ULearn 16 Final Keynote: Karen Spencer

Beyond the echo chamber: The extraordinary possibilities of a networked profession
Two amazingly remarkable wahine on stage  - Chrissie Butler and Karen Spencer

It was an absolute pleasure to end ULearn16 with our inspirational Karen Spencer, now Director of Education at NetSafe, and always part of the CORE whānau. Tēnā rawa atu koe, Karen! Thanks for challenging our thinking, providing practical strategies with current research/thinking, to ensure we align theory with practice. 

Here are my notes from the final keynote: 

Professional Learning:

Professional Learning is NOT an extra thing on the plate - it IS the plate.
 in order for us to yearn to be better tomorrow; to do better for our learners.

As Fullan asserts,  we need to talk the walk.

Is the keynote obsolete, as on a key note - we all have something to say/to achieve:
# 1 - Ultimately:
teacher beliefs about their collective ability and efficacy
Realising & Reframing VALUE

1. Sense of Urgency

Consider the student who is not involved in discussion
What do you do?
335 initiatives happening across no more than 30 schools
Doesn't mean that we shouldn't
So as we go around the PLD roundabout...
Is your:

Vision dripping off the walls?

Outcomes, System, Approaches

'My World My View' - Inclusion in Aotearoa NZ here 
Inclusion is good - look for ways to innovate

2. See the story behind the data

Filtering on in schools/homes - yet Ss exposed to...
Listen to your learners
Check out: student voices on the marae here
Treat your data like a piece of art
Data and stories together - what is really going on?

3. Embrace discomfort

Holistic diverse view to ensure you are challenged

Own echo chamber - who are you listening to?

The Ladder of Inference - own bias

Last clap - Yay - someone else plays the game!

#edchatnz Devil's Advocate protocol 


Hold your ideas lightly

Link here
HARD and Deliberate 

'Keep the fear off the set' link here

Look at the evidence and research - before you test and trial - look for the strong signals

Learning we do together - IS the plate. Who we are. It is part of our DNA.
Reflect - on your why?
Potential of our Learners:

"education doesn't change the world, education changes people, and people change the world" Paulo Freire


"Two important days - the day you were born, and the day you found out why!"  Mark Twain

  • Seek diversity - systematically
  • Ask - not assume - ways that work for people
  • Reflect their identity language communicate who needs to be with them
  • Access - closed captions
  • We need to make it work for everyone (inclusive)
  • if you are scared, you don't learn.
  • Ask our students, communities
  • Provide safe spaces for learning

Further Resources:

You may wish to:

  • read the CORE Education blog reflection post here or Karen's blog here
  • Watch the live recording here:

  • look at the fabulous reflection graphics here:


ULearn Breakout 3: Transforming Middle Leaders

Creating Communities of Leaders (CoL) Online

Following on from our positive response at FLANZ, formerly DEANZ (see post here), Martin (Unitec Institute of Technology) and I, along with Lachie, also at CORE Education, offered a specific workshop for middle leaders to prototype some of the potential content for our proposed online Empower Middle Leadership course being offered early next year. 

The role of Middle Leaders

Middle leaders have challenging yet rewarding positions in schools/kura. They have a “pivotal part to play in helping their schools pursue their goals and achieve their objectives...Influential positions...to drive curriculum, change and innovation” (Ministry of Education, 2012).

In the latest PPTA News, December 2016 (here), there was an interesting debate: 'Middle Management - is climbing the ladder worth it?'. Both sides are presented, from Erin and Anna's perspectives. Ultimately, the role demands are forever increasing, yet those who are leading from the middle have the potential to directly influence teaching and learning, and improve learner outcomes.

Further reading
  •  'The role of middle leaders in New Zealand secondary schools: Expectations and challenges' (Bassett, 2016) Waikato Journal of Education here

NZ treats and Fast Feedback from our pre ULearn survey
Prior to ULearn, we surveyed our participants to find out more about their experience, challenges, appraisal experiences and leadership development. You might like to read the summary here.

Middle Leadership Workshop:
Interactive workshop focusing specifically on middle leaders

Thanks for the feedback Charlotte!

Overall, the workshop was well received, both in concept and content. There is an identified need for leadership development and meaningful appraisal for our middle leaders. In the absence of a national middle leadership programme, the onus falls on schools to develop and appraise their middle leaders.  

The Empower Middle Leadership online course will provide the opportunity for middle and senior leaders to develop their leadership capacity as they lead from the middle. Underpinned by a middle leader inquiry, leaders will focus on their own context, whilst building a strong Community of Leaders (CoLs) across schools. This may springboard middle leaders into further postgraduate studies, as prior learning will be recognised through Unitec Institute of Technology.

If you wish to learn more, or would like to be kept up to date, click here to register your interest. But wait - there's more! Keep scrolling below ad register to participate in our research project focusing on middle leaders in Aotearoa NZ. 

Middle Leadership Research Project 2017 

In Term 1, 2017,  Martin Bassett, Carol Cardno, Josephine Howse, Arun Deo from Unitec Institute of Technology, and Joanne Robson, from CORE Educationare undertaking a research project focusing on middle-level instructional leadership. The purpose of the study is to investigate the expectations held of middle-level leaders as direct instructional leaders who carry out tasks involving day-to-day interactions with colleagues. We also want to find out about how confident they feel about performing the range of tasks.

Currently, there is very little information available about this topic in a New Zealand context. If you are a middle leader in Aotearoa NZ, your participation will provide valuable new knowledge which could strengthen practice.

Please click here to register your name and email contact. Alternatively, copy and paste the URL link into your internet browser: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MILrecruit. Also, share this with as many middle leaders across all sectors of schools/kura.

Tēnā rawa atu koe! 
Thank you

ULearn16 Keynote 3: Michael Fullan & Leadership

Time of Whole System Change - Transform Learning & Leading

Hearing Michael Fullan was an absolute privilege. Here are my very rough notes, plus links to the video, a coherent reflection from our CORE Education blog, alongside the reflection graphics. 

We need to Change Mindsets:
Exploit disruption
including: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

  • A Global Innovation Partnership
  • A number of countries - 7 countries clusters of schools
  • California (only State in US) and Ontario

Watch the Keynote here:
Read the CORE Education blog reflection by Rebecca Sweeney here
Also, the reflection graphics here:
Updated blog: http://core-ed.org/events/ulearn/ulearn16-keynote-summaries/ 
Humans innately are:

  • wired to connect enhance or destroy
  • wired to create do we build on it or destroy it? working hard - passion struggled and continued
  • wired to help humanity
Identify the lies and then ask what can we do about it?

Deep Learning and equity - started with 'good for all', those students who were under served, congruent with native values - building trust relationships with all students high expectations efficacy provides support systems. Whole System Change.
Strategies such as the review of UK Literacy / Numeracy were negative
don't obsess with targets, the FOCUS - 4 -5 years (UK literacy/numeracy project)
Instead: Capacity building - individually and collectively

Strategies required that raise the bar and close the gap:
Accountability alone doesn't. We need:
- internal accountability (Coherence)
- securing good standards  (insufficient)
- system culture (promising success)

Leadership from the Middle

Breakthrough Leadership: 

1. respect and reject the status quo (not either . or
2. be an expert and an apprentice
3. experiment and commit

The new reality
- social media - ubiquitous
- they weaken hierarchies  - lateral far more powerful
- distribution of power
 - connection is the new power
Young most connected, and least committed to the status quo - can't wait to do something different

The above conditions cause learners to outrun leaders and researchers

New job description required as leader, to help learners to run better, to produce better citizens for tomorrow, today

Education as the Societal Change Agent

The Glue of the 6 Cs - 6 Cs 
character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creative critical thinking

Deep Learning Framework - exploit the framework - learn from each other

Shifts in pedagogical practices increased professionalism
Rather than avoiding change in PLD - new leadership for Deep Learning

Case Study (view here)
8 Lessons

  • score of educators  are ready for change liberate them in purposeful partnerships
  • Culture of learning is foundation
  • Practice embedded collective inquiry 
  • new leadership and ongoing support and challenge
  • Students are radical agents of change
  • pedagogy is the driver, tech is the accelerator (culture is the run way)
  • deep learning incorporates whānau community partnership part of the solution
  • system change is bubbling up within large districts and beyond


Getting Beyond Better (text) Roger Martin / Sally Osberg
Ramo - The seventh Sense (text)

  • Jai Mehta's 'Deeper Learning: Ten Ways you can die with deep learning' blog is a recommended read.
  • Excellent resources/further information about New Pedagogies for Deep Learning here
  • 'Leadership from the Middle' - article here

Fullan's Wero:

Two way partnership:
 - we must exploit the mutual learning and take advantage of Mindsets
Senior Leaders: Liberate and cultivate the middle

Check out CORE Education for your Professional Learning needs... 

#IMMOOC - Final Episode

Featuring the #IMMOOC community


1. What are you most significant takeaways from the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC?  

For me,  I have thoroughly enjoyed the regular GHO, featuring a variety of inspiring people - even if I've mostly watched them later, due to the time differences! Regular, ongoing professional conversations enable people to challenge their thinking, ask questions, and share! I've been impressed with the creative ways people are sharing their learning. Being exposed to a number of technology tools has been interesting, especially if you are clear about the PURPOSE and how it can enhance the learning. 

2. What will you do as a result? 

I am keen for as many kaiako / educators in Aotearoa, NZ, to be involved in critically reading 'The Innovator's Mindset', and creating/implementing an innovation plan! In my CORE Education consultancy role,  I am in a privileged position of working with a number of leaders, teachers, and schools.

3. How will you hold yourself accountable? 

Continue to challenge the status quo:
The WHY we want to challenge the status quo - to ensure we prepare them for THEIR future

4. How are you telling your story, sharing your learning (making great learning go viral), and innovating “inside the box” to make an impact in your community?

  • Have been blogging for a couple of years now.
  • I created the #ProfReading on Twitter, to share soundbites from Future Focused Education texts that aim to inspire others!
  • Tried Vialogues
  • Aiming to investigate VOXER - as a way of  building voice within the communities I am working with
In case you missed the final #IMMOOC:

Au Kaha, Kia Kaha! 

Together, we are Empowered!

My inspiration - my whānau

In closing, as George states:

"we really need to think about how we can be innovative inside of the box" (p. 226)

WE need an Innovator's Mindset, with one addition. Being culturally responsive is an essential addition in my opinion.  See my earlier post here for the ways 'identity' can / should be part of our classrooms. 
Finally, tēnā rawa atu koutou - thank you George, Katie, the #IMMOOC community, and of course, the featured guests. I look forward to the #IMMOOC reunion. In the meantime, let's continue sharing, encouraging & challenging each other online.

#IMMOOC: Episode Five

Featuring: Brad Gustafson

Brad introduces himself as an "elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy"

It is obvious that Dr. Brad Gustafson loves learning. It was affirming to hear that he would never ask others to do what he isn't already doing, or willing to try. I have added his book, Renegade Leadership to my #ProfReading list. Here is a sneak preview:

Missed the GHO session, view it here:

Alternatively, we encourage you to join Vialogues - thanks Kevin. Kevin encouraged #IMMOOC participants to join up, and add to the conversation, alongside viewing the GHO. What I liked about this option, was to see other people's thoughts, alongside George, Katie and Brad, plus personally contributing. Check it out here.

5 min topics: Rapid Fire
1. How do you measure innovation? Improving student outcomes is what we desire - innovation is how we can achieve this. Do we measure what we value? What does student outcomes mean?
 2. Digital Portfolios - how might we make these powerful? Beyond school? Mindset - meaningful change - some are distractors! If this matters, we need to see how these can enhance learning. A continuity (platform) would be useful.
3. Barriers to Education: frivolous education. Decisions made by everyone other than the classroom teacher.

4. Innovating inside the box: When you are bringing people into dynamic classrooms, let's focus on the powerful learning. How are the teachers being innovative? How is technology enhancing learning? the learners? 

5. Empowerment, not just engagement: conversations. Purpose? Why should we empower our teachers? What does this look like? How will it impact on our learners? Content creators - authentic audience

IDEA from Brad: One sentence 'grant' - email what you need to the principal, generated conversation/transparent and accessible.


  • How might we continue this #IMMOOC learning? Sharing? Encouraging internal accountability?
- Facebook Community link- Innovator Mindset MOOC Google+ link- Twitter - #IMMOOC- Internal Accountability - continue sharing our tried, tested, reflected   refined? Keep the conversations/reflections flowing.
- have an #IMMOC reunion 
  • How might we create a culture of innovation?
    As I was recently reading George's blogpost: 'Why we Should not lead with fear in education', I was reminded of an earlier post written by the wonderfully talented, Karen Spencer, Director of Education at Netsafe (former consultant at CORE Education). Titled 'Keep the fear off the set', her blogpost explores the notion of supporting change and scaling innovation in a way that brings people with us, rather than the perception that change is being done to them.

Inspiring final keynote: Karen Spencer, ULearn16
 Often the barriers to challenging the status quo, prevent anything changing. If we are able to create the conditions required - relational trust (both ways), a 'fail' fast culture, critical reflection, transparency, modelling etc, then we are more likely to empower our teachers, leaders and learners to be innovative, to ask questions, to push the boundaries, to enhance powerful learning. George refers to creating this type of environment that fosters: strengths-based leadership, learners' needs driving our decisions, less, better, open culture, creating learning experiences for educators that we want to see in our classrooms. (Couros, 2015, p. 206)

At a recent CORE Education breakfast, this school worked in two groups to explore how might their classrooms be set up to enhance powerful learning.

Competitive Collaboration: 
 designing 'the stuff' within innovative learning environments

#IMMOOC: Part III - Unleashing Talent

 Featuring Kara Welty

Kara Welty describes herself as "an educator, mentor teacher, technology integrationist, writer, and speaker. I believe in energetic, transformational, and innovative learning that breaks boundaries for kids."  (link)
Her energy, passion, and enthusiasm shines through as she shared her strategies as she began a new journey, on a new area, with a number of new leaders. Check out Kara's reflections here.

Kara's Strategies:

  • Using 'The Innovator's Mindset' and Voxer - asked questions, relationships, who we are, our beliefs, how we transform together.
  • Asking questions - feedback - what would be helpful? goals? role models. What about this? Collaborative, organic, developing systems. It becomes a conversation. 
  • TRUST is everything - solid foundation
You can view the GHO (take 2) here:


Strengths Based Leadership

  • lead from your strengths
  • Have you looked at your strengths - with team - work with others and understand (Gallup StrengthsFinder)

Powerful Learning first, Technology Second

Technology is just a tool
Technology can be used to:

  • enhance deep learning
  • transform
  • offer opportunities
  • personalise
  • accelerate learning
  • be inclusive
We MUST consider what the purpose is, and how might we enhance the learning experience through the use of technology.

Professional Learning & Development design
Kara's thoughts:

1. Prior PLD - who have I in the room? Learner? not one size fits all
2. How might we go global?
3. Balance between organic / educamp / structured too
4. Empower Teachers to lead - to lean in
5. Connect with other experts
6. Have FUN
7. Adapt/adjust on the fly!

Universal Design for Learning

Adding to this, I use a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, developed by Chrissie Butler, CORE Education. This enables me to ensure I am catering to the edges, not just down the middle. This has transformed my teaching, leading and learning - as I truly feel now I am equipped with a framework, and a way of being which empowers me to be inclusive. It guides me to consider my audience, the purpose, potential barriers, and what we can put in place in advance (universal supports) which will ultimately benefit everyone.
Further links:

  • UDL in the Cloud (a must read/purchase)  - a shout out to Katie Novak and her Dad, Tom Thibodeau. #ProfReading. 
  •  CAST_UDL, and additional CORE Education links can be found here. 
Designing inclusive learning environments

Rapid Fire - final thoughts from #IMMOOC participants

  • Innovation = collaborative learning
  • Purpose of Learning?
  • Cooperative learning
  • Reflection - metacognitive
  • Focusing on the learners - what do you want them to know and do? Learning design will be for them.

Wero / Challenge:

Strengths-Based Approaches

"great leaders practice balancing trust and autonomy while providing strong mentorship" (Couros, 2015, p. 127)

  • How might we create the conditions for creating an innovator's mindset culture? 
  • What does this look like? Sound like?
  • How might we create opportunities to prototype? Explore? Play? Reflect? Share? 
  • Are we ensuring that we are modelling this as leaders?
  • How do we draw on the strengths of others - we are ALL learners and can all be leaders of change.

Culturally Responsive 

George asked what's missing?

One of the things that I am wondering is identity?
 - can your learners see themselves in the classroom? School? Learning Design? 
- how are you engaging whānau / community / iwi?
At CORE Education's recent ULearn16, Janelle Riki- Waaka's presentation was well received, and spot on! You can read the blogpost written by Nichole Gully here

Engaging Māori students and whānau in future focused education

Less is More

Finally, one of my mantra's - something I feel so strongly about. In teaching, leading, and learning there seems to be a huge pressure to cover EVERYTHING. What about if we consider:

  • What do our learners need for their future - the knowledge, dispositions, and skills required?
  • How might we strive for: 
Less, Better!
(note the comma!)

ULearn16 Opening Keynote with Larry Rosenstock

It's Time to Change the Subject

ULearn16 #uAKo16 pōhiri 2016
Tulip Festival, Rotorua Government Gardens 2016
ULearn16 - kicking off with 1800+ educators ready to challenge the status quo!

Tēnā rawa atu koutou, Selwyn Primary Kura - Ka mau te wehi!

Larry Rosenstock, founder and CEO of High Tech High, shared his story during the opening keynote of ULearn 2016. From carpentry to law, success doesn’t come in straight lines. When Larry set out to write a book, instead he built a bungalow. Larry took us on a rich journey, remembering the past, in order for us to change the future. And Larry is certainly changing the future, with the creation of High Tech High, an equity project, guided by four connected design principles, equitypersonalisationauthentic  workcollaborative design. High Tech High Learning comprises of thirteen charter schools (ECE-secondary), Recognising the value of having students from different backgrounds working together, High Tech High has grown from a national to an international mosaic of learners and teachers.

We need to start with reimagining, we must begin and end with the learners, with a large dose of craziness. Rather than segregating subjects, the students themselves drive their learning, finding authentic contexts, within their community. For example, when the students realised thatrattlesnakes and mice were not going to help our learning they needed to find a way of eradicating these naturally. Hence, the ‘Owl’ project was conceived. Who says algebra is boring, when it can be ‘Calculicious’.
If we consider what students should know and do in the 21st century, we may include collaboration of multiple perspectives, curiosity, and persistence to name a few. With project-based learning, there are endless opportunities to create something authentic and new. At High Tech High, they are interested in how students react, apply and create, integrating the world, beyond prescribed subjects - collectively learning. Along the way, they are developing authentic 21st century skills and knowledge such as self assessing, critical thinking and creativity. Larry questions how can teachers model 21st Century curriculum in 19th century work environments? 
In the words of Paulo Freire, Knowledge emerges only through invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world as with each other. 
In other words, as educators we must pursue the relentless creation of invention and reinvention.

Image created by: www.reflectiongraphics.com 
Larry is confident we can DO this, in fact, if we value our future, we must. With the integration of mind, heart and hand, the integration of our school and community,  we conclude with a peal from Larry’s Grandmother, there are two types of people - those that THINK there are two types of people, and those that don’t.
NOTE: This post was first published on CORE Education's blog for ULearn16

'Most Likely To Succeed'

I finally was able to view 'Most Likely to Succeed'. This is essential viewing for anyone who seeks to challenge the status quo, and push the boundaries of educational possibilities. If you are interested in hosting a screening in your community / region, you are invited to contact Sarah Whiting, CORE Education here
In order to spark your interest, I found this 25 minute clip:

Suzi Gould, CORE Education - our host and contributor to this blog post

Check out the following twitter feeds:

Connect Collaborate Innovate