eLeader Reflections 2011


I really enjoyed the Learning@Schools conference. When choosing my breakouts this year I specifically tried to choose breakouts to improve my leadership rather than 'cool tool' breakouts (although I made sure I had a few of those). I mostly got it right and came away from Learning@Schools with less tangible learning but lots of thinking about my leadership practise. I also attended a breakout run by Trevor Bond as we recognise that 'Inquiry' needs alot of work in our school. Luckily enough, 4 of us from Everglade went to the Trevor Bond breakout, all of us coming away inspired with lots of ideas to discuss and lots of ideas for leading PD at our school.
Trevor Bond talked about dropping the word 'inquiry' and start thinking about learning instead. As soon as we thought about this we realised that the confusion our staff feels about inquiry would lessen as soon as we start talking about learning. We also realised we needed to go back to our vision with our staff. We heard ideas about how to teach and assess the Key Competencies and realised that although we have made good improvements in our first year about our staffs knowledge and confidence about inquiry, we are celebrating the found NOT celebrating the understood. Our learning model needs work and we need to discuss Teacher Led, Negotiated and Student Led inquiries. We also think starting with a task would ensure all learning is understood and used not just repackaged facts.
I was also inspired by Julia Atkin who spoke about how she uses metaphors to think about her leadership. She discussed a 'parade' verses a 'train' and talked about shapes to describe leadership approaches. I don't want to lead in a triangle (everyone listening to one) I want to lead in a circle (everyone working toward a common value or goal. Very cool stuff and have the powerpoint off the website.
Finally I loved the photofunia website shared at the last breakout I attended and have used it in class.


The Learning at Schools conference was really inspiring this year. I went to a lot of breakouts which showed practical applications of tools within the classroom context. The first break out I went to was 9 in 90 minutes. It showed 9 different tools that you could use in the classroom. The tools were great and seemed like a lot of fun. However, some of the tools were nothing more than fun and I found myself wondering if these had any place within the classroom. One tool that that could be implemented into the classroom is Comic life. I thought this would be a great tool for, reading writing, visual language ect.
The workshop run by Jill Hammond on ten ways to raise student’s achievement in writing was absolutely amazing. I walked out from that breakout thinking of all the things and ways I needed to change my teaching approach in writing. She discussed how writing always needs to be purposeful and how children always need to have an audience (ideas I already knew but needed to re-explore with an ICT approach). She explored a variety of tools and as she went through the tools highlighted how each of them contributed to her main ideas in writing. Jill challenged my thinking and the ways I use different writing tools within the classroom. One tool that she showed was ‘wordle’. I have used wordle in my class to create brainstorms and fancy name posters ect. However I haven’t used it for writing. She showed how you can use ‘wordle’ to highlight the words children use the most in their writing. This can then offer ideas as to what their next step in writing could be.
The last breakout that really challenged my thinking was delivered by Trevor Bond. Trevor talked about the importance of dropping the word ‘inquiry’ and replacing it with learning. This struck a cord with all the e–leaders as we truely feel that people get so caught up on the word ‘inquiry’. Trevor gave us lots of ideas and way to develop an inquiry model within our school. We have been using his ideas to create our schools action plan and are hoping to have our staff/students celebrating the understood instead of the found. This will be achieved through more teacher directed inquiries where a task is set for the children to achieve/work towards. We have a lot of work within inquiry but I feel as though the e-team is heading in a positive direction.


I found the Learning at Schools conference really interesting. As it was my first time I really didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of practical ideas and tools presented in the breakouts. The 9 in 90 minutes breakout was full of really great tools. I really liked the fact that we came out of it with a disk with lots of different tools, ideas and manuals about how to use the tools. But, I could see a lot of it being used in ICT clubs that would run during lunch time, as opposed to in class.
The second breakout I went to was a workshop about 10 mathematical projects you could assign your students. I didn't realise this was aimed at high school students, but still gained a few ideas that I could adapt and use with some of more capable students. This breakout was one of the more less inspiring ones that I went to as the teacher presenting it very briefly went through the assignments he had set his students, touched on how they related to ICT (which was very basic - excell docs etc) and then passed around a few examples of work he had collected. Overall it was quite a disappointing breakout and thought the presenter could have put more effort into it.
A breakout that really made an impression on me was Trevor Bond's presentation about Inquiry learning. The model he presented really gave me a better idea of what we should be focussing on and how we can go about improving the model our school is presently using. He said that our School Vision, Key Comps and Learning Model should all link to begin with. Also, when he discussed the different levels in which we would begin the process - ie.beginning with a teacher led inquiry and as the teachers and students become more confident and skilled move towards negotiating with students and eventually student led inquiries; this gave me some relief as my understanding of Inquiry Learning was that it was mainly student led. Lastly, our school's model is pretty much based on gathering and presenting information, where as he showed us that we should be setting a task in order for the children to use the information gathered not just rehashing in their own words, therefore making it meaningful and purposeful task.

Forget Inquiry: It’s about Learning to Learn: Trevor Bond
Trevor’s workshop was just what our school leadership team wanted! We had worked with our staff last year on introducing Inquiry, looking at various stages and using a simple model that had been developed by some of the staff the previous year. We needed clarity about “where to next” with both our PD and our work on Inquiry. Lots of things Trevor talked about did just this. It was great to hear that the actual model used for Inquiry isn’t really important, and that we shouldn’t get hung up on it, as all models focus on the same steps/ process. A crucial point he made was to get away from the “Inquiry” label and just talk about “Learning to Learn”. He also pointed out the importance of all learning linking to the school vision- this made us think about how much we do this at our school.We have booked Trevor Bond to be the key note speaker at our cluster Mini Conference in July.We want everyone to hear the valuable messages he has to share.

So what works: Ten top tips for Leading school wide Professional development (Jo Wilson)
As the Project Director and an e-leader in my school I felt it was appropriate to attend this breakout. Jo’s key tips were…
· Know your people(staff) what method works best for them
· Goals- know what you want to achieve- why? What evidence supports this?
· Identify your current reality- get your staff talking about learning at your school- what does it look like, feel like at……school, encourage discussions about your school using open ended questions, let them share their thinking
· Learning Organizations-encourage risk taking, encourage people using initiative, make a trusting environment, collaboration
· Respect-talk to your staff about “Respect”
What does it look like at our meetings? What happens if you disagree with something
someone says, establish code of conduct
· Identify Specific goals- relate to your school vision, LI SC evidence
Have your goals visible for all to see
· Think strategically-what do you need to have in place first? – how will you implement the plan?
· Keep thinking strategically- does the staff understand the importance of the new learning?
· Plot the plan- who will plan the PD, what are the expectations
· Engage the staff- share, celebrate, personalise-allow for choice/ options
Pressure and support- stretch people a little at a time & provide support
· Reflect &Review-QLC’s PLC, coaching, professional friends, appraisal

Digital Citenzenship Issues in Primary Schools-John Fenaughty, Nancy Groh, Netsafe team
I was interested in attending this breakout as our cluster has identified “Digital citizenship an area to work on this year. This breakout gave the participants a chance to hear and talk about problems/ worries in their schools. It highlighted the need to teach children how to protect themselves in the digital world rather than to follow school rules. We will look towards working more on identifying criteria and programmes to develop citizenship at our e-leader and leadership team level.

This year was my second L@SConference, so I had a better idea of what to expect, and how it would flow, etc. As alwya, some presentations went better than others, and were geared toward my expectations more.
The three biggies for me were:
  • Scott McLeod's keynote address - there is an undeniable problem of disconnect between how teaching occurs and where society is geared and/or shaping up. We seem to be on the cusp (or already into) one of these critical periods now. The way 'education' is organised can seem less and less relevant to how society, the workplace, individuals and groups go about their lives. What to do? I didn't expect clear and simple answers, and I was pleased not to be given them. At the same time, it is daunting to realise the power of societal change, and to wonder how education can 'reclaim the ground.'
  • David Anderson is an Aussie! Despite this glaring problem, he presented a great workshop on 'Highly Effective Teamwork-What gets in the Way.' He spoke of key elements in building strong teams, and 'Killers' which (you guessed it!) destroy teams. Needless to say, while some of it rang bells, it was a highly pragmatic and reflective session. I came away with clarity, and some satisfaction that we were doing pretty well at our school!
  • My 4th Breakout was cancelled due to the christchurch situation, so I went to Jo Wilson's session on 'Ten Top Tips (try saying that 10 times really fast!) for leading school wide professional learning.' Again, nothing radically new or earth-shatteringly different; it was an opportunity to set some of my work against the criteria established. Like David Anderson, Jo got us busy in constructing the learning. Combined with David, it reinforced for me the importance of structure in working through matters, and the need to operate in a well established (yet responsive) framework. People work best in a clear environment that enables and encourages them to have input,and is well prepared beforehand, so that things don't get ahead of themselves, and then end up adrift. This is something that can happen wen enthusiasm doesn't meet with organisation early enough. The two are great bedfellows if they are introduced at the right time.

e-leaders reflection #2