I’ve recently changed my role in the school that I work at. It felt appropriate to change my blog to reflect my new responsibilities. So here I am now.
Come and join me. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you there.
Thanks for following.
Attended a TeachMeet at Clevedon School yesterday. Despite being scheduled for the penultimate evening of a long term, I found it inspirational. Simply spending time in the company of other like-minded professionals, all of us determined to find ways to enhance student learning, energised me.
Two colleagues of mine lead on our in-school TeachEats, which is currently a scaled-down version of the Clevedon event. Importantly, both events lead to the same outcome: teachers leaving the session with heads full of two kinds of ideas:
- quick wins: something I’ll try out with my learners tomorrow, or a resource I’ll add to my portfolio
- deep thoughts: something which sparks an idea for a project that could change things for the better in the area I work in.
The best kind of CPPD. Contextualised. And all you need to invest in it is your time.
"See you in the ning!"
An odd way to bid farewell to someone you’ve spent a day’s training with, especially as you’re both in the middle of a busy train station. But there you have it. Here’s a quick summary of my experience:
And after my 20 words, the challenge is to clearly define a collaborative task based on the ideas shared, and the connections made. Having internalised and reflected on all the ideas thrown at us during the session, I think I’m there with it. More to follow once actions start…
I’ve been evolving the practical use of Google Docs within the school where I work. I’ve been leading out the use of docs to help make meetings more effective with a small group of colleagues. It is not rocket science, just a simple way to apply technology to improve the way we are working. Here are some thoughts to help you evolve your use of Google Docs:
Share the agenda: set up the agenda so that it is shared with all attendees. This way all can easily contribute and consider ideas before the meeting.
View instant notes in the meeting: as minutes are taken, you can contribute/clarify/modify so that all attendees are happy with the final draft
Shared ‘always current’ minutes: this enables transparency about responsibilities and actions completed. When actions are completed, colleagues can use ‘
strikethrough' formatting to indicate this, or annotate alongside their respective actions. Next time you view the minutes, you get the latest updates.
Keep an easy-to-navigate log of meetings: if you are using one Google Doc to record all meetings, then adding a contents panel at the top of the document allows easy access to the correct meeting. Alternatively, keep detailed agendas and minutes in shared collections, so that all attendees are able to view and interact with them.
Related resources: if you have pre-meeting reading materials, or copies of a presentation that is being delivered in the meeting, they can either be shared to the same collection where you store your agendas, or they can be linked via a quick hyperlink in the agenda document.
Early reflections: I have experienced two strong positive outcomes following recent use of Google Doc for meetings.
Next steps: I would like to evolve the use of the discussion feature in meetings to encourage professional dialogue between busy colleagues about specific action points - taking it beyond a snatched conversation in the corridor, and enabling more measured [and recorded] ideas being shared.
Deeper thought: there is still a need to shift the current process/perception of meeting documents so that the document [minutes/agenda] is at the centre of the discussions about it and the actions generated by it. There is still a desire to print off your own copy and work on it without collaborating, or generate loads of additional emails that aren’t easily linked to the document.
This links to some interesting points raised at some recent Google Docs training I’ve been delivering, so more thoughts to follow…
Steve Munby, Chief Executive of the National College, delivered a thought-provoking speech about school leadership, focusing on the concept of servant leadership.
Not ‘what do I want?’ but ‘what is wanted of me?’.
This quote sums up the essence of servant leadership, and is something which provides me with direction in how I go about my day.
He mentions in an example the sheer belief that a school leader had in her staff - this has to be something which pervades every school. If we don’t value, challenge, support and recognise the potential that every person who works in our school has, we are doing them and our learners a disservice.
He also devotes a section of his speech to courageous conversations. This is an aspect of my leadership which I want to improve. Whilst I think that I won’t shy away from having courageous conversations, there have been times recently when I have. Some of my current reading has been around improving how I might better approach and conduct courageous conversations. It is already having a positive impact for me personally. Now it is time to ensure that the impact is wider, and that my courageous conversations make a positive difference.
"Are you a beginner or a geek?"
That was my opening question to colleagues as they arrived for a twilight session on Google Docs last week. I was delighted to welcome colleagues from the Library team, Heads of House, the PE deparment, Science, Maths, English, ADT and Languages. Geeks enjoyed a session led by a colleague of mine, beginners stayed with me. We spent the next 30 minutes learning about - and playing with - Google Docs. I say 30 minutes, but the session carried on for some time afterwards. Don’t get me wrong: I finished on time. Simple fact was that a number of colleagues just wanted to stay a bit longer, try something new out, safe in the knowledge that I was there to help if needed.
Here are the key things that came out of the session:
So a positive start to the term. The challenge is to build on this by turning the beginners into geeks and the geeks into übergeeks, and eventually get to the more ‘hard to reach’.
Here’s a template of the plan I used for the session, which I wanted colleagues to contribute to:
Just looked at the list of 20 Things All Great Leaders Always Do, and reckon I managed all 20 last week. Does that mean I am a great leader, or that I had a great week? Or both?!
Anyway, I’ve decided on two challenges for next week:
Wish me luck!
As with all schools in the UK, mine is grappling with the best way to ensure we manage our reduced budget, whilst minimising the impact on the quality of learning we provide. We are reviewing how we provide CPPD. This has been prompted by questioning the impact that external courses have been having on contributing to the school’s strategic priorities.
Reading and collaborating with others, harnessing the skills and expertise of our colleagues, and developing opportunities for coaching are emerging as more effective ways to maintain our professional development.
Reading is a quick win. Google Reader is a smart way to collate all your online reading. Through tumblr I found a link to a wide range of leadership blogs, all providing thought-provoking articles. I’ve added them to my Google Reader, meaning that I can quickly access, note and share articles that interest me.
And the next step is to share this simple idea with colleagues. More to add to the Google training sessions we do.
That’s the reason I am here, writing this. I have been making a concerted effort to increase the amount of reading I do about leadership and, most importantly, reflecting on how it can influence and improve my practice.
It’s all too easy to forget just how powerful and enlightening reading is, resulting in it quickly slipping down the priority list of things to do. I’m an avid reader, so it feels odd to admit [realise!] that I’d managed to get out of the habit of reading.
Thanks to re-engaging with the excellent range of resources available to me via the National College, and an ever-increasing professional network on Twitter, I am easily finding articles to read about leadership. I’m developing quite a library! Are you making enough time to read about your role?