Developing my Leadership Capability

Building Trust within our team

This weeks meeting focus was about building capacity with Trust. The word came through when we were developing our BPP together and we unpacked it. After reflecting back on the initial process I felt as though we had an agreed value of trust but the meaning was quite different between us. (How could I move the team to share an agreed understanding?) I read an article about how important trust is to team building and how it can support us to be a high-performing team.

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.– Frank Crane, American minister and author

As relationships were building and with 5 in the immediate team with other staff members starting to have more influence in the habitat, I felt it important as a foundation of the other parts of teaming challenges that were coming up such as challenging conversations with each other to grow our capacity.

We started off with a brainstorm about what the word Trust means to us. What experiences we have had around trust and why we think it’s important.


Brainstorming             “What does trust mean to you?”

We then shared our experinces and it was interesting to hear the variety of experiences and understanding of trust. A very personal thing. Q. How can I influence an alignment of team trust capability with personal beliefs?  

Some key links between us came out –

  • It makes me feel as though the team have each others back
  • I feel it creates a safe environment
  • I become confident in the environment
  • It helps us to be honest with each other
  • I could have difficult conversations
  • we are all on the same page as a team

This came from deep discussion and we talked about how good to was to understand each other. There was also a variety of ways that each team member had trust from having no trust and building it to giving full trust and then keeping it. Both sides of the spectrum with some sitting along the continuum.

So what next? TO move towards and alignment – Where does it sit with our BPP? Is it part of our belief? Or a Principle of our belief? Do we need to Unpack practices of trust? 

Linking back to SPS leadership BPP

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Practices of ‘Shared Responsibilities’

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Today we worked on our principles of Collaboration. We needed to align our thinking of what our practices might look like for all of us as a team and align our understanding of what practice we might see when we truly practice collaboration. It was also important to link back to our belief of growing and supporting each other’s capacity. Do our practices align with this and we this grow our principle of Collaboration where we build trust and can rely on each other.

Do our practices align with this and we this grow our principle of Collaboration where we build trust and can rely on each other?

We thought tonight we would unpack ‘shared responsibility’ and what practices we believe will meet the team belief of growing each other’s capacity. We discussed a range of shared responsibilities among the team but did all raise our capacity?

Through lots of discussion and questioning among the team we decided that a range of practices to start out with that will raise our capacity would be:

We Practice Shared responsibility by

-identifying students and mentors that need support

-taking collective action together and being open on what works / what hasn’t worked and next steps.   

-asking for help from each other 

-being open and transparent by sharing conversations, asking for support when needed



Hows your Leadership going?

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Reflection on my Leadership. 

Last week the boss asked my about my leadership….How’s it going? At the time the question put me into a spin of overwhelming thoughts about my leadership in this complex role at a new school in a very different learning environment. I needed something to reflect on and went back to our Leadership BPP Map (Belief, Principals and Practice) of the core values of leadership here at SPS. These have been developed together during leadership meetings with us looking at research, readings, and conversation between us all. It helped me to bring clarity back about my role and that my number one purpose is to ‘increase the capacity of others’ in the team to become a high performing team.


Learning Focused Relationships Pt1

Guy Claxton – How does this link to the SPS beliefs? Our Professional Learning? And links to developing Learning Focused Relationships.

Importance about language – moving away from ‘fixity’ born a certain way but moving towards learnable intelligence. How we can expand our learning capacity. How can I stretch my ability to think and learn? The crucial shift for teachers is to coach the expansion of mental capacity.

Habitat change is a different type of learning- realising that the way you talk to students to encourage students to be interested in difficulty. This means understanding, commitment, reflecting. This related to the NZ Key competencies in the curriculum.

Becoming more inquisitive and experimental as teachers.

How does this relate to our learning so far as SPS?

Discussion – We discussed the move to growing our students capacity to take ownership and to use questioning and statements to support them to think differently. Coaching through the day with our values.

Purpose of Learning focused relationships is to Create

competent, self motavated and involved citizens– Guy Claxton

Clarity in the Classroom – p34-p35 Responses/Take Away/Reflections

Equitable – Equality

Learning Focused Relationships – ‘who arrives in an emotional storm at the beginning and needs to be helped to learn strategies to put it to one side.

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What are the main messages I have communicated to my students?

 Reflect on the relationships you have formed with the children you work with.

  • What are the main messages I have communicated to my students?
  • How have I developed these messages with my students?
  • What impact has this had on my students?

How would you define a Learning Focused Relationship? 

Teacher engineering and supporting students to learn. What they are learning? Why they are learning this? And what they are learning? Lots of checking in. Is this session/workshop for me? Accessing their own assessment data. Self regulating learner will give the students agency and have resources to support their learning when they need it. Flexible spaces . NOT lengthy lessons at the front but can opt in and opt out to fit their learning. Students have choice about who they collaborate with. Choice about the teachers they work with.

So what next for our students in the habitat? What are our challenges?

Nick shared – regulated their time, space, relationships. Student’s have been in another system for 5 years. Our focus has been relationships and self-regulating their use of the space.

‘Next possibly linking students to own their learning and reflect on it when completing tasks such as learning menu or follow-up activities and why they are doing it.’ 


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This is what changes everything. 

The higher the trust the quicker things occur. Not second guessing their motavations which can slow everything down .

‘When we’re great at trust everything else gets better’  Stephen Covey

Trust is learning and social – Number one for leadership – It can be learnt

Hard to define – hard to describe to someone – feel trust – can feel it when their is none. We have been in an environment where their is no trust and the feeling comes from that. HIgh trust – character and competence

Trust/spin – what we say is honest conversations not what they need to hear.

Respect/selective respect – Respecting each other and everyone deserves respect

Transaparency/Hidden Agenda – say what you mean and feel not ulterative motive

Loyalty/BackStab- loyal to the school increasing levels of loyalty = trustworthiness

Deliver activities/motion – agreed deadlines to be met

Person accountable/Blame – taking responsibility not blaming

Levels of trust 

self – relational – organsaitional – market

Trustworthy = Credibility = believable

This leads to Integrity  + increase capability 

SPS high trust and great culture and environment – sharing





The Start of 2016

Four Minute talk about my Influence about education and learning

Re-Imagine education (Ben)

Video Clip –  Did you know?

Not built because the current fad and we are re-imagining things here. Back in the day when you train in a profession, you have a set of knowledge – high value to that. Those professions you can make a good income. Not the case anymore. Safe professions are being devalued by globalisation. Cost is now cheaper. No longer a  defined body of knowledge.

Guy Glaxton Quote – Trust world

Ken Robinson – Ted Talk animation – Changing education pari = History of education and where we are today. Exact opposite of standardisation – possibilities? How can we foster creativity? Start off with the capacity and deteriorates by being educated. Happens this way because it’s in the gene pool of education. Collaboration is the growth of learning. About the culture of the habitat.

When you watch this you can fall in a trap  – We need to continually ask ‘Why?’ we are doing it? Professional responsibility. Can be guilty of going to one extreme to another. E.g phonics/whole language – not throw both out but can do both.

Formal learning – Social learning

Challenge is have we changed? Our new space – has learning changed? It looks very different

  • We still classify them from the year that they were born! Human beings are never boxed
  • Relationship based – Students having passions and learn new knowledge of what he has learnt socially. Having gear and learning moves. Biggest teaching from You Tube. Mastered Skills – They also use experts giving him tips as well. Peers giving feedback as well. Highly motivated. – Highly motivated socially

Ben – Why does this have to be different at school?

Authentic Learning – Not enough just to hold knowledge anymore

  • Knowledge around  =   youtube
  • Implement new knowledge = was excited about what learnt naturally shared with parents
  • Expert to improve self =

Constantly be changing – be comfortable with change. Change is a good thing and what happening with society. Can be uncomfortable at times.

Reading – David Price – book Open. What attracts students to come? Are we offering them something that’s quite engaging for them? Indicator things going well – students want to come to school.

Video – Ken Robinson – Death Valley

Human Life flourishes

  • Human are naturally inherently different and diverse
  • What kids can do – narrow focus on strands disciplines – real education has to give weight to arts, humanities, PE
  • Broad curriculum – celebrates their passions
  • Curiosity – light the spark for children – engine of achievement
  • Teachers are the lifeblood and is a creative profession (mentor, stimulate, provoke and engage)

Whole point of education is to get people to learn _ Ken

Role of teacher is to facilitate learning. Assessment not the dominant culture. Standardised testing should support learning. Not a culture of compliance. But should be to excite creativity and curiosity. High performing schools –

Personalised learning, Very high status to teaching profession, devolve to school level to get things done. Learning is a human system not mechanical system.

The real role of leadership is creating the ‘right climate.’ Movable people who make things happen. A revolution. Creating a Climate of Possibility’

Ben – goal to give you autonomy and can be challenging. You need to have your autonomy. All Blacks clip – Steve Hansen.

SPS 5 Learning Beliefs – Joy – having joy and learning at the same time.

The one thing that changes everything is ‘Trust’

Quotes for Principals of Learning – Don’t change. All blacks – Intelligent failure and learnt from mistakes. Critical to good learning. Not wasting the mistakes we make.

Book – Peter Senge – Approval of the teacher. Not about kids getting our approval but expect guidance to deepen knowledge.

Children need to have a deep confidence that they can learn. Support students and parents with growth mindset. Solve complex problems.

Video – animation carol dweck mindset + NZ Curriculum ‘understanding of NZ curriculum’ = scope, flexibility and authority.’ NZ curriculum mandate –

  • Localised and school based, every school has its own curriculum.
  • Meaningful and beneficial to their particular communities and students. p 37
  • Allow teachers, scope, make interpretations, meet needs, talents or individuals and groups p37

Have you as an educator had autonomy? Or had freedom?

Not hard long term plans – weight standardised tests,

Video – Julia Atkin Essence of NZ curriculum = developing child with key competences

Research – ‘The size and the prettiness of the plan is inversely related to the quality of action.

Learning should have an element of struggle



Journey towards Desired Reality (Work/Life balance) T4 2015

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Work/Life balance

This year has been a busy year and this is an area that I look back on and can’t believe that time has gone so fast. In that time, I’ve been a part of a new school set up with some complex changes.

Unfortunately, I have myself to blame as I’ve neglected time for myself, family and friends and keeping fit and healthy. How did this happen? It’s a number of things and a big one is putting pressure on myself to make sure we ‘market well.’

Changing the way we work as a team has needed lots of thought and preparation and I couldn’t have envisaged how adaptive I have needed to be to the needs of the team. It changes constantly. It’s been necessary to lead professional development in our team and think carefully of the needs of everyone and how I can get everyone on board the journey together.

Challenging the way we have done things before in our ‘climate of possibilities.’ This happens all the time. Challenging and asking the ‘why?’ What are we doing or thinking the way we think from our past experiences. Working alongside each other to try out ideas and go through ‘failure.’ For some, this was the first time and it’s been important to support this new way of learning encouraging reflective thought. Making time to support colleagues and mentor.

I’ve put pressure on myself to just doing things well and supporting others along the way to do the same. There have been so many new ways of doing things which still change which is great but still at times require time.

Moving forward (ideas)

Sustainably engaged

Being conscious and choosing what I say yes to will be something I will need to develop next. I need to recognise that it’s important to recharge/refuel and breathe.

Journey towards My Desired Reality – T4 2015 (Teamwork)

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A quick disclaimer,  It’s really ‘tricky’ to think back and reflect over the last year and try to articulate the complexity of how areas of my desired reality have changed to my current reality. There are layers of decisions/interactions/thoughts that have been a part of the journey this year.  

The contributing factors that have led to Teamwork

Team – ‘a group of people linked to a common purpose’ 

Quite quickly from the beginning of the year I realised that the leadership role in our shared spaces was going to be very different from probably anything education has had in the past decade! Being in our shared and open environment really challenged me to think about how to be an effective leader for the team and move towards my desired reality focus of

developing a team and contributing to a team. ’

I can remember starting the year sharing modern learning practice and ways that we could try a variety of models of teaching for our new spaces. I wanted to lead the team with transformative approaches and I really underestimated the challenge that this brings to everyone, especially a new team. It was really evident that it wasn’t a case of trying new strategies but abandoning the old safe ways of doing things.

John West-Burnham sums it up nicely,

‘change involves loss and for many people this will be emotional.’  

I soon realised that I was way off the mark trying to push forward with new pedagogical approaches before building a team as I had assumed equal levels of commitment, aptitude and thresholds (Buist) 2015.

After daily observations, readings and thinking time (usually around 2am in the morning) I then changed the focus towards a shared understanding of collaboration. My role in doing this had also changed and I felt that the team would need to build this slowly so that they owned the process. It certainly isn’t something that you can tell people and manage it ….‘ right team, this is how collaboration works from now.’

The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. Ken Robinson

I needed to also change my role to become more of a facilitator – a new challenge in leadership as was modelled very strongly from the senior leadership team from the very start. This meant I needed to think and develop strategies and processes and behavioural norms in which this way of working together can be promoted.

I read a quote ‘the whole being more of the sum of the partssummed it up quite nicely.

We, the group, needed to learn our new role – their right to inclusion and participation by building an environment of trust, respect and honesty.

Important understandings on this journey

– personal dignity of each member is respected

– identity is valued and honoured

– a sense of ownership by the group for decisions and outcomes

Not only was this change in leadership new for me but I could see that it was also a change for each member of our group. Over the year, I found out the types of leadership that members of the team had been used to for years had been a mixture of negative, didactic, and overpowering styles. Another wall I would have to break down over time.

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Team meetings were a place I started to unpack some core elements over time –

  • asking open questions that encouraged participation
  • giving feedback through paraphrasing to confirm understanding
  • summarising and synthesising to encourage discussion to move forward
  • testing understanding across the group
  • ensuring the group and individuals recognise, appreciates, celebrates contributions.
  • reflecting on meetings and learning
  • establishing working routines and reflecting on them constantly

The do’s for the future are to continue to build capacity by showing norms in our environment  such as being incredibly adaptable, allowing silence, encouraging reflection, sharing leadership, making assumptions explicit and modelling ethical behaviour.  


‘Artificial culture is paint. Real culture is patina (Rework)

One of the most integral parts to the shift in teaming or teamwork at Shotover Primary has been having an expectation of ‘Professionalism from the start. Having this clear understanding and focus is a strong foundation for developing a rich culture. It’s been clearly modelled from the Senior Leadership Team which has had a flow-on effect for all.


The quote from the book ‘Rework’ which says

‘Culture is the by-product of consistent behaviour’

really made reflect on my role in the contribution to the culture of the school and an effective team. By encouraging each member to share then that is becoming our culture. Same can be said for many areas of our SPS professionalism values. Encourage and model to make it a ‘norm.’ This year I’ve tried to develop teamwork within my team by encouraging/modelling professionalism at SPS. Professionalism also involves all members of our community, students, parents, other mentors and any guests and that visit the school. Encouraging mentors to share their ideas and that these ideas genuinely valued. Part of building relationships has been developing trust and that you’ve got each others back, crucial in our environment.



Professionalism will be an area to constantly reflect on as a team. We talked about the need for reflection through times of stress and pressure as this is the most important to time to be aware of how we can best support each other and check each other in. Everyone agreed that it’s one of the most important elements to our environment and it’s a great place to work when you uphold these values.

Thinking preferences of individuals, teams, and organizations (Herrmann Brain Dominance

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This has been also an integral part to the development of teamwork and moving towards my desired reality. It has given our team an understanding of each other from an early part of our journey together. For my role, it has helped me to use each member strengths and to grow them in the other areas that have been identified from the test. It’s been rewarding to see all members grow and develop this year.


I’m coached in many ways and by many people but I’ve been really supported this year by my immediate coach. This has been another contributing factor to building strong teamwork. I can share ideas, get advice, be open and honest and know that I can be open in a trusting relationship. I’ve grown so much from being challenged in my thinking. I can ask for areas to develop and not feel like it’s going to affect my appraisal or a take a dint on how I’m perceived to perform. Our professional relationship is all about growing and changing me for the better as a leader.

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