I hope this week’s edition finds you well.
“Sometimes, when things fall apart, we choose the easy way out and hold children responsible for what went wrong. In our darkest moments, we may even say things like, ‘These kids just aren’t ready for something like this,’ or ‘My class this year is so low,’ or ‘I just need to stick to the basics with these kids-they can’t handle choice, or talking together during work time, or really anything except sitting in their seats.’ But what if, instead, we owned the whole mess? What if we switched our thinking from finding fault with children to asking, ‘What can I learn from this? What do children need from me tomorrow to be successful? How can I scaffold them just enough so that they can get started and move forward? What can I do and not do, and say and not say, that will let children know I believe in them. In other words: Own it. Think about what kids need most. Trust yourself and move forward.”
What’s The Best That Could Happen? Pg. 64 Debbie Miller.
FUNNY OF THE WEEK
TWEET OF THE WEEK
There is an ever increasing focus on wellbeing in schools and rightfully so. However, I worry that the messaging can miss the mark, and not translate. I love this video from the head coach of the Duke Blue Devil’s women’s basketball team – Kara Lawson. “It will never get easier, handle hard better.” Watch this video on repeat with your students, and for more inspiration follow Kara on Twitter (* caution ‘pinned tweet’ could cause you to cry).
MIDDLE LEVEL LEADERS
I recently had a brilliant day in a school with 4 talented and impressive team leaders. We had one of those days where before we knew it the sun was getting low in the sky and it was time to go home.
The topics we covered included: making the most of planning time; coaching conversations; types of leadership; building capacity; and Stephen Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.
I’ll share with you here what our thinking and process was in relation to planning.
The strengths of the school are many, including whole school approaches, and impressive consistency with the implementation of the school’s instructional model. This consistency doesn’t necessarily translate to outstanding outcomes automatically, but the school and students are in a very strong position to get the results they are hoping for. The challenge for the school is to continually ask themselves are we stretching ALL of our students just enough? Is there deep learning going on?
We aren’t always going to nail the answer to these 2 questions, but with this type of focus you can’t help but get excellent outcomes.
A key to being able to ensure deep learning is high quality collaborative planning. As a group on the day we put together guidelines for what we perceived to be the ideal in planning. The guidelines that we put together were taken to the wider leadership team, and then presented to the entire staff for input. The document will be reviewed at the end of the term to see if it can be made even better.
The document has expectations for how planning will be conducted, has explicit role statements for principal class, team leaders, and team members. It also includes guiding questions for planning that I’ve included below.
GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR PLANNING
Are all our students’ needs being met?
Is the learning deep enough?
Does it match the curriculum and the unit goals?
Is this meaningful for our students?
Does this support student outcomes?
Is this engaging for our students?
Does it follow our whole school approaches?
Are they ready to move on?
How hard did I work to get smarter for my students today?
Why does the work I’m asking children do matter?
What did you learn about yourself as a teacher today?
LOOKING FOR A TEACHER?
Have I got your attention?
Principals are starting to think about 2023 and their staffing profile. I used to set August 1st as my date to get feedback from staff regarding their intentions for the following year. Advertising any vacant positions followed soon after. Obviously employing quality staff is one of the key actions you can take to realise your school improvement agenda.
One of the quality teachers at Cobram PS (award winning school) is moving to Melbourne at the end of the year due to personal reasons, and will likely be based in inner east Melbourne. If you are in the market for such a teacher, then get in touch.
AUSTRALIAN MATHEMATICS COMPETITION
Unfortunately, the number of students who enjoy/like maths has continued to decline across education systems. There are many factors at play as to how we have found ourselves in this position.
One piece of the puzzle is driving the culture of aspiration and striving for excellence in maths. Encouraging students to enrol in the Australian Mathematics Competition is one way to address this.
Late entries for online AMC can be made until close of business Tuesday, August 2nd.
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Thanks for reading and see you next week, Danny. P.S Feel free to provide me with any feedback regarding the newsletter, or anything for that matter via email.
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