School Leader Hacks (Saving Time)


Saving time is important because in our frantically busy school lives, information isn’t the scarce resource, attention is!

We need as much time as we can extract to ensure we remain present, focus on relational leadership and attend to the things that matter most.

I invite you to add your leadership time hack to this comment or tag me on twitter @sparvell and I will include your ideas.

As a profession we are simply ‘better together’


As a head teacher, when I had the inevitable mountain of emails to respond to, cheques to sign and other cumbersome paperwork, I would place a table, chair and my Surface in any public area in the school and simply work.

I would work in the courtyard as students arrived to school.

I would work in the staffroom.

I would work in the art room.

I got the mindless work done. I was visible and accessible. I also ‘showed’ that the work of a school leader has a substantial administrative function.


Stay Tuned for no. 2



Why this student said this was ‘…the best educational experience they had ever had!’

Student Ambassadors lead the way

Written by Mark Sparvell for the Microsoft Education BLOG

Photo of three of the Student Ambassadors

Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, approximately 300 secondary students from 110 schools in 22 countries pursued passion-based projects as part of the Microsoft Showcase Schools program. These exceptional Student Ambassadors were given a platform, support and a community — all amplified through the thoughtful use of technology.

“These two years of the Student Ambassador program have been the best educational experience we have had, as we have developed real world abilities such as teamwork, communication skills and problem solving skills.” – Student Ambassadors from Saint John’s School, Chile

The Student Ambassadors collaborated with one another using a Yammer community which provided a platform for connecting across time zones, language barriers and geographies. Skype calls helped to shape projects, gain insights into Microsoft solutions and to share achievements. And a Microsoft Apprentice (a previous Student Ambassador), Thao Tran, was there every step of the way, helping to mentor and guide the students.

Read the full blog post here

Showing-a-case for whole school TRANSFORMATION.

Announcing our new MIEEs and Showcase Schools for 2016-17

As you know one of the programs I lead as part of the Microsoft in Education School Leader Audience strategy is the global Microsoft School and Microsoft Showcase School program.miee_scs infographic 815a (002)

Microsoft is excited to announce  the Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Microsoft Showcase Schools for 2016-17. From the hundreds of thousands of amazing educators we reach via our events, trainings and online educator community, we’ve selected the best of the best, representing over 4800 MIEEs and 851 Microsoft Showcase Schools.

View the names of our Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Microsoft Showcase Schools and amplify via social leveraging the below:

Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts

Microsoft Showcase Schools



Leader Voices: Overcoming Resistance To Change

How to leaders at different career stages respond to some of the most common leadership scenarios? In this series of interviews I conducted a couple of years ago, I capture the leadership voices and seek their insights.



Access more leadership tools

Find out about the Showcase School program




Gradual Release of Responsibility- Learning or Not learning at school.


The Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework


The following text reproduced from website here

The gradual release of responsibility instructional framework purposefully shifts the cognitive load from teacher-as-model, to joint responsibility of teacher and learner, to independent practice and application by the learner (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983). It stipulates that the teacher moves from assuming “all the responsibility for performing a task … to a situation in which the students assume all of the responsibility” (Duke & Pearson, 2002, p. 211). This gradual release may occur over a day, a week, a month, or a year. Graves and Fitzgerald (2003) note that “effective instruction often follows a progression in which teachers gradually do less of the work and students gradually assume increased responsibility for their learning. It is through this process of gradually assuming more and more responsibility for their learning that students become competent, independent learners” (p. 98).

The gradual release of responsibility framework, originally developed for reading instruction, reflects the intersection of several theories, including

  • Piaget’s (1952) work on cognitive structures and schemata
  • Vygotsky’s (1962, 1978) work on zones of proximal development
  • Bandura’s (1965) work on attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation
  • Wood, Bruner, and Ross’s (1976) work on scaffolded instruction

Taken together, these theories suggest that learning occurs through interactions with others; when these interactions are intentional, specific learning occurs.

Unfortunately, most current efforts to implement the gradual release of responsibility framework limit these interactions to adult and child exchanges: I do it; we do it together; you do it. But this three-phase model omits a truly vital component: students learning through collaboration with their peers—the you do it together phase. Although the effectiveness of peer learning has been demonstrated with English language learners (Zhang & Dougherty Stahl, 2011), students with disabilities (Grenier, Dyson, & Yeaton, 2005), and learners identified as gifted (Patrick, Bangel, & Jeon, 2005), it has typically been examined as a singular practice, isolated from the overall instructional design of the lesson. A more complete implementation model for the gradual release of responsibility recognizes the recursive nature of learning and has teachers cycle purposefully through purpose setting and guided instruction, collaborative learning, and independent experiences. In Figure 1.1, we map out these phases of learning, indicating the share of responsibility that students and teachers have in each.

Figure 1.1. A Structure for Instruction That Works

We are not suggesting that every lesson must always start with focused instruction (goal setting and modeling) before progressing to guided instruction, then to collaborative learning, and finally to independent tasks (Grant, Lapp, Fisher, Johnson, & Frey, 2012). Teachers often reorder the phases—for example, begin a lesson with an independent task, such as bellwork or a quick-write, or engage students in collaborative peer inquiry prior to providing teacher modeling.



Further references here