Sunday, November 28, 2010

The link between student assessment and improved teaching practices

Last week I received an invitation to lead a workshop on assessment in a school in Kiev.  Now my first reaction was that I was ridiculously excited - having only just trained as a workshop leader a couple of weeks ago.  I immediately went and searched for the school website and then had another look to see what the weather is like in the Ukraine at the end of January (bitterly cold!).  Since then I've calmed down of course, and have spent the last few days thinking about assessment and in particular how it can be used to support and enhance learning.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that assessment of student work is not just to help the students to do better - it's to help the teachers to do better too.  If we agree that schools should be learning communities, then it's clear to me that as well as giving students feedback and allowing them to critique their own work, assessment data can also be used by teachers when reflecting on our own role in the learning process.  In particular if we develop a culture of self-assessment in our students as a way of increasing their ownership of and responsibility for their own learning, shouldn't we be aiming to develop a culture of self-assessment in our teachers so that we can also improve our own teaching practice?

Some months ago I wrote a blog post about Assessment of Learning -v- Assessment for Learning about how assessment can be used as part of instruction to support and enhance learning.  The traditional methods of assessing students using exams of short answers and multiple choice questions that only had one right answers were probably very suitable for the industrial age where students were being prepared for work that relied heavily on mastering one specific skill.  Even when I started teaching, these types of assessments were used as a way of "sorting" which students were best suited which which stream in the school - the "top" two classes of this school were more academic and students in these classes were the only ones who ever stayed on at school beyond 16 - the "middle" classes where the students may have gone on to learn skills such as woodwork, metalwork or car mechanics which would have set them up for some sort of trade or apprenticeship - and the "bottom" classes where the students would have left school with almost no qualifications and perhaps ended up as manual labourers down the local coal mine.  No student in the "bottom" stream was ever offered the chance to learn a foreign language, for example, as it was seen as wasteful to teach these students things they would never use.  The emphasis in those days was on giving the students that knowledge that it was deemed important for them to know, and testing them on that knowledge in a way that encouraged rote recall.

Nowadays in the UK there is the national curriculum, therefore education is probably more balanced and there are core subjects that all students should study.  The emphasis is on improving students scores in these basic subjects, so it seems that the educational policy makers believe that intelligence is not fixed, but can be developed - that all students can learn and improve - and that there should be equal opportunities for all learners.  Never having taught the national curriculum I cannot actually say whether or not this approach has improved learning.

In the international schools where I have worked, however, the emphasis has definitely been on encouraging students' different ways of thinking, and there has been much more emphasis on authentic or real life tasks and engaging students in problem solving and performance assessments.  In addition, as a result of being in IB World Schools, attitudes and dispositions are encouraged through the learner profile.  What I've also noticed is more of a focus on assessment for learning, as opposed to a focus on assessment of learning in the UK which allowed the government to draw up league tables comparing different schools against a national standard.  This sort of assessment definitely encouraged "teaching to the test" in order to keep the schools' scores high on the league tables, and teaching to the test certainly had a negative or corrupting impact on good teaching practices.  In fact, when I hear the outcry every summer in England over the higher scores that are achieved year on year, it just goes to show me that scores can definitely increase, even if there is no improvement whatsoever in student learning.

What then should be the purpose of assessment?

  • it should inform the teacher what prior knowledge the students already have - so that the teacher can then plan the best possible learning experiences for all the students
  • it should enhance learning - so must be part of the learning process (not just the end part)
  • it should be ongoing to inform learning - for both teachers and students 
If assessment is to move learning forward, then it has to happen at the beginning or in the middle of the learning process so that there is still time for misunderstandings to be corrected and for further learning to take place.    Assessment that takes place before and during the learning process gives teachers the information they need to move learning forward or to scaffold the next steps for students who are struggling.  One great discussion I had last year was how the pre-assessment provides valuable information that needs to be used to design the instruction - that a KWL chart is not an end in itself.  

Assessment doesn't have to be a big deal that causes anxiety on the part of both students and teachers, as often happens in the end of unit or end of year exams.  In fact it can be carried out as part of the normal classroom routines, so that a teacher can be constantly checking to see that students are understanding the concepts.  That's why I find the visible thinking routines so useful as an ongoing way of assessing student learning.  These routines allow the students to articulate what they are thinking and why, and they allow the teacher to think about the direction the learning needs to be going next.

Photo Credit:  070305 by Cocoen

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is Understanding?

When I was teaching at the International School of Amsterdam we were encouraged to put our names forward to attend Harvard Project Zero.  Now this wasn't just a summer school we were signing up for, it was to be part of a year-long cohort that would together work towards answering the question what is understanding and how do we teach for it?  We also committed to making a presentation the following spring at a conference for teachers from other schools that were exploring the same issues.

Having been chosen to be part of the cohort, we had our first meeting at school.  The group was being led by a Middle School maths teacher who asked us to write our definition of understanding down and put it in a sealed envelope - we would be looking at those definitions again once we returned from the summer to see if our thinking had changed.

So what is understanding?  It's different from knowing. Knowing is more a recall of facts or knowing how to do something.  We were asked to think about something we knew how to do and to think about how we came to know it.  This could have been something like cooking, driving a car, swimming, whatever.  How did we learn to do those things?  Well some of those things we could have read about - for example we could have read a cookery book.  But in order to learn to cook you actually have to cook - to try it out for yourself.  And if you become a good cook, then no doubt you have tried a variety of recipes out and perhaps varied the ingredients a little to find out what works best.

When I was in Bangkok I decided to take swimming lessons.  Before this I could swim, but not very well.  For example I couldn't put my face into the water at all.  I did get much better, but it involved a lot of swimming backwards and forwards, trying different things out, thinking hard about what was working and working hard at the things I was weak at (putting my head under water).  And although my only real goal had been to swim a bit better doing breast stroke, my swimming teacher made me learn lots of other strokes too.  What I am trying to say here is that to get better at swimming, to really master it, I actually had to do it in many different ways.

Understanding goes beyond knowing and doing.  To understand something you need to be able to apply what you know or can do in a variety of different contexts.  But understanding also involves being able to carry out "performances of understanding".  As teachers if we want our students to understand something we also have to give them the opportunities for these "performances".  For these performances to be successful students need to have a lot of feedback along the way to help them reflect on progress and on what they need to do to get better.  These performances should not just be part of a summative assessment, but ongoing or formative assessments, so that students demonstrate their understanding right from the start and have plenty of time for reflecting on our feedback so that they can move further and deepen their understanding.

Photo Credit:  Why is the sky blue?  by Optick

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Having a Reputation

Some international schools have a great reputation - everyone on the international school circuit has heard of them and would love to work there.  Some of these schools never even have to go to a job fair to recruit new teachers - teachers are applying to them in droves and by this time in the school year they have already chosen the teachers they want for the next school year.  Recently some friends of mine who applied to one of the top schools in Asia told me that there had been over 3,000 applicants for the 50 new jobs that were being created as their school opens a new campus.  Clearly schools such as these are in the favourable position of being able to recruit the very best teachers from around the world.

Today I've been thinking about what gives those schools a good reputation?  Obviously it's because their teachers are out there promoting all the good things about the school, it's because they are known for giving their teachers fantastic opportunities for professional development, it's because the schools are progressive and seen as being "cutting edge", it's because the salary and benefits package is extremely attractive, it's because teachers feel valued and it's because all students, regardless of ability, seem to thrive and do well there.

When I first moved into international education I was extremely lucky to end up at a school like that.  It was already a good school when I arrived but it became known as a great school during the years that I worked there.  When I reflected back on how this happened the thing that really struck me was that the school encouraged everyone to go out to conferences and present - and because there were so many presenters who came from ISA who were sharing what we were doing, we became known as a great and progressive school.  And presenting had another benefit too - it allowed us to refine our own thinking about the learning journey we were on.  In fact I would say that making the presentations ourselves and with our colleagues was also some of the best professional development we had.

In my years at the school, I was a presenter at 12 different conferences.  The first conference I presented at was actually hosted at our school and was the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) Social Studies Conference.  Despite the fact that this was only my second year in international education, I was asked, along with 2 colleagues from the ESL department, to present on how best to support ESL students in social studies classrooms.  I found this quite a daunting experience, but I was given a lot of support and encouragement and the presentation was such a success that the school then asked the 3 of us to go the the main ECIS Conference the following November and make the presentation to a much larger audience.  Following on from that I made further presentations to ECIS, sat on an ECIS Committee, presented at ELMLE (The European League of Middle Level Education), did a one-day pre-conference for the International Reading Association in San Diego and travelled to Peru to present at the Association of American Schools in South America.  I think in my years in Amsterdam the school had at least one teacher presenting at every major conference there was.  In addition the school sent me to fantastic workshops, conferences and courses as a participant too, most notably Harvard Project Zero.

Now obviously the school invested heavily in all this - both in terms of financial outlay and in terms of time off school (as for most of these conferences I wasn't yet on a flexible schedule so the school also had to provide me with a substitute teacher which in itself was costly).  Yet the school had the reputation of being one of the best schools for professional development and amazing teachers queued up to go there.    So the school gave a lot, but it got a lot back too in terms of top teachers wanting to work there (who then enhanced the reputation still further.)

In addition these top teachers and administrators were involved in curriculum development.  ISA was one of the founding schools that implemented the IB Middle Years Programme, and two of the "founding fathers" of the IB Primary Years Programme were also Heads at ISA during my time there.  As a result, ISA became the first school in the world to offer all 3 IB programmes, and its reputation was further enhanced by a constant stream of visitors who came to spend a day (or two, or three) getting a feel for what we were doing.  Teachers from ISA also moved on to take top jobs in the IB in various regional offices.

Some of these visitors also offered us professional development at the school.  We had Thomas Armstrong who taught us about multiple intelligences, Madeline Hunter who talked to us about motivation, Jane Goodall who introduced Roots and Shoots into the school and Helen Sharman the first Briton in space, to name just a few.  The school also hosted many conferences and workshops which all teachers were invited to participate in.

My next international school, NIST, had a similar reputation.  Again, within a couple of months of arriving I was out presenting at the TechEx conference, and again I was given marvellous opportunities for professional development.  Even in my last few months at school, I was sent on professional development opportunities to Borneo and to Hong Kong as well as being given the chance to take days off to visit other schools.  Fantastic presenters also came to NIST, for example the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Prof Jose Ramos-Horta, President of East Timor who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and Nobel Laureate for physics Prof Gerardus 't Hooft.

Today I read a fantastic post by Kim Cofino on Becoming an Educational Ambassador.  Kim, who works at another school with a world-class reputation, writes about the YIS Ambassador Programme.  This is a new type of professional leave so that teachers representing the school by presenting at workshops and conferences or acting as consultants are able to take 10 days of paid leave each year.  In this post Kim acknowledges that not all schools are willing or able to support teachers, but that this is a lost opportunity for the school to move on and take advantage of new insights as well as a lost opportunity for the school to enhance its reputation.  Kim lists the advantages of such an ambassador programme to schools:

  • learning from the successes and challenges of other schools and bringing back new ideas
  • getting a clear picture of where these schools are going and how they are getting there
  • presenting - this allows us to refine our thinking
  • collaborating and connecting with others to open up our schools to new opportunities and experiences.
Kim points out that "everyone knows the names of the schools where presenters are most frequently from.  Having teachers from one school present at many conferences builds the profile of the school" and she highlights "the value we can gain from the experience, as an individual and as a school."

Photo Credit:  Microphone by Grant

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Education for Democracy (Curriculum as Inquiry - part 4)

In this final reflection on Curriculum as Inquiry by Kathy Short and Carolyn Burke I would like to consider their statement that education for democracy is essential to inquiry.  They point out that inquiry is based on collaborative relationships not hierarchies of control.

What is a democracy and why is it so important for schools that are committed to inquiry?  Pat Shannon defines democracy as "a system in which people participate meaningfully in the decisions that affect their lives" and that it involves "a participation and negotiation among equals".  In our school we started a student council last year as a way of promoting student leadership.  Last year I mostly helped another teacher to run these meetings.  This year we have started with students running the meetings themselves.  It's important that the students are not just given "a choice among options determined by others behind the scenes", but that they are part of this thinking and that they come up with the options themselves.

Kathy and Carolyn refer to "valuing and seeking diversity so that difference is seen not as a problem to be solved, but as offering new potentials for a group of learners."  They write about the fact that it is difference not sameness that makes a democracy strong:
Through building on the different ways of thinking and living in the world that students bring to the classroom, schools can open new possibilities for those students' lives .... The focus should be on attending to and acting on differences in order to build a true democracy that values everyone's contribution and supports each student in developing his or her own potential.
What I have found as a teacher is that it's not possible to be involved in inquiry and not be fundamentally and profoundly changed by it.  As teachers we need to pay attention to the little voice inside us and to the uncomfortable feelings of tension we have that prods us down the path of greater understanding.  Kathy and Carolyn remind us that we have to be aware of where we are in our thinking and we need to continue to push our thinking as by adopting inquiry as a stance we are putting ourselves in a position of continual learning and growth.  They tell us that:
Curriculum as inquiry fundamentally questions how schooling is done.  It changes our relationships with students, colleagues, families, the community, other educators, and society.  It changes how we view knowledge and the role of knowledge .... in schools.

Photo Credit:  When You're Little and the World's So Big by Thomas Hawk 

Curriculum as Inquiry - part 3

Some years ago I went to visit a school in South America that had the letters IBL on the schedule.  I asked what that was, and was told it stood for Inquiry Based Learning.  At the time I found it a bit odd to be scheduling inquiry like this as a separate subject almost.  Now I wish I'd asked some more questions about what they actually did during these lessons.

Kathy Short and Carolyn Burke remind us that inquiry is "a process of both problem posing and problem solving" that involves immersion in the topic and having the time to explore it, generate significant questions as a result of this exploration, and then investigating the questions.  Often in schools I have seen teachers start a new unit with a KWL chart - as if right at the beginning of the process students have some idea of what they want to investigate.  It seems to me that this approach will only lead to fact finding, not true inquiry.  As Kathy and Carolyn point out:
Inquiry is not just a matter of finding a problem, but of having time to find a problem significant for that learner.
Since finding the right question is probably much harder than finding the right answer, it will not occur right at the beginning of the inquiry cycle.  Of course as teachers we do ask questions at the start of the process - these are our tuning in questions and provocations aimed at getting the students immersed in the concepts - but the students' questions should come later.  These teachers' questions are also aimed at finding out what the students already know.  Kathy and Carolyn warn against a focus on skills, facts and concepts of particular disciplines, and instead promote looking at alternative perspectives and looking at the world through the different discipline lenses.

For me, another interesting idea was that students "come to new understandings that are temporary rather than final answers" - that the inquiry is lifelong and that the "questions continue to grow and deepen in complexity over time."  You can not be "done" with a conceptual understanding (for example how humans are competing for scarce resources) in the same way that you can be done with a topic (for example World War I).  In fact there are no final answers, just more complex questions.  These sorts of questions cannot be asked by students ahead of time, as a KWL chart implies.

Inquiry involves a major shift in thinking.  It means you are not building the curriculum upfront for the students, but that you are building the curriculum with the students.  For most of us, this is a hard shift to make.

Photo Credit:  Octagonal Star Twist by Eric Gjerde

Curriculum as Inquiry - part 2

 Writing is a tool for thinking - Kathy Short and Carolyn Burke

Here are some more thoughts based on my reading about Curriculum as Inquiry.  This is another section that really stood out as I was reading:
Change for us begins with ... feelings of tension.  Something isn't right but we are not quite sure what it is.  Over time we begin to get a sense of what is bothering us and so we take action.  What often happens, however, is that our first steps stay within the same paradigm of beliefs and ... lead to a surface change in actions ... The same issues are present when educators mistake their initial changes in action within the same paradigm of beliefs for substantive changes across paradigms of beliefs.  When they make this mistake they are prevented from inquiring into and making the deeper and more substantive changes that are needed to transform themselves and society.  They need to keep inquiring, not assume they have the answers.
Last year I had quite a number of discussions about the difference between inquiry, research and fact finding.  PYP schools are committed to inquiry, but in some cases what is actually happening in some of these schools, what people think inquiry is, really isn't quite there yet.  It is just as mentioned in the passage above, there has been some change, some action, but they need to continue to reflect and to seek out others who are on the same journey in order to "think together, not just cooperatively work together".  We move forward by listening carefully to each other and by working together towards understanding what curriculum as inquiry really is.

Photo Credit:  Mask in Progress by Joel Cooper

Curriculum as Inquiry

Reading, reading ... so glad to be reading and reflecting on so many different things this week.  Today I read Curriculum as Inquiry by Kathy Short and Carolyn Burke.  It's probably one of the most important things I've read in a long time.  It made me think and think about inquiry and I had to go back and reread and highlight lots of different parts.  There's way too much in this for just one blog post.  And there's way too much thinking I still need to do too.

Let's start at the beginning - the way I was taught myself.  I have written before about how when I went to school in the 1960s and 1970s a lot of what we did revolved around learning facts.  In history we learned about dates and people, in geography we learned about places, in maths we learned about how calculate to find the answers to the thousands of questions there were in our textbooks, in English we learned the rules of grammar and spelling, in science we did a few experiments (for example I remember heating a metal ball on a chain to see if it would pass through a circular hole when it was hot - something to do with metal expanding) and we always got the same "right" answers.  If we did any research at all it was called a "project" and it involved mostly finding and copying things out.  Once we were finished with all that, we memorised all those facts and then regurgitated them in exams.  Personally none of this really inspired me and looking back now I would say that I probably learned very little and certainly didn't know how to connect the facts I had memorised into concepts or generalisations.

After a break of a few years I became a teacher myself.  In the 1980s the times had changed and the curriculum no longer involved learning lots of facts, it had turned into what Kathy Short and Carolyn Burke  refer to as "curriculum as activity".  Our lessons planning involved coming up with activities some of which led to learning facts, some of which developed skills, some of which started to involve concepts, and some of which were just plain fun and nice to do on a Friday afternoon when nobody wanted to think very much (for example at one stage I can remember students making clay pots, decorating them, putting them into a black plastic bag and smashing them up, so that we could be "archaeologists" and try to put them back together again - now when I look back I shudder to think how much time was wasted on these sorts of activities and how little anyone actually learned).

So this brings me onto the first big reflection I want to make about my reading today.  Although I feel we have moved on a lot since those days, this point really jumped out at me:
Our goal was an integrated curriculum, but what we had created was a correlated curriculum.  While the activities were related to each other because they were all on the same topic, they did not build on each other or support students in pursuing their own questions .....  because the units were limited by our own knowledge, student research stayed safely within what we already knew ..... students were discovering what was already known.
At the WLT in Florence we discussed artificial connections between different areas of the curriculum.  I know this has often been an area of tension with some specialist teachers, who feel that they are only making very superficial connections with the unit of inquiry being studied.  We discussed how webbing or mapping the curriculum may show us where the knowledge and skills are actually being taught but that being forced into these "packages" may well close down alternatives and shut down inquiry.

Photo Credit:  Image Plate from Owen Jones' 1853 classic "The Grammar of Ornament" by Eric Gjerde

Relationships for Learning

Reading, reading .... after going on the Workshop Leader Training earlier this month there's lots of reading for me to do!  Yesterday I read "What's Next?  21 Ideas for 21st Century Learning" by Charles Leadbeater at The Innovation Unit.  You can download this publication from The Innovation Unit's website.  In this publication the most interesting section I found was the one on relationships for learning.

Many relationships can influence learning, not just the relationship between the student and teacher.  It's important to also consider how the students relate to each other as this affects discipline, order, motivation, support and collaborative learning.  Parents also have a huge influence - their care and aspirations provide motivation for their children.  Teacher-to-teacher relationships are important too in opening up opportunities and new approaches to collaborative learning and innovative practice.

There are 4 key aspects of relationships for learning:

  • Participation - students need to set their own goals, choose the tools they want to use to learn and how they want to present their work.
  • Recognition - students (and teachers) need to be recognised for who they are, where they come from, their goals, contribution and achievements.  It is noted that peer-to-peer respect it vitally important.  In the case of students this underlies discipline, order and calm in schools.  Since teacher-to-teacher relationships are important too, it's important that these are also based on mutual trust and respect.
  • Care - students (and teachers) need to feel their needs are being attended to and need to feel they have a voice in what happens to them.
  • Motivation - which involves building up confidence and capability.

What I found really interesting in this document is that it also focuses on instruction.  Recently I've written quite a bit about students constructing their own knowledge, and although Leadbeater states that learning is most effective when learners are participants rather than merely recipients, he also refers to the fact that sometimes learning is the transfer of knowledge from a teacher to a pupil.  He talks about the process of absorbing knowledge by the student and notes that it requires the learner to make sense of what they have been told, to interpret and question it, to reframe it in their own terms, internalise it and make it their own.  This is often to do with the way ideas and knowledge are shared between the teacher and the pupil and he stresses that combining ideas in this way is vital, so that learning can eventually become independent and self-managed.

Photo Credit:  Busy Hands by Lavannya Goradia

Becoming a digital native

Until she went to school, our daughter only spoke Dutch.  For years after learning English, her teachers told us that she had problems with writing - in particular spelling - because of the "interference" from her first language.  When she was in Grade 6 she was put on a special spelling programme because of this problem.

Last week we attended a parent conference to see how she is doing, now that she's in Grade 11 and already fully immersed in the IB diploma.  To our amazement, many of the teachers commented on how well she was writing, how she seems to find it easy.  Most of them had no idea that it was not her first language.

That got me thinking about this whole debate about digital natives -v- digital immigrants.  Just because someone is born in a digital age, it doesn't really follow that they will be "good" with technology.  Just because someone was born before this age, it doesn't follow that they will be uncomfortable with it.

As a teacher I've taught many students for whom English was not their first language (or even their second), yet who have managed to master it so that there was no difference between them and a native-speaker.  It's the same with DSL - digital as a second language.  One day you just realise you are more comfortable in that world - in that language - than in any other.

Photo Credit: The State of Japan by Josh Libatique

Publishing turned upside-down - the IB Learner Profile Open Minded

Before I became an international teacher, I worked for a year for the publishing company Elsevier.  I worked in the bio-medical division on both journals and books.  During the time I worked there I dealt with many articles that were submitted from around the world for publication in the various Elsevier journals.  This was in the 1980s in a time before email, so typed manuscripts would arrive and be copied and sent to other expert scientists around the world for review before they were eventually published.  During the year I worked there I was also involved in publishing a book about electrophoresis that was written by an Italian professor.  Every month or so, this professor would send us another chapter of the book and again we would submit it for peer review.  It was only after a very lengthy procedure lasting anywhere up to a year, that anything was published at all.

Today, out of interest, I decided to check out the Elsevier website to find out what had happened to some of the journals I used to work on over 20 years ago.  Were they still being published?  Had they significantly changed as a result of electronic publishing, when basically anyone can make a website and publish anything they like instantly?  I was interested to see that this was not actually the case and that these journals are alive and strong.  Scientists are still writing articles and submitting them to Elsevier for publication.  The process is probably much speedier now (for example I notice that the journal Mutation Research now comes out 60 times a year and Gene comes out 42 times a year - I think when I worked on these journals they came out monthly) and so of course there is a lot more information.

Then I started thinking about our students and what has been termed the "achievement plateau".  In schools in the UK there are still about 10% of students who leave school with no qualifications whatsoever, and despite the promises of the national curriculum and standardised testing, improvements in attainment remain slow, and the yearly GCSE and A'Level fiascoes that show the "best results ever" merely end up being criticised by those who believe the curriculum has been dumbed down.

And yet our students are publishing.  They see themselves as creators of information.  They sit in their bedrooms in front of their webcams playing guitar and publish their movies onto YouTube where they are viewed by millions.  Their audience is the world.  They are participants in creation, not just spectators.  They are part of social networks, are writing sometimes vast amounts that are being read online, and are playing games that involve quite complex collaborations.  In their world - our world now of course - publishing has been turned upside-down.  It's not the same as it was 20 years ago.  It's no longer the last step in a long writing and editing process - often it's the first step.  Young people publish - then get feedback - then maybe they revise and refine what they have done.  And anyone can publish these days - even I have published 2 books this past year as well as over 400 posts on various blogs, just in my spare time.

Perhaps we need to take more account of this in our education system.  Perhaps we don't need to have a system that imparts information from the top down since new information is already appearing daily on the internet .  Perhaps it's more to do with the relationships students are building - with each other, with the teachers, with the learning - that are motivating them to move forward.  Perhaps all we really need to focus on is encouraging students to open up their minds, instead of trying to fill those minds with more and more information.

Photo Credit:  dokładniej mi się nie chciało (I specifically did not want) by Skoczek

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A little knowledge

A few weeks ago I went to Florence and trained to be a PYP Workshop Leader.  One of the things we talked about there during our first day was a phenomenon that was called Michael Fullan's dip.  (Michael Fullan is an international authority on educational reform.)  This dip shows what happens when you start to implement something new.  We were asked where we were on the dip.  Were we looking over the edge wondering what we were getting ourselves into?  Were we at the bottom of the dip wondering what we had got ourselves into?  Were we coming up out of the other side of the dip and doing better?  For me, I had wanted to train as a workshop leader for several years so what I mostly felt on day 1 was excitement and happy to be learning something new.  The leaders were right, however, the dip was just around the corner.

For me I think I hit the dip once I realised that although I knew a lot about the PYP, there was still a vast amount I needed to know about inquiry, about constructivism and about curriculum.  This occurred sometime during day 2 of the training.  I started to realise that I had been selected as a workshop leader because I was a great teacher but that what I needed now was to delve deeper into the theory to go with the practice.

I came away from Florence with a list of books and articles that it's absolutely vital that I read.  Some, actually, I have read already or been fortunate enough to have actually done workshops with (Howard Gardner, Lynn Erickson, David Perkins, Daniel Pink, Grant Wiggins).  Some, I have to admit, I had never heard of before.

So now I've started reading like a crazy woman, and I'll be blogging a lot about my reading too, because I've discovered the best way I learn something is to write about it.

Taking a Walk

At the beginning of this year I started doing some informal walk throughs whenever I had a free period to see how the technology was being used.  This year we have a lot more technology in the classrooms than ever before - SMARTboards in 20 of the primary classrooms, and carts of laptops available for teachers to book.  At the beginning of the year I was focused on the technology (was it working) and after I became confident that the technology was mostly working as it should I then started to focus on the teacher (was the teacher using the technology) and more recently on the students (were the students using the technology).  Having read this post by Peter Pappas on Observing a Classroom I now realise that it's time to stop focussing on the technology and start to focus on the learning.  Next time I go into a classroom I'm going to be less focused on what is actually being used and am going to be asking myself how the technology that is being used is helping the students to learn.

However let's not knock the benefits I've noticed from the walk throughs I've done so far.  To start off with there's a different sort of atmosphere in the classroom when I'm there to help the teachers to use the technology.  Of course I spend a great deal of time in classrooms already, but basically in those lessons I'm the teacher.  It's great to drop into a lesson where I'm actually not the teacher but can offer some support or just-in-time training to the person who is leading those lessons.  Often I'm met with "I'm really glad you're here - I just need some help with ....." (the sound has stopped working, I can't get the ink layer up ..... etc etc).  Teachers love having someone else in the classroom if that person is there to help and support them and not to evaluate or criticise, so I always feel very welcome.  I can talk to them about their technology needs and how to move forward without it seeming like such a big deal.  Whenever I'm in a classroom we are totally focussed on finding a solution to the technical problems they are having - as opposed to when I see those same teachers in the staffroom when they are away from the problem and all we can do is grumble about it.

I love the way that being an IT teacher has led to really deep and supportive relationships with the homeroom and specialist teachers and how we are moving more towards a co-teaching model as a result.  I love the way that students automatically know which teacher to turn to for the best help when there are 2 of us in the room.  I love the way that seeing my colleagues teach has led to me becoming a better teacher myself too.  And above all else, I really value the way that these informal walk throughs have led to teachers getting the just-in-time support that they need in the place where they need to move forward.

Photo Credit: The Walk by Danny Perez Photography

The IB Learner Profile - Risk Taker

Today I saw this on Twitter from @discomfortzone.  It reminded me that to succeed at something you have to be prepared to take a risk and perhaps to fail.  This started me thinking about taking the right sorts of risks - or in the words of Jim Hayhurst Sr - knowing which is the right mountain for you to climb.  (Jim was part of the Canadian Expedition to Mt Everest in 1988).

Sometimes in life you find yourself on the wrong mountain or perhaps with the wrong team of people to climb the mountain.  Sure you can continue to climb, sure the view at the top might be great, but perhaps for you it's the wrong mountain, even though it might be right for the others.  Sometimes you realise that even if you make it to the top, you won't make it back down again.  Sometimes the sacrifices are just too great.  Sometimes it's just not worth it.

Being a risk taker doesn't mean being reckless.  It doesn't mean compromising your core values just to get to the top.  What it does mean is that you have to stop letting others people tell you what success is.  It means discovering and defining what success means for you.  And then it means not selling yourself short.

Living in Switzerland, and spending my weekends walking in the nearby mountains, I've learned that coming down a mountain is often more difficult than climbing it (I remember being told once that more accidents and deaths happen on the way down than on the way up).  Being able to say "this is the wrong mountain for me" often requires more courage than just heading onwards and upwards blindly.  Coming down from the wrong mountain is definitely not admitting failure.  It's admitting that you know what is right for you.  It's saying that you're not afraid to take a risk and try again and that you hope to find the right mountain next time.

Inspiring Educators

The Edublog Awards for 2010 are now open for nominations.  It's a great time to recognise some of the achievements over the past year of amazing educators worldwide.  Thank you to all of the following, who have been part of my PLN this year.  You have been my lifeline.  You have helped me grow as a teacher.  You have given me different perspectives.  You have encouraged me when times were extremely hard.  It is a joy, privilege and pleasure to be part of the same profession as each and every one of you.


I would like to make the following nominations for the 2010 Edublog Awards:


Best individual blog - Always Learning
Best individual tweeter Steven W Anderson @Web20Classroom
Best new blog - What Ed Said
Best resource sharing blog - Teacher Reboot Camp
Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion  #edchat
Best teacher blog  Langwitches Blog
Best school administrator blog The Principal of Change
Best use of a PLN - iLearn Technology Blog Alliance from iLearnTechnology
Lifetime achievement - Vicki Davis

Google Apps Demo

The Google Apps team has just put together a demo that goes through a day in the life of a K-12 teacher.  It shows how teachers can use Calendar, Gmail, Docs, Forms, Spreadsheets and Sites.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Making order out of chaos

When I was at school I tried to learn a couple of languages.  I did French for 5 years and German for about a year and a half before I finally gave up.  When I moved to Holland I didn't speak a word of Dutch, and my record of learning languages was not a positive one.  When I first arrived in Holland I spent many months hearing what sounded like a long string of sound.  I couldn't even distinguish separate words at first - it seemed like total chaos.  But with total immersion in the country and the language, it didn't take me long to be able to distinguish separate words and then to be able to work out what the separate words meant and finally make order out of chaos.

This is what our students do too as they try to construct meaning - they investigate and connect new ideas to what they already know to deepen their understanding.  These connections only occur when what they are learning has some relevance to them and yet challenges what they already know.  When students are allowed to make these connections themselves they learn about the importance of problem solving and how to transfer knowledge between different sorts of problems.

The sort of education we engage in here does not often involve teachers asking for factual recall.  It involves teachers making judgements about what to teach based on assessing the students' understanding.  These judgements are made by listening carefully to what the students are thinking and adjusting the teaching accordingly.  It requires the sort of intellectual freedom that is often not found in national curricula that involve students being at a certain place in the curriculum at certain times, in order to do well on standardised tests.

Photo Credit:  Vector Consciousness by Ryan Gallagher

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What do we want students to know?

This post is in response to a question that was asked of an earlier blog post about how we plan for inquiry.  Kelly Tenkely asked:
Do the teachers have guidelines for the units of inquiry or are they largely on their own to develop them?
As mentioned in previous posts, the PYP (Primary Years Programme) is not a syllabus for students to follow, but instead is a curriculum framework.  This framework supports the IB mission statement, the learner profile and promotes international mindedness, the cornerstones of the IB programmes.  In the PYP there are scope and sequence documents for the following subjects:  language, maths, social studies, science, the arts and PSPE (personal, social and physical education) which give the overall expectations for each subject and each age range.  Some schools choose to adopt these scope and sequences but  many PYP schools do not as they perhaps have to conform to the national or state curriculum of the country where they are located.  However what is seen as vitally important in the PYP programme is that learning does not fit very neatly into separate categories or subjects and that it is important to connect the different disciplines rather than to isolate them.  Therefore the PYP uses 6 transdisciplinary themes to link and integrate the subjects.


The transdisciplinary themes have the following characteristics:

  • They have global significance
  • They allow students to explore the commonalities of human experience
  • They utilize knowledge, concepts and skills from traditional subjects, but transcend the subject boundaries
  • They are revisited each year of schooling

The 6 PYP transdisciplinary themes are as follows:

Who we are
An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
Where we are in place and time
An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
How we express ourselves
An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
How the world works
An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
How we organize ourselves
An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
Sharing the planet
An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.



(taken from Making the PYP Happen)

Therefore each year students study 6 units of inquiry, one for each transdisciplinary theme, through a central idea (Early Years students only study 4 units of inquiry).  All these units together - 6 per year times by the number of years in a primary school - make up the programme of inquiry.  Therefore in a typical primary school the programme of inquiry could be made up of a total of 50 units of inquiry that an individual student would study throughout his or her years in the school.  All teachers in each school work collaboratively to develop the transdisciplinary programme of inquiry and make links between the units both within and across grade levels.  

Let me give an example of how this works in practice.  If we take the Sharing the Planet units, our Grade 4 students have been investigating the concepts of conservation and extinction as they explore people sharing resources with other living things, whereas our grade 5 students who are doing the same transdisciplinary theme have been studying peace and conflict resolution and issues of cyberbullying.  In the How We Organise Ourselves unit, one Grade 3 class has looked at goods and services such as transport systems in their local town while the Grade 1 students are looking into the roles different people have in the school community.

Sometimes a concept can be studied in a number of different transdisciplinary themes, for example decision making has been studied by one Grade 3 class in the How We Organise Ourselves Unit (where it was also integrated into narrative writing) and in another Grade 3 class it was studied as part of Who We Are.  

It's important to try to make local connections.  Our Grade 4 students who studied Where We Are in Place and Time were inquiring into how landscape affects the culture of a place.  Since we are located in Switzerland their inquiries looked into the different regions of Switzerland.  Obviously students in other countries would be investigating different landscapes and cultures.  However the concept being studied is universal and transferrable - in years to come our students may not remember the specifics of which language was spoken in which region of Switzerland, for example, but our aim is that they will all understand that physical geography influences the life and culture of a country and that they will be able to apply that understanding to other places where they find themselves.

Photo Credit:  Global Player by Daniela Hartmann © alles-schlumpf

Good leaders are empowering and inspiring

Today I received the weekly bulletin from one of our schools.  The email started off telling us that it is going to be a terrific week - this made me feel positive right away.  In addition, right at the top of the bulletin was this thought:
Quality is never an accident... it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.
~ Will Foster
How inspired I felt today, when I read these words!  And this got me thinking about and reading more about what makes a leader great.  This is what I have come up with:

  • Inspires others to action, yet is not overly directive
  • Has a vision for the future and clear goals and directions for moving forward
  • Inspires confidence among those in the team that there will be real follow through on decisions and that what is planned for will actually be achieved
  • Listens to the ideas of others
  • Encourages and empowers others - puts priority on releasing the potential of others - sees others' strengths and helps them find a way to use those strengths
  • Is able to adapt well to changes - this requires a capacity for innovation
Great leaders need to be good at balancing - they have to inspire those in their teams to action, develop a vision for the future and help those involved feel that it is achievable, yet at the same time they have to ensure that everyone in the team feels that their perspectives and contributions have been heard.  Actually all those skills don't have to be present in just one person - an effective leader also has an accurate picture of his or her own strengths and can find others who can use their own strengths in a complimentary way.  Teamwork is everything!

Photo Credit:  Reach by James Jordan

Monday, November 15, 2010

Planning for Inquiry

A couple of weeks ago, one of the comments to a post I made asked for more clarification about inquiry and how we plan for it.  This made me realise that the majority of people who read my blog are not actually teaching in PYP schools and possibly find the inquiry approach hard to understand.  I decided that I would write a post about how we use inquiry and how we plan for it.

Inquiry is all about students constructing their own meaning.  We therefore start by considering what we would like students to know, understand and be able to do.  We ask the questions:  What do we want to learn?, how best will we learn? and how will we know what we have learned?  These three questions lead us to the curriculum framework.  It's important to realise that the PYP is a framework, not a syllabus or body of content that has to be covered.  The emphasis is definitely not on coverage.  It is on deep understanding of what is significant and relevant, rather than mastering a vast quantity of knowledge.

The question What do we want to learn? leads us to the written curriculum.  This deals with knowledge (what we want the students to know), concepts (what we want the students to understand), skills (what we want the students to be able to do), attitudes (what we want the students to value and demonstrate) and action (how we want the students to act).  How best will we learn leads us to consider the taught curriculum.  What we are looking at here is classroom practice and this is where we demonstrate our commitment to inquiry and students constructing meaning.  How we will know what we have learned brings us to the assessed curriculum.

The PYP is committed to inquiry - students are engaged in their own learning by formulating questions and designing their own inquiries, research or experiments in order to arrive at a deeper understanding  by building connections between their prior knowledge and new information and experiences the encounter.  Teachers provide the provocations and the time for the inquiry as well as facilitating reflection on what has been learned.  Students will analyse and synthesise their knowledge in the light of their experiences, leading them to new levels of understanding.  It is expected that this new understanding will motivate the students to action.

Teachers plan for these inquiry in very systematic ways.  There are 6 transdisciplinary themes that are collaboratively planned each year with homeroom and specialist teachers.  To start with we will always consider our purpose, which is the central idea for the unit of inquiry, and we will check to see how it connects with the particular transdisciplinary theme we are studying.  The central idea is at the heart of the student inquiries and it is concept driven.  The aim is that the concepts will challenge and extend students' prior knowledge and understanding.  At the beginning we will also consider what the summative assessment will be.

We will then move on to look at what we want to learn, the key concepts and related concepts and 3 or 4 lines of inquiry to deepen and focus the students' inquiries.  We will discuss the teacher questions or provocations - those questions we ask at the beginning of a unit to engage the students and we will discuss how we can assess prior knowledge and skills.  We use the inquiry cycle so at this point are discussing tuning in.

Finding out, sorting out and going further come next.  Here we will be discussing the learning experiences, transdisciplinary skills that the students will need to develop, and the learner profile and the attitudes we want to encourage in our students.  We will be expecting our students to be making conclusions and taking action.

Towards the end of the unit of inquiry we all meet again to reflect upon the extent that we achieved our purpose.  We talk about the connections students made to the central idea, the transdisciplinary theme and skills, the concepts and the learner profile and because it is an explicit expectation that successful inquiry will lead to responsible action, we also discuss student-initiated action and further inquiry.

Now it's time to start the process all over again ...  planning the next unit of inquiry.

Inquiry Cycle diagram by IST Library on Flickr

Saturday, November 13, 2010

School Leadership that Works - part 3

This is going to be the final post about the ASCD book School Leadership that Works.  In the previous 2 posts I wrote about the behavious of school leaders that encourage improvements in the day to day workings of a school and the behavious that encourage innovation.  The research studied by Marzano and his colleagues, which cover a period of 35 years, identified 21 responsibilities or behaviours of school principals that impact student achievement.  Those that lead to first order and second order change are just half of those responsibilities, therefore the rest are what I would consider general traits of good leaders, and that would include teacher leaders as well as school principals.

  • Affirmation - involves systematically and fairly recognising and celebrating the accomplishments of students and teachers, as well as recognising the failures of the school.  Good leaders acknowledge and learn from failures.  According to the research, the biggest obstacle to affirmation is ensuring fairness, especially perceived fairness.  There must be a commitment to building strong relationships and trust.
  • Contingent rewards - recognising and rewarding individual accomplishments, in particular using hard work and results as the basis for rewards and recognition.  The studies refer to using performance versus seniority as a primary criterion for rewards.  Yet again this runs into problems with perceived fairness, which can make it extremely difficult to evaluate hard work and performance.
  • Communication - this refers to strong lines of communication school leaders have with teachers, between teachers and between teachers and students.  From the point of view of a principal, this implies being accessible to teachers, maintaining open and effective lines of communication with teachers and developing effective means for teachers to communicate with one another.  In excellent schools everyone should feel like they are being heard - and the knock-on effect of this is improved teacher morale, improved retention of staff and improved student achievement.
  • Discipline - this is defined as protecting instructional time from interruptions and protecting teachers and students from internal and external distractions.  
  • Input - This involves providing opportunities for teachers to be involved in developing school policies, providing for staff input on all important decisions and using leadership teams in decision making.  The challenge of allowing input is that the principal may or may not like the input.  My reflection on this:  probably the most motivating committees I have ever sat on that have made positive differences to the school - ASITAC when I worked at ISA (All School Information Technology Advisory Council), the IT Action Committee at my last school and the various works councils I have been a part of all involved positive changes in schools that were already excellent. This was because we felt we were a part of the decisions and therefore we were behind the implementation of these decisions and promoting them to the rest of the teachers.
  • Outreach - leadership in a school is not confined to the building.  Outreach involves being an advocate of the school with parents, with the school board and with the community at large.  My reflection on this is that outreach is vital.  The most dynamic leaders I have ever worked with were totally committed to this.
  • Relationships - this one is often a challenge and some leaders have better people skills, empathy and emotional intelligence than others.  What the research identifies as important is being informed about significant personal issues within the lives of staff members, being aware of personal needs of teachers, acknowledging significant events in the lives of staff members and maintaining personal relationships with teachers.  My reflection:  I have worked in schools where this sort of responsibility was delegated to a social committee.  However I have also worked in places where significant events were celebrated by the staff as a whole.  In particular some staff in my last school valued the "milestones" being marked (5 years service, 10 years service and so on).  
  • Resources - it goes without saying that in order for teachers to be effective they need to have resources.  They don't appreciate having to go shopping for these in their own free time.  Ensuring that teachers have the necessary materials and equipment and that they have the necessary staff development opportunities to directly enhance their teaching is vital.
  • Situational awareness - this refers to having your finger on the pulse of the school, so that you can accurately predict what could go wrong from day to day.  It involves being aware of informal groups and relationships among staff and aware of the issues that have not surfaced but that are bubbling along under the surface and creating discord.
  • Visibility - making systematic and frequent visits to classrooms, having frequent contact with students and being highly visible to students, teachers and parents.
Final thoughts:  a plan for effective leadership involves developing a strong leadership team.  This is true of schools as a whole, grade level and subject teams and within a classroom, as well as developing student leadership through activities such as student council.  It's important to distribute some responsibilities throughout the team.  Basically what it comes down to is getting the right people onto the bus, getting the wrong people off the bus, and ensuring that the right people are in the right seats on the bus.  After all that I guess it's time to sit back and enjoy the journey.

References for this series of blog posts:  Marzano, R.J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005) School Leadership that Works:  From Research to Results and Tom Jennings who presented these ideas in a PowerPoint.

Photo Credit:  The Scars Ran Deep.  Since Childhood.  by DRP

Friday, November 12, 2010

School Leadership that Works - part 2

My previous blog post was about the impact school leaders can have on the day to day improvements in a school.  This post is about what has been called second order change - in a nutshell this is innovation.

  • Knowledge of curriculum, instruction and assessment - already written about in the previous post - involves being knowledgeable about how the innovation will affect practices in the school.
  • Optimizer - being the driving force behind the new innovation and major initiatives and fostering the belief that it can produce exceptional results.  This involves inspiring teachers to accomplish things and having a positive attitude about the ability of teachers to accomplish substantial things.  It's also about leading from the front.
  • Intellectual stimulation - this refers to the extent to which the principal ensures that teachers are aware of the cutting-edge research, theories and practices regarding effective schooling and makes reading about and discussing them a regular aspect of the school culture.  Providing faculty with intellectual stimulation is vital for increasing achievement, but costly in terms of time and money as teachers need to attend quality conferences, workshops and PD programmes.
  • Change agent - a great principal needs to consider new and better ways of doing things, constantly challenging the status quo, even if it temporarily upsets the school's equilibrium, and needs to be willing to lead change initiatives and move forward with uncertain outcomes that have no guarantee of success.  S/he needs to consistently attempt to operate "at the edge versus the center of the school's competence".
  • Monitoring and evaluating - already written about in a previous post - a great leader needs to be continually monitoring the impact of the innovation.
  • Flexibility - this refers to the extent to which leaders adapt to the needs of the situation, how comfortable they are with making major changes in how things are done and how comfortable they are with dissent.  Great leaders encourage people to express diverse and contrary opinions and don't take these personally.
  • Ideals and beliefs - already written about as this is also important for day to day changes - but clearly it is important for leaders to operate in a manner consistent with his/her beliefs.
This is the really interesting thing for me:  some of the leadership responsibilities are actually negatively affected by innovation and change.  For example culture, team spirit, cooperation, communication, order and routine may actually deteriorate for a while as a school starts to move forward.  It was good for me to read this and reflect on it as I have come to realise that what I have experienced and what makes me uncomfortable might actually be a sign that things are moving in the right direction and perhaps I need to be a little less hasty to judge and to look more at the long picture and not just the short-term.

Photo Credit:  Leadership

School Leadership that Works - part 1

As I've been thinking quite a bit lately about excellent schools,  I dipped into this publication from ASCD about school leadership.  This book, by Robert Marzano, a leading force in educational reform, looks at the research into how school leadership behaviours and actions can raise student achievement.  Marzano and his colleagues found that there are 21 leadership responsibilities that lead to positive change in 21st century schools.

The subtitle of this book is From Research to Results.  It is based on quantitative research and meta-analysis of 69 studies over the last 35 years which reviewed teacher surveys of principal behaviours and student achievement.  The results of this analysis show that principals can have a profound effect on academic achievement, and the book then goes further to outline what it is specifically that effective principals are doing in their schools.

Marzano deals with 2 types of change in schools - what he calls first order changes which deal with the day-to-day management of the school, and second order changes which deal with innovation.  There are different factors that are important for each of these types of change.

Responsibilities for promoting first order change:

  • Monitoring and evaluating - continually working on the effectiveness of the school's curricular, instructional and assessment practices and being aware of the impact of these on student achievement.  What this means in practice is that the most effective way to increase the achievements of students is for teachers to use formative assessments and reteach the materials the students are struggling with.  Evaluating where the students are is the starting point for continuous improvement.  
  • Culture - this has been identified as the second most important factor in school improvement and it refers to the extent to which the principal fosters shared beliefs and a sense of community and cooperation among staff, as well as the extent to which the principal understands and appreciates the school's history and culture.  Developing a shared culture and vision of what the school could be like takes a great deal of time on the part of the principal, often over many years.  In my experience the best schools where I have worked definitely have this sense of cohesion among the staff and the leadership is seen as visible and active in promoting a sense of well-being among teachers.
  • Ideals and beliefs - these are the principal's vision for the school.  Of course for this to be an effective agent of change not only does the principal have to have well-defined beliefs about schools, teaching and learning, but s/he also has to share these beliefs with the teachers and demonstrate practices that are consistent with these beliefs.  In addition effort, time and money has to put into realising these beliefs and ensuring a culture of continuous learning.
  • Knowledge of and involvement in curriculum, assessment and instruction - this is seen as being of vital importance for both first order (management) changes and second order (innovation) changes.  Basically what Marzano found is that the principal needs to know what s/he is talking about and be clear about how changes in any one of these will impact teaching in the school.  It's important for the principal to be seen as a learning leader - though some studies have shown that teachers may resist active principal participation in these activities.
  • Focus - this refers to the extent to which the principal helps establish clear shared goals as part of a professional learning community.  This also involves establishing the expectation that all students will meet them.
  • Order - establishing routines for the smooth running of the school and principles that are equitable and productive.  There is a difference between a school that is running smoothly (people know the routines are are comfortable with them) and one that is orderly (efficient, fair and productive).
All the above behaviours and actions that lead to first order changes seem to me to be connected with management, rather than leadership.  I'm keen to read further and find out what behaviours and actions are really important for school leadership that works.