Effective teams ETL504

Law, S. & Glover (2000) Leading effective teams. In education leadership ad learning: practice, policy and research (pp. 71-86).

Team leadership is the only form of leadership acceptable in a society where power is shared and so many people are near equals. ( Belbin 1993: 107 Team roles at work)

So our team has come together … we share a common purpose and have some interconnectedness however I’m not sure the other attributes are in order. We don’t yet have a team identity… number 9 is not really an identity, only a label and I’m not sure we have agreed values. We are regulating our behaviour but I don’t know the other members well enough to say we have the same values.
We have to belong to this team but I don’t yet feel I completely belong. I am having to try too hard. I think there is at present a lack of fluency between members and certainly no intimacy as I don’t even know what some of them look like. As a group I think we all have concerns such as where we will be placed within the group and if we have anything valuable to offer. Other questions and issues are will the group like me? Will they think I am a positive addition? Will I have any influence within the group?
So we are still forming but we don’t yet seem to have entered the storming stage as there has been no real conflict.
We have conformed to an established line but more openness is beginning to appear and a common ground is being sort. By working together these norms will begin to appear.
We have yet to reaching the performing stage or “mature stage’ but hopefully it won’t be long. Will we be the A team?
If we can get the subject right we might just well be.

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Off to find more cheese! ELT504

I’m not sure if Arthur is making suggestions to make us feel disheartened and test us so that we can reflect on our leadership skills or not. So I’m assuming that he is deliberately putting obstacles in our way to test us therefore I am going to be able to do this and do it well. I am going to stay motivated despite feeling quite angry and fed up this morning, and i will be enthusiastic with the rest of the team.
To help my thinking I’ve used bubblus, a simple mind-mapping tool that is worth exploring in the classroom. I wanted to share it with team 9 but it won’t upload for some reason. Now I’ve managed to map that out I realise we need to be very clear about our objectives and slim it down some what. We have highlighted a few journals that we could approach and our audience is principals. We now need to ensure that we are very clear about the purpose and why the publisher should take this on.
I’m still unsure if we are proposing a journal article or if we are proposing that we do some research. Uncertainty certainly reigns tonight. So I’m off to find some more cheese as perhaps the cheese we have is a little stale and if I’m going to keep on my toes and be ready for more changes I need to be prepared for any eventuality. More reading!

Leading from the library

So the new assignment has got me thinking. The group have come up with some great ideas but I’ve thrown a spanner in the works and am now looking forward to what hearing what they all think. The group is working well and we are being supportive, co-operative and being collaborating but after initially agreeing we are now starting to question each other more…a sign of trust perhaps? I worry I don’t know enough and yet again I’m going through the Kulthau’s ISP.

One of my suggestions is about leading from the middle and recognising the power and potential of the TL.
TLs are in a great position of power, one in which they can influence much of what happens in the classroom beyond. How?

1. Teacher Librarians provide resources. This has great implications for the learning community and the learning outcomes of the community. This is not always recognised, Winzenreid (2010) p16, but is important non the less. By providing materials that the students want and those that support the curriculum the TL impacts learning. provide the ‘right’ resources and the community benefit, provide the wrong ones and learning can not be supported.

2. Teacher librarians promote learning through technology, literacy and collaboration; each of which provides ample opportunities for leadership. As an instructional partner the TL is able to teach and learn simultaneously, building up a sense of trust and community. They are able to model good practice and provide materials to support this. They can inspire and provide guidance as to what is the most important to the education of their students or/and to members of their professional community. Much is this is achieved by expert power; demonstrating skills, co-operative planning and administrating and managing of the learning resources within school. Burdenuk (1992) Leadership and the teacher librarian. School libraries in Canada, 12(2) pp.16-27 This develops the respect of people within school giving the TL support and thus more power.

3, Referent power is gained through support, endorsement and the backing of the staff and community. Burdenuk (1992) Leadership and the teacher librarian. School libraries in Canada, 12(2) pp.16-27 This is dependent upon inter personal skills and a positive enthusiastic personality on the part of the TL.

Skills needed….
Ability to deal with change.
Understand how adults learn as well as students.
What effective learning looks like…sleep, eat and breathe it.
Collaboration
Communication
How to deal with conflict
How to build a team
How to build a positive culture of trust and mutual respect
Be able to create a vision and verbalise it
Persevere…Roman wasn’t built in a day
Maintain integrity
Learn; co-operatively, independently, collaboratively
Know your limitations, build on strengths and understand your sphere of influence
Take risks… seek forgiveness not permission! (Burdenuk 1992)
Celebrate the good things
Network and learn from others
Prioritise
Learn to say no sometimes
Think big, start small (Burdenuk 1992)

Book week is nearly here. The extreme reading pictures are beginning to come in. Jamie made these fantastic posters to promote book week. There are a whole series of them and they are all causing much hilarity with staff and students alike.

Core steps in decision making… problems, challenges and mindset.

An interesting read with some great diagrams that made it much clearer. Step one, get the mindset right. I started to think about this on my run today and how I view problems and challenges. I asked myself the question, did I ever see a physical activity as a problem or did I always see it as a challenge? Well I realised I always saw it as a challenge.

I’ve been very lucky in my life and have been able to try out new things. I’ve trekked for 5 days along the Great Wall, kayaked in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, trekked for a week in Nepal, walked coast to coast in the UK and run a marathon. Was it ever a problem? No, it was always the mindset. So what now interests me is why, if it is physical it is a challenge, but never a problem.

Lance Armstrong’s come back from cancer was not a problem, climbing Mount Everest is not viewed as a problem, swimming the Channel… not a problem… why do we perceive these things differently to situations that arise in our daily lives?
If we perceived the everyday as challenges too we would perhaps be more successful. We would have that positive mindset with which to approach the ‘problems’. These everyday situations that need attention should be seen as opportunities just as walking the Cumbrian Way or the Overland Track is. They are of course different opportunities but both may change the way we think about things. Opportunities encourage us to innovate and think creatively and this combined with a trusting an supportive environment creates a situation that is more conducive to meeting challenges.

Harvey, T.R., Bearley, W.L. & Corkrum, S. M. (2001) Core steps in decision making. In The practical decision maker: a handbook for decision making and problem solving in organisations (pp.17-34). Lancaster, Pa.: Technomic.

Utilising the principles of quality management.

It was great today in the ELT, no really. My reading from yesterday fitted in perfectly and I was able to see how the readings on management and leadership gelled with the real world.
I’ve never really been a fan of readings about educational leadership, I was always more of a curriculum girl myself. Yes I see myself as a leader but in a limited sort of way and don’t always feel confident in my own abilities. I’d never dream of stepping up to a VP or a Principal level, I couldn’t do it. I’m better at leading from within, from talking to colleagues and hopefully encouraging, listening, hearing and empowering.
Now these readings, although not the most riveting of reads, are making sense of leadership and makes me want to learn more. I’d like our school to be a happy place where everyone works together to improve the children’s learning. Everyone means me, so what am I going to do over the next few weeks to make a difference, to make the school a happier and more trustworthy place? How am I going to step up?

1. Could I work on what our mission statement looks like with the children and the teachers that work with me in the LC? Would this help qualify things for me, the teachers and the children? Well it would but it is something that needs to be tackled by the whole school, so maybe not the one for me.

2. I could share the research cycle I have been using and see if anyone is willing to trial it with their class and give me feedback so that we can move to a more cohesive approach next year. This would help develop a team approach and a shared view.

3. I should talk to the children about what is good about the LC and what they need from the LC. What works? What do they enjoy? Which lessons have been most successful? How can we improve their learning further? This then needs to be shared with their teachers. This determines that the children and their learning at at the heart of the program ensuring a more learner centred experience for the child.

4. Find out why some systems are not working, for instance the English records. Why are they often not filled in? If I find this out then perhaps it can be made more meaningful for all involved. Why do some people see them as irrelevant? Is it because the assessments are not done or is it because they see no value in writing it down? What about collecting time-tabling comments for next year in order to improve the LC time-tabling. This might give me a way to move to the more flexible approach as seen on Friday.

5, Positives should be celebrated. A celebration board in the LC or just outside? It wouldn’t be difficult and the children and staff could be encouraged to add to the board. Anyone who helps our learning community could have their face added and a little note could be written. ie; The student council for putting in loads of hard work this term, the football team for training so hard. Mrs. A. for being so imaginative and trying something new. Mrs. G. for offering to take me to X to source materials for my book week costume. It is endless.

So that’s only the first 5 principles and already I have a wealth of things I could try to do to make our school a better, happier more trust worthy environment. Most importantly whatever I do I need to be enthusiastic, motivated and demonstrate that I care for our school and the community. I need to STEP UP because unless I do then there will never be a whole school approach as someone will always be missing.

Quality management… the principles.

Streeton Primary School (2000. The 12 quality principles. In Q is for quality: continuous improvement in schools through quality management and quality learning ( pp12-24). Yallambie, Vic.: Streeton Primary School.

An interesting an easy read this one. I like the way it lays out very clearly what is necessary for a school, or any organisation for that matter, to be one of quality.

Yet again, principle 1, VISION and a clear shared objective lays at its heart. ( Clear direction allows organisational alignment and a focus on the achievement of goals) Over and over this comes through the reading. My school has a vision which I think is very clear, powerful, concise and memorable however I’m not sure that we can all explain the meaning behind the statements. What does ‘Empowering learners to make a difference’ really look like? What is a difference? Is it a difference to their own learning by becoming independent? Is it making a difference to their community, both local and global? Is it all of these? How will we know we have achieved this? What do we have to do to empower ourselves as a learner or the children as learners? How do we measure it? I like the fact that all members of our community were invited to contribute to the vision and that we as a community have a sense of ownership over it, we just need to be a bit clearer.

This leads into principle 2 ( Mutually agreed plans translate organisational direction into actions) as we need a team approach, a team approach with a planned approach. Everyone has a vision and a plan including the students. I like this idea as without this planned approach how do we ensure sustainable improvements. The plans need to be shared. If they are not shared and owned by one person, be it the class teacher or the principal, these can quickly fall apart or become lost in amongst the other plans.

Principle 3 ensures that children and their learning are put at the heart of any school as it is the client. (Quality and value are defined by the client) If their needs are identified then they are easier to meet. Talking, having open communication, listening and collaboration ensures that teachers, parents and students have more learning oriented experiences or programs.

Principle 4 (To improve the outcome, improve the system and its associated processes) Schools have many systems however they are not always effective. In order to make them more effective the whole system needs to be analysed first before changes are made. Children within class need to be given the opportunity to improve systems. If systems have good processes with clear steps this strengths relationships between people.

Principle 5 speaks for itself…. the potential of an organisation is realised through it’s people’s enthusiasm, resourcefulness and participation. STEP UP! People should be employed based on attitude. Those who have little enthusiasm or motivation to keep improving should not be employed as they threaten staff morale. Schools, or any organisation need positive enthusiastic people who want to learn and to move the organisation forward. Positives are celebrated, be it small steps in learning or staff acknowledging the help of others.

Principle 6 ( Continual improvement and innovation depend on continual learning) Everyone is a learner and learning never stops. Schools should provide quality PD, staff should be encouraged to participate in conferences, take on further study and sharing of learning with others. Students should learn form each other too through class meeting/ circle time, the identification of experts within the class and talking partners or buddies.

Principle 7 ( All people work in a system, outcomes are improved when people work on the system) This all depends on the enthusiasm of the most valuable asset, the people within the organisation. If the relationships between people are positive the systems are more likely to succeed. Team work is the preferred way of working using the shared vision and values.

Principle 8 is all about using facts and data to move things forward. If we have data and facts then this knowledge can be used to help make improved decisions. Surveys, questionnaires, registers,observations all give us data that we can use to help make decisions.

Principle 9 acknowledges that systems vary. this needs to be monitored over time to ensure that systems do not degenerate but are either maintained or improved.

Principle 10 acknowledges the value that the organisation adds to the community and the impact it has upon it. The school/organisation is not working in isolation but is part of the community. The actions of the school/organisation has an impact on the environment and the people within it.

Principle 11 identifies that only if we are able to meet the needs of all our children and stake-holders we become sustainable. Our sustainability is determined by this ability.

And finally…. principle 12, that leaders need to be a constant role model for these principles. They need to create a supportive environment where these principles are held in high regard and members of the organisation are encouraged to reach their potential.

So just 12 principles…. how easy could it be?

What’s with the image?

My friends all think it is quite amusing that I’m going to train to be a librarian. As you can imagine there are lots of jokes about twin sets and pearls, and half-moon glasses. I go along with it and have a laugh but I didn’t really realise that the role was so stereotyped. When I was given the job people came up to me and actually said ” What a waste! You’re a good teacher.”  They seemed to think that I would be stamping books all day and doing basically nothing.  Even my nearest and dearest felt it was a bad move and commented that I would be bored because there wouldn’t be enough to do. 

So what’s with the image? Why do people still imagine librarians to be old maids who stamp books and say “Shhhh” a lot? Librarian’s need to stand up for themselves and shout out about what they do. If they don’t do it, who will?

I’ve also started a few readings and done a little surfing on the web as I’m trying to get ahead. I realise that this is going to be a lot of work especially combined with a new job and a Learning centre that is in need of a complete overhaul.

I found an interesting article in the e-library yesterday when I was trying to teach myself how to use it. Watts, J.s. 1999 Ch 3 The Librarian past and present: a literature review, pp29-42 In The Information literate school community: best practice, J.Henri.

As someone who has yet to start as a TL in our school Learning Centre it was really positive to see that so much emphasis was placed on collaboration and leadership. In the chapter it notes that Head Teachers should see teacher librarians as whole school contributors and as individuals who can empower teachers and students as effective learners. Therefore TLs  need to be VISIBLY leading curriculum initiatives and development across the school.  We need to be able to communicate our ideas and motivate those around us to see change as a challenge that we can all rise to, and bring about, to positively effect teaching and learning.

Hong Kong, for many people, is all about high rise buildings. They forget that the whole island is a series of large hills and country parks. That means steps everywhere and constant hills to climb.

I’m beginning to wonder if the route I’ve chosen might be a little too steep.