Fuel for Success

Leadership Values and Beliefs

My Leadership Values and Beliefs as they are today demonstrate a great deal of growth and understanding from me. My journey this year has at times being challenging as I have questioned myself about being a leader and becoming a principal. I basically missed having the responsibility of my own classroom and the rewards that brings. When I was challenged on this I decided that being a leader of learning was a priority for me. This gave me more focus and direction and less distraction and confusion about what the hell I was doing.

My Leadership Values and Beliefs

  • Grow leaders in teachers and students
  • Build capacity in making a difference and leading change
  • Provoke the thinking of the leaders around me with innovative practice and pedagogy
  • Identify, understand and value the aspirations of my learning community with a particular focus on our Maori community and increasing the achievement of our akonga

Opportunities Made Possible

In my last post I mentioned that I would reflect on the spin off from my Inquiry and the changes myself and my team have been making in our pedagogy around student agency. This is an example of one of the surprises which confirmed that what we are doing has positive effects.

Opportunities made possible

Part of the Visible Learning process has been about students creating their own goals, setting their own timetables and making decisions about the workshops that they will go to. We discovered this freedom to make decisions about their learning time provided opportunities we hadn’t thought of.

For example, a couple of our students decided to timetable time to create a video, to enter a competition for Chinese language week. They created a video talking about their school speaking in Mandarin. We didn’t even know they could speak Mandarin. We were right, they couldn’t, they had used Google translate to find their words. The speaker wrote down the sounds she knew to enable her to say her English words in Mandarin.  Their video won the competition which gives them flights to Wellington to visit the Weta Workshops and to go to the Chinese Embassy for Dinner.

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.

Reflection, Thought and Action

Hi I am Melanie Matthews, Yr 5/6 Teacher, Deputy Principal, ICT Lead teacher of Broadlands School

I want to share with you  a part of my Journey using SOLO to engage my students in reflection,  to help them identify next learning steps.

What I am going to share today is a method I used to engage my students in raising their level of questioning around their own inquiries.using SOLO.

SOLO – Structure for Observed Learning Outcomes.

It is a simple structure for 3 different levels of understanding –




Just sharing stuff isn’t ok anymore because we can google everything! Google is an amazing tool that has loads of stuff. I wanted my students to use the stuff that interested them and think about their ideas in a new and different way. I was hoping their understanding of SOLO would help this.

I used SOLO to help them question above and beyond just stuff. To help them capture their audience within and beyond their classroom when they shared the results of their own inquiry. Our class mantra became ‘tell us something different’.

So we began a Mini inquiry –  which was technology based –   and embedded in this was the Concept of Inventions and Design. The students were already excited because they had researched local inventors  and invited a real inventor into their classroom.

So they began by writing their own questions on sticky notes and placed these where they thought they belonged within the SOLO framework. This is where some good conversations began about the types of questions they were writing.

We soon realised we needed to unpick the language within the thinking Maps, aligned with SOLO. In groups the students began to explore, define, describe,  and draw the different words associated with the thinking around the level e.g. compare and contrast, sequence, evaluate, predict, etc

Once the class had explored and shared their ideas around the language, they  were challenged to write questions using another level of  SOLO to guide this. To Raise their thinking and challenge their inquiry

This is where it became challenging for the students,as the questions were raising the level of thinking. So  the thinking maps were now being used and collaborative groups were formed naturally

At this point Students needed to be  encouraged  to give evidence for their thinking, for example predictions on Robots of the future needed to have supporting evidence for their thinking.

I was very pleased with the extended thinking that was developed within the students based on their new questioning skills. I now realise there is a need to facilitate more thinking around the relational and extended thinking maps, particularly with giving evidence for their thinking.

I believe SOLO is a great tool for many pedagogical reasons but in this story it helped my students to learn how to learn and think about their thinking.