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Showing posts from March, 2015

Floreat Primary School celebrates a rich history of 50 years.

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Today I was privileged to participate in Floreat Primary Schools celebration of serving the Steenberg community for 50 years. I sat there as the school shared their rich history with us. The storytellers were principals, teachers and students who helped to build the school's identity.

Storytellers link past to present
Each storyteller added a layer of memories that forms the Floreat Primary School narrative. Mr Ellis, a  past teacher shared the origin of Floreat Primary school. He described how the first principal, Mr Combrinck, demanded that the school be built of brick and mortar, else he was not prepared to head the new school. At the time, 1965, forced removals were well underway and the school was meant for the coloured Steenberg community. Had Mr Combrinck not insisted on a solid structure for the school building, Floreat Primary school would probably have been a prefabricated structure. This said Mr Ellis, would have been an insult to the community and an acceptance of the…

When five school leadership teams mess with my system, I celebrate.

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It is 6h00, Saturday, and I am sitting here in my room with bags under my eyes, waiting for the dawn to lift. The world is quiet out here at the Kromm Rhee Conference centre in Stellenbosch and the faint barking of a dog strains in the background. Here are five school leadership teams who are messing with my system and - wait for it - I am celebrating!


I am here at a 1,5 day SMT Leadership conference with five school leadership teams from Zerilda Park, Delta, Harmony, Sullivan and Lourier Primary Schools. Our presenters are heads of the neighboring schools:  Prince George, Square Hill, Steenberg and Floreat Primary Schools. These four school heads ( Lameez Rabbaney, Lavinia Davis, Cassy Dick and Noel Isaacs) will share ideas on systems thinking and leading in a culture of change. A health representative,  Physiotherapist Levona Johnson,  has been invited along. She will take us through targeted team building activities to underscore systems thinking and lifelong learning.

Travelling…

Schools that host Facebook pages are reaching more parents, students and communities.

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Schools that host Facebook pages are aware that social media helps to build the school's image, the brand and it improves communication. Schools are reaching far more parents, students and communities via their Facebook pages. These schools are moving with the times.

Facebook is the leading social network
According to the latest  Social Media Landscape 2015 report, Facebook is the largest social network in South Africa.  There are 11,8-million South Africans that use Facebook.  Of this total, 8,8-million users access Facebook via their mobile phones. Schools can choose to ignore this information and stick to their traditional communication systems. Or, schools can embrace Facebook as a strategic tool to enhance their current communication  and marketing strategy. I propose the latter route.

School  need to adapt their communication strategies 
Schools and their communication media may need a facelift.
Schools should move with the times. Schools have a choice to use Facebook as a …

Human Rights Day 2015 is a day to celebrate schools that are becoming active Reading Schools

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This Human Rights Day, I want to add a special celebration rainbow for schools that are increasing the number of books that all their children are reading. You may know that I serve primary schools in the poverty-stricken areas of Lavender Hill, Steenberg and Retreat. We are not here to lament the odds that are stacked against such schools. We are here to celebrate these primary schools that are becoming active Reading schools.

Growing Reading Schools
This is the third year that we are passionately driving our Reading Books Flywheel with our Primary schools. Our goal is that each learner should read a minimum of 40 books per school year. That means one book per school week. As part of our support to schools, we tailored specific activities to discuss research on reading with SMTs. We studied the literacy challenges in South African schools and created peer learning networking like the Reading symposium that  Colleen Diedericks, our Foundation phase subject advisor colleague, organiz…

How to build a homework culture at your school.

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When poor schools build a homework culture at their schools, they add another effective learning strategy to help improve and strengthen their children's learning abilities. 
We know that all children can learn. The challenge is to win the parents over to help the school create these learning opportunities at home. Given all the parents' issues, they may see the homework as a minor matter. Schools need to become advertising agencies, promoting homework creatively until parents become the advocates of homework themselves. Think of the Coke adverts. Which person doesn't recognize the Coke slogan, the Coke colours and other Coke branding? 
Here are four benefits that regular homework will have:
Parents and their children will have a structured activity to complete together.A homework routine will help to establish a culture of discipline for both the parent and the child.The child will develop study habits.Over time, the parent will become more actively involved in the child&…

Homework should not be an option for schools in poor communities.

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The issue of giving homework at primary schools is a hot potato. Generally, schools believe that homework is an important learning activity. This is where the similarity ends. At wealthier schools,  homework is an embedded whole school practice. At the other end of the spectrum where we find poor schools, homework as a school-wide learning activity is practically non-existent. Why is this so?

Homework culture at poor schools
Teachers at poor schools tell me that giving homework is a waste of time. They say the homework is never done because the parents are not interested. Teachers will list other issues like the following:  parents work long hours, the caregivers of many of their children are grandparents or parents are unable to help children with their homework. Teachers respond  by not setting homework assignments at all. Sadly, this decision is not shared with parents and in the main, parents do not question this either.

Homework culture at wealthy schools
Teachers at wealthier s…

Use the STAR technique to structure your interview questions or responses.

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The STAR interview technique is used by interview panels nowadays to assess the candidate's competency for the job advertised.In the previous post here , I discussed the concept of competency and underscored the fact that schools need highly competent senior management team members. It is for this reason that many SGBs have shifted to the competency-based tests to help them find the most suitable person for a senior post.

Dilemma: What if the Interviewee outsmarts the Interview panel?
That article generated a healthy response amongst my Facebook friends, particularly those who are teachers or heads of schools.The key thread of the comments was that interviewees may be so well rehearsed that a false picture may be painted. The interview panel would then be faced with a dilemma: how much of the interview responses would be factual? What if the interviewee outsmarts the panel? Would those who have rehearsed well not have an advantage over those candidates who are too nervous and not …

Crestway High School celebrates their 2014 Achievers.

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I was invited to Crestway High school's Awards Ceremony today. The Awards Ceremony was supposed to take place a week ago, but the weather was not suitable for the outdoor event. Crestway High School does not have a school hall and thus the Whole school awards ceremony must be done in the school's quad.  Today, the weather was equally unforgiving, but the school had decided to push ahead.


In my speech, I highlighted the following points:

According to research, there are two key ingredients to become a successful organization:


Everybody at the organization must be A-level people. A-level people are passionate, committed and disciplined people.Everybody at the organization must be be focused on the one single defining goal that drives the organisation.


In a school context, the A-level people are the students, parents and teachers. If each of the members in these groups is passionate about education, is committed to helping ALL the students to achieve and disciplined to ensure tha…

Welcome and enjoy travelling down my corridors

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HELLO, THERE...  it's wonderful to be chatting with you.
 I am SUPER thrilled to meet you and I hope we are going to have a connection for yonks!



 SNAPSHOTS OF ME AND MY WORLD
Let me tell you a bit about myself and the corridors Ipass through most of the time.

MY ROOTS CORRIDOR
I am Proudly SouthAfricanand I have lived all my life in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town. 


Our signature personality is that we are a vibrant, sometimes noisy lot and we adore making others feel ridiculously welcome when they visit our country and city.


FAMILY BONDS
I have a wonderful family who can drive me crazy ( or, is it the other way round?).My husband, Basil and our three children remind me that life is a precious gift, that there is nothing like the joys of family and that relationships are complex and necessary. 

We love to create family moments and camping runs in our blood. Knowing that God is my rock and looking out for me give me great delight and reassurance that I am here to live …

Job Application Smarts Series: Are you a brilliant mechanical manager or a superior competent leader?

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Schools have switched to the competency-based interview question model 
Nowadays most interview committees prefer to pose competency-based questions so that they can find someone who matches the job and role that person has to fulfill in their school.
Schools are complex, fast-paced organizations where many people have to work in concert to meet their various objectives. Schools need highly effective, competent senior management leaders who can build strong, healthy teams and then lead these teams cooperatively to achieve their goals.
So, what is competency? Why is this attribute a critical factor for leaders, especially those who are in charge of managing schools? Perhaps a scenario can help set the scene for us.

Here is the scenario. You believe you are a highly skilled, effective administrator. When you are assigned a task, you will complete the task well and meet the deadline IF the task depends on solely on your input. However, when the various aspects of a task depend on the co…

Tips for a job interview: Mind your language.

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Mind your language in a job interview. I have observed many interviews for teaching positions where the candidates  use a language register or style that disadvantages them in an interview.


Using technical language inappropriately 
During an interview, the interview panel or committee has to understand what you are saying. They have to evaluate your response and award a rating. If the panel does not understand you, then you are going to be the loser. 


Let’s get back to my example of a teaching job interview. In South Africa, for example, school governing bodies are responsible for the recruitment and selection of teachers. Usually, the selection and interview committee consists of parents who are not in the education sector. They often do not understand the academic terms and acronyms that we use freely in staff meetings or in teaching journals. Frankly, they will not be interested in your display of jargon that adds nothing to the situation.


You need to remember why you have been invited…

Use a checklist to ensure your job application covers all bases.

This is the fourth post in the blog series, "Job Application Smarts".  In this post we will discuss how you can ensure that your job application works in your favour.  The previous two posts focus on the design of a power CV that can help you to be shortlisted for an interview.

As mentioned in the earlier posts, employers require that you fill in a paper application or an online application for the job advertised. In both cases, the organizations will require you to complete a customized job application form.

Paper-based vs e-recruitment job application forms.
If the business still requires paper-based job applications, you should fill in the application form and provide a curriculum vitae as well. If the organization has an online application form, as in the case of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED)'s e-recruitment portal,  you will notice that the application form and the CV have been merged. Either way, you should ensure that all the mandatory fields are c…