Wednesday, March 20, 2019

PNE Kāhui Ako 2019: The Launch

Nau mai haere mai, and welcome back to 2019. Crazy to think that 20 years ago everybody was freaking out about Y2K! It was all everybody talked about - news reports covered all these crazy people getting ready for Y2K: where everything was going to shut down?

Why am I talking about this? Well, I just hope the work of the Kāhui Ako will not be like Y2K: lots of people going up and arms and then just carrying on as normal afterwards like nothing has happened. It's probably not the best, most creative analogy but there you have it.

Today we are preparing for the first launch with the new vision, and kaupapa. This is the introduction video I created to introduced the schools involved however, I hear we have more ECE Centres involved so - Nau mai haere mai to you too!

 Today we are inviting over 400 teachers and support staff from our schools to explain the "WHY" around our focus on Well-being. Dr Denise Quinlan from the Canterbury Institute for Well-being will be unpacking with our teachers the "WHY". We'll be videoing each sessions and uploading the kōrero onto youtube for future listening etc. Unfortunately, this will not be available for the public domain...

Mā ngā huruhuru ka rere te manu … It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly

Imagine the combined brains, cultures, action, teaching experiences, personal experiences of our kaiako coming together to enable our children to soar?

I believe this is the way forward for us. What can we learn from each other? What strengths can we contribute? What perspectives can we gaze from? This is an extremely exciting space. So the above graphic shows the three streams of our work: Well-being, Resilience and Collaboration / Professional Growth.

Well-Being: My main take away from this Kaupapa is if teachers LEARN it, then LIVE it, and schools EMBED it into their system structure, then in the words of Kendrick Lamar... "We 'Gon Be Alright..."

But what I'm hearing here is that our schools pay a massive part in ensuring they EMBED the culture of wellbeing. So as teachers, we need to be very clear in what we accept as normal. What we accept today becomes tomorrow's norms. Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui. The Wellbeing champions or Wellbeing champion groups are in the early stages of understanding their roles and how they can lead this learning at their individual schools. To learn more about this role, you can see more here

Resilience: The Within school teacher leaders (WSTs) are also in the early stages of clarifying their roles and how they fit into the puzzle... but they have been engaging in the book Onward by Elena Aguilar. This book is all about cultivating teacher resilience: 

Just received #Onward by @brightmorningtm about Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators. A text our #kāhuiako #PNEKA (Palmerston North East Kāhui Ako) will be using a part of our focus for the next 2 years #wellbeing #hauora
— Nic Mason (@fuse711) November 21, 2018

WSTs will be part of a book study that they will then in turn lead elements of the book back at their own schools. To read more about their roles see here.

Collaboration and Professional Growth: The Across School Leaders are responsible for this stream of our work... And our emerging vision is Mā ngā huruhuru ka rere te manu … It is the feathers that enable the bird to fly.  Educators within our Kāhui Ako are the feathers and our tamariki are the birds. How strong we make our feathers together will determine how high, how far or for how long we can enable our tamariki to fly! Below is the top 5 reasons we exist:

And here is what we have decided that we are going to do:

And this is where are Learning Networks fit in. Our main purpose for this first hui will be to make connections with other teachers teaching at the same year level as you and deciding together how we want to move forward with this collaboration, based on your needs and the needs of your learners.

I aim to move slow. At a pace where relationships can flourish and collaboration may grow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Building Trust as a leader

Kia ora koutou,

Today I underwent my first PLG for our whānau. So what's a whānau you may be asking? Well if you are reading from somewhere else other than NZ, whānau is the Māori (first peoples of New Zealand) word for family. How is it connected to Russell Street School? Well, check out this little book I made as a follow up task:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

PNE Kāhui Ako Day 3

OK! We spent the morning clarifying some of the roles we will be leading and how we were going to make decisions. Looking back now, Ang from CoreED really has an amazing understanding of how Kāhui can operate successfully! 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

AST Leadership Development Day 2

What a glorious day in the Manawatū! The start of the long weekend and an exciting day of learning ahead.

So here we can provide a little more clarity on our roles. The co-principals have been doing a lot of behind the scenes conversations with other principals within our Kāhui Ako. Through these conversations, they have secured "Thursdays" as being our Kāhui Ako face-to-face day, they have also asked that all school ensure that one of our three target areas are part of their strategic goals - it is not fair for teachers if Kāhui Ako learning is a seperate "added on top". It must be part of what we are already doing.

So with much deliberation and consultation, our three targets were formed: Waiora (wellbeing), Mahi Ngātahi (Collaboration) and Ako (professional learning).

The Waiora (Wellbeing) stream of our learning will be led by an institution from Canterbury: New Zealand Institute of Well-being and Resistance (NZIWR). The "Partnerships provide an evidence-based, strengths-based, pro-active, whole-school approach to fostering individual and community wellbeing. Importantly, [their] approach includes cultural responsiveness as an integral aspect of wellbeing."

The NZIWR was created after the Christchurch earthquakes from 2011, so it has built a wealth of knowledge and resources since then. Each school will select a Well-being Champion who will get amazing professional development from NZIWR to learn and implement well-being among staff at their own kura. What an exciting opportunity!

Until the Within School Teaching Leaders (WST) have their hui to clarify their contracts: it is a general: "to promote the mahi of the Kāhui Ako back in their own context".

And the ASTs? Here are our synthesized goals in no particular order: the numbers relate back to the 3 purpose goals of Waiora, Mahi Ngātahi and Ako.

To end our day we decided on how we were going to make decisions. In what context were we going to take the decision, consult and make the decision, vote and achieve a consensus.

Kāhui Ako Decision Making Protocols

(Consensus)(Take the decision)(Consult + make the decision)(Votes)
Possible benefits, possible downsides, examples of appropriate use, example of inappropriate use.

I'm still coming to grips with what this all means. However, I will leave you with this quote and this image I found while at Caccia Birch:

AST Leadership Development Day 1, Part 2

Nau mai, hoki mai to my journey: Part 2 of my first day working with @AngVerm007 with the new PNE Kāhui Ako team for 2019/20. Part 1 can be found here if you are joining late or out of order :)

The following three images are from a protocol called CBAM (which I think it sounds like Mr T saying something... "C-BAMM!!").  But it stands for Concerns Based Adoption Model which is a fancy way of saying let's address the "elephants in the room" by politely lining them up to one side so we can keep moving forward and work towards taking action, one elephant at a time...

Some of our concerns were 
  • What does this role actually look like?
  • How do we manage different people's perceptions of our role?
  • What skills are we going to need in order to deal with conflict?
  • How will we achieve this without "lumping more work" on teachers?
We then needed to decide whether our concern or question was part of "self", the task, or our impact.

We then group similar concerns and labeled them. 

"let's address the "elephants in the room" by politely lining them up to one side so we can keep moving forward and work towards taking action, one elephant at a time..."

And below we began to unpack what our "actions" were going to be in order to resolve the concern / elephant. This is a great tool to use when undergoing lots of change. It's a great visual (in the staff room) for staff to see concerns being actioned... Together, we unpacked the increasing other people's perceptions to increase the clarity the role. 

PNE Kāhui Ako AST Leadership Day 1, Part 1

Kia ora koutou, welcome to this first installment of my evolving understanding of our Community of Learning (CoL)/ Kāhui Ako (KA). I'm Nic Mason, a newly appointed Across School Teacher (AST). I got hugely excited by this prospect 2 years ago when our cluster of schools set a Kāhui Ako up. And I feel very thrilled at the opportunity to get involved. 

For those of you who don't know me, I work at Russell Street School. I am actually a previous student of Terrace End School, Ross Intermediate and Freyberg High School (all of which are within our KA). I used to live at the Whakarongo School house, my mum is an early childhood educator and I feel very passionate around smoothing out the pathways between each of these transitions. I am looking forward to learning from others within our Kāhui Ako - we are almost 400 educators and the wealth of knowledge we collectively share is vast! And at the end of the day, we want to be better for our kids so yeah, what might we collectively be able to do to support our tamariki?  

Let us start with this: The Palmerston North East Kāhui Ako is not a CoL we are a 'Kāhui Ako'. Let's the name right first and foremost: we are a Kāhui Ako.


Now we have clarified this... let's get on with this journey... let's get on with the nuts and bolts in how we work or operate. The above picture, I took as I was just about to enter our first day together. It really signifies to me that, just like entering a building for the first time, I had lots of questions and unknowns... What was on the other side?  And the questions flooded in!  What would we be doing? Who would be there? What would they be like? How would we do what we were going to be doing? Was there going to be lunch? All the really important questions were swirling around my mind like circling vultures to a carcass. 

After meeting everyone, we went through Patrick Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team. OMG! What an eye opener for me! However, I wondered why this model had to be used "only at the top"? Can this approach still exist within a flat leadership style? This model really challenged me, as I am now in my fourth year at being Team Leader at RSS. It made me wonder to what degree does our team make it to the collective results?

But for us, as a new team, we started with a trust building activity through vulnerability. Wow! What an incredible conversation between the seven of us! Some of the crazy vulture questions were being answered and I began to feel at ease. Feeling invigorated by the amazing vulnerability the team showed we were ready to tackle the next part of our journey. What were some of our trust enabling actions? No surprises what came out on top:
  • Honesty
  • Time
  • Empathy
  • Support
  • Professional 
  • Accountability
  • Shared understanding of actions
  • Perspective / non judgemental / Non assumptions

Our wonderful facilitator, Angela Vermeulen, stepped us through the idea that the PNE Kāhui Ako is an "Ecosystem". And we were presented with 6 essential questions for which we needed to explore the answer to: 
1. Why do we exist? 
2. How will we behave? 
3. How will we succeed? 
4. What do we do? 
5. Who must do what? 
6. What is important right now?

Little did I know, this kaupapa was to form the structure of the next two days.... 

So below we did a "bus stop" activity around the question: Why do we exist? For our tamariki? For  our kaiako? For our kaitiaki? For our whānau? For our Kāhui Ako?

As a start, there were some powerful reasons why we exist!  Can you think of any more reasons? Please add them to the slide!

I loved the next part of our journey: Angela shared us with this graphic: When going through change what do great leaders look for? 
  1. Confusion? Well maybe it's because there is no vision or it has not been communicated well enough?
  2. Anxiety? Well, do people have the necessary skills to do what it is you've communicated them to do?
  3. Resistance? Well, do they have the right incentive or ownership? 
  4. Frustration? It might be due to a lack of resources?
  5. Treadmill? Is there no clear defined action plan? Bugger, we might end up back where we started.

Which is a very important reason why leaders need to have a really good ear to the floor. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Whakawhanaungatanga: making positive connections within our local school community

Kia ora! During 2018 I have been on a bit of a mission to whakapiki the leadership profile for our young leaders within the school. If you flick through my blog you will find some of my earlier posts here and here that further explain our journey.

However, it's Term Three and I am noticing a feeling in the air among our leaders - there is a tension between being a positive role model for others and just acting like a normal cool kid among their peers. I sensed that there is a pressure there. Is this Tall Poppy syndrome in action? Why do we as New Zealanders (or humans altogether) cut those around us down? Does anyone else notice this?

Anyway, I got my thinking cap on and wondered how I might address this issue. I pondered a pep talk from me... hard as I try... a pep talk from a teacher might not hit the mark so I searched further...

I put an email out to a number of schools and was over the moon to hear back from Ross Int and Freyberg HS!  I asked them: 

I am wanting for our leaders to connect with your leaders to have a conversation, to share ideas, not a presentation. There are 18 of us, and I am envisaging them in groups of 3 talking with one of your leaders (so if you had 6 leaders to share, that would be great!). They could walk and talk, sit and talk: but the focus is on the conversation.

Some questions I'd like them to focus on are:
- What is leadership to you?
- How does leadership help navigate your decisions? In the classroom and socially?
- Do you act differently around adults and your peers?  If so how?
- What are some strategies you use when leading?
- And anything else that comes up.

After spending an hour exploring these ideas with their leadership team, our Russell Street School leaders felt invigorated and inspired! I have noticed the tension of "being a leader" and "being within a peer group culture" being a lot more positive and confident to be content. I'm still waiting for some time to capture some children's voice.  But the best part of the day? When our learners were so inspired to perform our school waiata, acapela on the front steps of Freyberg High school during morning tea... "RSS REPRESENT"

Nic Mason - Teacher Appraisal 2018

Teacher Appraisal

Teacher Appraisal Observation

Priority Learner Focus

Inquiry Stream

Investigation 1:1 Coaching

Friday, July 20, 2018

Investigating 1:1 coaching time for Ranginui team

As part of my recent work with Carol, my leadership coach I have been exploring how I might move my team from an operational zone to a strategic zone. In my inquiry to achieve this, I have re-discovered readings that we have analysed during 2015-16. Because this was early on in my leadership journey, some of these readings went over my head... I wasn't ready for the concepts but now having much more experience with scenarios and concepts within the readings they are making much more sense.

The why: taken from
The experience of being coached could be described as professional ‘me time’. It is an opportunity to have focused, non-judgmental conversations aimed at identifying goals and working out ways forward in order to inspire enhanced levels of practice. As a result, professional learning activity can become much more personalised, discerning, collaborative and purposeful, and ultimately has a more sustained impact on practice. The best coaching conversations are empowering, respectful and professionalising – they increase teachers’ sense of self-efficacy and, over time, begin to positively influence the nature of conversations across the school.

The how:
 Working with Carol and using her one on one model, Rosie and I will come into your room for 30 mins. Either Rosie or Nic will take your class for 30 minutes while you enter a 30 min professional learning conversation based on your classroom practice, leadership or any other personal goals you wish to focus on.

The what: 
Choose a coach, negotiate a time.

At the end of Term 3 we will review the effectiveness of this innovation to see whether we will continue with it or not.  I know Lisa Cuff at Whakarongo school has a similar concept they do with all staff. Does anyone else have a similar story?  What were some of the blockers and drivers?

Ngā mihi