Saturday, 27 March 2010

love libraries

I have often enough said that I love libraries and think librarians are an absolutely key role in our newest (and oldest!) schools. See for example the helpful  "Libraries and learning" video posted on my:  media blog site.

A while back I had the honour of giving a big public lecture in the Victoria State Library and I was just back there filming a video interview - I couldn't help but photograph and post (bit blurry, sorry, iPhone not so good in poor light) of the centre of the place - with all it's carefully refurbished skylighted dome and shelving and seating... glorious!  And way more than just a place of / for books....
not sure what happened to the picture - I'll sort it out shortly...

Monday, 22 March 2010

agile, open, effective

Up in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, like many parts of the world, a lot of schools are appearing with large agile spaces (I approve) for a lot more than 30 children, and for more than one teacher too. 100 students and three teachers is not uncommon - in this picture there are 120 youngsters in one space, quietly getting on with their learning very effectively.

Teachers who haven't tried these super-classes wonder how it will all work - it clearly can work remarkably well, but only if the teachers have clearly defined team roles; for example in a three class space there might be a lead teacher, whilst another might focus on differentiation giving width and breadth to those who need it, and the third might be on remedial-repair duty - catching up those who missed a bit, or misunderstood a bit. A classroom assistant might also be sorting out logistics, checking that everything works and so on. The evidence emerging from these schools is compelling when it is done well. There are no hard and fast rules for these roles, but without them it is all too tempting to have three teachers doing a Dick Turpin lesson ("stand and deliver") in three different corners, or just as fatally have one teacher "in charge" while the others nip out for a bit of photocopying.

Children as making remarkable progress though when the "team' re ally sort out what they will each be doing - and with such a resource of other students on hand rules like "ask three then me" take a lot of the pressure off the teachers' shoulders giving them more time to carry out their role professionally.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Australian Football Final (soccer)

There is something seductively tribal about the way individuals pledge and display their allegiance to their team, with shirts, chants, flags, humour and a strong sense of mutuality. But it is interesting that everyone interprets their membership in different ways - no one size fits all here, despite the clearly binary memberships on display.

As we strive for a better and more 21st century sense of "us-ness" in our learning organisations maybe we can learn a little from the mix of personalisation and belonging on display here at Melbourne as the Victory go head to head with Sydney in their end of season final.

In this century I'm never quite clear what use we would have for uniform children, but children who can belong and work together as a team, bring individual strengths to that team, are scarce and valuable. The signification of colour, badge and more on offer here seems to offer a uniform that is not uniform... and that is very helpful.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Qantas it ain't*

But fun it was - an early morning flight up to the Hume Region Principals' Conference in Wangaratta took a bit longer than intended - we had to go round a storm (!) but was very enjoyable - they are doing cool things up in Wangaratta and it was nice to be able to suggest more...

Flight back was a bit delayed when a tractor parked in front of the plane for a while... By the way, this is a Life Saver Rescue plane - they use it to rush along the wonderful beaches and spot dangers - swimmers in difficulty, sharks, etc. But the service is being phased out to be replaced by a helicopter service - much more expensive to run. With the plane the pilot simply talked to the Lifesavers, who quickly took action. Sometimes systems find it really hard to cope with effective collaboration between folk and build autonomous solutions controlled by a hierarchy - exactly the polar opposite of where this people's century with it's collaborative mutuality is headed. I liked the little plane and its radio...

* thanks to Muartin Luevins for pointing out how to spell Qantas correctly - I'd initially added a U. His comment explains, below.

Sydney Opera House

I love the Sydney Opera House; its architect, Jørn Utzon, was a not very well known 38 year old Dane until January 29th 1957 when his entry, "scheme number 218", was announced as the winner of an international competition for a national opera house in Sydney.

It is only when you get up close that you realise the wonderful way that it seems to reflect daylight is a function of the many ceramic tiles that coat it from top to bottom. Iconic building don't get much better than this...

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Passive shading...

...doesn't need to be dull as you can see from this Catholic school in the Parramatta district of New South Wales.

Beautiful and functional...