. You choose which direction you want to go. Sometimes we get it right and other times we get it wrong. It is all part of learning and expanding.

What is more important to you? Play it safe, remain comfortable and live a predicable life? Or is it to embrace uncertainty, enter the unknown and experience the memorable? I have taken both ways. And I know which one makes me feel more alive…..

Over to you…. ideas, thoughts, connections….

Knowing what we think we know


At the moment we are learning more about what we consume. Each student has selected one thing that they either use, eat or buy and how that touches/affects the environment and natural resources. This was a great way to see what we actually know and what we think we know. Each student could draw or write a story showing the lifespan about the question they are interested in.

Some questions that they came up with:

How does the production of plastic (toys) impact the environment? Jonathan
How does the use of Aluminum impact natural resources? Mehwish
How does drinking bottled water impact the environment? Riko and Ayann
How does using coal affect the environment? Jai
How is nature disturbed when glass is produced? Kahleel
How does colouring/bleaching paper impact the environment? Zeana and Ruby

Nicole’s story of what she thinks happened along the way and how she as a consumer affects the environment. She realized that eating a chocolate bar for 2 minutes as a much wider-effect on the environment.

Mehwish’s story about how Aluminum is used. She is starting to write questions and ideas about this process. She is ready to go investigate and research more about these questions. Mehwish realized that we can re-use aluminum foil, but can it ever break down – biodegradable?

Zeana and Ruby’s story about the chemicals used when coloring paper. How are these chemicals used and how companies ethical dispose of them? Do they treat this chemical waste or does it leak into the ground and water systems?

Once students have some thought-provoking questions they can simply get on with it and find out what they need to know. Once they have been through a full process learning more about what happens they can then create a new story. From here we can compare their first story and the more accurate (full) one they did after researching. This is a great way to see the benefit of where their knowledge base is and where it has moved to as a result of learning.

The learning intention is that students hopefully make better choices about what they consume and how they can shift their thinking of ME to WE.

Jonathan is interested about the production of plastic and what it is made from.

Adam is looking at ways of reducing the use of fresh water.



Next Monday or Tuesday you will be presenting what you have been working on and organizing as part of your team challenge. This week as part of your home learning you are graphing the highs and lows that you experienced. be very honest about the challenges and opportunities you have faced.

Success can be measured in many ways. It can be measured by the way you feel. The problem with that is, that the person who feels like they have been successful is something they only know about. Success and achievement can also be measured by proving (with evidence) that you have something. Something you can see and touch. This backs up what you are talking about. Instead of telling a story about your learning journey you need to show it.

What evidence will you have to share and show next week? What have you done that has helped you achieve the things you have set out to do? How can you show the process you have been through? What steps did you take to solve a problem?

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