Thursday, April 27, 2017

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads (Dr Emmett Brown)


Obsolete - no longer of any use, past its use by date.

As promised - a revisit of those 21 things Tina Barseghian says have only three years left to run (Mind/Shift article - 21 things that will be obsolete by 2020).

The vast majority seem pretty clearly obvious but here are the ones I don't necessarily agree with: 

  • FEAR OF WIKIPEDIA 
  • PAPERBACKS (reading by old technology, i.e. books) 
  • PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE NIGHT

And, these ones are contentious (at least, in my head the debate rages on):

  • LOCKERS
  • PAPER
A taking of Westmount's pulse on all 21 items is interesting. Gratifyingly, many are being, or have been, made obsolete already.

Here are the ones still in the mix, that are worthy of further thought:

  • HOMEWORK
  • ORGANIZATION OF CLASSES BY GRADE  LEVEL (i.e. age) 
  • INTEGRATION OF TECHNOLOGY
  • CURRENT CURRICULAR NORMS (the silo effect)

That's the great thing about education - we're always aiming to improve, to question things, and to look for solutions!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

What goes on in your mind? (The Beatles)


Because of the general busy-ness of my working life these days, I've been hording some interesting articles from the good people of Mind/Shift

Here is a bespoke selection of recent bookmarked gems that I can recommend:

21 things that will be obsolete by 2020 (that's only three years away!). I'll come back to this one next time out. I'm a sucker for these kind of lists.

Why giving effective feedback is trickier than it seems. I am always in need of advice for giving feedback! It's something I find has to be tailored to the individual and that's tricky.

What's going on inside a dyslexic's brain - a very useful piece for me, as a number of my current students are in this position.

and finally, why teachers say practising mindfulness is transforming the work. I'm a big fan!

Monday, April 17, 2017

No more working for a week or two (Cliff Richard)

School holidays and time for some levity courtesy of the brilliant Rowan Atkinson as the school master. Never gets old!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Visions of paradise in cloudless skies I see. Rainbows on the hill, blue onyx on the sea. Come see (The Moody Blues)


Time and Space (maan).

Both elements are fundamental components of school life and both are under seige in education.

Being stretched thin and doing a lot of stuff quickly is not how I operate best. 

New thinking leading to new ways is only possible if time and space is generously applied.

Otherwise the status quo and old ways remain in place.

Andrew Douch is a case in point. Given time and space by his Principal, he was able to radicalise his teaching and vastly improve how he went about things, leading towards uncharted territories for teaching biology and uncalculated influence on his students and education as a whole.

Time and space.

It takes some bravery, some David Bowie like vision and experimentation, and a whole lotta resolve...

...but the rewards are immense.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Every picture tells a story (Rod Stewart)


Pernicious myths are those having a harmful effect in a gradual or subtle way.

This little quiz was an eye opener for me - I thought I was pretty good at spotting myths around education. Pffff!

Have a go - you might be surprised. Away we go!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Let the sun climb, oh, burn 'way my mask (Pearl Jam)

Teacherpreneurs

I stumbled on the word while proofing an essay by one of my colleagues - let's call her 'Mandy', who's fighting her way towards a Masters degree in educational leadership/management, bless her little cotton socks.

Anyway - I noticed the word and quietly choked on my peanut butter encrusted crusket. I am NOT a fan of these buzz words.


For a sec I thought she may have coined it herself but, no - she assured me that it was a thing. To prove it, Mandy gave me a book called 'Teacherpreneurs -Innovative teachers who lead but don't leave'.  Oh my.

Coincidentally, I read an Edutopia piece on it and, lo - it does, alack alas, appear to be a current thing.

What is a T*r? Well, according to the three people who co-wrote this book, it's a teacher (doh) who has 'time, space, and incentives to incubate big pedagogical and policy ideas and...execute them'.

These lucky t*rs spread new ways and approaches as mentors, action researchers, blah blah blah. While still teaching. 

Really? As a concept, it all sounds a tad forced to me. 

While reading the book, it was tough to get a feel for how a T*r is different to a decent Specialist Classroom Teacher (shout out to Greg) or a Director of Innovation (shout out to Toni) or an expert teacher who has cool ideas (shout out to Ange, Mandy, Greg, Amy and on and on).

I guess their definition wipes out a lot of worthy teachers who don't have the luxury of 'time, space, incentives' to innovate. Of course provision of these things can allow expert teachers to shine, to be innovative. Not rocket science, is it!



Ultimately, it appears that t*r is a bit like mercury - just when you feel like you have a bead on it, it changes shape on you and becomes liquid - like that quicksilver like dude in Terminator 2 who goes about morphing into other things.

I suppose I just don't see the point in the label. 

Maybe I'm being too harsh. After all, I guess it doesn't do any harm. If you are involved in thinking how things can be done better while putting in the hard yards as a practitioner, frinstance: maybe you're part of a change action group in your school, then - hurrah - you may very well want to give yourself a teacherpreneur label.

Or you could be really innovative, and just get on with it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Good times, bad times, you know I've had my share (Led Zeppelin)


Originally, this quote seems to have come from hunting but it's since morphed into all sorts of applications. 

In my situation it means that sometimes I have a great day and sometimes it's not so great. I particularly like the Yin Yang/ do or do not binary aspect on offer. Seemingly opposite, the two states are actually interconnected. There is no one without the other.

In my Al Ain days, my Arabic teachers had their own version - Yom asal, yom basal, which means ‘One day honey, one day onions’. 

Same basic principle applies - one day you're winning and one day you're scoring own goals.

I tend to use these expressions in hindsight. Rarely during a day, and never ever at the start of a day.

At the start of every day I expect to eat the bear!

As Groucho said:

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.