I had the privilege of attending the International Confederation of Principals (ICP) council meeting and biannual ICP Conference in Shanghai from October 20th - 25th. It was an amazing opportunity to meet with principals from around the world and to learn about leadership in different contexts. The program enabled delegates to learn from a wide-ranging group of speakers. While in terms of the challenges faced in schools there were many similarities the access to resources varied greatly. The contextualised learning that was enabled for the wide range of delegates from around the world was incredible. What may have appeared ‘obvious’ to some delegates was ‘inspiring’ for others. What may have been ‘taken for granted’ for some (computers in all classrooms) was a ‘dream’ for others. There were three common challenges across almost all countries
- Student agency
- Mentoring and coaching.
The Conference began with a flag ceremony, where the flags of all participating countries transformed the auditorium and were placed around the edges of it for the duration of the Conference. It was certainly a memorable event, emphasising that we would be sharing this learning experience with colleagues from countries as diverse as Finland and Uganda.
Alta Van Heerden, the President of ICP stated the purpose of conferences such as this one provide opportunities for school leaders from around the world to work together to enhance effective educational leadership across the globe, with the goal of improving the teaching and learning experiences.
Jack Ma, the co-founder and former Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group (the world's largest retailer and e-commerce company) was a favourite speaker for me. He spoke with passion about education, stating that it is the most important issue in our world and that teaching needs to be the best profession. He proposed that what we need in the future is not knowledge (facts and data) but wisdom (what you do with that knowledge). He left us with the words “educators are people makers” and challenged us to work together to create the best future for our students and our world. Teachers influence students, and principals influence teachers. We need to treat students as humans not as learning machines. We need to invest in feelings. Jack introduced the concept of LQ (love quotient) to join the need for IQ and EQ. There is a need for “humans more human and machines more machine.”
Michelle Gibbings is an Australian presenter who specialises in change leadership. She has written two books, ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’, and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’. Michelle reminded us that we are preparing our students for a world that they (and we) have no experience of and that our job as educators and principals is to lead people to places that they couldn’t get to without us. She challenged us to consider the “shadow that you cast” – the impact that you have on people and to find ways to understand the gap between our perception (what we think our actions are) and reality (how others perceive our actions).
Yong Zhao’s presentation was both thought-provoking, and, at times, challenging. He proposed that we, in the education profession, should learn from the medical profession and consider and be clear about the ‘side effects’ of what we do. For example, if we get our students to do … [program, approach] they will learn … [facts/data/to read/be numerate] … but they might not … [be innovative, love reading, be able to problem solve]. He further proposed that, as we go through education/work, a number of what we might consider to be ‘positive’ character traits diminish for a while – until we retire. An interesting perspective, and one that I wonder do we consider enough?
Vicki Phillips spoke about Uncommon Leadership. She proposed that uncommon leaders have a number of traits in common: they understand that “victory is what happens in the classroom”; they also understand that when students are interested in learning, they have the energy to pursue it and they give power to the bond between teachers and their students and see the culture they develop in their schools as core to what they can achieve.
Mark Bray, a Professor at the East China Normal University (ECNU) where the Conference was held, spoke about in-school and out-of-school learning. In school learning is learning that is provided by what we do in schools and out of school learning is sought by families as catch-up and/or enhancement by after school tutoring providers. He referred to this as ‘shadow education’ and suggested that, in an increasingly competitive market in education, there is a growing feeling that schooling (in schools) is not enough.
The concluding speaker was Andreas Schleicher, the Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The founder of Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), opened his speech by saying that “never before have the benefits of a good education been more important”, and that “the world rewards you for what you do with what you know, no longer for just for what you know”. He proposed that teaching fewer things at greater depth is the biggest challenge to education, and that is in opposition to what we currently have – curricula that is “a mile wide and an inch deep”. Andreas warned us about to guard a future where “students become clients and teachers become service providers”. He reinforced the importance of educating learners for their future rather than our past.
A lasting memory, among many, was that provided by Mark Bray, who quoted the Masai greeting.
Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. This is the traditional greeting that passed between Masai warriors. “Kasserian ingera”. It means “and how are the children?” What a powerful symbol that the importance of looking after children is fundamental to this group of people.
It was a wonderful opportunity with lots of thought provoking and passionate speakers. It was also a privilege to meet and discuss education and expand networks across the globe. Educational leadership is the ‘same and different’. It is clear educators across the world are passionate to do whatever it takes to improve student outcomes. What is clear that context does maters - this might look different for us as educational leaders depending on where we are. We should never ‘take our eye off the ball’. What we do matters!!
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
AGPPA continues to promote the voice of government primary schools and their leaders across Australia. AGPPA’s core focus continues to be to provide a unified voice to promote and advocate for government primary principals and schools within Australia. Our National Council represents over 5,300 government primary schools with each state and territory having two representatives who meet four times during the year to discuss national matters. The National Council of AGPPA consists of the Executive and representatives from each State Government Principals Association. The current Executive includes:
- President – Ian Anderson (WA)
- Vice President – Anne-Maree Kliman (Vic)
- Secretary –Britany Roestenburg (NT)
- Treasurer –Pat Murphy (QLD)
2019 has been a very busy time for AGPPA as we work to position the Association as the foremost body representing the needs of government primary principals and primary education across Australia. Some of the key achievements during this time include:
- Federal Election top 10 priorities shared with major political parties
- Submissions on the:
- Review of the Melbourne Declaration
- National Teacher Workforce Strategy
- Members of the Exec attended national forums on:
- ACDE Status of Teachers
- High-Impact School Leadership in Regional, Rural and Remote Education
- Gonski Institute and ICSEI – Submission on the Review of NAPLAN
- Schools Stakeholder Forum
- Australian Council of State School Organisations Ltd Roundtable
- AITSL School Leadership Round Table - Strengthening school leadership development and principal preparation
- Representation at:
- International Congress of School Effectiveness and Improvement
- International Confederation of Principals (ICP Council Meeting and Conference)
- NZPF Conference
- QASSP Conference
- VPA Conference
- WAPPA Conference
- APPA Conference
- NSWPPA Conference
This year, the National Council engaged in a full review of our strategic plan, resulting in the identification of 4 key areas:
- Advocacy - to ensure the considered voice of primary government school principals is respected and acted upon by the Federal Government and other key stakeholders
- Historically, the profile of AGPPA has been seen as being a part of APPA. Whilst the two Associations share a strong commitment to cross-sectoral primary education, AGPPA has a specific focus on government schools that forms the great majority of Australian primary schools. This has meant that the government primary school perspective has not always had prominence.
- All members of the National Council have full-time roles external to AGPPA. This has meant that the time and effort available to the ongoing work of AGPPA between Council meetings is significantly diminished.
- Importance of Primary Education - to influence the Australian community to place a greater value on government primary education to receive optimal resourcing.
- Primary associations are under represented on various national committees and forums.
- The bulk of new finding/initiative goes to secondary schools.
- There is an imbalance of funding, leadership density and career pathways between primary and secondary jurisdictions.
- Bulk of special needs children reside in government primary schools.
- Regardless of rural / remote context there is a primary school and it is the hub of the community.
- Teaching principals have a heavy workload.
- The needs /context of middle year’s students has not been defined nor resourced sufficiently.
- Primary education has a greater rate of parent contact than secondary.
- Low number of applicants for primary principal positions.
- Principal Wellbeing - Advocate to government and key stakeholders that policies and initiatives factor in the importance of government primary principal wellbeing
- AGPPA has:
- Engaged with Associate Professor Phil Riley and his longitudinal study and survey on Principal Health and Wellbeing.
- Viewed and reviewed the Analysis of the longitudinal data.
- Shared Principal HWB programs, policy and progress across our jurisdictions
- Created and issued public media releases
- Promoted Primary Principal Day, and
- Prioritised principal wellbeing as a focus in previous strategic plans.
- Empowered Leadership - Enable empowered high performing school leaders in all government primary schools.
- We have an ageing workforce with retirement on the rise in the next 5 years.
- Succession planning and leadership strategies are a focus of most states and territories.
- Principals across Australia are experiencing work intensification.
- AITSL engages with AGPPA in shaping leadership standards and capabilities.
- AGPPA recognises and advocates for the attraction of and sustainability of a high performing workforce.
AGPPA has developed an operational plan for each of the four key areas and will focus on ensuring that the voice of the government primary principal is heard and valued at the national level.
One of the strategic priorities for NTPA is to promote leaders wellbeing.
As a part of this we are created a set of Mindframe wellbeing cards which we hope will inspire leaders.
We held an competition for students to create a piece of art to reflect each of the 5 areas of wellbeing we have identified. There were so many incredible entries that we added an additional 2 categories.
NTPA are proud to publish the names of the winners. All winners have been notified.
A huge thank you to everyone who participated.
Madison Lefebvre- Leanyer Primary School
Alert and Active
Ciabel Khyra V. Sarmiento- Leanyer Primary School
Oliver Mee - Dripstone Middle School
Dare to Dream
Gloria Manfred Thanmpy - Dripstone Middle School
Grateful and Generous
Melynda Lu – Dripstone Middle School
Nature vs Nurture
Emily Ludlow- Dripstone Middle School
Present & Positive
Tatiyana Malibirr – Malak Primary School
Those most remembered as speakers are those who galvanise their audiences and engage with them. Don't over talk. Twenty five minutes is tops. Engage the audience, involve them.
Always speak with conviction and sincerity. The audience can sense passion and speaker belief in his or her message by studying the presenter's body language. Introduce, develop and conclude carefully.
I BELIEVE THE EYES TO BE THE MOST POWERFUL OF COMMUNICATIONS TOOLS. Speakers who are confident rove the audience, with his/her eyes canvassing the eyes of everyone in the listening group. More on this later.
SPEAK FROM THE HEART
Never be a 'veneer speaker' whose polish belies his/her commitment to the subject. Be a person remembered by the audience for sincerity. Speak to, not 'down' to your listeners.
Speakers and presenters should aim to embrace the audience, drawing listeners toward him or her by the power of sincerely uttered words. This will being them 'together as one' in a sharing context.
Listen carefully to speakers and EVALUATE them for strengths and elements of presentation you feel they might do differently and better. The exercise helps you focus on message and messenger.
DON'T OVERDO NOTES
They detract. Speakers generally know what they want to say. I recommend small cards that snug into the palm of the hand. List KEY WORDS as prompts for what you want to say.
CONFIDENT SPEAKERS in an informal situation can go to pieces in formal situations. They pull down a blind in their minds which says ' uptight time'. Make sure the blind is never pulled down.
Make sure that topics have a beginning, middle and end. PLAN for presentations to establish, build and ebb to a telling and final conclusion. Balance within the presentation or conversation is a key and essential need.
'AH's', 'um 's', 'er's', and similar speech stumbles need to be avoided for the sake of fluency. Too many glitches may have the audience thinking you are unclear on your subject. Aim for 'zero'.
Use notes as prompts, but try and avoid detailed reading. A speaker is more effective when speaking rather than being slavishly locked into notes. Notes can reduce the speaker's confidence.
Consider vocalisation, the pitch, rhythm, intonation and vibrancy of voice. Live your message through your voice. Articulate carefully and correctly, and never come with a gabbling rush of words.
MORE TO 'UMS' THAN 'UMS'
Interspersing speech with 'um's,' 'ah's', 'er's', and 'or's', is distracting and off-putting to listeners. These hesitations, space fillers and time grabbers can distract listeners. Indeed, some might divert their attention completely from presenters, listening for and noting down each speech imperfection on some sort of a mental (or physical) tally sheet.
Variations to the 'um' count include the following:
- Beginning each sentence with 'look'.
- Interspersing 'you know' through the verbal speech text.
- 'Double clutching - 'um, um'.
- Using 'and' ad nauseam as a sentence stretcher and space filler.
The list goes on. 'Listen' when listening and you will hear what I mean.
CONSIDER HAVING A CRITICAL COLLEAGUE
Think of having someone as a CRITICAL COLLEAGUE to offer you feedback on your presentations. Ask for recognition of your strengths and constructive criticism on things you might improve in future.
The presentation challenge is everlasting. We never reach the pinnacle. If we feel we have made it, with nothing left to learn, our slide into the area of lesser effectiveness begins immediately.
Encourage those in your workplaces, to consider speech and speaking development. So many people are frightened of dealing with the public because they lack communications confidence. Help them up.
When speaking, insert punctuation so that the audience 'hears' commas, semi colons, and full stops. This is achieved through pause which adds the emphasis punctuation is about.
Pause is a way of emphasising important points that have been made. To pause gives listeners a brief reflective space. In that context 'pause' is a way of emphasising elements of speech.
'Inflection' is a way of building emphasis and highlighting points that are being made. This adds to the vibrancy of speech and triggers listening reception that helps to make points 'stand out' in audience comprehension.
AVOID THE BORING VOICE
The syndrome 'boring voice', associated with monotone expression is a habit into which it can be easy to lapse. Keeping one's voice interesting, vibrant and in resonation territory is important,. This is especially the case when topics are seriously challenging. Monotonous expression is a sure fire turn off, negatively impacting the comprehension of listeners.
Nasalisation, that is speaking through one's nose, can be equally off-putting to listeners. While cultural and dialectic differences impact on nasal speech, aiming for enunciation to be as clear as possible is important.
Facing the audience can be easily overlooked. When speakers move, speaking side on or even back on to the audience can happen. This is a presentation characteristic that must be avoided because it can result in inaudibility.
- Look at people. Don't look over them, under them or around them.
- Engage people individually and collectively through eye contact. Rest on individuals and cover the audience.
- Make your eyes friendly, encouraging and inviting.
- Don't allow eyes to become flat or hostile.
- Eyes are the most important parts of the anatomy when it comes to gesture.
KNOW YOUR SUBJECT
As a presenter, particularly if you have been given preparation time, know your subject. If you don't know your subject, then it will become patently clear to the audience that your knowledge is stretched. Restlessness, fidgeting, looking uncomfortable, visible sweating and other visible manifestations will become giveaways. Eye blinking and throat clearing might become part of the reaction all too visible to the listening group.
'Subject stretch' will bring out uncharacteristic 'ahs', 'ums', 'you knows' and so on in an altogether uncharacteristic manner.
There is a lot to be said for being prepared.
As we come to the end of the year, I invite you to participate in this short, 10-question survey on the issue of childhood anxiety and its impact on our primary schools.
We envisage the survey will take about 5 or so minutes to complete; a little longer if you provide comments. We will close the survey on Friday 6/12/19.
This survey is focused on the level of primary-aged childhood anxiety being reported or observed, and the impact it is having on them, and their teachers and school. The questionnaire will help APPA explore avenues for building the capacity of schools and, more importantly, parents to manage anxiety in their own children. We encourage you to respond and, if possible, provide an anecdote or example of the situation at you school.
The APPA Childhood Anxiety Survey can be found here.
Thank you for your ongoing support and know that your contribution will help us make a difference to primary school education long into the future.
Australian Primary Principals Association
The Darwin Food Collective Fundraising Partnership Program
What better way to raise funds for your school than by connecting with local farmers, producers and business who are committed to providing the very best local produce fresh to your families doors.
The Darwin Food Collective Fundraising Partnership Program is an exciting fundraising opportunity for schools.
Instead of shopping for groceries with the big corporates such as Coles and Woolworths, those in your school community can purchase their fresh and seasonal local produce, meats, seafoods and other food items (honey, eggs, pet food, desserts, soft drinks, etc.) online through The Darwin Food Collective and elect to have their orders delivered direct to their door or picked up from our Berrimah warehouse.
When ordering, they advise us that they belong to your School community and in so doing, we allocate 40% of the profit margin of those sales, to your school.
Please see flyer below for more information or contact Ange Harding, Founder - The Darwin Food Collective
Telephone: 0409 860 823
Blockly Christmas Express
Make your own Christmas tree ornaments with the BBC micro:bit!
Turn a micro:bit into a Christmas ornament! You will use Blockly to show a twinkling star, scroll a Christmas message and even build your own custom images! Get festive in your classroom, no micro:bit required with our full BBC micro:bit simulator.