Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trust your feelings Luke (Obi Wan Kenobi)

The end of the middle of the end: now it's down to only a couple of weeks before leaving my current school.

The beginning was the last few weeks of Term 2, the middle has been the two week term break about to be concluded. The end will be the first few weeks of Term 3.

Two and a half weeks will go fast, particularly as an interim Principal has been assigned and will be shadowing me after week one.

An interesting concept, one I've not experienced before.

It should be interesting for us both. I don't plan on doing anything different during that time - he'll have to accept my version of Principalship as it is, and, for my staff's sake, I'm hoping his style will be compatible with that.

If not, they (staff and students and parents) may be in for a bumpy ride for the rest of the term. Then of course, they will all need to adjust to a new permanent Principal in Term 4.

None of this fills me with joy. Nothing about it is ideal. Because the English academic year starts in September, it's a necessary true fact: I need to be in England half way through NZ's year 😟

Saturday, July 14, 2018

It's a holiday in Cambodia. It's tough, kid, but it's life (Dead Kennedys)

Holidays mean a slackening off in professional reading, and many of my staff have been posting lovely images of themselves on holiday in Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere.

Besides that my brain is full, thanks to a busy term, and a busy first holiday week with packing and storing all our precious belongings before we head to England.

So, all up, I'm not that inclined to do any deep thinking about the current state of education in the world.

It's time for a break, so here's something else for all my dog loving staff:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Walk this way! (Run DMC)

Photo by Mark Hayward on Unsplash
According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® are:

  1. Model the way.
  2. Inspire shared vision.
  3. Challenge the process.
  4. Enable people to act.
  5. Encourage the Heart.
Without fact checking the source, I'm happy to see 'Model the way' as the lead out batter to the list.

Dovetailing as it does with the authenticity I wrote about last time, being what you want to see is crucial (Mahatma Gandhi knew what he was talking about).

And that means an exemplary leader's character is on the line.

Otherwise you're a hypocrite who pretends to have virtues, moral beliefs, principles that you do not actually possess.

And who wants to follow a leader like that?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Why (Yoko Ono)

When does experience trump ability?

Short answer: only when special skills are needed immediately to make a coffee right now!! 

Yes, I'm thinking about a barista or, maybe a McDonald's burger flipper. Nope, come to think of it, even I could flip a burger!

A forklift driver? Another 'No' - robots do that now. Hmm - actually, it's probably only a barista. 

Everything else: we learn on the job, or near the job. After all, that's where experience comes from right?

My first Principal ship came after I'd been a Deputy Principal. The two are vastly different jobs, let me tell you!!

A friend of mine, Pablo Honey from Psychedelic High, recently lost out on a job because the other applicant (Doug Field) had some specific experience in his resume.


Are we not educating our students to have 21st century soft skills?
  • Strong Work Ethic
  • Positive Attitude
  • Good Communication Skills
  • Time Management Abilities
  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Acting as a Team Player
  • Self-Confidence
  • Ability to Accept and Learn From Criticism
  • Emotional Intelligence
An emphatic, 'Yes! We are' is heard resounding from the blogosphere.

Doesn't that apply to adults as well??

I know I want an employee who is all of those things. Then, if I need her to train as a barista, I know she will embrace the experience and excel.

So why of why would Pablo, the better prospect in all of those skills, not be successful?

Riddle me that!!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Start again (Richie McCaw)

That's a great, succinct life lesson from Richie. In his All Black context it was a case of reminding himself that he had to prove himself again, and again, every day.

Legacy, the book about applying lessons from the All Blacks to business and life by James Kerr, had been sitting on my shelf at school for a year before I read it.

It was worth the wait.

Here are some bookmarks from my reading:

The truth is that the story we tell about our life becomes the story of our life. The narrative we tell our team, business, brand, organisation or family becomes the story others eventually tell about us. 
"I believe that leadership begins and ends with authenticity, It's being yourself, being the person you were created to be" - Harvard Business School professor Bill George.

These are interesting and relevant thoughts for me, following on from my previous post about new starts, first impressions, and relentless positivity.

The lesson is simple: be authentic (a lesson I've learned over the years - staff, students and parent can easily see when you're not being yourself).

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

It just might be a one shot deal (Frank Zappa)

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash
First impressions are tricky.

It's a one shot deal. 

At Woodford House, thanks to the fact that I wore a suit and was lead through the staff room, my initial visit made it seem like I was a politician looking for babies to kiss.

At Westmount Kaipara, staff report that I came across as 'staunch' when I was introduced by the campus administrators.

I'm not a politician but I do like 'staunch': loyal, faithful, trusty, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, constant, hard-working, vigorous, stable, firm, steadfast.

Yeah, baby!

So, my thoughts have turned to how I might come across at my new campus in September. I'm super aware that leaders design and create an environment.

What environment do I want to create? Easy one to answer!

Apparently my 'relentless positivity' tag has been popularly spread already. One Regional Principal even said it's become my middle name! Cool!

Here's five things I intend to do quickly to embed that idea:

  • No office. That might be a shock to accepted norms in the UK setting. Good. I'm keen to continue my 'no office - hot desk - never in the same place twice' policy. Patent pending.
  • Learn names. Rain or shine I'll continue greeting students and parents/grandparents with a smile and a cheery 'good morning' as they arrive at school in the vans. When they leave at the end of each day it's a great opportunity to check on their day. It's a great time for learning names and getting to know who everybody is.
  • Listen to students. Basically, this is the start of establishing relationships. When I was interviewed the students targeted student voice as their area of greatest concern. So I'll be listening and thinking and working out my next steps.
  • Regularly, drink tea at interval and eat lunch at lunchtime. Leaders who are removed from the laughter and the banter and the fun of a staff room are missing out big time!
  • Embrace positive LEAN meetings and distributed leadership. A tight ten minute review and reflection time run by different staff each day ticks many boxes.

In the fullness of time, at the end of the day, when all is said and done - it's all about relationships and communication.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Let's work, be proud (Mick Jagger)

Working in the Learning Centre can be a joy. Like right now.

I'm scheduled to cover the LC at various times of the week.

When I walked into the LC for this period I checked in with our LC manager, as per our Learning Coach guidelines. She reported that students had been working solidly all morning. Given that yesterday was a fun day (wacky hair dos) this was especially gratifying and encouraging.

Right now, I'm here - listening to a variety of conversations - many centring on accounting - right now some boys are showing me car pictures but they'll go back to peer tutoring each other pretty quickly. Others are working hard and don't wish me to disturb them. Fair enough!

The Learning Centre (LC to us in the biz) is a vibrant part of our school - students self-direct themselves to whatever location suits them.

Right now the boys doing the peer tutoring are all sitting at the large collaboration table - all in a row on one side of the table.

The Year 12's are in English, some Year 13's are in the pin drop quiet zone, so the Year 11 students are all here right now, spread around the LC working on accounting. 

It all depends on choice - no one has directed them to work at the collaboration table or to study their accounting. 

Love the buzz in the LC right now. At the end of my period a student approaches me to find out how his One School Awards are going - turns out he's at Silver level! Brilliant!

All schools need an LC!