Pockets of Change

I think this will be less of a blogpost than a collection of thoughts I’ve been having about change.

Image Credit: http://crownrelease.tumblr.com/post/64044321883/crgenius-banksy1
Image Credit: http://crownrelease.tumblr.com/post/64044321883/crgenius-banksy1

I guess it’s really struck me recently (I never claimed to be quick on the uptake…) that to be the ‘Future Learning Leader’ at school, I’m actually in the business of promoting change. And not just ‘make sure you take the roll electronically in the first ten minutes of the lesson’ change, but real, fundamental, paradigm-shifting change. And change is hard. And change is scary.

And change meets with resistance.

Lately I’ve been feeling really hopeful. When I sit back and think about my school staffroom, I can identify pockets of change. I can think of a staff member from almost every department within the school who has been making changes to their practice in one way or the other. I don’t necessarily think that I’m the source of the inspiration for those changes, but I can see these bubbles, these pockets arising. I definitely think the #edSMAC PLN group that Matt Nicoll and I set up is also starting to make very small in-roads for a few staff. And I have hope that these various pockets of change will spark yet more change and build momentum.

However, I’d be silly if I didn’t acknowledge that alongside the pockets of change exist discontent and disquiet. I was very aware of this as I hurriedly inhaled my lunch earlier this week sitting amongst a group of staff whose general demeanour was one of despondency. Again, I don’t think the professional learning I co-lead is the sole cause of this morale, but I own that it’s almost certainly a part of it.

And today I listened to this awesome podcast from NPR TED Radio Hour on “Disruptive Leadership”. One of the things that are percolating in my head because of this came from the talk by Bunker Roy. He embraces conflict. He expects that the changes he implements will provoke conflict, because out of conflict will come change. Roy quoted Gandhi (always good if you want validation!): “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” My two takeaways from this then are: conflict is a healthy sign that people are wrestling with change. And: be persistent and resilient. Do not give up in the face of conflict but hold fast to the vision you have.

I was also interested in what Seth Godin had to say. He talked about what leaders have in common. Things like they:

  • challenge the status quo
  • build a culture
  • have curiosity
  • connect people to one another
  • commit to the cause

And I can see the same themes here: challenging the status quo will not come without challenging those who want to maintain the status quo. Being persistent and resilient in the face of resistance requires commitment to your cause.

I don’t have a neat conclusion to this rambling blogpost, except perhaps to say I can see a change is coming, so you may keep your coins.

Bringing Discovery Back

I really enjoyed this blog, and in particular this TEDEx talk. Some of my ‘take-aways’ from this presentation include:

  • Allowing students to explore -> play -> learn, which is a process that requires critical thinking and creativity. We shouldn’t just accept things the way they are.
  • Daniel, the speaker, makes two suggests for ways we can be explorers:
  1. Being a ‘polar’ explorer – thinking about the extremes, the most to the least
  2. Being a ‘circumnavigator’ – walking around the edges of things to see what is marginalised and what is centralised – this suggests values and is a political act.
  • Without exploration there is no discovery, and students deserve an ‘a-ha!’ moment.

Steve Mouldey

On Friday I was invited/gatecrashed a visit by our Deputy Principals to see the Mind Lab in Newmarket. It is an incredible space that really empowers people to discover science, technology and engineering. We are having a large MakerSpace built in our new school so were looking forward to seeing some ideas for how it could be set up and used plus work out what the Mind Lab could offer above what we could do in future.

Chris Clay met us and showed us around the amazing space while explaining what each area is used for: film special effects, 3D animation, robotics, coding, science…it was incredible as you can see from the photos below:

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An Afternoon with Ken

Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley

3 Principles that supports human life flourishing:

  1. Diversity – “kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents”
  2. Curiosity – “curiosity is the engine of achievement”
  3. Creativity – “one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop powers of creativity”

Other gems from this talk:

  • Great teachers “mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage”
  • “The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning” – there is difference between the task of teaching and the achieving of it, e.g. dieting.  You can be on a diet, but not be losing weight…!
  • There is a place for testing but it should not obstruct learning.  We currently have a culture of compliance rather than a culture of curiosity.
  • Case of Finland, where teaching and learning is individualised
  • Also places importance on the professional learning of teachers

It would be interesting to see what the New Zealand Curriculum says about these three principles.  My current understanding is that they are supported.  The intention behind the NZC is for schools to create their own curricula which are in line with the communities and students they serve.

The three principles are also ways to measure the benefit of new teaching practices.  Will they allow diversity, curiosity and creativity to flourish?