Acting on evidence

“We owe almost all our knowledge not to those who have agreed but to those who have differed.” Charles Caleb Colton Over the past few days I’ve seen a lot of conversation generated as a result of the recently released paper from Dr Michael Johnson of the New Zealand Initiative titled No Evidence, No Evaluation, No Exit , subtitled “Lessons from the “Modern Learning Environments” Experiment.” Of course, headlines like this are always bound to attract attention – which is why they are so constructed. They’re intended to be provocative, challenging and position-taking. This, it may be argued, is what … Continue reading Acting on evidence

Characteristics of Resilient Schools

“Just believe in yourself, and you will realize that even those small steps taken in the right direction can produce great results.” Dr Prem Jagyasi In my previous post I introduced the idea of three dimensions to help educators and school leaders think about the characteristics of resilient schools. In this post I want to expand on these little more and introduce some questions that may be used to guide further thinking. The three dimensions are: Each dimension is explained in summary in the sections below, and then introducing the three characteristics within each of them. The culture of an … Continue reading Characteristics of Resilient Schools

Achieving resilience

“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organisation is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together everyday.” Frances Hesselbein When considering the characteristics of resilient schools it is useful to consider the three dimensions illustrated below. This will ensure that school leaders and others involved in the transformation process focus across all areas of a school’s activity, and not just on one particular thing. For example, during the lockdown and beyond we’ve seen lots of emphasis on providing technology for students at home, teachers working in teams to ensure … Continue reading Achieving resilience

Resilience in Education

The crises facing our world are complex and ever-evolving. The consequences, whether from conflict, natural hazards, climate change, or epidemics, are severe for many sectors and societies. Education is no exception: effects might include the destruction of school infrastructure, a reduction in the number of teachers, an increase in gender disparities, or overall system dysfunction. UNESCO – Crisis-sensitive education planning The impact of both incremental threats such as climate change as well as sudden and pervasive disruptions like COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of our lives – including education. A recent Mckinsey report highlights how these sorts of disruptions are becoming more … Continue reading Resilience in Education

When does the future start?

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Theresa This week I visited a school that had been struggling in the past couple of decades, but since the appointment of a new principal five years ago there has been an amazing transformation in almost every way imaginable. Students are wanting to come to school now, there’s no difficulty attracting staff, the learning programmes have been changed to be inspiring and learner-centred, and the tone of the school as you walk around reflects a culture of genuine caring, collaboration and pride in the … Continue reading When does the future start?

Lessons on strategy from riding a bike

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” Albert Einstein Riding a bike is something I’ve been doing since I was very young. It’s still something I do by choice to simply get around the place when the weather and time permit, and I enjoy it as a way of getting exercise by taking long rides along the river trails or, occasionally, up the hills around where I live. As I was out on my bike yesterday my mind wandered back to when I learned to ride, and some of the lessons that enabled … Continue reading Lessons on strategy from riding a bike

Building – and sustaining – innovation

With nearly 45 years of experience working in education, I find myself reflecting on exactly what it is I have achieved in that time. With each of my own kids now pursuing their own life ambitions, and now my eldest grand-kids at the age where they’re thinking about the ways they might contribute to society – there are often times we find ourselves discussing exactly what’s important in life. Generally we arrive back at the same place – we all want to have ‘made a difference’ in some way. I didn’t really think of doing anything but becoming a teacher … Continue reading Building – and sustaining – innovation

Don’t look up!

“At this exact moment I say we sit tight and assess.” Meryl Streep in ‘Don’t Look Up’ One of the things that being laid low with COVID does is provide the opportunity to catch up with watching a few movies or TV series. For me, it was an opportunity to watch the film Don’t Look Up, featuring a high profile cast, including Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio. If you haven’t seen it the trailer below provides a taste of the plot… Regardless of what your view of the artistic merits of the movie are, it does highlight an important message … Continue reading Don’t look up!

Feet of Clay

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history… The crisis is exacerbating pre-existing education disparities by reducing the opportunities for many of the most vulnerable children, youth, and adults…. On the other hand, this crisis has stimulated innovation within the education sector”. UN Policy Brief August 2020 Many of us are familiar with the phrase ‘feet of clay’ – referring to a fundamental flaw or weakness in a person who may be otherwise revered. The phrase originates from the book of Daniel in the Bible where Daniel interprets a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In … Continue reading Feet of Clay

Leading in uncertainty

“It is the absolute duty of educators to look forward in an informed and balanced way to a future very different from the past; one that, though they may not themselves experience it fully, their students undoubtedly will.” Valerie Hannon and Anthony McKay, 2021 in Five Signposts for the Future of Educational Leadership I received quite a bit of feedback after my previous post about how we prepare for and respond to disruption in our education system. Some were appreciative of the perspectives I shared and the links provided, while a few expressed skepticism about what they felt I was … Continue reading Leading in uncertainty