Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holding on is like the ways of the wind (Pm Dawn)

Feel in a wild and crazy mood? Have a butchers for 'Process of Innovation chart' in Google Images - you'll get some amazingly convoluted beasts.

I found myself doing just this after reading a section of Dr Ian Hunter's Imagine. He had a great chart that I was looking for without success (hence the scanned version below).

I particularly like this chart for its simplicity (the wiggly line is deliberate - it's not a straightforward process).

For me it was interesting to overlay the chart on my inquiry into new pastoral care systems at school this year.

We are right at the application moment and so the bit that naturally intrigues me is the resistance wall.

Not surprisingly there has been a small degree of resistance already as we moved to set up for the application in term 1 next year. Small needs emphasis as the staff is generally keen to embrace change in general and keen to embrace this change in particular.

Made me wonder where the resistance comes from, and no - it's not Muse (good album though The Resistance is). Dr. Hunter has the answer!

Resistance, according to him, comes from people preferring their existing way of doing things.
People are funny creatures. Although we may profess a general enthusiasm for change, often, when change means altering what we do or how we do it, we resist. It is human nature to prefer the known to the unknown; to seek comfort over discomfort; to side with the proven...rather than the possible, because we like the comfort that certainty gives us, not the risk that uncertainty produces. The irony is, of course, that progress only comes through change. (Imagine page 43)
I must be (shock horror probe) a bit weird. Like Ted Nugent in my previous post, I am not content with the status quo - ever.

It doesn't take me very long to start looking around and thinking up ways to change things up. This has applied to jobs, places to live, and systems and processes in schools. I also admit to being a mass of contradictions - I've been happily married for over 30 years, but let's leave that particular status sleeping quo dog lie.

Anyway - back to that chart - it was a timely reminder that resistance is very likely next term. Forewarned is forearmed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I want one of them art deco halos (Pm Dawn)

WOW!! 1967!!

We are just now on the cusp of un-bewildering today's child and that's only because the technology has FORCED us to confront what we've done for decades.

Information is now ever present at the click of a mouse but disordered, and unstructured to a degree.

Ain't it great!!!

Next up? Classified patterns, subjects, and schedules are in the cross hairs.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Finding [it] was the will of the force (Qui-Gon Jinn)

Call me Rogue 120.

I recently discovered Star Wars in the classroom and it's an awesome place!

In keeping with all that is excellent about the Star Wars universe, this site (curated by some dedicated educationalists) provides a great meeting place for people like me.

Who exactly are 'people like me'? 
Those who love Star Wars and can see how to use connections from Star Wars in their teaching.

The site is not just a fans convention (we are self styled as Rogues - my profile name is Rogue 120), but a great place where teachers share classroom resources that they use to supplement their lessons from Star Wars.

If all that sounds a tad geeky well - so what. Imagination is more important than information - remember!

As well as a plethora of static images, my classroom walls contain Star Wars posters and a number of quotes from the movies (yes - it's true, I love both trilogies and I'll be bursting to see The Force Awakens in 2015) 

My all time three favs: Your focus determines your reality, there's always a bigger fish (both Q-G J) and Do or do not, there is no try (Yoda).

Those are three great messages: Focus! Be humble! Carpe diem!

Not geeky at all! 

May the force be with you, always!

Monday, December 15, 2014

I don't believe in the status quo (Ted Nugent)

Time to take the school's temperature:

Leadership at mine just got a whole lot better with our move to vertical home rooms - loads of leadership potential. The key will be how much the mentors back off and allow the potential to shine!

Digital literacy - tick! BYOD and the mighty power of Schoology (our Learning Management System) see to that. We're still learning what these agents of digital literacy are capable of.

Communication - good but, mmm, maybe room for further work here. I'd love to see our staff data files cleaned up for instance.

Emotional intelligence - getting there but ditto. We are dealing with teenagers after all but the homeroom continuity will undoubtedly help.

Entrepreneurship - the structure is in place, the Young Enterprise Scheme is alive and well. As an inquiry learning scheme it's hard to beat. I'd like to see it e x p a n d into other curriculum areas.

Global citizenship - tick. Overseas challenges, exchanges. Again there is room for expansion using Skype contacts.

Problem solving - I'd like to see this grow with our inquiry and project work.

Team working - again tick but again we will be looking to employ the potential inherent in our home room teams in innovative and productive ways.

So - your turn! Let's see how many of these your school can tick off.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A ritual is an enactment of a myth (JosephCampbell)

Prize givings are a ritualistic part of life, and I love rituals.

Prize givings are at heart an initiation ceremony that moves students from childhood towards adult responsibilities.

As they include a graduating class, prize givings become an important rite of passage - that push out of the nest that is SO important.

Appropriately, parents, teachers, and friends watch on as the young throw off the old life and welcome in their new life. It's an exciting thing to witness and be part of.

For me, prize givings are woven into the fabric of each year, a hardy perennial if you will. By my reckoning Wednesday's formal ceremony at Woodford House was my 43rd all up. 

How come? Let me see -  
  • Six as a student at Mt. Albert Grammar School,
  • Two degree graduation ceremonies of my own (missed one by being overseas), 
  • Five for my children's graduations (KW had two), and 
  • Thirty* as a teacher (some schools have split junior and senior prize givings so that number is conservative).
[*I didn't include the myriad prize givings during taboor at Ali bin Abi Taleb school in Al Ain - they LOVED prize givings!!]

My favourite bits of prize givings tend to be the student speeches (adult guest speakers too often seem to struggle to get out of cliched, platitudinous mode). I'm not a fan of guest speakers: beyond Sir Robert Muldoon I can't think of many memorable ones down through the years.

Because they are shedding their school skin, students tend to speak from the heart and more often than not, they end up dissolving in tears (boys are certainly not exempt from being overwhelmed by the whole deal). And you can't fake that human emotional side of things.

This week's latest version went to script pretty much but given it was our Principal's farewell it also had added emotional heft. 

I've been lucky again: right place/right time as I stumbled upon the last two years of Jackie Barron's tenure. She's a gifted leader, a person of integrity, an ideas woman, a top notch communicator, and an all round good egg. I can think of no higher accolade!

But wait there's more: beyond all that she has allowed change to flourish - not an easy thing to do believe me. Managing change is one of the trickiest things to pull off. It includes placing trust in other people and allowing them freedom of thought. And that starts at the top. 

So- hats off to her!

I took a quick P.P.P. (post prize giving poll) - best moments: the dux announcement, the Head Girl's speech, and a really really REALLY extended gardening metaphor by the Principal were the most memorable aspects.

I'm always fascinated at the way prize givings contribute to the myth of the organisation. 

Woodford House ends its prize givings with the Principal giving a gift to the graduating class who then, on mass, run out of the prize giving ceremony - symbolically moving away from the old life with a whoop and a hollah. 

Last year Jackie handed out an artificial butterfly, this year it was an artificial flower. Apparently the previous Principal instigated this symbolic conclusion- it will be interesting to see whether Jackie's successor adopts it or changes it. That decision, and many others, will also add to the myth.

After the graduating class burst from the ceremony, the remainder of the remains, until the Boards and staff leave. 

Parents, and students then leave together. Nice.

I finished the ceremony by remaining behind to help remove furniture and pick up rubbish from the floor. 

The symbolic nature of that last bit alludes me for the moment, but- through sacrifice, bliss.

I am now on holiday for the summer. The rituals of my day changes substantially now and my determination to post every day on my blogs will be tested.

We shall see, we shall see.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gotta make it through the tunnel, got a meeting with a man on the other side (Bruce Springsteen)

I sometimes feel like the meeting moth (Dilbert, as always, is all over it like a cheap suit).

We have a poster in our staff room that contains this Alain de Botton quote (from a tweet): 

When someone can't be bothered to think an issue through & vaguely hopes someone else will come up with the answer: they call a meeting.

Excuse my language, but, Gee Willikers, Monsieur de Botton has this nailed!! Too often that quote is true.

Wouldn't it be great if we had a meeting code - guidelines, if you will, to see us through?

As chance would have it I happened upon this set of meetings about laws...oops, I mean laws about meetings, on Twitter, from the coolly named Dan Rockwell.

Law #1: Thou shalt always declare the purpose of the meeting before it happens.  

The most important work of the meeting happens before the meeting. Confusion about purpose is always the result of inept leadership. 
Law #2All participants shalt understand and agree that the requirements of law #1 have been fully met.
Declaring the purpose of a meeting doesn’t mean everyone understands or aligns.
Law #3Thou shalt meet to make decisions, never to discuss.

Law #4Everyone around the table shalt have a stake in the pie.

Law #5: The people closest to the work shalt talk the most.

Law #6: The most powerful person in the room shalt talk the least.

Law #7: Thou shalt engage in lively debate.
When law #6 is violated, law #7 won’t happen.
Law #8: The leader of the meeting shalt keep everyone focused and engaged.

Law #9Thou shalt silence big mouths, even if it hurts their feelings, and        engage quiet participants.

Law #10: Thou shalt assign tasks to everyone in the room.
The person who leaves the room without something to do, shouldn’t have attended in the first place.

Hard to argue with that list!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The teacher is teachin' the Golden Rule (Chuck Berry)

This photo appeared recently in the Guardian Weekly. The caption read: Palestinian girls attend a class at a school that witnesses said was damaged by Israeli shelling during the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza City.

I love this photo.

Yes, it shows girls persevering with their learning in horrendous circumstances- but it also looks normal- just look at the expressions on the girls' faces as they focus, and I love the idea that a hand up to get the teacher's attention is a global phenomenon. 

Yes, amazingly, it shows how a classroom can somehow become a target in a battle between opposing forces.

But my biggest YES moment? The teacher!

I am so full of admiration for this anonymous woman who is bravely leading the way in outrageous circumstances. It makes me proud to be in the same profession as her.

I couldn't help comparing this to my classroom and the girls I teach at Woodford House, and the staff I teach with.

I love the place and the people at the school and I don't want to become complacent. I know I need a reminder from time to time of how lucky I am to be here.

I have seen similar places to that in the photo and worked with similar students and teachers - people who have no resources except for their will, integrity, knowledge and, most importantly, their imagination.

I love this photo for giving me a window into a parallel teaching/learning world.