three to five year learning plan

Been trying to figure out our school’s three to five year professional development plan so have been going over learning from ELC with the pro-d committee and getting their thoughts and input from the school areas they represent. At ELC, I was encouraged by the experience of other educators in their sharing of how their schools have charted their course, what worked well, what struggles were encountered, and what they’re still learning and working out. We have a ways to go but I’m glad we have started the journey. Things we’re thinking about in moving forward.

What does professional learning at your school look like?

upcoming art workshops/conferences in asia

my sister sent this to me…taken at a park in ontario, canada

Back  in HK and ready for an amazing school year! This summer was particularly inspiring and filled with amazing people and places. Lots to catch up on there but school begins Monday for us so thought I’d kick off with some art happenings for the school year. Never too early to start planning your learning adventures.

Cross Currents–Asia Region Art Educators Workshop 2012
The British School, New Delhi, India
Friday September 28 – Sunday September 30
Registration deadline: Friday August 10, 2012
Workshop Cost: USD 125

Blank Canvases–Asia Region Art Educators Workshop (ARARTE 2012)
Taipei American School, Taipei, Taiwan
Friday October 12 – Sunday October 14
Workshop Cost: USD 125

EARCOS Teachers’ Conference 2013
Concordia International School, Shanghai, China
Thursday March 28 – Saturday March 30, 2013

The Visual Arts and Performing Arts will be strands at the East Asia Regional Council of Schools Teachers’ Conference. Check the EARCOS site in the fall for more info.

Asia Society Hong Kong Center

Likely one of the few places in Hong Kong that spell it center. I’ve been wondering if it bothers those at the British Consulate next door as when I first moved to Hong Kong at the age of 11, I attended an ESF school and my teachers made it a point to correct all of my American spelling.  Childhood memory aside, the Asia Society Hong Kong Center is stunning. Located in Admiralty, it is the former explosives magazine compound built by the British Army in the mid 19th century. Adaptive re-use should be much more common with so many beautiful historic buildings in Hong Kong.  This is a great example and worth visiting and exploring.

I discovered this place existed through their hosting of 2 education panels one Saturday afternoon–Transforming Learning and Achieving Equity in Education: Lessons from the Global Cities Education Network.

The first panel: Gen-Ling Chang, Anthony Jackson, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Catherine K.K. Chan–achieving equity, how school systems can be designed to ensure all students have access to an excellent education

They shared what was taking place in their respective countries and some of the dialogue from the past two days at Global Cities.

Some points I jotted down:

  • Students new to Canada are new Canadians, not immigrants–a shift in mindset
  • data sets reveal disparity in racial groups, gender and poverty–which seems to be the case around the world
  • attach importance to whole person learning
  • Is there common ground in equity challenges?
  • There is a need to address inequities of the past and also what exists in modern cities of today.
  • There should be access without the wealth barrier
  • Resource allocation is key
  • Make every school an effective school
  • Children come to school with a rich cultural capital but how is it being utilized at school?
  • opportunity gap vs. achievement gap–all students can achieve, they just need access to opportunity
  • culturally relevant pedagogy is needed
  • effective school leaders are needed
  • there should be a broadening of the spectrum of what leadership looks like
  • leadership is not just principalship, there should be leadership growth tracks for teachers
  • How can schools build up a network and learn from each other?
  • How do we facilitate learning and sharing across all levels–teachers/learners, schools, cities?
  • International benchmarking to help reflect and re-calibrate
  • data literacy is a capacity building component
  • embrace cultural diversity
  • equity does not mean standardization, it is the necessity of access to opportunities and personalization–developing self and the potential to learn and contribute

The second panel: Tony Mackay, Kai-Ming Cheng, Cheong Wei Yang, Tom Boasberg–Global competence and 21st century skills

Tony Mackay is by far the best panel moderator I have ever seen in action. This man is brilliant! Succinct and thoughtful in linking questions, rephrasing, connecting, and deriving meaning and direction from the conversation. I could listen to him talk all day.

Some questions brought up:

  • What’s the difference of skills required in previous centuries?
  • What kind of learning environment do we need to achieve 21st century skills?
  • What kind of learning experience do students deserve?
  • Are all outcomes measurable?

towering tree at the entrance

looking out towards the harbour

the meeting space–natural light and amazing view

fruit bats around here but couldn’t spot any

roof garden

navy boundary stones

Building Professional Learning Communities

…through Structured Professional Conversations

Bill and Ochan Powell came back again this past March for half day workshops with various faculty groups at school.  The dynamics of two people leading a workshop always keeps things interesting and I enjoy watching the flow of their interactions with each other and the participants. They’re exceptionally good at what they do.

I have been wanting to read one of the books they had mentioned–Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow  and am thrilled it has made it onto our school summer reading list. Definitely appreciate when things I have to do and things I want to do overlap.

On to some long overdue thoughts from a morning with the Powells…

How much reflection do we actually do? 

Do teachers find value in their own learning?

We learn from people we trust and respect. Those are the people who should be a part of our PLC.

Professional metacognitive inquiry is slow and effortful.

We need to prepare for reflective thinking and make it consistent so that the time spent with our PLC is purposeful and structured.

Focus on: What did WE (as educators) learn?
–differentiate from collaboarative planning meetings where the focus is what students learn

Observations: When we observe, it should be non-evaluative.

4 Support Functions–which ones you use depends on your intention and the needs of the person.

  • coaching: create self-directed individual, they have destination in mind
  • collaborating: working together as co-equals
  • consulting: advice given
  • evaluating: assessment of instruction

Choose congruent function to your intention.

REFLECTION involves  CAUSE and EFFECT thinking, which results in insight and new learning.

Categories of FEEDBACK

  1. judgements
  2. personal observations/opinions
  3. inferences
  4. DATA-neutral, what you can observe (how you interpret data falls under other forms of feedback)
  5. reflective/mediative questions

1-3 are evaluative
4 + 5 are coaching ⇒ supports thinking

When people are self evaluative, it leads to self-directedness in own learning and growth.

Avoid using WHY in questions as it makes people defensive. Instead, rephrase adding positive presuppositions into questions.

  • What did you contribute to the process?
  • What are you taking away from this lesson in terms of your own learning?
  • Think back over our conversation, what has been helpful/useful to you?
  • What are you taking away from our conversation?

It is important to paraphrase.

It is important to be clear in what you want.

Help me think this through. (coaching)
What do you think about….? (consulting)

Learning of the day:  How we use our words have a large effect on the response we get.  Data and mediative questions result in learning and growth.

Question of the day:  How do we most effectively encourage teachers to see value in their own learning?  (What does encouraging self-evaluation and self-directedness look like?)

EdCamp HK

EdCamp HK hosted at Quarry Bay School

A great turnout for EdCamp HK today. So encouraging to see people from a range of backgrounds interested in education.

Where is your heart in education? is what we started off the morning with.
Mine would be the arts. For students to be able to engage and appreciate the arts. To be excited to tell their stories, value the stories of others told, gain a better understanding of the world they live in and the ways they can impact their community/world through the arts.

The rest of the morning was spent doing world café where people moved around to different groups for each of the questions and a designated table host stayed behind to recap the discussion to the new group members before starting the next.

Where in the world are we?
What can we do?
Where is the future headed?

A wide range of responses and even more questions were generated.  My table was focused around the idea of connectedness and accessibility.  How are we connected and what are we connected by? Who has accessibility? What factors play a role? We are privileged to have so many resources and opportunities available to us so what are we doing with it and how do we utilize it for good? How are we responsive to social issues immediately within our community and also in the world? Do we have a good understanding of what the needs are? Have we identified our strengths? What is our response to poverty? What is the role of education? What is the role of technology? How can we contribute individually and collectively?  Where do we see disconnects? Why does education cost so much?  What are students learning/not learning in school? Why is the school day not enough (exponential growth of tutoring centres in Hong Kong)? What is the purpose of education from different perspectives?

From our morning dialogue, we harvested ideas/thoughts/questions and put them up to look for similar themes to guide the afternoon’s open space discussions. Any topic/question can be put forth and you have the freedom to move from conversation to conversation.

The day goes by fast when you’re engaged.  It was refreshing to hear new ideas and perspectives, meet new people and make new friends.

Whether in the field of education or not, we are all educators and most importantly learners.  We all have something to offer, we just need to choose to make a difference.

Leaving the day, I would like to gain a better understanding of the local education system in Hong Kong and how it compares to the international schools.  Also, to continue the conversation and create a plan with those excited about education and all that it entails. What can we do together in our city?

questions to ponder

Was at HKU last Wednesday for this seminar by Dr. Tony Ghaye: Being a Great Teacher–Putting your strengths to work

Mostly education students, a few teachers, a few professors from the HKU Faculty of Education and a couple people from other fields like medicine.
It was more a conversation which was nice.

HKU is on a mountain–view from the education building

A few things I jotted down that stood out…

  • What are you going to do for the rest of your life?
  • In life choices, are you walking positively towards something or do you see it as moving away from something negative?
  • How can we engage positively with others?

If you ask deficit based questions, you have deficit based conversations and deficit based actions. What significant changes would need to be made to have more strength based conversations vs. deficit based ones? The key to full engagement is conversations being started about strengths.

What would it take to build organizations around what works rather than what doesn’t?

To be successful, study success.

How do you improve what you do?
In order to improve would  you naturally focus on problems or successes? (achievement, success, purpose)
What do we want MORE of?


How do you move from good to great? (assuming you want to)
Ask every colleague to identify what they are best at doing (self reflection) then do the reflected best self: When you see me at my best, what do you see me doing?
Sometimes how we see ourselves is not how others may see you.
What processes need to be put into place to make that happen?


What is a strength of yours?
What are the articulated strengths in your organization?
What are the collective strengths of your community?
How often do you use your strengths at work?
What people with what strengths would you need in your team to _____?
If you could invite one more person on your team with a particular strength, who would you invite? (strength asset building)
How can teams be fluid?

Embracing change:

  • The stronger we are, the more open minded we are.
  • Building strength helps us cope with change better.

At work…
When you are at your best, what are you doing?

Sometimes our strengths can be weaknesses too. (perception but also action to be considered)
When you are at your best, what are you thinking?
When you are at your best, what are you feeling?
(emotional intelligence)
How many opportunities do you have to talk about how you feel about what you do?
How we feel about ourselves is the platform upon which everything else is built.

Feelings affect how we think, and how we think affects what we do.

Explore the kinds of things we need to say and do in our workplace that enable us to flourish and be the best we can be in those circumstances.


Name one thing you would change at work that would help you use your strengths more often.
What do you LOVE most about your work?

We want to be engaged more in what we love doing.

Other positive emotions: How optimistic, resilient, hopeful… are you?
If we can have conversations that elevate positive emotions, we can do more.

The Broaden and Build Theory   (Barbara Fredrickson)
It describes and explains how positive emotions can improve what you do.

Positive emotions broaden your thought-action repertoire ( eg. more open-minded, flexible,creative….)

Linking action with reflection

  1. What’s successful and positive…here, right now (appreciate)
  2. What do we need to change to make things better in the future (imagine)
  3. How do we do this? (design)
  4. Who takes action and with what consequences (act)


Shift in action research…

Action Research (AR) finding a problem, fixing it and getting better at it
Participatory Action Research (PAR) I → we
Participatory and Appreciative Action Research (PAAR) what we are seeing more of now

One needs to adopt a multidisciplinary viewpoint. Continue your learning journey.

His other seminar How to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Writing reflectively and getting published is tomorrow–April 16, 5pm at HKU. Looks interesting but WASC calls and don’t think that meeting will end in time to traverse across most of HK to get there in time.

And if you’re interested in conversing about the direction education in Hong Kong is going, EdCamp Hong Kong is this coming Saturday at Quarry Bay School. See you there!

more school you say?

Dali, André Monet

Definitely what Dali has on his mind. This mixed media piece I saw on the Hong Kong Artwalk seemed fitting for this post.

So I think I stopped by all the higher ed tables that were at the EARCOS conference and there are quite a few learning opportunities available. If you’re an international educator (some programs geared more towards those living in Asia) looking for master’s/doctorate programs, below are some options.  Happy learning.

University of San Francisco
& Washington State University 

  • International School Leadership Program (w/ option for a master’s degree from USF)
  • contact: Krenny Hammer  khammer(at)wsu(dot)edu
  • program questions:
    • Dr. Forrest Parkay  fwparkay(at)wsu(dot)edu
    • Dr. Chris Thomas  cnthomas(at)usfca(dot)edu

Lehigh University

  • Educational Leadership, M.Ed
  • Globalization and Educational Change, M.Ed
  • International Counseling, M.Ed
  • Educational Leadership, Ed.D
  • contact: Dr. Daphne P.Hobson  intlcoe(at)lehigh(dot)edu

Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd)

  • International Executive Master of Arts (IEMA) in Educational Leadership and Change
  • contact: Barbara Song  iema(at)ied(dot)edu(dot)hk

George Mason University 

  • Elementary Education Licensure and M.Ed
  • English as a Second Language Education and M.Ed
  • Learning Support Graduate Certifcate Program
  • Graduate Certificate in Advanced IB Studies ADIB (w/ option for a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction)
  • contact:  fastrain(at)gmu(dot)edu

Buffalo State, State University of New York (SUNY) 

  • Certificate in Educational Leadership (w/ option for a master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies)
  • Certificate in Educational Technologies (w/ option for a master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies)
  • contact:  intlearning(at)buffalostate(dot)edu

the language of learning

was the theme at this year’s EARCOS Teachers’ Conference.  It was encouraging to hear the arts in the dialogue of so much that is going on in education. I appreciated the time to connect, network and learn together with other educators in the Asia region. There are so many amazing things going on in the schools in this region and still so much more that we can all do.

Some thoughts collected from the keynoters last week:

Cathy Davidson

One learns better with dialogue.
Our learning system is very RIGID.
We are at the moment where we can change schools and education.

Steven Layne

We are here to offer hope of a better future.
Who are your balcony people?

  • contributed to your life and altered the direction of your life
  • helped you become who you are
  • encouraged and cheered you on

Sometimes it is the faith of others that is the game changer in our lives.

Jason Ohler

Committed Sardines:

Be a door OPENER! (for your students/others) Facilitating/encouraging these opportunities requires a special kind of listening.

There should be a merging of the digital life and non-digital life.

Literacy encompasse the digital, art, oral, written; and enables stories–highly efficient information containers to be shared.


Character education for digital kids is necessary and we should be starting this now.



Best giveaways at the conference this year…

  • Perma-Bound‘s author & illustrator calendar-my kids will be ecstatic over all the info and artwork inside
  • USF’s green Sharpie highlighter-ever so handy and who doesn’t love Sharpie?