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Principal's reflection

Mary Ann Baxter, Principal of HGHS, shares her eLearning journey:

E-learning/ICT/Pedagogy – the Principal’s role in 2011 – A)

Systems alignment school-wide to support all learners

 The challenge therefore for me in my leadership role as Principal is to investigate how we could use e-learning, ICT tools and resources on the internet to further these successes and achievement for all learners. The Skyped presentation with Andrew Douch on our Teacher Only Day provided one such stimulus to address this challenge. As well we have support in house - capable personnel, generous of spirit offering much goodwill and practical expertise to guide and advise many of us, acting as an ongoing resource in our school. This means we have a real richness here which will enable strategies to be implemented to take us the next step/s.

 As professional leader my role is to continue to forever being (and encouraging others to be) responsive creatively as to how we meet the staff’s needs around ICT and e-learning within a framework that is all the time focused on addressing our overarching school-wide goals. This includes addressing issues raised by staff or girls about systems and protocols. The aim here is if it will help meet the goals better, we will address the feedback by being innovative and responsive.

 By way of an example a significant response so far this year has been the endeavour to align various dimensions we believe need to be embedded for 21st century learners, so that the tasks expected feel cohesive. The dimensions we sought to align included our school wide goals around achievement, engagement and personal best, alongside Critical inquiry (CI) action research – staff’s professional learning, and the further embedding of key competencies, - and now this is being connected overtly also to e-learning/ICT growth and development. The expectation is if all of the above is aligned and cohesive, this will assist and inspire the girls to aspire to their personal best.

 The challenge here is to do this ensuring it is cohesive, all the time working to avoid it feeling like it is being added onto staff’s workload. The draft framework seeks to do this. Feedback will be sought via the senior team’s participation in each learning area as well as via our Lead Learning Coaches interdisciplinary meetings and HoDs/Tics in Learning Area sessions. Further adaptations and refinements will occur as a result of the feedback.

 E-learning/ICT/Pedagogy – the Principal’s role in 2011 – B: Principal as learner

  The second part of my role is as a learner, myself. I need to continue to be seen to be participating, to be risk-taking to advance my own skills and understandings. I have a particular passion to see co-construction and self management of learning explored more between our staff and our girls, using tools of technology as well as what is available via the internet with pedagogical intentions always underpinning this.

  My strategies as a learner include role-modelling and risk-taking through e.g. my active involvement in facilitating workshops which has included engaging directly with and encouraging our girls to lead and participate actively in the process. Working alongside me, where I found I often ended up as the “student” too, our Y9 and Y10 girls as the “teachers” assisted staff, as the “learners”, about how to, and why you would use Digistore Learning Paths. This strategy has been welcomed and used well.

  It also involves me in getting alongside learning areas – students and staff – and learning more and more about e.g. e-portfolios as we develop our Learning Management Systems further as a school.

 Our Languages area is developing some highly innovative materials on Moodle and with their e-portfolios. They have also taken on board the front end of the NZC where they are seeking to challenge themselves as to how what they create can see the girls more and more making choices around not only their learning but also their assessment. Here I am learning more and more about the impact of the staff and girls being very engaged in learning how to learn. Another stage I want to explore is the opportunity to be invited by some of the girls to be directly involved in this learning experience with them and their teacher and parents too.

  Other opportunities I am becoming more visible and involved in around the school are leading me to see and experience learning first hand. For instance, I am learning from and engaging with our Y11 Social Science students who are involved in Social Action projects. Technology is a great resource to support them in their research as they come to understand the significance and learn how to critique the reliability and validity of the resource, before they determine what they would like to do as a Social Action project. Given the interest and expertise of their staff I will also want to be there to see how the girls engage with these resources as they develop their project.

  I am intending to be involved in seeing how Music is going to develop podcasts as e-learning tools. This will provide a new way for our students to enjoy and develop their own resources.

  Andrew Douch’s comment to us as busy teachers was to critique further the day to day opportunities we may be missing right now to develop resources which could have significant impact pedagogically, and which do connect with our 21st century learners’ ways of learning. His examples included conversations during a meeting where e.g. English teachers might be discussing a piece of literature. He suggests this is recorded as a resource to stimulate further thinking and for students to see the divergence of thinking and responses one piece of literature can have among our own teachers. This would assist students to move away from the notion of “one right answer” here.

  Another dimension in the use of technology is that we have asked staff to put their works-in-progress, connected to this project, on the intranet. This request/expectation is multi-purpose in its intent. It is for others to see and share the expertise in our own school and for others to awhi it back to the originators. It is for colleagues to see we can all learn from each other, as well as to demystify and dispel the notions of ownership while encouraging the development of a “creative commons” attitude to sharing best practice. It is also to encourage risk taking and resilience among our staff – where we move more and more to a culture where we offer up ideas/strategies/planning/projects etc for critiquing and invite and welcome giving and getting feedback and feedforward from among those in our own community.

  As the Principal my roles are several here. As a learner it is to get as familiar as I can with these highflyers (including many of our girls) and then equally to put on my other hat and work with staff (especially) our DP e-learning, to see how best we support them with resources needed here.

  Mary Ann Baxter (Principal HGHS)



  • Enabling e-Learning

    I found Mary's reflection on leadership of e-learning enlightening and fascinating, Kathy. I would like to link to this from the eLearning: Leadership group here on the VLN - I'm sure other leaders would be interested in Mary's experiences. Perhaps she would like to join other leaders in the group, too?Smile

    Thank you for sharing.

    Ngā mihi nui, nā Karen