Staff as Activators

Staff Taonga Wednesday 15th June 2016
This is our final staff taonga for the term. We will be reflecting on progress for our targeted learners so far and reporting on progress against our actions for our curriculum targets. Please come prepared to share progress from across your hubs.
You can access our targets by going to the February Principal's report on the Board Blog at this link. 

Staff Taonga Wednesday 25th May 2016
It's always important to reflect on our staff values, code of conduct and  code of ethics for staff in Catholic schools. Please read these before Wednesday and come prepared to talk to these as we apply them to our day to day student, whanau and staff relationships.

Fixed term full time maternity leave vacancy commencing in Week 6 term 3 2016 with an option of part time work from Week 1 - 5 Term 3 before the position commences.
Fixed term Scale A Maternity leave vacancy (not tagged).
Vacancy advertised online Thursday 21st April with a closing date of Thursday 12th May 2016.
When using the google doc, please create a copy of the original document. Here is the link.

Staff Taonga 23rd March 2016
ERO School Evaluation Indicators :Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success
1. Are you an adaptive expert ?
Page 33 Effective teaching that promotes every learner’s wellbeing, achievement and progress, and enables all learners to develop the skills to engage confidently in the complex global environment of the future, requires adaptive expertise. Adaptive expertise is a fundamentally different concept of what it means to be a professional. A distinctive characteristic is the ability to respond flexibly in complex contexts. Adaptive experts know when students are not learning, know where to go next, can adapt resources and strategies to help students meet worthwhile learning intentions, and can recreate or alter the classroom climate to attain these learning goals (Hattie, 2012, p.100). Adaptive experts apply deep conceptual knowledge effectively to problems not encountered previously and develop new solutions and approaches. This flexible, innovative application of knowledge underlies adaptive experts’ greater tendency to learn and refine their understanding on the basis of continuing experience. The development of adaptive expertise is enhanced by the opportunity to work in a collaborative environment. Adaptive experts can engage in ongoing inquiry with the aim of building knowledge that is the core of professionalism.
Effective practice indicators pages 35-37
Work in pairs to share examples of what the indicators would like like in action in our ELS's and in the context of our Catholic school. How could we use these indicators to grow our practice ?
2. Spiral of Inquiry Engaging in effective internal evaluation 2015-2016 ELS's
3. Progress on targets and targeted learners -Call to action traffic light

Staff Taonga 24th Feb 2016

1. Preparation for Peer Writing Project
  • Please bring to the taonga (or share on the drive) a class list highlighting any learners you are worried about - socially as well as academically and very able. Put an s for social, a academic & v very able.
  • Ensure you have one piece of writing kept/copied for every learner in your class from the first few weeks of 2016 to use as the benchmark for the project.
  • Peer tutoring & peer influences Ch 4 by David Mitchell. Any teacher involved in reading/writing needs to be involved. Use highlighters, break up the reading and read and share in pairs. Share back. Someone to write main points on a shared doc. Then we have a record of our PT journey.
  • PMI - in small groups about their thoughts around Peer tutoring based on reading and slides. Mixed hubs. No more than initial thoughts, then onto google docs and we can add more to it as we go.
2. Feedback from Paerora visit
3. Goal Setting Meetings

3. Authentic Learning reflection

5. The New Pedagogy: Students and Teachers as Learning Partners Michael Fullan

Staff Taonga 3rd Feb 2016
Prayer: Catholic Education Convention Prayer

  • Overview of dates for the year - collaborative document, please add taonga times and any other dates. Keep St Joseph's Google Calendar up to date.
  • Three days in... share one positive from the school year so far.
  • Look at Strategic Plan overview 
This collaborative approach ensures we all have understanding, ownership and responsibility for the progress & achievement of our targeted learners.

Teacher Only Days 2016
Once you have had a relaxing Summer holiday, you will be ready to put your passion and energy into the new school year. Here is an overview of our plans for the new school year:
Wednesday 27th January (Teachers only) 9:00am Morning Tea and lunch provided
  • Professional Learning Focus and our goals 2016
  • Learning Hubs - reflect, review & redevelop consistent guidelines & expectations
  • SOLO revisit
  • Restorative Behavioural review
  • New Look Assessment plans 2016
  • Teaching and Learning Site
  • Maths Maintenance
  • See the shared google doc for the full agenda
Thursday 28th January (All staff & board) 9:00am Morning Tea provided
  • Support staff, teachers and board will participate in a Mini Retreat led by Katrina Van de Water (from the Dunedin Diocese). The focus will be on prayer using Labyrinths. It will involve movement and team work !
  • Here is a blog post about our experience
  • 11:00 - 12:30 Support Staff session led by Siobhan & Paul
Friday 29th January (Teachers only) 9:00am - 12:00 Morning Tea provided
  • Team building fun morning session with Mind Lab learning and Oamaru Stone art led by Paul

All vacancies have now been filled. Thank you for your interest. We look forward to our new staff joining us in 2016.
September/October 2015 for 2016
Due to promotion and roll growth 2 x Scale A permanent, tagged vacancies and 1 x Fixed term Scale A vacancy (not tagged) commencing Term 1 2016.
Vacancies advertised online Friday 25th September with a closing date of Tuesday 13th October 2015.
When using the google doc, please create a copy of the original document.
Scale A tagged teacher vacancies

Fixed term Scale A teacher vacancy 

June 2015 : Be proactive and nip things "in the bud"
image credit to
We have just finished the ninth week of an eleven week term. Staff are busy completing assessments for mid year reports as well as continuing their normal teaching and learning commitments. Winter is upon us with student absence increasing due to sniffles, coughs and splutters. This is the exact time when 'little' niggling behaviours across the school can sometimes begin to escalate. The very time when staff and families need to be proactive and nip everything "in the bud".
Learn more about this saying at

Isn't it easier just to count down to the end of term and hope it all goes away in the holidays ? NO. 
Let's be proactive and nip things in the bud. So....what can we do ?
This is the perfect time to revisit our school values and behavioural guidelines with all learners and families. It is a chance to meet with learners and parents about real time concerns that might need more time than just the end of term parent meetings. Be explicit and work towards solutions collaboratively.
These are our school values and guidelines:

What are we doing at St Joseph's ?
Our senior student learners from Year 6, 7 and 8 will revisit what our values and guidelines look like in action when we get together for a Senior Hub 2 meeting at the start of week 10. Some of our Year 8 student leaders will be asked to to facilitate part of this session with support. This will fit with our school wide goal for deep engagement through learner agency. They will also revisit the meaning of learner agency in relation to the Learner Licence system.
Many of our Senior Hub 1 learners are focussing on the Friendly Kids, Friendly Classrooms resource and the positive social relationships that support our behavioural guidelines and school values.
Our Junior Hub 1 and 2 learners will be revisiting our school values and behavioural guidelines too.
3 key ways to be proactive and nip things "in the bud":
1. Be transparent. Share links to this information on the weekly school news blog and ask parents to have conversations with their children around guidelines. 
2. Ask staff to link certificates and awards to school values and guidelines. 
3. Capture photos of the values in action and create videos with student leadership groups to reinforce these messages.

It's important to understand that these behaviours arise naturally towards the end of a term at all schools. They can be positively actioned when we focus on building quality learning relationships as a whole school community together. 
Be proactive and nip things "in the bud".

Staff study days and Term 2 sabbatical from whole staff meetings support staff agency and personal growth
We are half way through Term 2. This term mirrors Term 2 in 2014 in one sense, we have done away with our weekly staff professional learning meetings. We are having a sabbatical from staff meetings.
Let me revisit the statement (see below) that I made when I started this blog page in May 2014: Students all over the world want learning to be fun. They don't want grumpy, tired, stressed teachers. We need to take care of each other, so that we can give 100% to our students and their families.
This term our staff have been studying a Religious Education paper through TCI - The Tertiary Catholic Institute. This is a way for our staff to nourish their spirituality and upgrade their Catholic teaching qualifications. The papers require staff to study part time and complete essays and assessment tasks. In order to support staff with this extra study commitment, we have cleared our meetings for most of the term and offered staff a study day. The staff have met together after school for a few study sessions and have taken advantage of a self-chosen study day attached to a weekend to complete the essay and tasks. Feedback from staff shows that this approach has been greatly appreciated. It has given staff time to complete their study commitments while still being able to give 100% to their students and their diverse learning needs.
The staff are experiencing being learners. They can better relate to our students. The staff are living out our vision: To reach for the stars as lifelong learners in the Catholic Faith.

2015 is underway and the transformation in learning spaces is phenomenal 
No amount of words can thank the staff enough for the immense time and effort that they put into these changes. We presented them with staff well being bags to say thank you and to encourage them to take time out to spoil themselves a little. 
Bob our hardworking caretaker had to work overtime with the help of our retired caretaker Mark, to remove and recycle the outdated resources that we found hiding away at the back of old cupboards and storage areas ! In the words of Paula from our front office, 'we have to be ruthless' as our office staff also worked hard to streamline their work spaces too.
Although we still have our very traditional buildings, we have creatively and economically transformed learning spaces into collaborative and engaging learning hubs. We already have some eager visitors booked in for early in Term 2 to come and see our hubs in action. 

Staff and students drive environmental change across our traditional school for 2015
Learning about the immense possibilities to strengthen our future focused pedagogy through collaborative team teaching (read about Myross Bush School) provided the traction for environmental change for 2015.
Students and staff were given the freedom to design collaborative spaces for the new school year. The Year 7 students were encouraged by their teacher to use the 'thinklink app' and minecraft to design the Year 6,7,8 Learning Hub spaces. The teachers have utiised these ideas in the redesigned spaces for 2015.
Teachers across the school from Year 1-8 revisited classroom spaces to activate greater team teaching opportunities. As a result, seven learning and community spaces are swapping around and relocating. Even the office staff came up with suggestions for reframing their work space to utilise it more effectively.
One of the controversial discussion points for staff was the use of teacher desks. I have never been a fan of talking to others from behind my desk and as a result I have broken with tradition and removed my desk from my office. It will be recycled in the new library learning space. I also aim to re designate the 'principal's office' into an 'open creative, collaborative space' as I redefine my own role.
Open Forums: Flipping Traditional Senior Leadership Meetings
How can we become more inclusive and collaborative in our practice as leaders and continue to not only grow ownership for all that we do but grow leadership as well?
A wish to change the existing model was triggered by recent personal experiences as part of a wider collaborative network and in response to reflections as part of my master's studies. I have just read Change Leader by Michael Fullan and this quote resonated with me ' the circle of leadership should always be expanding to incorporate the meaning and motivation of the full group.’(p108)

I firmly believe that everyone of us is a leader and that we grow through learning from those we collaborate with. How can we expand our circle of leadership in a way that is inclusive to the whole group?

I mooted the following suggestion with the senior leadership team who were genuinely receptive to exploring this flipped model :

Senior Leadership Team (SLT) meetings change to open forums (Friday Forums) for all (inclusive of TA's, office staff, board, parents, students ...) - Fridays 8:00-8:30 am ruma koru (community room)
Everyone is welcome to attend although it is optional. There is no expectation to be there. Warm croissants and hot drinks freely available.
The agenda is a shared google document that anyone can contribute to. If you contribute, then you talk to it (use your initials). You can choose to only stay for part of the meeting if you wish. The full minutes will be shared with all staff as is the norm.

Let's be bold and brave and move out of our comfort zones...What ripples will we make together?

3 weeks later... From only 3 attendees to the first session to 7 attendees to the 3rd session. Attendees have included part time staff and our board chairperson, all keen to participate. Watch this space.

Preparation for Term 3 2014 meetings - 5 tasks you need to do to make this work
Last term, I decided to give our staff a sabbatical from meetings. We had worked hard over the past few years to ensure that meeting times were purely professional learning and growth sessions rather than administrative. But  my own experiences this year made me rethink this model.

While I was at home towards the end of my sabbatical in Term 1, I experienced the engagement and deep learning that can come from having time to play and explore learning that was personally motivating to me. During this time I taught myself to Twitter. This opened a window into a world of educational dialogue and links to inspiring readings and videos. Inspired by the blogging of learners in the Manaikalani Network of schools, I also began blogging. Since then, this has taken off throughout our school.The rewards have been immense. I realized that by stepping back from the 'busyness' of school life, I had a chance to play and be creative. I want our staff to have a chance to play and let their own passions drive their learning. If we can  discover this for ourselves, then it will help us to understand what we want our young learners to feel.

During the term, Lorraine was using her blog to share readings and links for learners to access with their families at home . She creatively did the same with our special character staff meetings (the few meetings we needed to have)
This reduced our meeting time and our shorter meetings became much more focused and productive.

I plan to use this model for a short, focused meeting about having 'less meetings' again this coming term and ask staff to come to our meeting with some ideas by reflecting on these tasks before the meeting.
Your Tasks
Task 1: Come up with a new term for our get togethers
I wish to discard the word 'meeting' and substitute it with another word that truly encapsulates the authentic purpose of our time together. eg collaboration. Meeting merely means that we come together. People meet all the time. When we have our focused learning sessions for staff, we want them to be much more than merely meetings. We want to dig deeper and go beyond the surface.

Task 2: Think about ways to creatively generate free time for staff
I wish to retain ' freetime', for staff to explore self-directed learning opportunities, follow passions and dreams and let their creativity flow by having less 'meetings'.

Task 3:Reflect on our blogging experiences and learner and whanau engagement from Term 2 
Suggest next steps for Term 3 and beyond

Task 4: Visit and reflect on our appraisal site and our teaching as inquiry action research model
and our planning expectations
Come prepared to talk about these and how they will fit with our plans for the rest of the year.

Task 5: Check the draft overview of dates for the term and add anything else ready to review together

As I haven't left you with much time to prepare, we will come together at the later time of 3:30pm.
Looking forward to our robust and  deep discussions during our non meeting meeting.

Building Quality Relationships
When our children enter our school and our rooms or even our office in the morning, they will be greeted by welcoming, happy staff. Staff who are in their rooms from 8:30 to 9:00 am ready to meet, greet and connect with their students. Staff who will set their preparations and work aside, move away from the comfort of their  own desks and tables and go and connect with their students and families.

As a leader, I model this as well.There are no excuses for any of us. I make sure that I am out at the front gates, meeting and greeting families whenever I can. At any time during the day, if a staff member, student, parent or visitor comes into my office, I will leave my desk and listen and talk with them. I try to give them my full attention, to let them know that I value them.

' Quality relationships' are one of our core values at St Joseph's. We can never take a relationship for granted. We have to work at it all the time. Building quality relationships with each other and our students and families contribute to creating rich, supportive environments where learning at St Joseph's can truly flourish.
Purpose of this page
We are blessed to have such a dedicated and committed team of staff at St Joseph's. Every staff member is important and knows that they can make a positive difference to every student at our school.
We have done so much valuable learning together over the past few years and we are still learning more and more together.

It's also important to stop, revisit and reflect on some of our learning at times.

I have decided to use this blog to share our learning as a staff - our meetings, discussions, reflections, light bulb moments and the fun times together. Yes. We need to laugh together and with each other as well.
 :) Students all over the world want learning to be fun. They don't want grumpy, tired, stressed teachers. We need to take care of each other, so that we can give 100% to our students and their families.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that learning needs to be fun. I tell my children we learn more when we are having fun (as adults do!!!)