Monday, August 14, 2017

So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way (Joni Mitchell)


Learning coaches, learning conferences, learning centres, life-long learners.

I like the way our rhetoric has embraced the idea of learning and moved away from 'teaching'. Although I've never really subscribed to the concept of teacher as teller and wise old holder of the knowledge, okay maybe a teenie weenie bit 30 years ago when I was kicking off my career, I now greatly appreciate the fact that teaching has morphed more and more into lead learner status.

I'm currently researching what a learning coach is spost to be all about. What does a good learning coach do, how is that different to the old model, and how does it suit our context at Westmount school?

Three good questions right?

I started with some research. Mostly came up empty but here's a bit of what I've found out so far, regarding some key points of being a learning coach and how this role can be a mutually enjoyable and rewarding relationship.
  • Coaching is a one-to-one relationship in which the coach’s experience assists the learner with their action learning.
  • Coaches can help especially with the reflection and conclusions.
  • Individuals prefer to learn in different ways and the coach should be aware of such differences.
  • The role of the coach in action learning is to support and enable the learner.
  • Building a comfortable relationship is important.
  • The will to complete the learning or be a good coach is the main success factor.
  • Teachers (expert collaborators) need to make learning visible, need to have the capacity to facilitate learning conversations with learners regardless of content
Reading this again reminded that I did a lot of coaching stuff in the Middle East while working for Cognition.

That's where I'm headed next.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ar, that's a shame (George Costanza)


Sometimes, with the best will in the world, life gets in the way of my blogging schedule.

Take today.

A combination of my wife working, torrential rain, darkness, and a need for me to shift two horses from a soggy boggy paddock to a dry stand yard before heading off to school meant no post on Baggy Trousers.

I did read this great interview when I got to school though and retweeted it as fast as I could.

Here it is for your perusal. It's important. Take some time. I'll wait.

Done? I know right! 

This bit...amazing 'this week, Chinese language learning startup, Liulishuo, which uses machine learning algorithms to teach English to 45 million Chinese students, raised $100 million to accelerate its work'.

Boggles the mind!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Follow your bliss (Joseph Campbell)


Respect.

Teaching in the primary school is a career pathway I deeply respect, but it's not for me.

I've been a secondary school teacher since 1983, I've always maintained that I could never have been a primary school teacher.

I like to visit, but I couldn't live there.

My patience wouldn't hold. 

Talking to primary teachers at school, they indicate they couldn't work in the secondary part.

Interesting, how we find our niche.

I respect this ability to access our own realities.

Together we make a great team. Professionals being challenged inside a niche environment of their own choosing. 

Making connections and developing relationships. 

Doing the best we can.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I feel reborn, I'm like a Phoenix rising from Arizona (Frank Costanza)

Above the line thinking by the cool kids at Teacher Academy

Time at Teachers' Academy with the most wonderful Karen Boyes has reaffirmed some long held beliefs:

  • Teachers are hilarious
  • There are some great teachers out there in Westmount schools
  • Teachers are not afraid (for the most part) to challenge themselves and give things a go
  • My colleagues are great learners
  • The group chemistry is a mysterious and wondrous thing and we had an awesome bunch. Especially the small group of Murray, Kelsi, Gina, Renée and me (none of whom I knew before starting this PD and only Renée I'd met briefly before)

How wondrous? When we were given a task during the three days at Teacher Academy and told we could go anywhere to work, we stayed together as a group without any tacit agreement to do so (the only group to do that btw) - we just liked each other's company obviously. Wondrous.

I've known this feeling before a few times. At UNITEC 1999-2000 doing a post graduate diploma I was in a large bunch of educators and we all instantly clicked. Even the co-ordinators of the course commented on it!

The power of a team that clicks. Mighty.

So - raise your glasses and salute Super G, Muzza, K Dawg, Renoir and, erm, me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Well she's walking through the clouds with a circus mind that's running wild (Jimi Hendrix)

It's conference and PD time in Wozza's World this week.

I am super impressed at the commitment by my current employer to provide all staff with quality PD opportunities. Yes, all!

These things aren't cheap - three days out of school for each staff member, accommodation for two nights, flights and so on. A massive undertaking.

With great outcomes! In all sorts of ways.

One of the things I missed at Woodford House (and I do really love you WH and I do kind of understand why but not really) was the lack of such opportunities for me personally.

This week there have been two great professional development events for me to attend. The first was about Campus Trading and the financial aspects of what makes Westmount and OneSchool Global keep on ticking. 

Sure, some of it was gobbledegook and way over my pretty little head, but it was wonderful to see colleagues getting so passionate about revenue streams and stuff. Very inspiring!

Now, okay, normally my eyes glaze over when finances are involved but I came away with new, and deeper, and more meaningful appreciation for the context I work in. And that was a good feeling people!

Next up are three days leadership PD with the delightful Karen Boyes. Rightfully world famous in Nu Zild, Karen is a superb presenter, and all round lovely person. She makes learning fun! 

Three days with Karen is a joy.

Niggles: sorry, but, going forward, if I hear one more , learning journey underpinning the nitty gritty, I will cover off a retreat...and may just scream!

Again we are positioned in rows facing forward, looking at a screen, as a talented individual lectures us (at times about the nastiness of this practice in the 21st century). The irony is not lost on them. But still it continues.

And the English teacher in me hates it when slides to power points have grammatical errors. Okay, I know most people d'o'n't' care about apostrophes but would it kill to get them proofread?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Carpe diem


What do the 13 most innovative schools in the world have in common?

Well, for a start, they don't look like traditional schools with separate classrooms and siloed subjects and they do deal with the real world and they do change the role of the 'teacher' forever.

In short they don't look like 99% of New Zealand schools.

And that's a worry. And it needs to change. And it needs to change now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's stopped rainin', everybody's in a play and, don't you know, it's a beautiful new day (Electric Light Orchestra)


Decisions decisions.

Recently, I wrote about my daily decision making. Sometimes decisions can come back to bite me, but I can't travel back in time via Rapid Roy (Skoda Rapid), my version of a DeLorean, and do over. Gotta live with a bad decision and endeavour to learn from it.

I like to continually remind myself of Buddhism's eightfold components to the path (which it itself is the fourth noble truth). 

Right Mindfulness is one of the eight.

Right mindfulness means being aware, mindful and attentive to three things: the activities of the body; sensations/ feelings; thoughts/ideas.

The head and the heart are clearly key components to Right Mindfulness.

Earlier this year, The Leadership Freak (a.k.a. Dan Rockwell) weighed up some of the head and heart-based questions that lead to decisions. I bookmarked the post and (like the noble eightfold path) return to it from time to time.

His judgement is that heart-based questions like:

  • What does integrity/honesty/openness tell you to do?
  • What does respect for others tell you to do?
  • What does compassion/kindness tell you to do?
  • What does courage/confidence tell you to do?
should rule the day.

He's really talking about Right Mindfulness, and asking some brilliant questions.

The way is clear.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Knock me down get back up again (Tom Cochrane)



I would say that I'm an optimist. My lovely wife of 34 years, the present Mrs Purdy, however, is not!

We balance each other.

I'm not sure if we inherited those traits. Thinking about our parents, I don't think so. 

Instead, we grew into them over time via our experiences. 

According to an article in Edutopia by Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson, research has demonstrated that optimism, traditionally considered to be an unchangeable trait, is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced. 

Which is a good thing because people with a positive viewpoint have less stress, better creative problem-solving skills, and better health outcomes than less optimistic people. 

This all has a spin off for education because, as Conyers and Wilson point out, 'optimistic learners are more likely to persist in the sometimes-hard work of learning, motivated by the belief that they can accomplish their learning goals'. 

Good stuff, right! As students get more optimistic  they are motivated to progress through learning difficulties and to attain higher levels of achievement. More optimistic students also have greater resistance to depression and the negative effects of stress.

Okay, so, how do we grow the optimism trait. Positive reinforcement.

Conyer and Wilson again: 
Emphasizing positive emotions helps students become more resilient and more likely to persevere with learning tasks. Their persistence is fueled by the belief that they will triumph over difficulty, learn from their mistakes, overcome plateaus in their performance, and progress. The mantra "I think I can! I think I can!" from an all-time favorite story, The Little Engine That Could, illustrates practical optimistic thinking.
The emphasis we have at school on positive relationships, restorative practices and a Not Achieved grade being a Not Yet grade are all part of emphasising optimism.

I've been working on the present Mrs Purdy's natural inclination towards pessimism for 34 years. Some things take time.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

There's a time a for joy, a time for tears, a time we'll treasure through the years - we'll remember always Graduation day (The Beach Boys)



Schools are incredible places.

Great meeting places and melting pots for so much creative energy. 

I've spent a few days watching, with great pride, some talented students pull together a Graduation ceremony for last year's Year 13 students. 

[Why do we do that in July? Don't ask. But we do (or, we did - this is its last year - instead we'll be combining graduation with prizegiving in December from now on)]

Anyway - young people are constantly amazing. With a minimum of adult supervision, our Year 12's and 13's have pulled together, pooled their considerable talents, and transformed our gym into a worthy theatre of celebration.

No mean feat, let me tell you.

I am blown away by their skills and abilities. Whether it be performing (guitarists, singers, choreographers, drummers) or a support role (riggers, sound tech, stage design, painters, set decorators, electrical tech and so on). Pretty much everything has been done by our amazing students.

Great real world learning as they problem solve, communicate, collaborate, visualise, and do.

I take my hat off to them!!!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Silver people on the shoreline, let us be (Crosby Stills Nash)


Google published some meta-analysis results recently from within their own organisation about what makes a great Google manager. 

Here they are in ranked order (first to last):

  • Be a good coach;
  • Empower your team and don't micromanage;
  • Express interest in employee's success and well-being;
  • Be productive and results-oriented;
  • Be a good communicator and listen to your team;
  • Help your employees with career development;
  • Have a clear vision and strategy for the team; and
  • Have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team.
I like this list.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Yeoo, standin' at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride (Robert Johnson)



This is apposite to my last posting about binary decision making. Who else but the wonderful Seth Godin. He just gets it.
No judgment, no responsibility.
No responsibility, no risk. 
There's a fork in the road. If you seek out roles without responsibility, you might just find a sinecure.

This is the hot job for undifferentiated job seekers at the placement office, the job where a famous company will tell you what to do all day. 
Alas, those are the jobs that will be deleted first. The jobs that come with little in the way of respect or stability. These are the jobs that big companies automate whenever they can, or create enough rules to avoid any variation if they can't. 
The other choice is a job loaded with judgment calls. One where it's extremely likely you'll make a decision you regret, and get blamed for it. One where you take responsibility instead of waiting for authority 
It turns out that those are the best jobs of all.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Yawn 'asal wa yawn basal * (Arabic proverb)


* means - One day honey, one day onions.

My version of it - you have to take the crunchy with the smooth!
 
My job is often largely done inside my head - millions of thoughts and mulling over of decisions - gazillions of synapses - trying to sort out my world. On a daily basis.

That's why I'm so often exhausted at the end of the day, and why I struggle to communicate with my wife on Saturdays. All that accumulation means I am like Jason Bourne in the car listening silently to the Franka Potente character.



I'm sorry, I can't remember where I got this next bit from but it resonated!

Anyway, it turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.
Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you're not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.
This is so on the money it's scarey!

I guess that's the binary aspect to the filter process on every thought/potential action during my day - will this work/will this do more harm/is there a better way and so on - imagining failure in advance.

Most times I find the filter works. But not always. And that's okay. None of us are perfect.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

As the fire grows we can warm ourselves, watching rainbows in the coals (Michael Murphey)


Fieldays, Fieldays, dear old golden rule daze.

Meet Terry.


Terry is in his seventies, he's an old retired farmer, from Gore (that's somewhere in the bottom of the vastness of the South Island I believe). Dressed in a flat cap, double hearing aids and tweed jacket.

We got chatting while I was supervising my Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) students in the Innovation Tent at Fieldays.

I asked him when he'd flown up, oh no, he said - I drove.

Okay. That's a long way to drive! Who was with him? Oh no, he said - I'm on my own.

Then I asked him my big question with my usual casual élan- Why? Why do that? Why are you here?

And he smiled and gave me THE BEST ANSWER EVER!!

Because I might learn something.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shout it, shout it, shout it out loud (Kiss)


Super exciting developments at school today as we (the senior syndicate staff) planned for Project Based Learning in Term3 with our junior classes.

I don't often rave about after school meetings, but it was great to spitball ideas with my colleagues on PBL plans.

We built on these background articles from the wonderful people at Edutopia and pretty soon the ideas started flowing.

We have planned to start off with Year 10 and PBL on a Friday, incorporating science, maths, English, languages, social studies, and accounting. Exciting!

Next stage: to scaffold an accounting Level 1 standard and what we want to present to the students in terms of a PBL framework. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Back of the net! (Alan Partridge)


Dealing with anxious and/or defiant students is tricky and no matter what school you are working in, you will come across tricky moments.

I've learnt the hard way that raising your voice, trying to dominate, and creation of a win/lose situation does not ultimately work.

Knowledge from experience tells me that private or non-verbal, fact based praise, a sense of calm, and a positive relationship with the student goes a very long way. 

Actually, I think it's the only way.

Nipping situations in the bud, being sensitive to student needs and tailoring the curriculum to include bags of student choice is the way forward as well.

When I started at Woodford House in 2013, I was returning to teaching after a long gap - 7 years in fact (Principal and overseas consultancy stints were the cause). I was rusty, plus I knew no one and had no relationship with anyone at the start. It was tough and some tough classes (hello Year 10 and 11 girls) were merciless.

After the first few terms, though, I had learnt names, established relationships and things began to improve.

I wish I'd read this Mind/Shift article back in 2013 when I was struggling with those Year 10 girls at Woodford.

This advice would have been good: 
...a break paired with a cognitive distraction does offer respite from the “all or nothing” thinking that’s so common with anxious students. An older student might take a break and record herself reading a book out loud for a younger student with dyslexia. It’s impossible to read out loud and think another thought. Other distractions could include sports trivia, sudoku or crossword puzzles. Little kids might do a Where’s Waldo or look through a Highlight magazine for the hidden picture.

I'm particularly struck by the idea that it is impossible to read out loud and think idea. That's pretty cool.

There are 19 other tips in that article for your consideration. Even if you only think you can use 2 or 3, that's a win.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Through the windows of midnight moonfoam and silver (David Gray)



My daily routine part 2:

From 5 to 5.30pm, my end of the working day includes a check in my diary to see that I've done everything I wanted to/ needed to and some thinking about what is coming up tomorrow.

I also make some quick notes in my diary of things which happened in my day that my Community Administrators (C.A.'s) might need to know. They asked me to do a weekly email to them of these things, to do so, my diary notes have become crucial.

I can now pack up my stuff. I tidy up the paperwork into appropriate folders (I hate leaving current work lying on my desk - for some reason my brain dislikes the idea of half finished jobs).

Sidebar: Without consciously thinking about it, I have subscribed to the 5-S Principles Thomas Oppong mentions in his post on end of day routines - the name of a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: Sort (Seiri), Set In Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke).

  • Make work easier by eliminating obstacles (Sort)
  • Arrange all necessary items so that they can be easily selected for use (Set In Order)
  • Clean your workplace on daily basis completely or set cleaning frequency (Shine)
  • Maintain high standards at all times (Standardize)
  • Self discipline, also translates as “do without being told”(Sustain)
Having done those things, I leave school, head home and my brain starts forgetting about my working life.

Only in an emergency will I take work home. I got out of that habit when my children started coming along. It was okay with one (Keegan was very placid) but from January 1987 onwards (hello Adam) evening school work became nigh on impossible.

Keegan, Adam, then Samantha and Jade (and my wife, Jacky) made the need for work/life balance a new consideration back then and the need has continued to this day.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Oh won't you stay, just a little bit longer (Jackson Browne)


I like this from Marcel Schwantes - writing about
Exit Interviews

His suggestion - rather than an exit interview - why not try a 'stay meeting'. The idea being to forestall the actual exit and improve a situation before it gets to that point.

That seems to make sense to me. During the Stay Meeting Marcel suggests the five questions.


It got me thinking...

I found the exit interview at Woodford House, in December 2016, a very strange, surreal experience. It may have helped the school, but it didn't help me at all!

I would much rather have answered two of Marcel's questions in a 'stay meeting', at any time along the way.

Here's the first:

"Do you feel your skills are being utilized to the fullest?"
Marcel: Best case scenario here is discovering that the employee has skills the company or leader never knew about, which is a win-win: The employee wins by using personal strengths that raise personal motivation and engagement; the leader wins by offering new opportunities to tap into those strengths, which releases discretionary effort that will benefit the company, project, or team.
Would have been great if someone at my last school had thought to ask me that. Instead I felt my skills were being under-utilised and diminished.

Apart from me, no one noticed that, so I had to start thinking about fresh challenges elsewhere.

And the next one:

"Do you feel you get properly recognized for doing good work?"
Marcel: A leader will gauge frustration levels by courageously asking this question and openly accepting the response and, if it's negative, brainstorming solutions together. As Gallup has observed in its extensive research, praise and recognition for accomplishments have been repeatedly linked to higher employee retention.  
Maybe I didn't do good work. Maybe I just thought I did. I'm not sure. Maybe they didn't know either.

My best moment was at an early check in with the Principal (Jackie Barron) in 2013 who told me I'd made a good start; she loved that I was 'low maintenance'. I liked that because I do like to just get on with it and I'll check in if and when I need to. I also subscribe to the idea that if you employ good people and they are good at what they do - get out of their way.

The English department at Woodford was a case in point - three exceptional teachers, each of whom could easily lead a department, who had great ideas and got great results. Why would I want to micro-manage them?

I digress...

I've certainly received more positive and encouraging feedback in my new environment from colleagues, students, and parents in 6 months than I did at Woodford in four years. Nor do I miss Woodford's Staff Star and Extraordinary Teacher draws (given the criteria, I never had a look in). 

OfficeVibe, used by Westmount, keeps me thinking about things as well.

I'm going to use these 5 questions during the year with my new colleagues. 

Who knows what power I could unleash.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

You may say I'm a dreamer (Dr Winston O'Boogie)


Are you a DOER, a DREAMER, or a FEELER?

These are the three categories Dan Rockwell names in his blogs.

Briefly: 

D
oers: Plan, organize, make lists, and find energy in finishing things.

Dreamers: Figure things out as they go, love new ideas, bristle at organization and find energy starting things.

Feelers: Despise conflict, display deep loyalty, do things themselves rather than ask others to do hard things, and find energy in relationships.


Me? All three at various times.

Here's my revised look at the above list but with the bold stuff being me (by me):

Doers: Plan, organize, make lists, and find energy in finishing things.

Dreamers: Figure things out as they go, love new ideas, bristle at organization and find energy starting things.

Feelers: Despise conflict, display deep loyalty, do things themselves rather than ask others to do hard things, and find energy in relationships.


Now - your turn!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Put me in coach, I'm ready to play (John Fogerty)

Teachers are coaches. It's what we do - we look and learn and we coach.

Most days we get it right. Sometimes we don't.

We've moved to a coaching model for the staff, and we're about to move to a coaching model for the students under the umbrella of our new Peer Support initiative.

During the early stages we're bound to get some things wrong. Maybe Dan Rockwell's advice will come in handy.

He reckons there are five key aspects to coaching:
#1. Stay curious.(Resist the temptation to give quick suggestions. You know the answer for you. Be curious about the answer for them.Develop a few go-to questions.Tell me more about that.What’s the next step?And what else?)
#2. Be honest with your feelings.
#3. Be direct.(Say what you see.   Prepare coachees by saying, “I’m going to give you very direct feedback.”Explore the difference between intention and impact. Most people don’t intend to shoot themselves in the foot.)
#4. Practice patience.Coaching is a process. 
#5. Be timely.(Coach in the moment. Don’t wait two weeks for the coaching appointment.)

Simple and effective advice! 

Ideas to live by, never mind as a coach! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

it just keeps coming and coming and coming. ... because the mail never stops (Newman)

My daily routines need some rethinking. I'm going to figure out which of these 17 small actions from Thomas Oppong I need and tutu with my day.
Newman

So, these are the things that I need to sort out:


1. Check emails at specific times

The average person checks email 77 times a day, sends and receives more than 122 email messages a day, and spends 28 percent or more of their workweek managing a constant influx of email.

Jocelyn K. Glei, author of “Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done” says that while checking emails throughout the day may make you feel productive, the opposite is true.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Jocelyn said, “…keep work emails short, simple and if something can’t be resolved quickly on email, suggest a meeting or simply walk to your colleague’s desk to confirm a plan. You’ll be rescuing yourself and others from those annoying email threads that drag on for a whole afternoon, interrupting everyone involved.”


I need to use Thomas' action approach to clear my inbox more:

When opening an email - make a quick decision: delete/archive, act now (if it takes a minute or two) and then reply/archive, send a quick reply (and then archive). 

I tend to read and leave them, which just means they build up and build up and then I feel like Newman!


2. Focus on importance and suppress urgency

Resist the tyranny of the urgent. Urgency wrecks productivity. Your ability to distinguish urgent and important tasks has a lot to do with your success.

Urgent tasks are tasks that have to be dealt with immediately. Important tasks are things that contribute to your long-term mission, values, and goals.

My time is often spent on the urgent because there is so much urgent stuff to do!

3. Focus on one thing at a time

Start your day by tackling high-value tasks you can complete in the morning. This will keep you motivated to get the next task done in time.

In his book, “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” Gary Keller said, “Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects. It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”

Charles Dickens once said “I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.”

Funnily enough, I can do this easily at home on the weekends - clear the driveway, bury a water pipe, wash the car...and so on. But at work it's trickier to keep this regime going. There are many demands but I aim to maintain the 'touch it only once' policy as much as I can.

There you have it - three key things to work on, as well as carving out some me time each day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

To let me dance beneath the diamond sky, with one hand waving free (Bob Dylan)



Seth Godin nails it (again):

The reason it's difficult to learn something new is that it will change you into someone who disagrees with the person you used to be.

And we're not organized for that.

The filter bubble and our lack of curiosity about the unknown are forms of self defense. We're defending the self, keeping everything "ok" because that's a safe, low maintenance place to be.

The alternative is to sign up for a lifetime of challenging what the self believes. A journey to find more effectiveness, not more stability.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare (David Bowie)


Week 12 - Book 14: The Future Of Learning (Mark Treadwell) 

don't often get excited about a book that centres on education but Mark Treadwell and John Hattie certainly get my heart racing.

Their crystal clear thinking aligns closely with my own thoughts, hopes and desires for education.

I've had the privilege of hearing them talk about their ideas a few times and they always challenge my thinking.

Marks' six pillars are awesome! Look at number 6 - To implement concept based learning domains and competencies, based on building conceptual understanding, with learners creatively leveraging that understanding to be innovative and ingenious.

How great is that!! I read it and thought - YES! I bet Toni Dunstan's eyes are twinkling as well at Woodford House in Havelock North.

If you haven't grabbed a copy yet (it's only just out, so, like, I forgive you) then go to his website and prepare to be amazed and dazzled!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

I'll reach out my hand to you, I'll have faith in all you do (The Jackson 5)


Apologies first up! I am in the middle of organising a peer support programme for the school and it's not as easy as it sounds. This post is an attempt to sort through some ideas.

Hang in there.

Some research on the concept reveals that there are some consistent themes that schools are keen to target in their peer support programmes.


Overview of Peer Support Session Themes Used by Schools


Session Theme
Number of schools using the theme (n=121)
Orientation to school
93
Getting to know you
98
Building the group
89
Communication
90
Cooperation
81
Self awareness/self esteem
61
Cultural awareness
54
Values
62
Feelings
51
Friendship and trust
90
Peer Pressure
78
Bullying
87

Instead of these things, my students appear to be more focused and positive about the effects of peer support for goal tracking, and providing practical help between students. So, not so keen on the touchy feelie themes outlined above.

They see peer support operating in the following ways:
  • Small groups of 3 with mix of levels
  • Having games and activities for form time (board games, debates, conversation starters)
  • Older mentoring younger Y13 - Y7; Y12 - Y8; Y11 - Y9
  • Need for peers to be on the same wave length
  • Peer mentoring/tutoring/ counselling of another student
  • At least a 2 year level gap between mentor and mentored
I like this accent on academic help and peer tutoring

I was first introduced to the concept and impressed by it at Cambridge High School back in 2000. Subsequently, I set up a clone of it at King John School in 2004.

Now it appears timely to revisit those ideas and combine them with some of the items in that chart to create a bespoke Kaipara Campus version.

I've ordered the manual from Peer Support NZ so we'll see what that can add to the mix as well and maybe adapt some things to our particular needs.