Saturday, November 18, 2017

Get your motor running (Steppenwolf)


Slight deviation here as I celebrate Felix Baumgartner - who took a balloon ride to the limits and fell to Earth again on October 14, 2012, and Hunter S Thompson who said this:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!"

There was only one Hunter S Thompson and there is only one Felix Baumgartner and while I am certainly going to remain true to myself, I do like the sentiment.

I guess I like to live in a world where, in my one way, I'm saying “Wow! What a ride!".

[By the way, a nod to Mr and Mrs Baumgartner as well - I'm really happy that there are people in the world willing to call their son Felix!]

Monday, November 13, 2017

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness (Dalai Lama)


Appreciation - often it's best when it comes from an unexpected source.

In turn, I really appreciate genuine thanks.

Yesterday, a student asked if she could see me before school started. Sure, I said.

Not thinking too much about it - recently she was elected to a leadership position, so I thought she wanted to float an idea with me.

She came into the administration area and then my office with a large cardboard box and said her family had made me something.

I did think for a minute that it may be a practical joke - a gotcha moment, so I gingerly opened it up to find, inside, not a jack-in-the-box or a rubber snake, but a beautifully decorated cake.

I thanked her and said the staff would love it. But, no, she said, it's for you!

I was genuinely gobsmacked. Me? Really?

Yes, she said - it's in appreciation for all you've done for the school this year.

I beamed all day.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Lean on me (Bill Withers)

Photo by Maarten Deckers on Unsplash
The LEAN board. I'm not sure about it. I'd have to be honest and say I'm not totally sold on the concept as yet.

What is it?

The huddle meeting or LEAN meeting idea appears to have emerged from a business environment.

In a nut-shell, the accent is on a simple and visual style, standing meetings (hence huddle), an inventory or list approach that is the same every day, with small single items that are like a tick box.

As we've used a classic morning staff briefing style for the year (lead by me, content driven by me), it's taking some getting used to a shift away from this.

Shifting the focus from day-to-day urgent/important is a good thing. The LEAN board focuses on reflection (how things went yesterday) and the future (areas of concern, items to park), rather than the day ahead.

Shifting the focus from me to others (we are taking turns at leading the LEAN meeting and writing on the LEAN board) is also good.

Shifting the focus to simple and visual is definitely me.

Hey, this thing may be growing on me!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Just my imagination runnin' away with me (The Temptations)


The last assembly with my senior students was tricky on Friday.

Sometimes it's hard to get the tone right. In moments like that my go-to guy is Robert Fulghum.

I have used a portion of his essay on the Montgolfier brothers hot air balloon attempts, that takes in Einstein's famous line (Imagination is more important than knowledge), often, at this time of the year.
These things come to mind at the time of year when children graduate to the next stage of things. From High School, from college, from the nest of the parent. What shall we give them on these occasions? Imagination, a shove out and up, a blessing.
Come over here, we say - to the edge, we say. I want to show you something, we say. We are afraid, they say; it's very exciting, they say. Come to the edge, we say, use your imagination. And they come. And they look. And we push. And they fly. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

There is no keeper but the key, except for one who seizes possibilities (Patti Smith)

Photo by Amanda Sandlin on Unsplash
Just as our students have reached the end bit of their Project Based Learning, as a staff, we are now entering the final couple of weeks with our own inquiry topics.
Interesting it is, to watch staff acting like their students - agonising over instructions (too many, not enough), preparation for presentation (videoing angst, to PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint), time considerations (not enough, too much) and so on.
Funny. So many possibilities.
As Seth Godin says:
'Projects are open-ended, chosen and ours. Working on a project opens the door to possibility. Projects are about better, about new frontiers, about making change happen. When in doubt, dare'.
It's good to dare.
For the staff, inquiry presentations are also about laying themselves on the line, being open to criticism, offering change, and all that leads to over-thinking.

Projects encourage 'now' (or if not, now, 'real soon').

We have all been busy transforming our day to day jobs into how we can make our 'now' better. 

And, I love that!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Aummmmm wooo wooooo bop didit (The Beach Boys)


Groucho Marx' famous line about joining clubs aside, I belong to a Senior Educational Leadership Team or SELT for short.

We meet each term and I really enjoy the day (sometimes two) of comradeship and stimulating ideas with fellow Principals and leaders in our organisation.

What I especially love is that there is always something cooking. The current something is our timetable structure.

Exciting! Really. 

Exploring ways to minimise disruption, focus on learning time and incorporate Project Based Learning is exciting.

I've been an advocate for disrupting the timetable for a long time. For a few SELTs we have spitballed ways to do that, and now we're close to a major revamp.

The details are still being explored but what I love is our ability to put some blue sky thinking into practice.

Can't wait!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

80% of success is just showing up (Woody Allen)


I tend to wander about. I can't sit still. I got the hippy hippy shakes!

Seriously, I find it hard to settle to one task for long. Usually there are at least 3 or 4 plates spinning and so I get antsy.

Then I wander around. It helps!

It helps my thinking. As I wander, I see people and say stuff that I need to say. 

I will often go for a walk to see a student or a staff member in their room, rather than call them to the office. It gives me time to run over in my head want I need to communicate.

Wandering gives me a feel for the place. It was a lovely sunny afternoon yesterday and the feel was definitely up (too up for a few girls who couldn't get themselves to maths class).

Some limited exercise comes from all this wandering too. A routine blood test this week indicated I need to step up my wandering even more (literally).

So yeah. The old adage about management by wandering around is really a thing for me.

Sometimes, when those plates get a tad overwhelming I need to get out of the school and go for a walk. Clears my head, puts things in perspective, recharges me.

Now, where are my walking shoes? Liz (my walking coach)? Are you ready to go?