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Monday, 30 September 2013

Part One - Professional learning without follow through is malpractice Tuesday 1/10/2013

A two part post... to be continued...

Last week began with what was meant to be the biggest typhoon for many years. It did not affect us too much here in Hong Kong.

After a day without children at school I was fortunate enough to attend three PD sessions.

All of these added to my 'learning stack'.

Preparing for Principalship

This is a year long leadership development course run by the ESF. It was interesting listening to Bill who leads the Peak School, Brenda who leads Glenealy School and Jane who leads West Island School speak about leadership. 

Three takeaways for me:

  • It is vital for a leader to 'get the pulse' of the school and this can only be done with presence, communication and integrity.
  • Leaders need to be able to 'clear the path' as well as 'create the path'.
  • Leaders in schools need to be 'learning leaders'. It is not enough to say you are one, you must show you are by taking risks and developing your own learning.
Assessment for Learning with Dylan Wiliam

This was a two day session led by Dylan Wiliam who is a great speaker and one you should take the time to hear if the opportunity arises. He is the author of a great book .

Three takeaways for me:
  • Love the ones you are with. It is the teachers you have within your school NOW who can make the difference to the learning. Create time and opportunities for them to develop and grow as teachers and excel in their craft.
  • The longer you stay in school the longer you live, the more money you earn and the more you contribute to society. This is why we do what we do.
  • Teacher Learning Communities in school. Dylan gave us a very 'do-able' framework for making this happen.
ESF Professional Development Day - Fluencies a Conceptual Age with Lee Crockett

Lee was an amazing speaker and his two keynotes, and the session I attended with him were very thought provoking. His site is packed with ideas and resources  I really appreciate being inspired.

Three takeaways for me:
  • Professional learning without follow through is malpractice. This should be a sign up in every staffroom in every school.
  • Lee presented a effective structure for problem solving which he said worked through kindergarten to adults - Define, discover, dream, design, deliver (produce and publish) and debrief. I think this will be useful in many ways.
  • He read ' Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!' which is a stunning book we should all be reading. Hooray for Dr Seuss!
An amazing week of learning for me. 

Part Two of Professional learning without follow through is malpractice soon.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Real leaders shouldn't have to read about it?

It is a beautiful day here in Hong Kong. I am usually cycling to the ferry or speed walking the dogs so I do not always get to take in the amazing sights, sounds and smells of Mui Wo.

Blue skies, white clouds and green.
Today I walked around Mui Wo slowly. My mind drifted back to the summer spent in the UK with our family and the two weeks we had spent in Cornwall. My father in law, a wonderful man, and I, spoke about leadership and how we have learned about and from it.
He said during the conversation:

"All these books about leadership...gah...Real leaders shouldn't have to read about it."

In my kindle library if I begin a search with the word 'lead' 18 titles appear. Not all of them are about leadership in education. Here are some of them:

During my walk I thought about whether I should,or should not, have researched, bought and read all of these books, and others, about leadership. I asked these questions of myself:

1. Have I learned from these books and these authors?
2. What are some of the concepts I have learned?
3. Could I have learned the same concepts from anyone or anywhere else?

Here are my answers:

1. I certainly have learned from all of these books and those who wrote them. I obviously do not agree with every single word, idea and concept put on paper (or the screen) but that is learning in itself.

2. I have learned that I have the opportunity to make a difference to peoples lives everyday. I have learned that we all need to know the goals of the organisation and that when you present these visually people understand them. I have had it reinforced that collaboration is vital in leadership as one cannot do it all alone. I have also learned that trust can be broken into two parts: integrity and competence, and that both of these are vital in a leader.

3. I have learned some these from many of the amazing leaders that I have worked with, both those in positions of leadership and those for whom leadership was as natural as breathing. 

When my wife and I found out we were having triplets 11 years ago there was obviously more than a touch of panic in the air. There was one definite way we could learn about what we had to do: read!

So we did. We learned. We're still here.

Maybe real leaders shouldn't have to read books about leadership? Maybe they should? What is important is that as educators we keep learning. Reading is vital to learning and to learn from those who have experienced, researched and shared their knowledge is a joy is a privilege.

I love my father-in-law. I'm glad I read.