Posts tagged ‘Leadership’

Professional Learning Day

A guest post by Margaret McLelland*
On Friday 25th March 2011 the NSW Secondary Deputy Principals Association is holding its second Professional Learning Day. This follows on from the first well-received PL day this year which had a focus on the digital revolution. The theme of the day in 2011 will be “What a change in education! What a chance for deputy principals!”. 
In response to our evaluations, there will be a suite of workshops so that there will be more interactive content and we’ll reduce the number of keynote speakers. The venue will be Citigate Sydney Central Hotel, which is close to Central Station and convenient for DPs coming in from country areas.
We’re in the process of designing the program and booking presenters and so it would be greatly appreciated if DPs could let me know of specific areas of interest they’d like covered. At present, suggestions have been more on ICT developments and progress with ACARA and news about the national curriculum.
We also like to provide practical, operational support for the DPs and school finances, O H & S developments and changes to staffing procedures are popular choices. Linking the digital revolution is schools to real change of quality teaching delivery in the classroom is also high on the agenda. Effective use of data to inform school improvement is another big area and one that DPs are often expected to manage.
Anyway, if there are any other suggestions for workshops and presenters, I would love to hear about them – sooner rather than later – as we must begin to form the basis of the program in the next few weeks and begin to book our presenters.
On a final note, a number of DPs mentioned how much they valued the time to reflect and discuss issues with their colleagues and so we’ll endeavour to provide for this on the day too.
If you are interested in working with a small band of DPs who will organise this Professional Day – it’s great professional development and experience – please let me know via email.
*Margaret is Deputy Principal At Georges River College Penshurst Girls Campus with special resonsibility for managing the professional learning delivery at the school. She is one of two Vice-Presidents of the NSW SDPA, again with responsibility for the Association’s professional learning delivery. With Miriam Wride, she won a scholarship from the Association in 2009 to write a paper on professional learning and school improvement and prior to that I represented DET at an international conference in Utrecht where Margaret presented a paper on using case studies to gain insight into what students understand about teacher professional learning. Margaret has also assisted with projects managed by DET Leadership and Professional Learning units.

Musings of a Newb

Thanks to our colleague, Emma Le Marquand, for writing this ‘guest post’ at the blog about her new role.


Newb vs noob

At the start of last term I took up an appointment in western region as a DP. This was significant for me for three reasons: 1) I have spent my entire teaching career in Western Sydney, 2)  a move to the position of DP instead of just pretending and 3) it’s a National Partnerships job.

The conditions of the third point will be my main focus as I share with you my experiences of finding my feet in the last 11 weeks – experiences I’m sure many of you remember!

Firstly, my position has a shelf life of 3 years. Secondly, I am only responsible for the welfare (discipline!) of year 7. I do not have to manage properties, daily organisation, presentation nights etc. I’m sure you are starting to see the pay off for the temporary nature of the job!

I think National Partnerships funding and its aim to see ‘School operational arrangements that encourage innovation and flexibility’ is incredibly interesting and of crucial importance to schools thinking about how their world is going to look in five years time. But I’m not going to deal with that now.

Instead, I’m going to ask you to imagine that you had 3 years when you walked into a school. 3 years to try and take a lovely, but very established and not-at-all mobile staff and make them excited about teaching in new ways. 3 years to establish effective transition programs and shared programming and teaching practices with partner primary schools (who are up to 50km away). 3 years to get teachers comfortable with working in teams and thinking ‘quality teaching’. And then, you walk away and hope it is sustainable. What would you do? More importantly, what wouldn’t you do?

I’ve spent enough time in tough schools, in a range of positions, to know that for most DPs their days get mangled and devoured by the pestering cries of a thousand minor emergencies; leaking water pipes, out-of-control classes, recalcitrant and belligerent students and parents, teachers on the edge and brain-numbing meetings.

Despite my more limited range of responsibilities, schools being schools, my daily existence is still threatened to be subsumed with these things. So, here’s my point. I only have three years. It is my duty to limit the amount of time I can spend on these matters. Naturally, I find this incredibly liberating, but also a real challenge.

In terms of finding my feet, this has actually being the most difficult thing for me to manage. I needed to take the time to understand the school and set my priorities, but this meant that I wasn’t visibly committed to anything, so I had to avoid being dragged in to other people’s agendas. Mostly, I’ve managed by having very clear and obvious commitments, such as scheduling time in other people’s classes, visits to primary schools, a lengthy curriculum review. All of this has given me the chance to write out my three year plan (which is now 2 ½  years) that has clear priorities and strategies.

But really, the main things I’ve learnt are about letting go of guilt and managing the balancing act:

  • I  can not be all things to all people
  • Keep an eye on the big priorities and the hourglass in the corner
  • Support people enough so they don’t burn out
  • Don’t let myself burn out.

I’m fairly sure for Deputies everywhere ‘Twas ever thus and ever thus shall be’.

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Looking for tools to assist teachers to stay up to date and connect online?

Jane Hart, using the input of learning professionals from around the globe, compiles a list of the top tools for learning each year. Jane is the CEO of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies based in the UK. I suggest you organise an RSS feed from her Pick of the Day blog to keep up to date with new online tools. There’s also a guide to social media at her site.

Here’s the 2009 list:

The emerging list for 2010 has twitter way out in front.

You can follow Jane on twitter and there is a Facebook page too. Finally, here’s her list of 100 featured learning professionals you can connect with online.

TED: Ideas worth spreading

Many of you know about TED: Ideas worth spreading and have watched videos online or at conferences. This is a site that teachers and students should know about too, especially due to the diverse range of ideas discussed.

The most recent talk posted at the site has ideas important to the nature of a successful democratic society. Michael Sandel‘s talk, ‘The Lost Art of Democratic Debate’ has a duration of just under 20 minutes and I recommend you watch it right to the end (I minimise and listen) where he briefly talks about his idea for a ‘global classroom’ (after the applause).

I especially recommend this talk to golf fans!

His webpage is here.


Yammer is a microblogging service that has become popular with NSW DET staff in recent months as a great way of communicating with colleagues. Yammer is like Twitter, except, only people with the same employee email are networked together. In other words, you have to have a verified address to join the NSW DET Yammer.

It is clear that a range of people in our organisation are sharing expertises, resources, contacts and generally being supportive of each other. You can upload files, provide professional details and generally participate in the conversation. There are quite a few DPs already joined and it is highly recommended.

You are able to have mobile phone apps and a desktop client to access Yammer. Both have improved my user experience.

Check out Yammer when you have a chance.


There is a DP community HERE and Ben Jones has written a A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO YAMMER (updated) that will help ‘newbies’.

DPs blogging


It is with pleasure that I link to our colleague Michelle Sapsed’s first blog, Technology for school leaders on ‘p’ plates – for those who dream of being tech savvy 

I am hoping that more DP blogs will appear on the right hand side of our association blogroll.

Why don’t you post a comment here and/or at her blog to show support.

Enjoy the term 2 everyone!

Are all your eggs in one basket?

A guest post by Ben Jones from the DERNSW team:

A tale of the same meeting in two schools:
School A:
About 8 people are presented representing all levels within the school and regional support. Whilst there was an agenda with names allocated the flow of discussion naturally moved between various members of the team. All knowledge, skills and leadership was openly shared under the vision of the principal. Anyone could have been absent and there spaced would be filled by natural diffusion.
School B:
1 member of executive represented the entire school; some admin staff where briefly introduced but had no impact on knowledge. I was clear this one person owned the vision, skills and knowledge. If they were absent there would be no way to replace them.

About this post

The aim of the following points is not to tell school leaders how to suck eggs, they have been doing succession management for leadership for a long time (in my view NSW schools do it exceptionally well). Rather this discussion is to consider how succession management could evolve in this digital age, the new succession issues that the digital age creates and how they can be managed in a digital way.


A quick survey of school accounts and passwords in an average school could be far more extensive than may appear on the surface have you considered all these:

  1. School moodle admin
  2. School shared drives server admin
  3. School Facebook account for Alumni
  4. School youtube account
  5. Teachers class blogs, wikis, web2.0 tools (this could be a very extensive list)
  6. Wireless access passwords
  7. School Zoomerang account
  8. School website
  9. The list goes on and on and on

Who holds the passwords, what happens if they are no longer around and access is required, what if it’s critical?

Solution: A password protected OneNote file could be created that all Senior Executive can edit. As part of school procedure when a new account in any online application or server is created the OneNote file is updated.


If a school has decided to set up their own network, servers or moodle installation how many people know how to manage the setup in your school? This can be off the radar for many leaders, if you not sure of the impact get a few quotes for a third party vendor to reconfigure your entire installation, it won’t be cheap.

Solution: A technicians (teachers, SASS or vendors) must document everything about their installation and configuration, this should be clear in there roll statement. A team should be responsible and they should all be equally skilled and knowledgeable about the installation and configuration.


Some questions about knowledge and information in your school:

  1. How well is the knowledge of technology (resources, links, professional learning events, frameworks, online tools, etc) shared across your school.
  2. Is information filtered?
  3. Is information only accessible from a gate keeper?
  4. Can all information be accessed anywhere anytime?
  5. Does your school have an internal communications strategy?
  6. Do all staff know where they can access school/community/district/region/state procedures and documents

The knowledge is what affects most teachers every day, not knowing where to access or knowing it has to be accessed from a specific person becomes a barrier to effective practice. Rather all knowledge can be stored in a wiki designed under the principles of ‘organic design‘. All teachers can contribute and refine, so as a resource is discovered it can be shared leading to shared engagement and ownership of knowledge which is when knowledge become very powerful. This article explains how a university library transformed is procedures by moving to a wiki.