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


Thursday, May 24, 2018


Kia ora whānau ma,

I had the priveledge to take our student leaders to National Young Leaders Day (NYLD) this year for the first time ever! It was incredible. Thank you to the team who put this event on, it was an excellent day! 

Just real quick, we have followed up with a hui today where we came together to share and compare our notes and messages. How might we use this? I asked the kids and they said "let's share it!"

So we have decided to create a presentation together, introducing the presenters that spoke to us and sharing their message. It's just started; it's not finished. But here is the slide.

And in the future, we can create a video to share with a wider audience!  Watch this space :)

Ngā mihi


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Differentiation continued...

Are we there yet?

No. We're about half way.


In between, organising camp and holding camp parent evenings, team meetings and supporting the important people in our lives we get to do some teaching!

So where did we get up to? Ah, that's right... the survey.  The results were fascinating! One of the first things that popped out to me was this:

There was almost a quarter of the class who when given the choice to create their own "learning priorities" chose for the teacher to "tell me what to do". One thing that I was not that clear on was the yellow option. I should have provided an example of: "Choose from options provided by my teacher e.g. a Must Do / Can Do list.  And FYI, I prefer to use the term "Learning Priorities" as opposed to "Must Do / Can Do because, well who says you must do or can do anything? It's not very empowering, in my opinion. But if you phrase your question: "Ok, Emily what are your learning priorities this week?" it has such very different connotation.  What do you think?

Next, I looked into this area:

Again, quite interesting to see who chose what.  What would you chose? As a learner? As a teacher? As a leader? Is your preference your preference because it's easier for you? Or is it where you can reach your ultimate potential? Wonderings aside, I analysed my students and put them into this box!

And from this box, I designed some learning experiences around the questions I asked above. Now I need to just point out that some of these lessons were taken from a TLIF I was involved in during 2015-2016 researching into #learneragency

The vehicle we used to develop our understanding and capacity for this was Jugyou Kenkyuu a collaborative form of professional development. So this lesson is the sum of about 8 teachers collaborating across 2 schools to create it! Check out the lesson here: JK Collaboration Lesson 1 & 2.

So the above students formed 2 groups. The Self and Team kids became a group and the buddy kids became a group. Here is the lesson I used to unpack collaboration with these learners:
The idea from this lesson emerged from a leadership coaching session I had here.  Do you agree with the levels of collaboration? Where do you sit in terms of your teaching or learning?

The next lesson I planned is around "being present". For the buddy learners in my class, I want them to be the best they can be: so that means, we need to learn and practice a whole lot of "soft skills" like listening and asking questions etc. I am planning to use some of the coaching questions I have developed through my own leadership coaching courses as a vehicle to develop this. Here is the first lesson here:

I will leave you with the next phase of implementing this concept with this image:
Where, I now want to connect my learners with the people they best receive feedback and feedforward from. For parents and caregivers, I will be inviting them in and leading a presentation around giving feedback.  For previous teachers: how might I connect this relationship so that the learner can get what they need?

Finally, here is the link to the presentation I am going to be sharing with our GATE whānau community:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Student Leadership Development Russell Street School - Hautūtanga 2

So the scene is set; the seed has been sown. Now there is just the patient task of nurturing our ideas; feeding them with love, watering them with time and giving them plenty of sun as you tell different people about it :)

Analogy aside, inspiration hit me like a tonne of bricks after seeing "The Greatest Showman" where I couldn't get over at how much P.T. Barnum's life story was a blagh blagh for leadership (can't think of the word right now but didn't want that to be a blocker for the rest of my post!). It made me think of my friend who has just opened a Cafe here in Palmy. She used all of the leadership tools, skills, dispositions and attitudes to bring her vision to life! I also had a thought to contact Freyberg High school, our local high school within our CoL, to see if they could help us out. 

The universe heard my plan and organised everyone's schedule around this impeccably! 

After listening to my friend's talk, we unpacked some of her messages together on a shared doc. It was so beautiful what the kids really tuned into. I was so proud of the connections they made. I was even on the verge of tears...

Next, we were joined by the Head boy and girl and the Deputy head boy and girl from Freyberg. Well, I wasn't crying before, I was now. The leadership messages these young adults shared was energising. Wow! Below is the image that they shared that helped them to remember what to do when you needed to speak in front of an audience. 

A super inspiring morning!  I finished the session with the comment: "leadership is not some sort of magic super power that when we find out about, we keep and hold onto it. As leaders, we need to spread the message around and create more leaders!"

So, spread this message!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Student Leadership Development Russell Street School - Hautūtanga 1

He Whakatauki:
Inā kei te mohio koe ko wai koe, I anga mai koe I hea, kei te mohio koe, kei te anga atu ki hea -
If you know who you are and where you are from, then you will know where you are going.

At Russell Street School, Leadership has been a concept we have been loosely following for a number of years. We have a belief that by the time children are Year 5 and 6 they will all have an opportunity to develop leadership through a responsibility in a specific area.

Some areas we have improved are
  • creating responsibilities from innovations within the school e.g. Scooter Park Squad, Moo Crew etc.
  • upskilling and uplifting the profile of Peer Mediators
  • spreading responsibility of overseeing student roles around these leadership support around the whole school e.g. Junior teachers supporting Moo Crew and Road Patrol
  • structuring the timetable and groups so that there is a House Leader / School Ambassador and a teacher co-leading the responsibility so there is a chance for tuakana / teina relationships to flourish

So what might this look like?

  • Teachers decide what area they would like to develop. Write your name in the space provided.
  • Student leaders decide what area they would like to lead.
  • Co-leaders (teachers and student leaders) meet to discuss roles, responsibilities and goals.
  • Make a plan.
  • By this time, other senior students would have chosen a leadership area e.g. Scooter Squad, Moo Crew
  • Co-leaders (teachers and student leaders) action their plan.
  • developing a timetable / expectation doc. For example,

  • Moo Crew
    Sports Crew
    Outdoor Crew
    Art Fairies
    Jada / Martin
    Cole / Lachie /Martin/ Steph
    Izzy / Lydia / Kate
    Danika / Amber / Eva
    Job description
    The Moo Crew Team need to give out and collect in the milk each day. They need to restock the fridge and flatten the cardboard boxes.
    Do they keep an eye on the bins and change the bags or advise that they are full.
    Organise games or activities at lunch times for younger children twice a week - supervise and put gear away
    Take turns to supervise a limited collection of sports gear the rest of the school borrows and returns at lunchtimes
    Job Description:
    Scooter park squad- SPS
    Alternate with the sports crew eg. Organise events like an obstacle course on the field for bikes?
    Two buddies spend 5 mins every afternoon tidying and organising the art room.
    Ordering art supplies.
    Organising art activities at lunch times.

    As we have increased our understanding of leadership, there is a real need to analyse what this looks like at Russell Street School (leadership team, teaching team, support staff team and learners)
    and thus a focused inquiry into exploring leadership is called for.

    My personal growing view is that leadership is about facilitating change towards a vision. It's not just about organising and doing stuff. This is "managing". Think about this for a moment. What's your vision? What is the "future you", you picture in your head when you close your eyes?

    My growing opinion is that we might have multiple visions for ourselves: our vision for our families, our homes, our jobs, our bodies, our minds, our lifestyles, our souls, our weekends., you get the picture. These visions are our "why's", or our "purpose". For these visions to become a reality we need to make purposeful efforts towards them otherwise we are just scrambling around "doing stuff". So what's your why?

    Hautūtanga is a form of Leadership, it’s when every person is supported to discover their own true talents, skills and passions. So they can confidently captain their own waka as they explore the world around them.

    Sunday, February 11, 2018

    Nau mai haere mai 2018

    Kia ora koutou! I feel I have not been able to blog in ages! It's ok, I know none of you missed me. You've all got your own lives and own selves and own families to get on with, I get it. But I missed it. Welcome back to me.

    A little bit of a 2017 windback / run down... The principal left at the end of term 1... I was promoted to AP for a term while the DP was acting principal etc... I learnt how shitty a job organising relieving is... honestly, all the teachers out there who organise relievers for their school - I take my hat off to you - that job sucks! I read The Hidden Lives Of Learners, Disobedient Teaching, Empower, Innovator's Mindset... A colleague lost a loved one... I led all the Kapa Haka and picked up all leadership extra appraisals... roll on term 3... Out of the frying pan and into the fire... from AP to leading the whole school with production... welcoming our new principal... term 4 we lost our DP and AP... AND... I didn't mention how crazy my class was? On paper, my class was a recipe for disaster... the amount of learners with extra challenges, outside support agencies... 2017 was an emotional, physical, spiritual and mental whirlwind.

    Hence why I haven't blogged properly in ages. For the full impact of the rest of the post, you have to click on the video! 26 seconds of epicness!

    (Here's my new class name - Room 14 is "4Team" - bit of a smash up of Minecraft and iMovie)

    Retreat 2018 / Pick your own Appraisal pathway

    Among many things, our new principal led us through a session introducing a new appraisal system. The thinking behind the new approach came from an amalgamation of Empower, Innovator's Mindset and Katie Martin.  You can read more of this thinking here.

    This was powerful for me because it has helped the penny drop on a few wonderings I've been wrestling with for a while as seen here in some posts from 2016:

    "So like Simon Cowell says on Idol or Britain's Got Talent, choose a song and make it your own. Let's allow our learners to choose a task and make it their own." @fuse711

    Exactly! So the whole "Pick your own learning pathway" was born. I don't know how it's going to work yet. It will work alongside an idea I want to try out from the "Walker Learning" program (see Lytton Street School) where they had a group of focus kids every day. The Walker Learning approach used this focus kid group for something slightly different but I want to use it in the following ways:
    1. Get to know the learner, one on one time finding out about them, building relationships 
    2. Pick your own learning pathway - how can I as your teacher empower you to get the most out of your learning this year?
    3. Goal setting / Assessment gathering
    And this will bring us to the end of Term One, ready for review in Term Two. Here is a copy of the survey. Currently seeking feedback and feedforward. What would you add or takeaway?