In this #coachbetter episode, Kim chats with Patrick Holt, Head of Educational Technology at GEMS World Academy in Singapore. Patrick’s background with experiential education has strongly influenced his perspectives on teaching and learning, allowing them to have a wide-ranging conversation. They talk about starting with the “why” to influence change across a school community, then Patrick’s experience teaching in Qatar and the need for cultural competency, and finally the importance of “messy learning” – not just for students, but also for teachers and leaders. This episode connects three big themes of coaching: change management, understanding diverse perspectives, and critical elements in effective professional learning. If you’re interested in big picture thinking about teaching and learning, this episode is for you!

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Featured Guest

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Show Notes

What are you doing that is challenging / exciting / interesting in your work / with the teachers you work with? 

Begun the process of adapting ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) as a framework. Lots of access to tech. ISTE standards will make it more purposeful. Partnership with Finnish education, starting a co-creation project with Positive CV. Research based approach that when kids are happier, they learn better.

Developed a vision with a committee of teachers, created a proposal and brought it to the leadership team. You have to know what you want and why you want to do it. “I knew if I could bring my “why” to the school leadership team, and articulate it, we could start to build the future I wanted for the school.”

What do you want your vision of school to be?

Wrapped around the Approaches to Learning. School still has a gateway at the very end. We can interact with knowledge and display knowledge in a different way. It doesn’t have to be through an exam. We need to teach kids how to learn. 

Because everyone has been through school it seems like it’s a rite of passage that we all have to go through. 4th IB program: career pathways.

What was the most innovative (or challenging) experience in your career had or is having an impact on your professional growth?

Had a very challenging group of Qatari students – deepest cultural divide I’ve had in my life.  Made me realize that you don’t know what you don’t know. I couldn’t reach those kids because their perspective on who I was, wasn’t valid to them. It made me understand how personal learning has to be and how society prepares children for learning. The values were different and they didn’t match. It was difficult to be an educator and do the job I was supposed to do. 

One of the things we’re most passionate about is the relentless pursuit of better professional learning. In what ways are you a relentless learner?

Just finishing a Masters degree. I love meeting fellow educators and they inspire me. I know I don’t know enough. My learning will stop if I don’t find other people doing it. There’s a creative collaboration that comes with meeting people that inspires my learning. What really drives me is meeting people and the collaboration we can do together and the creative people that come out of that.

There’s no time for messiness in schools. Collaborative learning takes time. 

If we prioritize that learning is a messy process, and it takes time, and we can’t always document that, we have to change the structure of how we do professional learning. Comes down to culture. School as an ecosystem, rather than top-down. Most of the time leaders lead like a hierarchy. Research shows that schools where learning is messy for adults and students are more successful.

Resources / Connections: Please share a reading / resource you have explored recently that you think would be valuable to other teachers or coaches

Andy Hargreaves

Stratosphere by Michael Fullan