Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A Timely Reminder!

An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement 

Today I attended a course around  the 'How to' but more importantly  the effective use of the Observation Survey. This was run by Jill Stephenson and Nicki  Hillyer.

It was great to have a refresher of this and be reminded of the power of observing a child’s early literacy skills and the ultimate purpose of this. Carefully recorded observations can lead us to modify our instruction to meet the learning needs ...' (Clay. 2005) 

This also covered an in depth analysis of the Running Records. Another great reminder about the real place of a running record in this time as we are leading up to testing and gathering summative information I was reminded of the value of this as a formative tool and the huge amount of information that one can gain from the assessment tool. Also some interesting discussion around the tools that we use. More food for thought!

So refreshed and ready to observe ... next step is to practise ….

Friday, 23 September 2016

Unfinished business ...a Term 3 Update

My Inquiry started with a greater need for formative assessment and collating all the data and assessments that had been previously completed as this group of learners were new to me.  This identified several areas of need or trends with this group of learners.

Firstly a need to focus on a solid understanding of place value to allow them to cope with Stage 7 problems, also fractions, and a need to further develop their maths language, particularly words or prefixes associated with place value needed developing.

The kids all generally had a great attitude to Maths  and were  keen on solving problems.

During group teaching sessions rather than just focussing on one particular strategy or concept, there was on focus on teaching/reinforcing both knowledge and strategy in the same lesson making explicit the link between the essential knowledge and understandings relative to the strategy or problem that the children were learning.

We also took time to engage with the learning progressions to ensure that the kids were able to see where they were at and what they needed to understand to progress to the next stage in their maths.

Whilst focussing on a particular strategy we also  looked at multiple ways of  solving a problem and sharing of all of those strategies.

Anecdotally I felt my kids were making progress in their ability to handle place value and tackle more demanding problems, and articulating their strategies.  We had lots of aha moments along the way ...and I loved getting back in to the classroom.

Face to face time was a big challenge throughout the term with various groups having responsibilities or sporting commitments which encroached on valuable teaching time.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

What works for Wellbeing???? Part One

Today I was lucky enough to attend the Nga Manu Awhina RTLB Cluster Conference on 'What Works for Wellbeing'.

Lots of interesting speakers that highlighted the importance of Wellbeing for our Tamariki, Whanau and our staff too...

Here are a few takeouts from the day - with the resonating themes being resilience, flourishing, gratitude and of course wellbeing.

Dr Lea Waters from University of Melbourne opened the day sharing her research findings around Positive Psychology and the importance of Wellbeing in our Curriculum.

She made the point that all learning is emotional - 'if you don't have emotional engagement you can’t have cognitive engagement'. This resonates hugely and supports what we know about our tamariki that you have to invest in them emotionally to get the best out of them. Relationships are huge with our kids.

She highlighted that 'Wellbeing is an important end-point of its own - schools have a moral responsibility to take care of and develop our students wellbeing'. My initial reaction is that we are doing this fairly well but would like to do a stocktake of this for both staff and kids.

Dr Waters went on to introduce the 'Positive Detective' a Positive Education and Wellbeing Program. This definitely looks like it's worth investigating further.

Dr Te Kani Kingi Director of Maori at Massey University, then presented his research around the Six Markers of a Flourishing Whanau  a Maori Perspective on the key elements that are essential for a whanau to flourish as opposed to languish.
Whanau Heritage, Whanau Wealth, Whanau Capacities, Whanau Cohesion, Whanau Connectedness, Whanau Resilience.
Food for thought around the aspects of this that we can potentially impact upon and the value that we can add in terms of these areas.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Making meaning in Maths ...

This term I am lucky enough to be back in the classroom working with some seniors in Maths.

My Inquiry is around them having greater agency in their learning and connecting them with the learning progressions to ensure that they clearly know and understand both where they are at and what their next steps are in their learning.

I am also wanting to make very explicit the links between  language and Maths the various names for operations and and various common prefixes that occur frequently in maths and can hopefully help them to better understand concept such as place value.

Currently face to face time seems to be one of the biggest challenges but surely I must be able to use the affordances of the technology to enhance these learning opportunities.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Juggling Act ...

What a Mixed Bag
I started off the Term with a look at among other things - the data.  It was my intention to spend time during the term looking at the various intervention programmes we have in place and to ensure that  our highest needs groups are being catered for with appropriate intervention programmes.

I ended the term reflecting more on the role that I fulfilled and Leadership ... so here goes

Reflections of an Acting Principal

Wow what a term it was! I was lucky enough to get to take over the reigns for a while and try to fill - no correction, attempt to juggle the many and varied aspects of a portion of the job.

Amongst other things one of my greatest 'take outs' for the Term was ...

I know this will sound very cliche but - 'it takes a team". I learnt the true value of collaboration and that knowing when to ask for help rather than trying to do it all myself was hugely important ..

Secondly ...it takes a team ...I was blessed to be left with structures and routines already in place.

My job was not to lead or have all the answers, it was to continue to work collaboratively with the fantastic Team that has been created. To let the experts teach, the planners plan, the inquirers inquire and to be a sounding board for the many and varied things that cropped up for kids, their whanau and our staff both professionally and personally.

And yes I enjoyed it very much!!

My greatest reflection I guess is around the traits that I value of a Leader ... I have frequently been asked about what it is that makes Pt England special and yes it is the Team - we have an amazing team of talented people that are happy to step up and share in the responsibility. So besides a few sleepless nights it was a great term!!

Schoolwide Support

A belated post ... A recent look (actually not so recent now) at our Priority groups and learners who were below the National Standard across the schools showed the huge need to ensure equity and to try and close the gap between the boys and girls.

If teachers are to be able to cater appropriately, give the time and effort for  these learners then we must ensure that our programmes to cater for the kids that need extra support are appropriate and available for kids at every level.

So the idea was that my Inquiry for Term 2 would involve looking and considering the following ...

Have we got the right support across the school and how can we review this regularly?

Continuing to track these priority learners and actually identify who they are - put names to the groups.

Continue to explore new programmes and look at their effectiveness for our special groups.

Ensure that our highest needs learners have their IEP's updated regularly with access to appropriate support services.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Data ...

An initial look at the data once again highlights a significant trend - our boys are lagging behind in all areas. Although they are making progress we are still not closing the gap significantly.

 A closer look is needed ...

And then there is the soft data - the competencies or qualities that we continually work on to mould and develop our young people so that when they leave us we have sent them off with a full kete so that they may achieve in whatever field they choose to pursue and be wonderful contributors to their communities.

So what next - look for pockets of promise ...programmes or aspects of pedagogy that are making the difference.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Strive to Succeed

Once again I am reminded today of the complexities of pushing for change, trying to turn the tide to raise student achievement.

Many long hours have been spent analysing the data - looking at research feedback and wondering what next...

One of our big issues is our boys - our data reflects a National trend of the boys making progress at a similar rate to our girls, but their achievement levels are still overall significantly lower.
So my inquiry this year will aim to delve further in to what works for our boys.
Are there learning areas or levels within the school that they make greater progress in?  What works for them ... and which interventions or resources are needed to close the gap?

To add to the mix, I was interested to read in the  Education Gazette recently an article by Daniel Sobel which discusses the difficulty in gathering and collating the 'soft data'. Whilst we all know and agree that there are numerous factors that impact a students progress this area is much harder to analyse.

So the other prong to my inquiry is how we as a school can apply the same diligence to the capturing of some of our soft data so that we may best understand our students needs.