Friday, 22 January 2016

Mindlab 9: Measruing Outcomes

From last week - how does our school vision reflect the culture of our school?

Where are you from?
How can a human be defined by where you are from?

Culture exists in community and community exists in context.  Taiye Selasi
You are part of the whole of many different communities:
1. The school or classroom
2. The educational Twitter community
3. Your family community
4. Your cultural community
5. Weaving class - Wananga Community

How do we measure this?

We belong to lots of different cultural groups. 
They come with rituals, relationships and restrictions. How are these reflected in our schools?  The things that make us similar are greater than what makes us different.

What makes us local and defines us.
What makes us human and gives connections between us.

Making connections with the kids:
Which local communities do you belong to and which are the same as the kids? Is this the physical location or just having the same interests and activities?

Institutional Culture:
Influenced by physical location.
Influence the way we do things.
Attracts different types of people.

How culturally intelligent are you?

Measuring Outcomes:
Norm Referenced assessment: Where do they fit in comparison to others?
Criterion Referenced assessment: Have they obtained certain skills?

If our communities are becoming more culturally diverse then surely cultural intelligence is a skill that is essential? How do our our school expected outcomes reflect this?

If we are going to 'custom design' a curriculum for individual needs then how can we assess for cultural differences?

Triennial assessment of reading, writing, maths to compare countries. Comparing education systems.
WHY? What makes these effective education systems different?
Top 4 - Asian
Top 30 - NZ

What are we measuring?
Are they creative and autonomous?
How much child suicide is involved in that country?
Is it measuring national outcomes of the curriculum or the ability to complete the test?
How do we measure the values of student confidence, if they are articulate, their creativity and how they relate to others?

Our countries and populations are very similar so what is different about their education system?

Finnish Education System:
Building relationships
Small school and class size
Integrated community
Shorter days and 75 minutes play, excluding lunch time
Free school meals
Assessment formative and not standardised
Not give a grade till 14 years
Teacher has the same children for 5 years - detailed knowledge and relationship

Change is hard. 
There is a limit of how much effect we have as an individual. It is in collaboration that we can make a wider difference.

South East Asian countries perform well on the PISA test but have difficulty in engagement. We need to look at how to make our assessment engaging.

We need to make sure our assessment is not just cognitive.
Why do we assess?
1. What are student need?
2. Has our teaching been effective?

Are we designing assessment tools that cater for each of these engagement components.
Who is this information shared with? How does this feed into next step planning and targets?

Employers are looking for the social skills:
 - team work - problem solving - reliability - articulate - 
How can you record this as it is so subjective. 
Alternative: give an anecdotal example of where it was demonstrated. 

What makes an education system successful?
What would the individuals look like?

Our action:
Do we focus on teaching to the test?
It takes 5 years for a change to show in test results.
Successful systems value the quality of teachers and the ability for cognitive improvement.
It is not about how much money is invested but how resources are used.

They are failing against the PISA but different states have different results.
Shift focus from ID to 'grit' or a series of character traits like perseverance and determination are more important then cognitive skills as measured by an IQ test.

What do you measure as success? Wealth?  Health? Relationships? Passion? Impact on the world?
Does our education system recognise this view of success.

What about the NZ concept of Hauora?
TKI Link

Globally we have been leaders in developing education alternatives that value the indigenous culture.
Kohanga Reo - full immersion to stregthen language, within Māori world-view
Kura, Kupapa Māori - Full immersion schools or English medium with Māori world-view
Wananga - university level from Māori world-view or Kaupapa 

We can learn from other cultures: Welsh and Gaelic

Monday, 18 January 2016


Notes from conference:
It is the 

It is the theory that informs everything your do with ‘mediated’ learning rather than just using the enrichment tools.
If you use these without explaining the ‘why’ then the instruments are not of any value.

Mediated Learning: explaining the theory- Mandia Mentis
Bridging Learning: The concepts that underlie the instruments
Changing Children’s Minds - Harold Sheron – journalist – (Older but goodie)

The Enrichment Tools need to be used daily but referred to all through the day. It needs to be integrated into our metacognition time. Thinking about learning. Extract the principle and bridge to other areas then self regulate. Consolidate in as many areas as possible.

Not a pull out, in isolation or 1:1.
Newsletter going home – this is what we are learning. How you can use it in the home.
Whole school – session in the morning, integrated then referred to all the time.

Structural Cognitive modifiability –
Systems or a framework – at the base structure of the brain
Can and should change thinking.
It is t

Believe to achieve:

Our behaviour shapes our brain. Irrespective of their condition - they can change. 

Burton Blatt:

The stories we tell about our students - need to enhance their life rather than degrade it. 

Intelligence tests are determining the future intelligence of people. We believe there is opportunity for change. Allowing an external test to determine our future is not what we believe. 

Selective attention: We only focus on what you are cued to see. If you focus on the negative then that is what you see and what you teach to. 
Test it out in the following video:

Is seeing believing?
Even our senses can fool us. What we see and hear is not reality. Escher effect - hat you see depends on where you are looking.

You need the reference system - where are we looking for? Orientation in space.
If you can understand the physical concept of rientation - then you are more able to see from another person's point of view.

Learn from this:
What do I believe?
What am I focussing on?
Where am I on the contunium of passive acceptance or active modifiability.

Distal & Proximal Determinants:
Distal factors: 
endogenous - inside the child: autisum, downs syndroms, ....
Exogenous - outside the child: parent health?

The thing that changes this: Mediated Learning Experiences.
We need to know our learner - can adapt the experience. 

12 Criteria of MLE:

1. Intentional and reciprocal:
We must constantly adjust our teaching to meet what is happening with the kids. How will I adapt the activity, programme etc.

2. Meaning:
The purpose of that activity. It needs to come from the kids not just be directed by you. If the can't see the purpose - they will not engage.

3. Transcendence: (SOLO - extended abstract.)
You get to the heart of the principle, past concrete concepts to making generalisations that can be applied or 'bridged' to a different context. This is all about metacognition.  

Kid: But I know how to do paragraphs!
Teacher:But you are not using them in your writing.

Have the hook, give them the reason, apply to a different context = this is an act of mediation. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Transformational Leadership to introduce a ‘Positive Mindset’. Allana Taylor LDC1, 2016

In this essay, I will set out to demonstrate how elements of transformational leadership contributed to the success of a change initiative that I have led within my classroom. This initiative was to develop a ‘positive or growth mindset’  (Dweck, 2006, 20015) amongst students faced with learning challenges and develop the skills of reflecting deeply on the learning involved, while being supported by digital tools.

Reason for the initiative:
The selection of this initiative was determined by class need as I had lots of anxious students who gave up or cried when faced with challenge. One student was so anxious that she cried every morning on arriving at school. There was an obvious need to build resilience and give the students tools for coping with challenge. I needed to build up their confidence, self belief and to develop a learning environment in which failure was valued as an opportunity. Introducing Dweck’s (2006, 20015) concept of ‘positive or growth mindset’ was an obvious choice. Dweck suggested, (2015) that our mindset can be changed as it is a ‘teachable attitude’. This was our opportunity to develop resilience as a community of learners, both teacher and student.

The second aspect of this change initiative would become the mechanism for measuring effectiveness. Could students reflect at a deep level on their learning, identifying challenges, their feelings, mindset, the strategies employed and next steps in their learning? The use of Easy Blogger (1)  and the iReflect Sheet (2) would provide scaffolding tools (Vygotsky, 1978, pg. 33), that enabled struggling writers to reflect without the barriers of written language.

Evidence of leadership through the initiative:
The leadership theory I employed was Franciosi’s (2012 p.5) transformational leadership. It is characterised by a caring for students and inspiring them towards a shared vision. It is nothing to do with the rewards or close monitoring of transactional leadership, as this does not develop self management. My focus has been in transforming our classroom and building strong learning relationships.

According to Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, (2002), there are a range of styles in which a leadership theory can be applied and I will unpack these as we work through the steps taken during this initiative.

As the teacher I knew where I wanted to take the class based on their learning needs and my professional development. The leadership theory I employed was ‘transformational’ (Franciosi 2012) but in the style Goleman (2002) would call visionary. My goal was to develop a class vision of how a ‘growth mindset’ could help us cope with challenges and make us more successful in our learning. (Dweck 2006, 20015)

Initially I introduced speech bubbles filled with either growth mindset or fixed mindset responses. The class worked to unpack where each response fitted on our co-constructed display. This teacher directed approach created a shared understanding of the vision, but might have developed more initial ‘buy-in’ if we identified characteristics of a successful learner in more of a ‘democratic’ (Goleman, 2002) way, rather than being given the information. However, this would have taken more time, more teacher preparation and might not have resulted in such a clear understanding of how having a ‘growth mindset’ (Dweck 2006, 20015) would help learning.

Image 1: ‘Mindset’ display from class, 2015

Once that concept of having a ‘growth mindset’ when faced with challenge was effectively gained, (Dweck 2006, 20015) students could articulate the concept as shown in their daily lives, but they still struggled when actually faced with challenge. They needed to know that struggle is an important part of learning and that there are a range of strategies to help in the journey. The next step was to make their thinking visible so we unpacked a clear image of this learning 

process in the form of Nottingham’s (2013) ‘learning pit’.  While Nottingham used this as a visual to explain what happens when students are faced with deep concepts, I applied it to the challenges of daily learning.
As the ‘transformational leader’ (Franciosi 2012), it was my job to recognise the need, look for ways to adjust our learning environment and scaffold the next step for students. My focus was on encouraging and supporting students to achieve their best. I was able to do this because I spent time researching and unpacking what this might look like in our classroom. I felt there was some contradiction between Franciosi’s (2012 p.5) concept that the ultimate goal of the transformational leader is the success of the organisation, while that of the servant leader is the well-being of students. I believe that the wellbeing of students is a prerequisite to their success in learning, so the ultimate goal of both leadership styles are firmly linked in my classroom.

To unpack the process of coping with challenging learning, we co-constructed our own ‘learning pit’, discussing how it felt for us in our learning experiences. This was firmly in the ‘democratic style’ (Goleman 2002) giving students a firm sense of ownership of the concept as it was constructed from their own reflections of learning. We added a basket of ‘growth mindset’ (Dweck 2006, 20015) strategies for students to select from which included ‘positive self-talk’, asking for help, learning from mistakes, trying again and never giving up.
This visual display of ‘the learning pit’ (Nottingham, 2013) was referred to frequently and identified by students as the one thing that helped them learn best. I believe this is because we took the time to unpack the process. This took time and required the teacher to ask the challenging questions, rather than giving the answers. The leadership within this aspect has my ‘visionary style’ as the overview but was strongly ‘democratic’ in the co-construction of our ‘learning pit’ (Nottingham, 2013) to make thinking and learning visible.

Image 2:Learning Pit’ display co-created by students, 2015

Goleman’s (2002) leadership style of ‘coaching’ was employed as I supported a gifted student who had given up during a maths test. In looking at our ‘learning pit’ display and discussing the options open to him, we went back with the understanding that giving up was not an option. He needed to select a strategy from the strategy tool box. This resulted in his completing two more questions. This was a clear example of coaching. There was no suggestion of expectation forced by Goleman’s (2002) of style ‘pacesetting’ or even any consequences as would be seen in Franciosi’s (2012) transactional leadership’, as these would lead to a sense of failure and a negative classroom climate. This was an opportunity to remind a student of our shared vision then encourage and support him to achieve what I believed he could do. This approach was firmly based in caring for the growth of the individual and their learning rather than just performance.

At the end of every learning session or day, as a learning community we shared evidence of where  the ‘learning pit’ being used by others, where we struggled in our learning and what strategies we used. This was building a safe learning place where students were motivated and affirmed by both their peers, themselves and the teacher who also reflected on her journey through the ‘learning pit’. This was a clear example of having an affiliative leadership (Golman 2002) style where building relationships develops a safe environment in which students are prepared to take risks as learners.
Personal weekly reflections were supported by our iReflect plan(2)  which was a great scaffolding tool (Vygotsky 1978, p.33) as it supplied rich language in the form of a series of possible sentence starters under the categories of learning, evidence and next steps. There was no need to edit these plans or even check for spelling errors, as the focus was metacognition – thinking about their learning, rather than thinking about the mechanics of writing. Reflections were then shared on the class blog using ‘Easy Blogger’ (1) a voice recording behind a photo of the learning. This oral reflection was a weekly expectation and formed the evidence of student understanding of the ‘growth mindset’ (Dweck 2006, 20015) as applied to their daily learning. The progression of understanding shown in these reflections has helped me gauge the success of this initiative.  Using this digital tool enabled less confident writers to share their learning journey. Franciosi (2012 p. 4) identifies this as one of the roles of a transformational leader: to model, motivate, communicate and facilitate.

Prior to the initiative, an initial survey about having a ‘positive mindset’ showed the average of class answers from 10 questions at six growth responses to four fixed responses. This was not a true reflection of the baseline as there was an element of confusion caused by very limited understanding of the terms used. After six months of using the language and reflecting on having a ‘growth mindset’, the survey results increased to a total of 8 growth and 2 fixed responses. This limited change can not be the only measure as our progress was not of a statistical nature but was seen in the form of student reflection, use of language and attitude towards challenge. 

Student comments in their reports were a clear reflection on the impact of this initiative:
‘I found that ‘The Learning Pit’ strategies were really helpful for my learning because when I used ‘self talk’ I had encouragement from myself and I remembered to have a positive mindset.’ (Year 4 Student, 2015)

‘I found that learning about ‘The Learning Pit’ helps me when I get stuck on hard learning. I can choose a strategy like ‘self talk’ or breathing exercises to help me finish the task. I can do it!’ (Year 4 Student, 2015)

It was this positive mindset that I heard students recognise in each other daily and the evidence of significant changes when facing challenge with reduced anxiety. A significant change was in the attitude of my one tearful student when she came to school. No longer was she in tears but bounded in ready for a great day. 

Parent response….
  Image 3: E-mail quote from parent, December 2015

Past student reflections on learning focussed on how well they coloured things in or failed to identify the strategies used. This can be seen in a reflection from before the intervention where the student just identified an increase in ideas. (3)   After the intervention, student reflections identified aspects of the ‘learning pit’ and how they might use a positive mindset to improve. This can be seen in the same student’s next steps of ‘always try again, keep practising and ask for help’ as she believes she can get better.  (4) 

This initiative has resulted in students who are now aware of the valuable struggle involved in learning, strategies they can use and understand that mindset has an impact on personal success. It has been effective because I employed the transformational leadership theory, applied in Gorman’s (2002) four leadership styles which were positive and constructive: visionary, democratic, affirmative and coaching. They were employed and adapted in different settings to meet the needs of the students, all within our team vision of having a ‘growth mindset’, (Dweck 2006, 20015) both in our learning and every challenge we faced. We made the change together as a learning community, led and supported by the teacher rather than having it ‘done to them’!

I believe that being an effective leader is all about building relationships that improve learning.


(1)  Easy Blogger: an app that allows voice recordings to be made over an image.

(2)  iReflect sheet created by myself to scaffold deep reflections. Highlight the sentence starter and add the details.

(4)   Reflection incorporating ‘the learning pit’


Dweck, C. S, (2015). Christchurch Conference: Personal notes retrieved Janurary 8, 2016, from the World Wide Web:

Dweck, C. S, (2006). Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. London: Constable & Robinson Ltd
Franciosi. S, (2012), Transformational leadership for education in a difital culture. Digital Culture and Education.Com, pp. 235-247. Retrieved Janurary 8, 2016, from the World Wide Web,
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2002). The new leaders: Transforming the art of leadership into the science of results. London: Little, Brown.
Nottingham. J, (2013), The Learning Pit, in Challenging Learning retrieved Janurary 12, 2016, from the World Wide Web:
Vygotsky, L. S, (1978), Interaction between learning and development, in Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, pp. 79-91. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

LDC: Inspire Change

1. Only change what needs changing - not what is easy.
2. Get others on board - build a guiding team.
3. If adding something new - get rid of something old that is not working. 
4. Focus on strengths.
5. Remove the barriers.
6. Start with the BELIEF - inspire the team to confidence.
7. Simplify your message.
8. Let your actions speak - lead the way, showing by example.
9. Celebrate success, keep people informed.
10. Measure results - what is measured gets improved.
11. Set the stage for innovation - let the team run with the idea, ownership.
12. Stand with them - not above them.
13. Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce - it takes time to build new patterns, embed in culture.


So how has this been seen in my leadership project of introducing the 'Positive Mindset'? We unpacked the visual of the Learning Pit and used these tools to build resilience in the face of challenge. 

1. Only change what needs changing - not what is easy.
There was an obvious need and this was not a quick fix but took 6 months focus.

2. Get others on board.
Initially it was all about showing the kids the need and letting them see the possible solution, adding their own stamp on how it looked and worked. 

3. If adding something new - get rid of something old that is not working. 
This is what we forgot to do but it all fitted n well as part of our class focus on reflection and metacognition.

4. Focus on strengths. 
We praised up success and saw failure as a chance for learning, with the help of the scaffold tools. We turned a negative into a positive as mistakes are a learning opportunity.

5. Remove the barriers.
We added iPad apps and scaffolding sheets to support deep reflection. Students supported one-another in their reflections. Lots of time was given for reflection.

6. Start with the BELIEF - inspire the team to confidence.
We began with an understanding but experiences and reflection made the concept real for all of us. Students identifying using the Growth Mindset in struggling students really made them grow in confidence. 

7. Simplify your message.
Getting the kids to help put it in visual form really helped with this.

8. Let your actions speak - lead the way, showing by example.
I was always sharing my progress with the Learning Pit and what strategy I had been using - as the teacher.

9. Celebrate success.
We did this at the end of every session, day and even in the middle of lessons as we saw it. This is what was valued in our class - even to sending people to the principal for further recognition.

10. Measure results - what is measured gets improved.
This was in the form of a survey but more effectively in changing student reflections and attitude to challenge.

11. Set the stage for innovation - let the team run with the idea, ownership.
The skills have been shared now is the time for students to apply them to all of their life and share how it has gone.

12. Stand with them - not above them.
Sharing lots of stories about my failure and success with the tools. 

13. Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce - it takes time to build new patterns.
We spent 6 months focussing on this and will continue to work on it - forever!