Skip to main content

The Real Non-Negotiable is ...

With the start of the year comes the routine pitch to staff and students about non-negotiable expectations. I understand that we need to have expectations. Those collective values that bind us together and put everyone on the same page. Those values that lay a foundation on which learning can occur. However, how these non-negotiables are presented to staff and students has a considerable impact on what sort of learning this is and how these expectations are taken up and carried out. This includes the reasons we provide for such expectations, the manner in which they are presented and most importantly, the length of the presentation. Sadly these speeches and spiels are given with little thought to convincing and instead focus on pulling everyone into line.

Towards the end of last year I attended the AEU's 'Active Training' Professional Development Session. During the discussion of the consultative committee and staff meetings, one of the union presenters suggested that these were prime opportunities for a principal to to sell his or her vision for the school. What is disappointing is that such forums are anything but a sell. They often become mechanistic and fail to provide the means for an open dialogue, an opportunity for leadership to not only provide feedback to staff, but also an opportunity for staff to provide feedback to leadership.

In a recent post on creating a class agreement, +Edna Sackson explores what sort of learning is promoted by the agreement created. Providing an array of positive and negative examples found online, she gives a short commentary on each. More interestingly though, Sackson ends with a list of activities to help create a meaningful class agreement. What she is pointing out is that although the class agreement itself is important, just as significant is environment in which they are created.


So often we get caught up in the definition or expectations when it is the creation and presentation of such ideas is just as, if not more, important. As +Doug Belshaw suggests in regards to digital literacies, the most important thing is often the actual process of coming up with a definition of what constitutes ‘digital literacies’, rather than the actual definition itself. As I have stated elsewhere, what often matters is not what message is sold, rather how that message is presented. In the end, the real non-negotiable is not whether staff and students wear the right uniform or the way they use technology, rather the real non-negotiable is the positive means in which we present ourselves to others and whether we are willing to provide a legitimate reason for people to follow.

Popular posts from this blog

The Tree - A Metaphor for Learning

I remember in Year Four Ms. Bates teaching us about how trees grew. She explained that they reach to the sun and it is for that reason that they are not always straight. I am sure there is more to it than this, but Ms. Bates story really stuck with me, maybe because of its simplicity, but I think because it completely changed the way that I looked at the world around me. Thinking about it today makes me think that learning might be the same.
I remember when my wife and I moved into our house we planted a series of lilly pillies down the side of property. The thought was that they would provide some screening and a bit more privacy. Clearly we weren't going to let them grow to their potential height of 100 metres as the tag suggested that they could in their natural surroundings, rather we would mould and shape them. As a plant, they are not only hardy, but they grow relatively straight and never lose their foliage.  .  Since planting them, it has been interesting watching them grow. …

It's Been That Way and It Always Will Be

We got talking the other day at school about our NAPLAN reading results. Again, the reading results were below the state average. It was therefore raised that maybe this needed to be a focus and that maybe we should investigate bringing in a coach from outside of the school. So even though we have several great coaches already working within in the area of literacy and we had a focus on reading a couple of years ago, it was believed that the answer was to get a new perspective on the problem. As long as you are seen doing something then that's alright.
Having been a part of the push across the region a few years ago in regards to literacy I posed the question as to whether anyone had carried out any sort of audit of the current practises to identify any areas of improvement. For I was told that to bring about deep and meaningful change takes between three to five years. The comment that I got in response really startled me. I was told that it wasn't anything that we were doing …

Goodbye Blogger ... Hello Domain

For the last few weeks I've been living in two spaces, this space and my new home at www.readwriterespond.com. I've been doing a bit of renovating, touching up a few things, but the time has come to say goodbye. Blogger was a great space in which to start. I loved the simplicity. However, asking to borrow the keys each time kind of had its limits. Instead I've gone and reclaimed my own domain. So if you want to continue the conversation, you can catch me over there. If your interested in setting up your own space, speak with +Jim Groom and the team at www.reclaimhosting.com or check out the original Blog Talk episode ...