Thursday, March 28, 2013

Creative Solutions

I know that many of my behaviour management strategies are drawn from past experience. Perhaps I need to consider a more creative solution from time to time?

"Sam was an 8-year-old boy who was known as a "behavior nightmare."
He was commonly referred to by teachers, parents, and students alike as
a bully, thug, and deviant. His English was poor and his schoolwork
terrible. He was a big boy for his age and had very little parental support
or guidance. His Grade 2 teacher despaired for him and in many ways
was even afraid of him. She would start each day expecting trouble and
knew she would have to punish him in some way for his unruly behavior.
Sam was beginning to be her worst nightmare.
Being a very professional and caring teacher, she struggled with Sam
for half the year, but finally broke down and demanded the principal
do something about him. While discussing the situation with the prin-
cipal, she drew on her past experience and training. She suggested
placing him under in-school isolation, developing an individual behav-
ioral management program for him, getting some medical tests, and, if
all else failed, expelling him on the grounds that he was a danger to
others in his class. She claimed that if action was not taken, she would
consider resigning.
The principal asked her not to resign for at least 6 months. Then she
immediately promoted Sam to Grade 4. The result was nothing less than
In his new environment, Sam was with students that he admired. There
was no one smaller around for him to bully. Most important, the teacher
and students had entirely different expectations of his behavior. These
expectations were reflected in the classroom structures (rules and resources)
and norms.

Because Sam was experiencing difficulty with classwork at his new level,
the principal also asked his previous teacher if she would help him with his
reading at the homework center. Now the "special" treatment he received
was not brought on by his attention-seeking, negative behavior, but by his
need to learn to read. The teacher was able to see Sam in an entirely new

Story from Walker, A., & Quong, T. (1998). Valuing differences: Strategies for dealing with the tensions of educational leadership in a global societyPeabody Journal of Education, 73(2), 81-105. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Do we need leaders?

One of the ongoing goals of education in New Zealand is raising Maori student achievement. There is a lot of discussion about this in schools, especially when an ERO visit is looming. One of the questions that all this discussion has raised for me, is whether we have enough leadership where this issue is concerned. 

In my mind, a leader is someone who drives a particular group to achieve goals in line with a common purpose or value. A leader is someone who communicates well, works harder than those they lead and measures every decisions against the purpose and values of the group they are leading. As a nation, do we have a leader to look to where Maori student achievement is concerned? In your school, do you have a person that has specific, concrete goals for you to work towards that will allow you to realise the vision of raised Maori student achievement? 

Perhaps I have not searched hard or far enough to find a leader in this field that inspires respect through their vision, relationships and knowledge. Perhaps I need to look harder or perhaps we need to look at developing better leaders in this area. 

A leader is a sheltering rata tree. This means:

  • dedicating one’s life for the good of all the people
  • ensuring stability for the people
  • encouraging confidence about the future
  • standing tall at all times regardless of the challenges
  • being a person who cares about people.

A leader is a totara tree standing tall in the forest. This means:

  • standing tall as a leader
  • presenting oneself as a leader
  • dressing up rather than down
  • being a source of pride for the people because of skills and appearance
  • never sacrificing the people for personal gain.

A leader is a rock that is dashed by the waves of the sea. This means:

  • being steadfast and strong
  • being fully committed
  • going the extra mile and burning the midnight oil when required
  • being able to handle difficult situations and endure a fair bit of stress.

A leader is a waka (canoe). This means:

  • ensuring essential services are maintained
  • ensuring that the status of the community is such that the people can feel proud to belong
  • ensuring that the whole whanau, hapu or iwi is functional and able to hold their own against or in comparison with others
  • ensuring that the symbols and icons of the group are respected, maintained and enhanced.

from Hohepa, M. P., & Robinson, V.  (2008). Māori and educational leadership: Tu RangatiraAlterNATIVE, 4(2), 20-38.