Saturday, 9 September 2017

Lead Like A Pirate Blog Hop. Week 6 - Enthusiasm

“Pirate leaders know that they have to bring energy and excitement to each day, no matter what”(LeadLAP pg 69)
How do you ‘fake it until you make it? What strategies do you use that enable you to make a positive choice about your own attitude?

I have used the 'fake it until you make it' mantra for many years. Both as a classroom teacher and  later as a senior leader. I have always been careful in which company I say this because at first impression, it sounds like a duplicitous way to behave. I am delighted to read in LeadLAP (Pg 69) that 'fake it until you make it is an overt strategy.  When I was a classroom teacher, 'faking it' may have meant that I was putting on an "I know exactly what I'm doing" face when dealing with a behaviour issue. It may have meant that I volunteered for something that I wasn't all that keen on doing and then discovered that I was rising to the challenge and enjoying it. The main strength of faking it was when there was 'that' child, who was difficult to like. I have found that 'faking' liking (who is the adult being paid to do a job here after all?) always leads to actually liking. I have never had a situation that hasn't resulted in a turnaround in my own attitude. 

This has been especially useful in my senior leadership role, when some staff, parents, children are harder to bring on board with the way we do things at St. Francis. I don't always feel enthusiastic; I may have started the day feeling tired, but I know that my enthusiastic attitude can make a difference. "Enthusiasm is often the missing element to engagement" (#LeadLAP pg 70)

 I can get caught up in the rush of my job and forget to smile and look enthusiastic. It is amazing what an impact this has on the people around me. I have left some staff or team meetings thinking, "Well that fell a bit flat!" I do know that energy and enthusiasm do make a difference, as hard as it can be some days.

 I try and smile at every parent as I am walking around the school at the beginning and end of the school day. We all know how important it is to feel valued and noticed in our lives. Paying it forward is hopefully the outcome of treating people with respect and ideas with enthusiasm; they then change their attitude into a more positive supportive one. 

The SLT were recently discussing the advantages of being on road duty at the beginning and end of the day. Saying each child's name, asking how their day went and exchanging a few words with their parents. This all helps to build community. 

George Corous has a great blog post about the fact that Every Interaction Matters  As part of that blog post, he has added a powerful youtube video clip about the way that every interaction sets the tone for the day. It is well worth viewing. Every interaction students experience sets a tone for the day.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Lead Like A Pirate Blog Hop Week Five - Transformation

Transform an event

On pg 57 Beth Houf describes how she and her leadership team transformed Parent Teacher Conferences at their school. Choose an event or practice at your school that you have transformed or that you would like to transform. Discuss how you went about it or how you will go about this transformation.

Our Senior Leadership Team has been talking about how we can transform the transition to school experience for our five year olds. It is forefront on our minds at the moment because we are so aware of the research carried out by Kathleen Liberty. We have become one of her 'second wave' of schools to adopt her research based calming and coping strategies.

We are aware that we need to do things differently for many of our school beginners, who do not seem ready for school. It is an issue that has been around for many years for some new students, but the numbers seem to have increased in recent years.

So how can we make this transition smoother? Perhaps we stop expecting the children to do the same thing at the same time. After roll and prayers, does everyone need to be in their phonics groups/maths groups/reading groups at the same time? Does everyone need to do their writing at the same time and in the same way? A few short days/weeks ago they were at kindy or pre school making choices and being creative. Surely we can make the transition more like what they have come from as they settle in? At least for a time?

 At the Catholic Principal's Conference this year, I was inspired by the presentation of a teacher from a Southland school about her Year 0 - 1 play based learning approach. I was heartened by the fact that she had data to support the fact that these children who still had small group teaching in all of the usual subjects, were as ready for year 2 as they would have been under a more traditional approach.

I have been doing some reading on the subject. Here is one article that supports play based learning.
It lines up really well with our school's ethos around project based learning. You could say it is the first step in project based learning for these little ones.

We want our New Entrants to be as excited about coming to school in week six as they were on day one. We want them to be inquisitive and creative.  I have more questions than answers at the moment, but I am working on it.  Ideas welcome...