Leading Change

Is exciting, stressful, frustrating, interesting, fulfilling, scary! Some days I can’t wait to embrace the change that is coming our way and other days I want to run and live in a hole away from the doubt and fear of it all.

We must never forget why we are in the leadership roles we have been blessed with.

He Tangata! He Tangata! He Tangata!

The very reason why I don’t stay hiding.

My Inquiry is based around this question

How will  our leading of change influence teachers to develop beliefs, practices and habits around developing Student Agency – giving the students the power to act on their learning?

I look forward to reflecting on this over the coming year and sharing a final evaluation in November.

P.S. I wrote this 8 months ago.


It is so Quiet Here

I thought I better explain the quiet on my blog. It hasn’t been purposeful or deliberate,  in fact I miss it. This year I have been part of the National Aspiring Principals program and this requires me to post on the My Portfolio Platform. So all my professional practice, reflections and journaling has gone into there, for now.

This year has also been different for me, in that I do not have the responsibility of my own class. This has been a struggle for me. I have come to accept it and now enjoy the process of going into lots of classrooms and working with all the teachers and best of all getting to know more students. Now that is rewarding.

So for now I will finish my Aspiring Principal responsibilities and then decide if I will continue blogging or continue to post in My Portfolio.

Time for Change – Change makers Needed

My notes from NaPP Hui 2015. All mistakes are my own.

Michael King

Regional Coordinator

Te Toi Tupu Kaiarahi


  • Is Important
  • Is the relationships

Let the silence do the heavy lifting

Pepeha is a part of us it isn’t a thing that we do.

Use the skills and talents of those that are important recognize the treasures in front of you, deepen the relationships and use the opportunity to grow as a leader

Jan Robertson – Academic Director

Develop leaders around you that will be more than you have ever been.

Ask yourself how does the Treaty of Waitangi affect your leadership.

Be concerned for the students down the road as you are with the students within your school.

Leadership is about what we take in any context.

Knowing who we are

Future Focused leadership, question to think about.

What Skills disposition and attitudes require for future focused leadership

Mere Berryman

Learning from Students

Education is the opening of identities


Power is shared between self determining individuals. – Ask the students what do they think?

Pedagogy is responsive and interactive – from where the students are here and now.

Develop relationships that show that you care but have high expectations

Activate all the minds in the room not to the whole room

Evidence based solutions are co-constructed. teachers and students

Louise Anaru – Principal Flaxmere College

Professional learning groups

Responding to individual learning needs – research ‘every child deserves a champion’

  • student mentoring – 1 teacher with 6 students – teachers need coaching
  • Individual learning plans – recorded on the SMS
  • Three way conferences are now student led
  • Student choose their mentor
  • Teacher mentor are students champions
  • Parents are informed and involved in this process so learning continues
  • Progress is monitored weekly with their mentor
  • Curriculum very broad and aligned to students interests and aspirations
  • Be flexible to changes in aspirations and interests as these change
  • Strong engagement is demonstrated in student and whanau voice

What are my beliefs about educational leadership?

I am a leader because I would like to develop ideas, beliefs and practices around the success for all learners with a particular focus on our Maori and Pasifika. This year I would like also include the success of boys in here as the boys in our school are not as successful as our girls and in line with the achievement of our Maori students.

You do not, do Kahikitia, you live it – Neil Couch

Russel Burt

In his context Acceleration is 1.5 in 1 year

Technologies is the leader for change, it can advantage those who are disadvantage, it changes pedagogy.

Remember who you work for – STUDENTS

The whanau needs to be apart of the technology change.

Key competencies are not any different to other learning progressions.

Open your work up to the public, you are paid by the public then what you do should be public.

All work at PT England is public – go to their website



Be true to yourself and be true

The Hard discussions – You can say no you can disagree as vehemently as you like but you can’t leave the room

Key Competencies for the future

What did I learn about myself and my leadership when challenged when creating my Digital leadership Korowai?

I learnt that my whanau are the most important thing in the world. My students allow me to grow as a leader because they are the very reason I am a leader. As Russel Burt puts it , I work for them. There are few adults that I have met that have influenced my leadership other than the members of my family. Those few adults outside my family who have influenced my leadership have qualities in them that I aspire to be – change makers, they demonstrate authentic whanaungatanga.

It is important to listen as much as you can without questioning because then you determine the direction of the conversations. Really important to remember when listening to our students and our teachers.

By doing the listening you are showing that you value what they are going to say.

Reflection – what local challenge is your inquiry into your leadership addressing and how will this address key challenges in NZ education today?

Modern Learning and the Leadership needed

Herman Brain Model to gauge how your teachers operates.

Collaborative teaching approaches

Teaching the students the skill of self regulation


Teach how to use the spaces

Trust and accountability of students

student voice gathered frequently

Allow your teachers and students to take risks and try different approaches.

Flipped learning – Rich tasks –

The Future of Education- Jane Gilbert

Why change is needed and what this means for school leaders.

1.Increasingly fast – changing world. ‘digital revolution’

  • uncertainty
  • unpredictability
  • complexity
  • exponential change

Here to stay!

  1. Equal opportunity for all  – we haven’t done this can we do it?

What should we do about this?

We need to prepare people, not for known or even likely outcomes,, but to be Intellectually AGILE enough to face any possibility. Connect/collaborate/think with diverse others ‘in the network’

The problems we face:

  • the thinking tools we’re using are out of date – the shift is from things to spaces between things. – connections/networks/relationships (not just social)
  • Knowledge has a new meaning – Too Big To Know – Weinberg –

What school needs to be for in the 21st century

clades (organism made on the bases of it relationships not shared features)  not clones

Diversity encouraged, because we don’t know what we need. If we create clones then we are stuffed because we don’t know what we need.

We need to:

  • think differently
  • engage differently
  • act with people and different networks

What does this mean for teachers and leaders?

We need to do some cognitive growth and challenge ourselves. a very different mindset and thought processes.

We don’t know what the future will be all we know is that it will be very different.

It is our job to create educations future together by working in positive engaged, thoughtful ways, with others.

Create self review systems with my team – Kaye

I live in Taupo and I affiliate myself to Mount Ruapehu. The Waikato river is important to me because it flows from my mountain to the south of Auckland, where I grew up in Mangere. I went to Mangere College, where some of the students here at NAPP are attending now.

My Father is Cornish, He was born and grew up in Mullion Cornwall.   He fought in the second world war and his only scars other than emotional and spiritual is one on his leg from a Camel kicking him.

In Cornwall, 1960 my family began its journey to Aotearoa. My mum, my dad and 5 of my siblings travelled on a ship to Australia, where my family grew by 2. There they started another journey with 7 of my siblings to our beautiful country where they had the best of the Matthews Clan of 9. My brother and myself the last of my immediate clan can claim Aotearoa as our birth place.

In 1996 I left Auckland for a change in lifestyle and headed to Taupo. There I have bought up my two children, Joshua and Hannah. They both live in Hamilton yet Taupo remains their home.

My name is Melanie Matthews I am first and foremost a mum, nana, partner and second to that I am very privileged to be a Leader in Education.

From Aspirational to Actual – Geoff Childs and Jill Lunn

The 5 characteristics of leadership.

empathy, integrative, collaborators, optimism, experimentalism

I need to share my inquiry with the staff and students.

Taupo Connected Teachers

This was our 5th meet up and was exciting, inspiring and filled with great opportunities, new connections and exciting ideas to move forward with.

I wonder how I can get more teachers going to this day, at the moment we seem to have mostly school leaders and I often hear them say it is hard to get others to take on board the digital opportunities that they can share with them.

I Geeked out on Neuro Science

Unbelievable, I actually did geek out on Neuro Science. I didn’t think it possible, me and science. The brain is actually our central processing unit and when Nathan Mikaere Wallis talks about it you can’t help but get swept up by his enthusiasm for the brain and children.
One of his key messages was that the social and emotional aspects of a students brain needs to be aligned before you can affect the cognitive aspect. From the age of 0 to 3 is the most vulnerable years for brain development which sets the individual up for a good adult life. A damaged brain cannot be fixed unless there is major intervention.
The frontal cortex (the higher intelligence) is the last part of the brain to develop approximately between ages of 18 and 24 for girls and 22 and 32 for boys.
Twins need to be communicated to as individuals not as one unit. Give both the same or similar instructions
 The four brains:
1 survival brain (brainstem) heart rate, flight, fight, freeze.
2 movement brain mid-brain coordination and movement
3 emotional brain (limbic system) emotional response approximately 2 years( aka mammal brain).
4 frontal cortex ( cortical) empathy, controlling yourself, literacy.
Perry’s Neurosequential Model.
More free play in early childhood will lead to good outcomes. Preparing for school should not be priority.
Meeting the needs of our students now should be our priority not preparing them for high school,
CATS affects the plasticity required to learn new things
Caffeine, Alcohol, Tobacco Sugar
Relationship between brain stem, and frontal cortex. Survival (brain stem) is a number one priority it is the prime directive for life. The brain stem will always takeover if threatened – loud noises, fear of spiders etc
To really be using your cortex, your brain-stem needs to be calm.
When in survival mode stop and take a few breaths to allow the frontal cortex to take over.
Anything you do to relax your brain stem allows you to access your brain-stem.
The teacher who keeps you calm the most, you will learn from the most.
The teacher who helps you feel safe and nurtured will help you learn, they will balance the scales of the frontal cortex and the brain stem where learning is enabled.
Brain.                                                   Needs
Cortical.                   ->                               Learning
Limbic.                     ->                     Emotional engagement
Midbrain.                  ->                           Movement
Brainstem.                ->                                Safety
Two main reasons why we have diligent teenagers – Government funded research. (I will acknowledge the source when I receive his notes.
1.We are punitive culture
2. We put academic before social and emotional
Between the age of 0 and 3 babies are data gathering and this period is when they are most effected by trauma.
How to calm and heal the brainstem 
– dyadic relationship – attachment- interaction- unconditional love
– provide a relationship like your would a new born infant – no consequences, just listen
– primary teacher –  the student stays with the teacher they are first put with. Ultimately 3 years plus
Learning process is relationship supported (overwhelming research on this) students need to stay with their teacher for as long as possible.
Safety – the brain-stem
Needs –
Predictability. Routine predictability is about 10% important, Relationship predictability 90% important
Sensory pathways
Water and kai
Wairakei’s ‘Steaming into School’ supports the transition into school because it helps calm the brain-stem by allowing predictability of the school environment while student’s are still with their parents.
Movement – mid brain
Rhythmic patterning
Movement autonomy
Corpus callosum
Emotion – Limpic system:
Needs – 
Self esteem
Naming emotions
Paralimbic system
Executive functioning – Frontal cortex
Consequence logic
Self regulation
Cognitive training
Inhibitory control
Working memory
The top Executive functions
Self control
Cognitive flexibility
Working memory
To develop self control talk to the frontal cortex establish eye contact and explain the consequences of their lack of self control.
Violence begets violence, timeout doesn’t work because you are not developing self control you develop a student who needs external control. A passive self manager!
Self control is the number one executive function.
Lots to think about it here, the ultimate goal is to pleasure the Brain-stem. Now that sounds easy but doesn’t seem like teaching to me but that can’t happen unless we have a calm brain.
Go out there and love some brains, unconditionally, to impact on students executive functions.
Please note: these are the notes from my session , all mistakes are my own.

Pondering my Changed Role

My teaching role in school has changed this year. I am releasing our teachers for their CRT and some Management release. I was looking forward to doing something different and thought maybe releasing teachers would give me more time to think about my leadership role, NAPP and the VPLD. Oh boy! I was very wrong. I have found it tough, I feel like an impostor.

As I sat and pondered this over the weekend, I attributed this feeling of being an impostor to the fact that I have always had the responsibility of some students. Students whom I built relationships with, whom I got to know their learning ups and downs and built on these. This is so empowering and the very reason why I love my job.

So what! Now What! I pondered. In that moment, I realised,  what I was now being given was an opportunity to have more random fun with the students, develop skills, strategies and try random stuff they may use to create, collaborate or communicate with. My big focus with these students is to be creative, collaborative and start to curate rather than just consume when using digital devices.. Best of all I get to practice the things I love doing with students,  geeking out with technology. Even better, I get to give teachers the gift of time to ponder their classrooms. Time is the most precious gift to give teachers in Term time.

So now I need to rethink my time in classrooms,  not as a babysitting service,  as a time to get to know more students, challenge students with stuff  like messy maths, creating photos with words, singing, reading, writing poetry, using thinking maps, collaborative spaces, independent skills, working with digital devices to create artefacts, learn to draw mind-craft creepers, listen to the Kid President (I am a big fan).

Now it is time to have fun!

Enjoy the privilege of being able to give teachers something they treasure, time.

The End of My Day the, Beginning of a New Journey


What if we had no one to talk to about our journeys and where we wish to head?

That question entered my head as I returned home from my day picked up my daft dog and headed to our beautiful lake.

I know where I would be. Still pondering the muddle in my head over what path my journey would take, this year, in my leadership role.

Thanks Nathaniel for listening to me and helping me put that muddle into some direction I can now act on.

Connected Taupo

“Being a Connected Educator is about being an Active Learner as opposed to a Passive Learner”

Can you be a connected if you don’t find the courage to share as well as have the dignity to listen?

Is being connected necessary?

I was left with these ponderings soon after our 4th Taupo Connected Teachers Meetup.

What an excellent afternoon I had joining Taupo Connected Teachers via Skype. Due to an unexpected infection, after much needed surgery to my poor old knees, I was unable to attend in person. In attendance was some regular faces and some new faces. Already we are showing growth.

The title of our workshop was ’21st Century Connected Teacher Tools’. We had 5 tools we wanted to help TCT with 1. Twitter 2. Feedly 3. Blogging 4. Diigo 5. The VLN

Technically we could add number 6. Skype


The Key messages I thought I would like teachers to leave with:

1. Manage the purpose of your connections.

2. Growing a network increases your professional support beyond what your school can offer you.

3. Develop your Professional Inquiry through your connections and share it with others.

4. Develop Digital Citizenship Skills as you become more and more connected.

5. Being connected is a two way street; to get the best from your connections start sharing.

I would like to acknowledge @virtualkaren and her blog post 7 characteristics of a true connected educator which inspired the key messages. @leighhynes also needs a mention because she is my rock in moving forward with our purpose and vision for growing a Taupo Connected Teachers group. Thanks Leigh!


The Best Pick

Part 2

In I walked carrying my bag of shoes to teach the students how to find ‘good fit’ books. Again I got this method from the ‘Daily 5. It is a great illustration of how books that don’t interest you, don’t have a purpose or are simply too big or too small can interfere with your enjoyment of a book. After a good discussion and models of how to choose a ‘good fit’ book using the iPick method, the students went with their teacher to the library armed with a method to choose a good book that interests them and they can read.

The next day I went in to find out how they got on, some of the students were very excited with their finds in the library it was truly delightful to listen to their stories. Then we looked at the visual we had created on the best way to read a book and some students got the opportunity to model the best way and what it doesn’t look like. Most prefer to model ‘what it doesn’t look like’ with lots of laughter.

As I sat quietly watching the students read their ‘good fit’ books I was pleasantly surprised at the change in behavior with some of the students. All of the students were engaged in their books, the standard of books had increased from mostly picture books to chapter books and novels. One student I noticed struggled to sustain her stamina with the book she choose, I quietly pointed this out to her teacher and she quietly told me it was the book she had chosen. We gathered together to talk about our books and assess our ability to manage our stamina. I am fairly certain the student who struggled will need more support.