Sunday, September 8, 2013

Inspiring future leaders: a reflection on NAPP

Last year I was part of the National Aspiring Principals' Programme or NAPP.  This programme is for senior leaders who aspire to become principals in the near future. 

The focus of the NAPP is on developing adaptive, culturally responsive, digitally literate leaders through inquiry learning, and building their understanding of the research base around leadership. The delivery of the programme ranges from a variety of face to face small group work where akonga (learners) share their developing leadership inquiry over the year, a regional day, a national hui and  four online modules focus on school operating systems in the New Zealand context and show how to link those systems effectively to student achievement.  Using a mix of shared online interaction and individualised self-managed learning, the modules explore: school contexts, resourcing, personnel and employment, and strategies and planning.  I found the delivery of the programme to be very useful and complimented my daily work as a deputy principal.  I particularly enjoyed the face to face time in our smaller professional learning groups where each akonga shared their leadership inquiry and how this progressed over the year.  The opportunity to connect with akonga at the regional and national days meant that you could put a face to the online connections that you made through the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) and meet many inspiring facilitators.


This year I was priviledged to be asked to represent the 2012 akonga and return to address the 2013 NAPPsters at the National Hui, held in Auckland. I was asked to present a five minute talk to the close to 200 participants with a critical reflection on my experiences.  Leading with moral purpose and reflecting on ones practice is at the forefront of any leader if there is to be personal and organisational growth.  I discussed how being involved with NAPP led me to be more culturally responsive as a leader and reignite the need to be a digital resident and connected leader.

I was also asked to present two smaller round table events on my passion for implementing Teaching as Inquiry as a model of self and school improvement when staff view inquiry as a professional way of being.  Both these sessions were well attended and the link to this work can be found on my wikispace.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Punch of Professional Development

Personalising professional learning to a whole staff is always tricky as 'one size never fits all' yet over the last year I've participated in several forms of professional learning that has catered to a wide group (all at once!). This has taken the form of "smackdowns" and unconference-style learning experiences. Smackdowns are small punches of information where tips, trick, ideas and wonderings are shared. In many cases a Google Presentation is set up and people are invited to create a slide prior to the event, when the event occurs participants must be prepared to get up in front of the audience and share their slide/knowledge. We have used the concept of a smackdown to continue weekly professional learning for our school wide blogging strategy. Each Monday at our morning briefing staff are encouraged to share 2-3 ideas about what they have found out about blogging. This way the learning is coming from the 'just in time' needs of the staff and staff see others taking a lead. The person with the designation of eLeader doesn't always have to be the source of new inspiration, staff can go to others who have shared or tried ideas. Using a smackdown has been a successful option for us - here is our weekly smackdown of growing ideas around blogging: An unconference format has also proven to be effective. This year I have attended the Emerging Leaders unconference called Ignition in the April school holidays, and at the beginning of this term Educamp Auckland using this format too. Usually when you attend a conference you are aware of who is presenting and what workshops are on offer for you to attend, with an unconference attendees turn up to the event and "post-up" workshops they are prepared to share. This way attendees create the professional learning that is to happen based on the needs, wants and ideas of the group of attendees that are in the room. It sources the collective knowledge and wisdom of the many to tailor learning. Lastly, I have found a hybrid approach to the smackdown/unconference and termed the phrase "sparkshop". I recently had the opportunity to organise a professional learning afternoon for our local eLearning network where we had 120 attendees. We started the session with a smackdown and then broke into sparkshops - 20 minutes of inspiration to spark ideas in attendees to go and try in their classrooms before the end of the term. Unlike an unconference where we would have been unsure who would be prepared to share, we approached 8 keen eLearners across the 15 network schools to present. These attendees made their contribution slide to a Google Presentation and then link their sparkshop so that everyone can view the presentations - attendees got to attend 2 sparkshops in our afternoon session. Here is our eLearning network sparkshop presentation: Finally, it's no point attending professional learning without a bias for action. Attendees were asked to fill in a pledge postcard and to record one thing that they will try between attending the eLearning network professional learning smackdown and sparkshops before the end of the term. These were collected and then school leaders will give back out in a few weeks time to see whether attendees have followed through on their pledge. Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini - success is not the work of one, but the work of many.