Time to celebrate

I was so lucky today to be able to spend some time at EDC listening to (and sharing our own) stories from all the SA regions on how they delivered innovative projects in their regions to support aspiring leaders who want to work in low SES schools.  It is fantastic to see how passionate the Regional Directors and Assistant Regional Directors are about developing the next generation of school leaders.  I came away from the day feeling quite overwhelmed at the support that is out there at Regional and State level.  It has definitely revitalised my passion for moving up.

A new tool was released by DECD Workforce Development Team – a writable PDF for self-reflection and an opportunity to cite evidence of leadership capabilities aligned with the National Professional Standards for Principals.

It can be found at http://www.decd.sa.gov.au/hrdevelopment/files/links/selfreflection.pdf for anyone else who is interested.  My early new year’s resolution is to use it here and document my learning journey and collect evidence of my leadership capabilities



I am not normal and I need to shut up :)

Knowing when to back off

For a few years, I have been frustrated to the point of banging my head against my office wall, trying to work out ways of getting more teachers to access the weekly (free) ICT PD on offer at school. At the CEGSA 2012 conference in July I found out that it might be that I need to shut up!  A teacher came to CEGSA – one who does not access the PD at school.  I have been on and on for 4 years about blogging but it took the blogging workshop at CEGSA for her to say “Ooh I think I might start a blog!”  When I said that I had been telling her this for years, she replied that “Yes, you have but when I mention the slightest hint that I am going to try something new, while you are supportive and encourage me, you go on to say – yeah and you could do this and this and this – and ITS TOO MUCH!”

The penny dropped…….











I need to shut up and not get over-excited.

Three colleagues and I (@alupton, @wilsongrant and @mulh0015) were discussing this at a teachmeet last week at my school and we decided our over-enthusiasm and the amount of tech we used and how we used it just wasn’t normal – 3 ipads running, two laptops and 4 mobile phones – for just 4 teachers 🙂


When a teacher says I’m going to….. I am going to say “Well done! Let me know if you need a hand” and then I will shut up. (I’ll try to anyway)

Walking the talk

My reading cosy is finished – more often than not I have been finding a teacher sitting there chilling out as often as the kids do.  It’s a tiny space but just shows you how you can extend learning spaces into the smallest corridor


Revisiting the power of words

Came across this lovely youtube video showing how much difference words make – same request framed a different way!


Chicken or the egg stuff……

Do learning spaces cause a change in pedagogy or does a change in pedagaogy create the need to change learning spaces or is it a bit of both??  Visiting a brand new-purpose built (for today’s ed needs) last month had me asking lots of questions about how my current site can shape our learning spaces given that we are housed in very restricted, heritage listed buildings – can’t even change the doors of classrooms, let alone knock walls out!

How inviting does this learning space look!

Quite a few teachers are keen to see the pics I took of the learning spaces at BanB7.  This got me thinking about how I can model redesign – walk the talk –  given that I don’t “own” a learning space.  Well, I do have a corridor outside my office and so I have started on that. Found an old bookshelf, dusted it and put some old favourites and cuddly toys on it.  Have bid on an old armchair on ebay – fingers crossed I win that for $10 – and am planning on buying a nice rug for the floor.  Hopefully a local op shop will have a nice table lamp I can put on the bookshelf and voila – I will have a cosy reading snug in the corridor instead of an old “time out” desk with horrible chair, paper recycle box, lost property and fire extinguisher! I might even have to curl up in there with a good book myself. I will try and take some before and after pics to post on here and get some comments from the kids to see what they think of my Cosy.  Cool name! I might have to get one of them to make a sign for “The Cosy”.

I used to think…..but now I think….. (this is a stolen title)

I’ve heard that phrase twice in two days from different sources.  Makes ME think, that’s for sure.  First read it at this great blog post   and the second time, tonight while reading an article by Vonnie Dolling in South Australian Primary Principals’ Association (SAPPA) publication this month. (Full of great articles btw but Vonnie’s caught my eye as she used the “I used to think” phrase that had caught my eye the previous day.) It is a Visible Learning tool from Harvard – this link will take you to the PDF version If you are a South Oz teacher/educator, ask your Principal if you can borrow his/her copy of the SAPPA mag and have a look! (BTW SAPPA exec, I’d love an e-version so I can read it on my iPad! – note to self – email them tomorrow with this suggestion)

Here are two “Used to’s, Now I’s” from what I have learned in the last few months:

I used to think that everyone should pick up tech tools, run with them – have a few “glorious failures”, have “magnificent successes”, could use tech to help change their practice by “jumping in at the deep end”.

But now I think that some need more time, some need to consider and weigh up the pros and cons, that time in the way of release (read $$$$ for this) is essential.  I will have to learn to be more creative with the ways that I am trying to get the non-believers to “get-it” when I am planning PD for staff. The more I reflect, the more I realise I’ve got to start doing it differently – I feel like I am preaching to the converted. I need to get the non-converted to tell me what I can do to support them to take the first steps into changing their pedagogy, to make tech seem less threatening…….where’s that “How to do stuff the right way first time” manual???

I used to think, when I was in the classroom, I needed to get out of the classroom to be able to create transformation, bring about change.

But now I think that it would be good to be in the classroom as well to be able to model transforming pedagogy and bring about change  that way 🙂 Note this @jlamshed

There’s a lot more personal  “I used to thinks” I could write about but “now I think” I should post this and disconnect from the interweb for a cup of tea.

Continuing the topic…

I googled “power of language” (because I was trying to think up a different title for this post) and I came across an article

 The words a leader chooses are just as critical as their actions, writes Thomas Moore. 

The leaders at Blair Athol North Birth to Year 7 School in South Australia thoroughly understand this and have intentionally chosen the following words to describe aspects of their school and to explicitly portray their commitment to Reggio Emilia philosophy.

Buildings as neighbourhoods, classrooms as learning studios and teachers as learning advisors – same places and people but the different titles. And very different roles. More on Reggio Emilia in another post….

I was privileged to work shadow Principal of BanB7, Lee Sansom, this week as part of the Southern Region’s “Principal’s for Low SES Schools” initiative. I learned lots about leadership and how critical language is.

The most important “piece of wisdom” (among many other takeways from Lee this week) was to listen, hear others and really understand what they are saying.

My inquiry question is “How do you bring together the different communities (students, staff, parents and wider communities) when merging schools and how do you create a new culture while preserving the best of the old?”

  • Listening and building relational trust with all stakeholders
  • Having a vision and communicating this clearly
  • Forming a strong leadership team
  • Creating the conditions to encourage community participation across the school.
It’s my last day at Banb7 tomorrow and I am really looking forward to continuing the discussions….

more next time on my new hero Reggio Emilia!

Power of Language

When I read one of @teachertechnol’s blogposts recently, I was immediately reminded of a few “a-ha” moments I have had about the power of language and how differently the same idea/process/activity can be viewed depending on what language is used to describe it.

Selena talks about “how the word change can infer that the thing you’re currently doing is in some way incorrect.  That if you use the word ‘change’, ears can hear criticism.  That the people you are trying to lead, to inspire to move in a new direction might hear a criticism, rather than a shared call to action.” Transform must be the word we use! If we want to encourage teachers to grow and transform their pedagogies, we need to use language intentionally. This is something I am trying to action in my own practice especially since attending the #CEGSA2012 conference in Adelaide this month where we had some good discussions about this topic.

I have  read through several schools’ Annual Reports this year and professional development/performance management/performance development/professional growth are terms used to describe the same process. As an educator, what different thoughts come into your head when asked by your line manager to make a time for a performance development meeting as opposed to a professional growth conference? For me at least, the latter seems infinitely more positive…












Adapted and adaptive are two examples of powerful word usage that I heard from an educational consultant, David Anderson in 2010. David told us about the story of the Monarch butterfly who over the eons has adapted to live off the milkweed plant.


“The ecology and the home range of the monarch butterfly are closely intertwined, as with most species. Put simply, it is dependent upon milkweed plants… The distribution of the monarch is controlled by the distribution of milkweed, it regulates their density in a given area, and it is for this plant that the monarchs migrate for long distances every year. So dependent upon milkweed is the monarch that where one finds the monarch, one will also find milkweed.” ( source )  What will happen if the milkweed plant gets diseased and fails to produce enough of a food source for the monarchs? David then went on to tell us about the leopards in an African game reserve who had adapted their hunting habits so that rather than take to the trees with their kills, where they could easily be shot by hunters, they chose to stay in the long grasses where they could be camouflaged.

David invited us to consider whether we, as educators, were adapted to the previous century’s pedagogies of teaching or if like the leopards, we could be adaptive and change as necessity warranted.

Today’s the day

Enough procrastinating – have set up this blog to think out loud on my learning as a leader in SA schools.  Am looking forward to posting this week as I work shadow an amazing principal at a Northern Region school……