Monday, November 27, 2017

Celebrate good times, come on! (Kool and The Gang)

Photo by Rene Bernal on Unsplash
We've kicked off the awards season at school. The first of three celebrations was an awards assembly, to be followed by a regional prizegiving and then our local prizegiving.

For a while now, we've been having a debate at school around the content of these award shows.

On one hand we have staff who want every student to get an award, on the other, the less-is-more stance, that we reward only the most deserving.

I'll give you a nano-second to decide which stance I favour!

But being principal of a school isn't about me getting my own way. So a middle ground was reached and we all seem to be happy with that.

Having said all that, congratulations to all my students. Making it through the academic year is something to celebrate!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The rain water poured up under my motor hood, I knew that were doin' my motor good (Chuck Berry)

Photo by Samuel Clara on Unsplash
Self-Directed Learning. At Westmount School we ๐Ÿ’– S-D L!!

Why do we ๐Ÿ’•S-D L?


  • It taps into student motivation
  • It taps into intrinsic motivation
  • Students feel a greater sense of purpose
  • Students' learning is deeper and richer  
  • Students appreciate the value of learning 
  • Students appreciate the value of school


But don't take my word for it. Listen to a student like Nick Bain!

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.