Monday, December 1, 2014

Pathways to Leadership

Today I was fortunate to attend a “Pathways to Leadership” Day hosted by CEO Inner West Region. It was lead by Paul Cronin (Inner West Consultant) with talks from Michael Krawec (Regional Director) and Andrew Fraser and Roisin O’Reilly. Here are my recaps and reflections from the day.

In the past there was an Aspiring Leaders afternoon. It was a brief gathering, this is what you need to do and that’s it. Today we were told that we will get our bearings on the many pathways to leadership. I look forward to this, you can look ahead and have hope for the future but there are many pathways and routes to take.
Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 9.10.42 am.png

The importance of eating came through. I liked this point, eating and sharing meals are important, conversations occur and relationships from.I think it is important that Leaders need to eat at the same table as their colleagues.

Session One Leadership and our Region.
We were invited to write down - how we came to be here, all I could think is that I want to make a (positive) impact. After reading the response Michael Krawec mentioned how diverse the group was. What’s great about Leadership is that all leaders are diverse, I think what makes a great leader is individuality, authenticity and that they make an impact. This leads me to reflect that I want to be the type of leader that no one has met, however, I really am unsure of how that looks just yet.
Individuality, Authenticity and  make an.png

We were told that it is hoped that we:
  • feel supported
  • gain an understanding of the demands
  • have an awareness of Performance growth model
  • feel empowered to take control
  • engage a learning community that has a leadership focus
  • nurture relationship

I like that these things are hoped for the future leaders of the organisation I work for - really shows that they are forward thinking.

This video was then shared - Building a plane in the air - take off time on the incomplete plane
This is so true as a lot of us will take on a leadership role at a school that is already flying, there isn’t always a beginning point.

Great Leaders define what makes a leader!

We were asked to name a great leader and three qualities:
Sergey Brin (Google Founder)
  • supportive
  • enabler
  • visionary
We then shared and these are the qualities we all shared-

Qualities of a good Leader
(As chosen by those that were present)
Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 11.28.21 am.png

Michael continued with - The essential ingredient into a successful school was:
The Leadership

Distinction needs to be made between management and leadership.

Finding the X factor - personal, interpersonal and social competence.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.34.34 am.png

This Emotional Intelligence is an important point to me, I have seen leaders and people that have no awareness of how to treat people or respond to others. I have seen people in need and then leaders will not offer help. I have seen relationships in and out of schools require a lot more talking, understanding and awareness of a persons emotional needs. A trusting relationship is what is key - what needs to happen are things that build relationships - conversing, getting to know who your colleagues are.

Michael closed with The First Follower - Youtube Clip - a personal favourite video of mine.
A leader is an Enabler - The leader in the Flint and The First follower is the spark!
Be public be easy to follow!

I was left thinking ----> This little light of mine - I’m going to let it shine!

Session two “Know thy self”

Andrew Fraser then invited us to acknowledge what our purpose was, in various areas.
This is what stuck out for me in what my purpose is:
In school -
Students: Make a difference in the lives of the students in my presence: educate them, empower them, make them realise their potential, listen to them and their challenges.
Staff relationships: A positive, bubbly person on staff - I was once told that my smile has helped people some mornings.
Staff capacity: Enable those to use tools they think they cannot use, share information, resources and share ideas with staff and students
The School Community: Involvement, encouragement, greeting people, listening to people.

Andrew went on to discuss the importance of perception:
  • How you are in the room is how you are in the workplace.
  • How you are seen and how you are responded to.
  • Perception is important. How you are viewed.
I can’t help be think perceptions can change and the way we perceive others is not always the way they are.

We were invited to reflect upon the follow questions and then share. I invite you to also answer these questions in your own document.
Pathways to leadership - personal and professional aspirations and goals.

What strengths must I have to teach and lead well?

What do I want out of my work and life?

How do I want others to perceive me?

How do I want to act?

How do I want to be?

I do feel like I know myself, I am an extrovert but I am also a good listener. What can I do to let others know that I am a good listener and will actively listen to a need, a vent, a story or an idea?

Finally Andrew shared The Performance Growth in Action Model and he discussed the value of feedback.

We need feedback from all aspects, in all that you work and we need to be open to giving and receiving feedback. This year I gave my students an opportunity to write my report card as a teacher, I received a lot of positive feedback but they also gave me some areas that I need to work on.

People are doing things - many people do the same things but some do it differently.

Leadership is about Coaching, mentoring, feedback, who is your mentor, who’s feedback do you value most and why?

I look forward to seeking more feedback so that I can know more about how I am perceived and the person I am.

Session Three -  Standards, Higher levels and a community of learners

Roisin O’Reilly  began the afternoon session with:
The importance of peers - “Good teaching is a collective responsibility” Fullan & Hargreaves (2012).
Working in a peer community towards the higher levels of accreditation will help you in

  • Building an understanding of what constitutes Highly Accomplished and Lead Practice
  • Connecting purposefully around the professional standards for teachers
  • Motivating you towards improvement
  • Observing and critiquing each others practice
  • Giving and receiving feedback on practice
  • Building skills in self-reflection
  • Developing online and face to face connections

The afternoon session involved choosing a leadership scenario and making decisions as a team on how to address the challenge in the scenario.  We decided what action needed to take place and how it linked with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. It involved us in planning, discussing and working collaboratively to show how we will identify areas in need for improvement. We then needed to match what we will do with the appropriate leadership standard, followed by then identify the impact the action will have and what evidence is required - it was set out similar to the table below.

What will we do?

It was a challenging task that had us really thinking about what standard will link to the action, there are some that cover more standards. It was really important to name a range of evidence to show the impact such as assessment results, observations and student voice - which I like in the form of blogging.
This activity gave us the opportunity to really familiarise ourselves with the teaching standards while naming the required proof to show change or result.This activity made me realise the importance of collaboration, making a difference and then being able to show exactly what has happened and the difference it has made. A challenging but enjoyable task with many insights.

In summary, my main takeaways from the day were the importance of relationships, awareness of others, knowledge of self, the importance of feedback and to be able to show hard evidence of the impact of your leadership. A great day that inspired, informed, affirmed and challenged. Stay tuned for my journey as a leader.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Google Docs Etiquette

Google Docs are a great way to work collaboratively and know everyone is all on the “same page.”

We can all see what each other is writing, changes made are instant and we are not saving, re-saving, attaching external documents or re-naming (draft, Final, final 1, Final 2, Final final, Absolute Final Copy) It can get exhausting and easy to lose track of which copy you are using.

However, sometimes when working on the document at the same time, formatting and choosing the place to type can get challenging. It is even more so with school ages students.

When all working on a shared Google doc it is very easy to push people out the way, delete other peoples work and make sure you type what you want to type.

It is important to have patience - your name does not always need to be at the top, be aware of what colour your cursor is and what others are. I always like to go straight to the bottom to be sure I wont end up writing on someone else's work and they wont write on mine.

For infants - tables are a treat with their names already placed in the first column they are practicing scanning to look for their name and then they can work in the column next to it. I like to then add my comment in that column with their name to show I have marked their work. The image below shows6 year old students writing about Tigers.

When working with others (and encourage students to do this also) communicate while you are working, verbally or use the chat or comments tools.

Of course this post goes very well with my Absolute basics video for Google Docs. Which can you can also find on Maggie's Miss Edventures.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Standardised Tests - an open letter

Are our students not worth more than just a National standardised test?

To whom it may concern,

A couple weeks ago, an article came out about how the NAPLAN exam will be changed to online and the questions will be adjusted according to the amount of correct answers a student gives. These questions will still have only one answer. My question is how many questions in life, about life and the human response have only ONE answer?
Every year schools prepare their students for one or many exams that apparently measure student capabilities and the skill level of the students who attend.
The exams are in a book and require reading and writing. They test limited abilities and it is these skills and abilities that do not equate to success in life.
When I think of the workforce and life, I can’t help but think people that are succeeding are collaborating, brainstorming, discussing, moving, innovating, creating, sharing, exploring and improving.

The best way that these skills are measured is by the consumers. How do we know how successful certain companies are?  
I can’t help but ponder on the following questions...

How can we help students to realise their full potential?

How else can we measure student achievement?

How else can we judge the quality of education in a student, school, system or even country?

So I write this letter to whomever can listen, realise and make a difference to the way schools show what students are capable of. Please talk to teachers who are recognising this quick changing world and see how else can we show what students abilities really are. This could lead to greater student achievement, increased skill levels, lower students suffering anxiety or low self esteem and help students to realise what they are truly capable and how they can make a positive impact on this world.


Magdalene Mattson

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Last week I lead a training day to prepare my students to lead the school in a Peer Support program. The day involved a lot of discussion and a lot of brainstorming.

I couldn’t help but think how great it is, that a day can involve more than one brainstorm/discussion and yet students will be engaged, still share their ideas and enjoy it.

So thought I would share a few of the great online brainstorming sites:

You may have seen or used these sites yourself. I’d love if you share how you use them in your comments.

Not just for brainstorming, also a private chat room. Similar to Twitter respondents can only use 140 characters.

Really fun, can respond to a question and repeated answers are made bigger to stick out.

Personal favourite - It can big as small or as big and has a range of backgrounds.

Butchers paper (oldie but a goodie)
I think it’s obvious but sometimes it is fun to write on big pieces of paper (just not all the time)

This has also been around a while and we are all familiar the images that this produces.

Lucidchart Diagram (now in google apps)
Love this one - allows from different shapes, connecting lines, a lot of fun.

Mindmeister (in google add-ons in google docs)
A simple list, highlight and click. This will give you a mind map - not as much control as Lucidchart.

Please feel free to add more information in comments or share some of your own that I may have missed.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reflections upon Google Teacher Academy

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard” JFK

There was a real buzz that first morning when we all arrived and yet were not sure exactly what lied ahead of us. We knew there would be a range of teachers, skills, the walls you can write on and that sense of googliness but what was going to be achieved was still not quite clear to me.

We shared our findings from the immersion tasks and we all had a realisation of what we want to achieve in education. Teacher moonshots included building excitement for teachers, student voice, changing assessment and why can’t I open my own school? It was then we had a Jerry Maguire moment of “who’s with me?”. I grabbed the fish and I was with a lot of the teachers.

I was introduced to Hackschooling. A TED talk by Logan Laplante - Everything is up for being hacked. Hack Schooling TED Talk
This excited me, I was left asking questions of how else can we get students and schools show what they are doing and what they are doing well. So trying to improve assessment across schools is my Moonshot!

As the first day went on (and this continued into day two), what struck me was the connection I made with my team, we questioned, challenged, supported and worked together to see how we could work towards achieving our Moonshots. Clare, Karla, Ross, Shawn, Anthony and of course our team mentor Chris I had a great couple days working with you and I thank you all for your questions and support and look forward to our continued journey ahead. I know I am able to ask challenging questions to my students but I have never felt confident in challenging adults, this experience changed that also.

Google teacher academy was personalised we were able to use the strategies and resources to suit our very own Moonshot - I can’t wait to use these skills with my students - such as
  • Shaped Thinking (My version of hexagonal thinking)
  • 100 ideas in 10 minutes
  • Coming up with open ended challenges with my students
  • Seeing that sparks student curiousity

Time was a challenge throughout the experience but really this is no different to our classrooms and in life. Some things do take time but limitations can be of assistance rather than a challenge. A focus our team worked on when the idea of a 48 min movie festival came round.

What also added to this great experience is that I was able to share with 4 great friends/colleagues from the #aussieED team. The car rides on the way home together were an experience in themselves.

We were also very fortunate to hear talks from Annie Parker, Brett Morgan and Suan Yeo himself. Helpful, encouraging and inspiring. Great ways to end each day.

So, the fact that it was different to past GTAs made it that bit more special - Hamish Curry and Tom Barrett from No Tosh were amazing leaders of the two days who were challenging as well as encouraging, I especially loved and heard others say it was great how we were addressed as colleagues. I am excited to continue the journey after this experience with my new colleagues and skills acquired. Moonshots are GO!

Hanging Out!

Connecting classrooms with Google Hangout!

So Both Term 2 and 3 I found myself and my students loving to connect with other schools.
We have had High Schools teach us about states of matter and gravity and have shared maths lessons with other Year5/6 classes where students questioned and challenged each other.
I couldn’t help but come up with a helpful list.
Tips for having a google hangout!

If questioning schools - it’s always good to just repeat the question anyway.
Only one student speaks at a time unless they are greeting.
Students who are talking should be right up front to the camera.
Have students have pen, paper or ipad for note taking, working out or reflecting.
Students can reflect on their own blog or site about the experience.


The debate that will never end.

With all the ideas of authentic learning and genius hour, I had been challenged with allowing time for my students to work on personal projects. While, still being able to meet their needs in other areas of the curriculum.

It is a well known fact that students don’t like homework and to be honest I don’t like homework. Trying to come up with interesting activities that will support what they are doing in the classroom. Then having to find the time to mark it when I am a firm believer in marking with students. I have also thought about and plan to implement Flipped learning for homework as well.
It was one day when students were working on a 3D creation task that a student asked me - “For homework next week can I draw up a net and make a pizza box?” I thought about it and I said yes, look at one of the tasks and we can negotiate which task you won’t complete.

I thought more about this and then thought What if students wrote their own homework? After discussing with my grade partner, she suggested let’s start with allowing them to come up with one task and then increase on that next term.

They were excited. I had students doing such a range of tasks which include:
  • Documentary on their dance school.
  • A new song on guitar
  • Chocolate and Banana muffins and writing up the recipe
  • The Pizza Box
  • Creating Minecraft characters
  • A student recorded his statistics at football training and then drew up a graph

For one of my students with special needs he opted to spend time on an online maths game, which was also fine.

As I said they were excited, I was excited and I looked forward to seeing,
marking their work.  They then all wanted to share their homework with the class and started giving each other feedback. Definitely a winner and I can’t wait to see what they continue to do.