Monday, 3 April 2017

Balance through Integration (sharpening the focus)

As I've pursued and had repeatedly brought to my attention, this need for balance and a nationally expressed concern for teacher workload, I've been reading and teasing some ideas out for myself.

When you're working with the nation's more fragile families, it's not OK to stop questing for improvement. Equally, if quality, high performing staff are "the goose that lays the golden egg" we don't want to kill the goose by our continual quest for improvement or the improvement certainly will not happen.

I notice that in lots of the conversation about these and related challenges the issues or elements rapidly become dichotomous, i.e. this or that; -or this versus that.
I kept wondering if our teachers and team leaders as first researchers, were looking for the affordances of "this with that" and how we would balance, plan for and resource that, what that combo might look like and how achievable it might be.

So I began the year, thinking about how to do what we do really well and have it sustainable. What we are discussing here, emerges as a key sustainability issue and brought about a sharpening focus, from looking into the affordances and balance of digital learning and teaching, to how we might integrate well to enhance the balance and reduce the tension in the system.

I also continue to think about what we can safely get rid of in the environment of an ever expanding curriculum.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

2017 Inquiry

We had a tremendously positive end to 2016.
I've been asked by many people, "what are you going to do next? -What's the next big thing?"
My answer to all of them is the same. "We've done an enormous thing, -now we need to learn to do it as well as we can"
Doing it as well as we can includes these sorts of challenges:

  • how do we balance creativity and joy  with the need to push for improvement in the "3R's"
  • how do we balance time and teacher work load with improvement in outcomes
  • how do we manage high quality teaching as inquiry without overloading high quality teachers?
It seems entirely appropriate to me that as we continue to inquire into "the affordances of digital learning and teaching, that we focus on consolidating what we have and learning to do it really well.

Obviously we will not get the best bang for buck out of all this investment, if "teachers as first researchers" are not able to tease these questions out and be the frontline of discovery for how Learn, Create, Share works.

Below  is my usual "start of the year summary" and "big ideas for 2017". Sadly this time there is no dog barking in the background, as at the time this was made our faithful friend (who added song in dog speak to many of my voice-overs), was buried in our back garden.
So here you go; -a dog free screen record.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Summarising 2016

What an AMAZING year!
-A Woolf Fisher Travelling Fellowship, with so many highlights I can't recount them here, the birth of Felix George, our 2nd grandchild, and a really successful year of Pt England School, Manaiakalani and Manaiakalani Outreach.

With respect to Pt England School, it first should be noted that the Management Team did an absolutely outstanding job with me absent for 3 months, and Toni Nua, who acted as principal, was just magnificent. There was not one single deficit for me to address on return, but conversely the school had continued to pump ahead as well or better than always!
Congratulations Team!

With respect to Manaiakalani, Woolf Fisher, our Research Team from Auckland University, gave us the most concretely encouraging news we've ever had in this long journey of improving school. Their confirmation of the "Manaiakalani Dosage Effect", which you will hear more of in this report, was the most heartening thing we've heard in ages.

We also received our first research reports on the Manaiakalani Outreach and they also, were more encouraging than I would have expected when we first sat down to plan the Outreach. Once again, most heartening indeed!

I am immensely grateful for the support and encouragement of so many people they can't be named. Just a few though, have to get a mention:
From Pt England, the Management and Support Team of Juanita, Garth, Toni, Donna, Leigh and Charlotte have just got to know that they are up there with any winning representative side this country has.
From Manaiakalani, the "Business End" of Pat, Jenny, Dorothy, Fiona, Anne, Lenva and Dave are also right there with all of the country's finest and best.

Results like these, across a very broad front of activity do not happen by chance, are the results of really hard work, but also require the blessing of Providence to be achieved and sustained. As always, we humbly express our sincere and deep gratitude to Someone much higher than us. God, who makes all this work possible.

As usual, I've provided a "voiced over" version of my 2016 report to our community and Board of Trustees.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Changing Teacher Practice to get Kids Employed

Once again I'm bringing you a summarised version of something I've had to present to others in this school term. On this occasion I was speaking to a group of Deputy Secretaries from the NZ Ministry of Education. Afterward they asked for a copy of my presentation, so I thought I would keep the record straight by posting it on my blog.

The short story is: -If we want our lowest SES Maori and Pasifika kids employed, we need to change the way we do school. Improved practice = Kids @ Work!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Harmonising the Curriculum to bring Enlightenment

This month I had the great privilege to speak to a mixed audience of the OECD and the New Zealand Ministry of Education about Equity, Access and Inclusion. 
It was an honour to speak to people who are working on these wicked problems and genuinely trying to do something about it.
My screen record of this presentation didn't come our quite a well as I'd hoped, but I think it still conveys adequately what I was hoping to share.
I trust you find this valuable.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Woolf Fisher Fellowship Summary & Conclusion

The experience the Woolf Fisher Fellowship afforded my wife, (Dorothy), and I, is possibly the richest, most humbling education experience we’ve ever had.
To say we are grateful is a pathetic understatement. We both feel very challenged by the vision and generosity of Wool Fisher, the man, and this has become as much a part of the learning as the places we visited and the ideas we’ve synthesised from our learning journey.

We left NZ on April 22. Dorothy returned for the birth of our 2nd grandchild 10 days ahead of me on July 7, and I returned after attending Harvard on July 17.
Dorothy and I, and the Manaiakalani Group, have been blessed over years to have been able to learn from, and contribute to a global group of Education Innovators who have been of enormous help to us as we sought to raise learner achievement outcomes and provide equity of digital access for Decile 1 Maori and Pasifika Learners. This made it easy to settle on a general theme for the Fellowship experience. We decided that we would do something we’ve never had a chance to do; -visit the people we work with and who have helped us “at their place”.

Woolf Fisher Trust enabled this remarkable opportunity to see people and their work “in situ” and to organise holiday and reflection time in between. What a blessing this turned out to be!

A study of disparity and the attempt/s to regain identity. A study of magnificent  successes in re-discovering culture and dealing with on-going colonisation. We visited 12 schools and some education institutions and saw some of the most vivid and “in your face” disparity we have seen anywhere in the world. We, by the way, have worked and taught in Papua New Guinea!
We have on-going connections via the roll-out and development of digital learning along with our association with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the resurgent culture of the Navigators. We have ongoing development opportunities via Professor Michael Fullan, who’s global “New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning movement is being investigated by the Kamehameha Schools of Hawai’i. At a class by class level we look forward to using our Google connections and platform to connect NZ classrooms with Hawai’ian classrooms. We have every expectation of continuing to work with educators in Hawai’i as we continue to try and solve education problems for Polynesian people.

These visits were very much ‘system level’ occasions.  
1. We met with François Bocquet, Chargé de la prospective au NumériLab at the French Ministry of Education. His role would translate to “Director of Innovative and Digital Technologies”.
Our connection here, is via Hapara an NZ Start-Up, (now global), that began in our school and is currently assisting with ChromeBook roll-outs in France. Dorothy has already been and assisted with this work and our visit was to gain a system level understanding of whether and how we might continue to be involved as France considers “Digitising” her Learning Delivery with some learners belonging to a population similar to ours. Our conversation left us grateful to be working in NZ education, as although our experience sometimes feels incoherent, at least we are to a greater extent, “masters of our own fate!”
2. At the OECD we met with David Istance, Senior Analyst, Project Leader, Directorate for Education and Skills, Innovative Teaching and Learning.
This visit had a similar theme to all of our visits; -what are the themes and emergent patterns and learnings when considering Innovative Pedagogies for Powerful Learning? In particular, we were looking forward to discussing the global tension between the ‘Knowledge Based Metrics’ which are driving the “League Table Effect” created by PISA Testing and analysis, and the idea of Creative and Innovative Pedagogies to produce C21 Graduate Attributes. David acknowledged that this was a real problem and that the OECD were realising they needed to adjust their focus somewhat. David put us in touch with the leaders of two “Equity and Access” projects in different parts of the world who we have already corresponded with and will be able to work with going forward.
Both Dorothy & I will be speaking at OECD hosted events in the coming months.

Vacation Begins
By this time, we really did need to stop and think and so were fortunate to travel to Bern, the home of Dorothy’s ancestors, by way of Annecy near the French-Swiss border.
As we travelled through the ‘Old World’ we were struck by the scope and length of vision held and passed on by our forebears. Vision that was huge, intergenerational and had spectacular unity of purpose. It put us in mind of Mr Woolf Fisher and challenged us when thinking about our own work and the imperative of improving the lot the of the “20% Long Brown Tail” of NZ.
In 1540 Dorothy’s forebears decided to build a cathedral. 250 years later they completed it. People died whilst building and there were accidents and hardship, but they refused to be put off and their monument to the glory of God and their own identity stands strong today. We became fascinated with this theme and as we travelled via River Boat from Amsterdam to Budapest, continued to marvel at intergenerational unity of purpose and the determination to honour God, culture and identity.
We travelled via Rome to Sicilia to a remote coastal location, (Ribera), to think, read and write. This we did, though neither of us wrote as much as we hoped, as unpacking and repacking what we’d already encountered was a bigger job than either of us anticipated. Some of what we wrote/video’d was used immediately back in NZ for Treasury, Auckland University and the Manaiakalani Outreach.

Although we’ve worked with Michael Fullan on a few a occasions, (beginning back in the NZ Schooling Improvement Days), it was an absolute privilege to see him at work in “his place”. Apart from spending 5 hours discussing “New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning” and the potential for working together in Hawai’i, we had the joy of being present when he ‘did his thing’ with the Clinton School District 2.5  hrs outside Toronto. The District had brought to together its Administrators and Senior Leaders for the day and Michael facilitated their learning for the morning. He generously gave us all his content to use for our own Manaiakalani planning and we had the buzz of being there while someone who’s the best in the world at what he does, led us to engage in strategic thinking about our clusters of schools or Communities of Learning.

Our engagements in Maine were facilitated by Jeff Mao the first Director of the Maine Learning Initiative, which was the first whole state laptop roll-out in the world. These people helped us enormously when we did the first NZ Cluster Roll-Out in 2010-2011.
We had 3 meetings in Maine with groups of people, numbering 12 in all, who were either lead educators, administrators, or high level tech supporters/suppliers.
These people and these kinds of meetings are very important to us as we supply solutions via the Manaiakalani Education Trust, to areas of NZ that have typically been difficult to supply/support and where there have been real issues of equity and access. The conversations on these occasions tend to be two way “Q & A” where we are helping each other to problem solve or describe roll-out or maintenance/sustainability challenges that are actually problems for the digitising of education anywhere in the world. What was particularly delightful about the opportunity afforded by Woolf Fisher, was being able to do this “at their place” rather than in a sterile “neutral environment”. The best of these was a BBQ overlooking one of the sounds, with a collection of absolutely enthusiastic and committed educators talking about their practice.

Myrtle Beach Sth Carolina
SCASA is the annual conference of the District Administrators, Principals and Deputy Principals for the State of Sth Carolina. We do not have any equivalent of this in NZ. Our connection there is Donna Teuber from Richland District 2, who was embarking on District wide ChromeBook Roll-Outs at the time we began to roll-out ChromeBooks here in NZ. Since that time we have been “day/night” supporters for each other in efforts to support children in Digital Education.
The conference was SUPERB! It had the finest collection of “on-point” practical, problem solving presenters I have ever heard. Sth Carolina is forward thinking in its approach to Innovative Pedagogies and one could see this driven all the way down through the State Legislature, through the Secretariat, District Superintendents down to the Principal and Deputy Principal levels. This high degree of coherence and unity of purpose is definitely something New Zealand could learn from as innovation is far more ad hoc here. We learned things we can use in our own Manaiakalani Cluster development and planning from seeing this layered coherence and meaning making.
ISTE Conference, Denver, Colorado
At ISTE, the largest conference of its kind globally, we met up with our NZ colleagues as this is a learning event Manaiakalani Principals try to get to every 2 years.
ISTE has the largest collection of ‘education solutions’ to be seen anywhere in the world along with the largest collection of education presentations and speakers. It is attended each year by 15 - 20,000 people. Part of the buzz for us, is being there with our colleagues and arguing and debating the respective merits of what we see and learn. The Manaiakalani Excursion to ISTE is a formal, facilitated event, with a collaborative approach to note taking, reflecting and structured discussion. At ISTE we uncover solutions and ideas, that as a result of extended discussion and trial, ultimately end up being researched by the Woolf Fisher Research Centre as we investigate their efficacy for improving learner achievement outcomes. Examples of this would be our current ChromeBook and Community Wireless solutions.
Our investigations this year, with a new Digital Curriculum requirement in NZ, were into the areas of Coding, Robotics & Digital Curriculum delivery. As always, we found some really productive leads to follow up on and people connections to work with as we go forward.

July 4 with Family
We were privileged to be immersed in the culture of the great American Nation, at a family and community level for the celebration of the National Holiday. Community fireworks at the local High School was a ton of fun as was the rest of the ‘razzamataz’ going on in the community. Sadly, the nation was the most divided we’ve ever seen it. Divided over guns, Black Lives Matter, Clinton v Trump and the ideals of the Great American Dream. Most educators and people in communities are just ‘trying to get on with it’ while Fox News and other media play their polarizing roles in society. Once again this was an opportunity to read, listen, reflect and write with particular reference to the developing incoherence in America and reflection on how we might grow better coherence in NZ.

This was a collection of the most credentialled and capable presenters and facilitators one would ever be likely to find in one place together with an audience that is bright, eager and has a sense of being privileged to be present. The subject of ‘Evolving Leadership in Education’ is timely and necessary as globally, education receives increasing pressure to deliver success across domains that previously included family, church and sports clubs.
Both the presenters and the material were excellent and I’ve used (with permission) some of  it in presentations around NZ already.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education is working hard to be genuinely ‘international’ and is succeeding, though presents itself unwittingly ‘American-Centric’ in some of its approaches to global challenges. What the course is particularly good at is getting its members to examine themselves and their practice in the light of current good practices and make decisions about how to continue to improve.

Benefit to School, Community & NZ Education
The Woolf Fisher Fellowship is far and away the best opportunity I’ve ever had to visit, listen, talk, think, read reflect and write about how to improve the lot of learners living in subsistence communities inside this and other developed economies and how to partner with them in the move from subsistence to interdependent capital building citizenship.
I am still synthesising this information and thinking and will be doing so for some time.
I am using the substance arrived at thus far to:
  • Rewrite the Pt England School Charter
  • Rewrite the Manaiakalani Strategic Plan and Memorandum of Understanding
  • Design the developing Manaiakalani Outreach and its programme into the Decile 1 Regions of NZ
  • Advise NZ Treasury
  • Advise Auckland ATEED
  • Advise NZ Ministry of Education

My hope and expectation is that this work will indeed be of benefit!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Heading for the Old World

Woolf Fisher Fellowship Chapter 2

Meeting with David Istance
Senior Analyst, Project Leader,
Directorate for Education and Skills, Innovative Teaching and Learning

Subject: Innovative Pedagogies for Powerful Learning

David connected us with:
Gaelle Chapelle, who has just set up CitaD’el and has worked with teachers and innovation and learning in French Belgium

Val Mendes, who leads the education innovation work at the Jaume Bofill Foundation in Barcelona, – growing a network of schools in low SES communities through a group of foundations with a strong focus on innovative pedagogy

Val has immediately responded and as we work to scale Manaiakalani outreach, may be a valuable ally who is working on very similar challenges in Spain.

Our conversation was illuminating and helpful and was focused around the tension in the developed world, (which can be seen clearly through the OECD lens) between test scores, e.g. PISA which is an OECD product, seriously affecting government decisions, and the necessary focus on the learner, C21 skills and attributes and what will be required for success in our jurisdictions going forward.

This was really an expansion of the bipolar tension we already have in NZ, evidenced in part by the tension between the front and back halves of the NZ Curriculum.
The front half of the New Zealand Curriculum contains a well stated set of descriptors for attributes, skills and understandings we desire our New Zealand learners to have. The back half, necessarily, focuses on the knowledge and core curriculum skills we need our learners to have. Currently, this tension is left for schools to resolve community by community, as the NZC requires that we contextualise our curriculum delivery at the community level.

Similarly, on the one hand our political leaders spout the rhetoric of learner centric C21 skills and attributes and on the other they demand better PISA results, (test scores in core subjects), especially for the Education Long Tail, ( a local name for our struggling Maori and Pasifika kids) .
This desire for improved achievement outcomes is not wrong, indeed I’ve worked hard for it during my 37 years in education. The problem is that increased top down teacher accountability measures related to test scores will not bring the desired outcome, neither will it improve learner performance with or ownership of the important C21 attributes desired by commerce and and our increasingly digital economies. This is not a problem specific to New Zealand but affects the whole of the developed world. Downward pressure around student test scores is exerted on the compulsory sector of education by parents (who remember how school was for them), by politicians (who want to score high on the league table of nations) and by universities (who want their students to arrive with what they deem to be the necessary academic skills).

David has the job of running a department in OECD that gets way less publicity than the PISA stuff as they investigate ways to get innovative pedagogies happening across the developed world. They have a connection with prof. Michael Fullan’s New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning development but he described that as being further advanced than they are presently.

A good thing that is happening is that Andreas Schleicher is steering OECD toward a more learner centric approach, with a greater emphasis on Lateral Learning. The Learning and Change Networks in NZ have been of some influence, and David expressed disappointment that due to political and funding forces it had “died a death”.
Steering OECD toward a more learner centric  approach is not easy as governments find PISA really easy to understand and relate to and they like the way it ranks countries. As Michael Fullan says, it’s really hard to give politicians sound bites about innovative pedagogies and deeper learning.

The western politicians who subscribe most heavily to the “PISA based approach to education” would not actually like their children and grandchildren to live and go to school in the jurisdictions getting the highest scores, (with the exception of Finland), because they actually aspire to different qualities of life for their progeny. Interestingly some of those jurisdictions are now realising their education product is not creative, imaginative and curious enough and are beginning to investigate a more learner centric approach, whilst the pressure still mounts on us to match their PISA scores.

My take on this is that we want our scores to be respectable. The correlation between NCEA Level 2 and later success is enormous. The correlation between having had a tertiary education and being in the top 3rd of western society’s income strata, is inescapable. I do not think, however that we need to sacrifice precious aspects of life-style and culture to be at the top of PISA.

I’m encouraged to hear that Andreas Schleicher is leading PISA to look at broader definitions of success along with Reading, Writing, Mathematics and Science. Serious “ups” to David, who along with others is working to get innovative pedagogies gearing up across the globe in the belief that this will not only deliver learners to the adult community with a desirable graduate profile in respect of C21 attributes but also produce improved outcomes against traditional education metrics.