Thursday, October 1, 2009




I just got back from Darwin having attended the ACEL conference: Tipping Points-Courageous Actions Powerful Stories. ACEL organises annual conferences on educational leadership. This one was particularly good. The highlight of the conference was by far the keynote speakers, in particular Alma Harris, Viviane Robinson and Ben Levin, Patrick Duignan, Frank Crowther and the inimitable Andy Hargraves.

Some key points that stood out for me:

Alma Harris
Pro-Director (Leadership), Institute of Education,London; and Chair in Educational Leadership, London Centre for Leadership in Learning, England, UK

Leadership matters – but what type of leadership?
The quality of leadership is a key determinant of all highly effective and improving organisations (Townsend 2007)
Leadership is second only to classroom instruction as among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school and their learning outcomes.

"the strategies that got you the improvement are different from the strategies that sustain the improvement"

Patrick Duignan

“No relationship no influence. No influence no relationship”

Most effective learning environments will have these characteristics:
· Customised learning
· Availability of diverse knowledge sources
· Collaborative group learning
· Assessment for deep understanding

“Do we value what we measure because we cannot really measure what we value?”

We can intellectualise it but we cannot do it. We can argue it and say we do it but often we can’t do it.

Viviane Robinson
Professor in the Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Ben Levin
Professor and Canada Research Chair at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto

Viviane and Ben participated in the conference debate. They challenged some of the current ideas that dominate policy and practice in educational leadership and discussed the issues that they see as critical to building leadership capacity.

Viviane Robinson

"instructional leadership is 3-4 times more powerful and effective than transformational leadership"

Distributed leadership must have links to improved student outcomes.
The more leaders focus their relationships, their work and their learning on the core business of teaching and learning, the greater their influence on student outcomes.
Key: High quality conversations about quality teaching and learning in a collaborative problem solving process

Professional Learning Communities (PLC)
· need to identify the qualities that make these effective
· alone they are of not much value
· must have student outcomes focus

Five dimensions of effective school leadership.
1. Establishing goals and expectations 0.42
2. Resourcing strategically 0.31
3. Planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum 0.42
4. Promoting and participating in teacher learning and development 0.84
5. Ensuring an orderly environment 0.27
The most important/impact – no.4

Three capabilities for engaging in these leadership dimensions:
1. Integrate pedagogical knowledge
Learning goal →pedagogical shift required→administrative shift required
2. Analyse and solve complex problems
Complex problem solving involves discerning relevant constraints and modifying and
integrating them in ways that enable a solution to be reached.
Expert principals ...carefully plan a collaborative problem solving process....openly disclose
own views and encourage others to do the same....overtly manager meetings and summarise and synthesis not express negative emotions
3. Build relational trust
interpersonally respectful....personal regard for others....competent in the role....have personal integrity....
Consequences of high relational trust for teachers and schools:
positive attitude to innovation and risk-taking....more outreach to parents....enhanced commitment....enhanced professional community
Consequences of high relational trust for students:
· Improved academic outcomes
· Higher likelihood of positive social outcomes

Ben Levin
Key: absolute endless persistent pursuit and focus on student outcomes – vision, direction, optimism
Doesn’t like the term ‘distributed leadership’ – thinks it should be banned

"Slow down the change in order to speed up the improvement"



Andy Hargraves
Thomas More Brennan, Chair in Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Presented 4 cycles of directions in education from the 1960’s to present day and the future using his own biography as a metaphor. He was brilliant and very inspirational.

Standardised testing by census (e.g. NAPLAN) has been abandoned (or does not exist) by most other English-speaking developed countries in the world
. . . Canada, Finland, New Zealand . . .

However, that is not to say that we do not need accountability.
For accountability purposes, Australia could....
Test by sample (not census)
This would eliminate the notion of teaching to tests, narrowing of the curriculum and bringing in intervention teams to ‘fix’ low performing students.
· Test by cycles (e.g. Israel)
Again, it avoids the notion of teaching to tests.

The US (on which Julia Guillard is basing her goals) is failing and is ranked low in the world particularly NYC (Klein). When Ben Levin was asked what is good or positive about the education system in the states he replied, “Nothing comes to mind.”
We are over-targetted. Schools need to have their own targets and better indicators – not imposed targets

Apryll Parata
Deputy Secretary Maori Education, Ministry of Education, New Zealand
Three key principles
· Maori potential
· Tribal cultural distinctiveness
· Individuals’ inherent capability

Identity – language – culture are essential ingredients for learner success

Every NZ school will endeavour to incorporate aspects of Maori culture and thinking into its pedagogical practices

Frank Crowther
Final keynote speaker.
He summed up the messages from all the keynote addresses.
Suggested letter to Julia Guillard:

Dear Julia,
We, the participants of the 2009 ACEL: Tipping Points Conference love what you are doing but..........
1. We think you have the balance between excellent pedagogy and standardised assessment a bit wrong
2. There are better ways of reporting to the public than prejudicing disadvantaged schools in simplistic league tables
3. We know how to make our schools better and here’s how . . . .
4. Our national indigenous challenge is every Australian’s challenge. Let’s find ways to all contribute
5. If excellent pedagogy is the goal of our work, then let’s recognise and reward it
6. We probably need an organisation like the Law Society or the Medical Colleges. ACEL can help with that, with specialist teacher agencies . . .

Thursday, September 17, 2009

still on MODULE 4: what teachers make

proud to be a teacher
because teachers make a difference

Friday, August 7, 2009

still on MODULE 4: teachers and technology

I found a very interesting article on the blog 2c worth. David Warlick has been running two polls over the past few days —
His first poll question asked us to consider whether a teacher could be a good teacher without using technology. The second question, “Is that teacher, who is not using technology, doing his or her job?” Have a look at his post to see the results. Interesting!

He articulates that today students must become information artisans - able to learn, work, play, contribute, and prosper in a new and constantly changing and enriching information environment, and do so in a way that conserves the planet — rather than consume it. He argues that we cannot do this by scratching and printing on pulp-based paper. Teaching and learning must be digital. If you don’t want to do technology, if you’re not good at technology, then find another calling.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

MODULE 4: Flickr

Love flickr and picnik too. (Picnik's more about making your photos fabulous with easy to use yet powerful editing tools. Tweak to your heart’s content, then get creative with oodles of effects, fonts, shapes, and frames. It's fast, easy, and fun.)
Anyway, back to flickr - I uploaded some pics of Dudley (for those of you that don't know - he's my gorgeous cocker spaniel) and made a badge -(that's just one of the myriad flickr applications and tools). I embedded it as a gadget on this blog (scroll down and have a look on the right hand side - under 'about me').
I'll upload some photos on my next post.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MODULE 3: Google Docs

I've finally moved away from Module 2!

I enjoyed exploring Google Docs. I did use a couple of the templates provided. I used the document template for a paper I wrote on Instructional Leadership and I played around with some of the templates in Albums and Flipbooks. I liked this one:

It could be used with a class to review the year that was. Students could add their memories throughout the year by uploading pics and text to the album and then publish the finished product for a variety of audiences. Nice!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Still on MODULE 2

You have to watch this!!!

Mmmmmmmm . . . . . . a digital immigrant or a digital tourist or . . . .

poor love!

I can relate!