Monday, June 17, 2019

Listen, do you want to know a secret? (The Beatles)

Photo by James Haworth on Unsplash

The secret to managing is to be transparent, just, and above all, fair; the best way to handle challenging situations is to understand others along with their emotions and reasoning. 

(Venerable master Hsing Yun)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Nothing succeeds (sucks seeds) like a budgerigar

This is an excellent message for students everyone!

Persistence pays off. Never give up, never surrender!

I need to remember Thomas Edison's message when I'm dealing with Spark over a broadband/ internet issue.

It's easy to give up when the chatbot leads you down a blind alley. It's easy to give up when 'book a call' freezes. It's easy to give up when no one answers the phone at the local Spark office and you have to leave a message and no one gets back to you and you feel like bashing your head against the desk in frustration.

But, then I remember Thomas' message. 

I haven't failed. I'm not discouraged. The failures are a series of steps forward.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

Encouragement feels like someone sat beside you and grabbed an oar.

So says Dan Rockwell. He's right!

Recently a team of our bosses visited the school and the abiding result was a huge helping of encouragement.

Rather than an oar, it felt like the whole school was in the boat beside me, each rowing in the same direction.

Wow!! It hadn't dawned on me until then how much I'd missed that feeling.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why do we never get an answer when we're knocking at the door? (Moody Blues)

My usual questions for students that I encounter in our learning centre often hover around the, "What are working on?" variety,

Not too clever, as it turns out. Recently a colleague suggested I should be asking, "What are you learning?" for a deeper dive.
One of the great secrets to fostering deep learning is the ability to help students raise new kinds of questions that they will find fascinating. - Ken Bain
Although better results have eventuated, I'm always on the look out for better follow up questions to get to some deeper understanding after the, "I'm learning about fractions" style response.

Here are some suggestions:

  • How did your learning progress?
  • What were the difficult aspects to this learning so far?
  • What strategies did you use to get unstuck?
  • How do you know that? 
  • What evidence was used?   
  • Why do you think that?
  • What are the trends/key findings you've found so far?
  • Why is that important?

Monday, May 13, 2019

It's gonna take time - a whole lot of precious time, it's gonna take patience and time, um to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it (George Harrison)

Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash
Beginning life in a new school as a leader can be a tricky business. You know no one, and no one knows you.

Starting with the end product in mind is key for me. Simply put: I love working in a team that has each other's back.

I'm talking about great relationships. And that takes patience and time.

According to Dan Rockwell, the first of seven competencies for success is: 

Build Relationship:

  • Create partnerships.
  • Build trust.
  • Share ideas.
Strong relationships shrink problems caused by personal agendas, office politics, and distrust, he says.

I like how he frames that with a strong verb. Build implies a process over time.

But how do you build relationships? There are no easy answers or quick fixes.

It takes time and experience for co-workers to earn trust and develop mutual respect; to create a safe climate that welcomes ideas, diversity, and the opinions of others.

Does an environment of open communication foster all that, or does all that trust and openness lead to open and honest communication.  Which comes first? 

Some people have a natural openness that creates trust quickly. When Karen Boyes set up random groups during her Teacher Academy two years ago, I joined three other staffers and we instantly hit it off and instantly had each other's backs.

Now, that was partly how Karen set up the activities and a climate of trust, but it was also a fluke of personalities.

It all comes down to relationships. And patience and time.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Hey everybody yeah, don't you feel that there's something? (Little River Band)

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

My update of articles on Pocket threw up an interesting article on writing emails that I'm keen to implement.

The idea is to use a military style which basically translates as a less-is-more approach. So, yeah - I'm a fan already.

There are three points to note:

1. Subjects with keywords. The first thing that your email recipient sees is your name and subject line, so it’s critical that the subject clearly states the purpose of the email, and specifically, what you want them to do with your note. Military personnel use keywords that characterize the nature of the email in the subject. Some of these keywords include:
  • ACTION – Compulsory for the recipient to take some action
  • SIGN – Requires the signature of the recipient
  • INFO – For informational purposes only, and there is no response or action required
  • DECISION – Requires a decision by the recipient
  • REQUEST – Seeks permission or approval by the recipient
  • COORD – Coordination by or with the recipient is needed
2. Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF). Military professionals lead their emails with a short, staccato statement known as the BLUF. (Yes, being the military, there is an acronym for everything.) It declares the purpose of the email and action required. The BLUF should quickly answer the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.

3. Be economical. Military personnel know that short emails are more effective than long ones, so they try to fit all content in one pane, so the recipient doesn’t have to scroll.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Up in the mornin' and out to school (Chuck Berry)

Photo by Elisa Michelet on Unsplash

Call me weird, call me perverse, call me non-controversial, but I love that feeling of returning to routine.

My alarm goes at 4.45am once again and I'm into it, arriving at school shortly after 7.00am (it's a 50 minute commute).

The day unwinds - greeting the students off the vans, cruising the LC, maybe a restorative is needed, meetings on zoom and in person, emails to answer, emails to send, people to see, things to do, fare-welling the students onto the vans.

Home around 6pm, dinner, reading, bedtime. 

B.t.w., I sleep so much better during term time - all that brain engagement wears me out of a day, in a good way.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Oh, my fur and whiskers! I'm late, I'm late, I'm late! (The white rabbit)

Hey everybody! 

Top tip and lesson for today: double check you have the right details regarding dates for Teacher Only Days.

Even if you are firmly of the opinion that the first day of term is a Teacher Only Day and therefore has a later start time than normal.

Even if you write it down and then believe it for two weeks of your holiday.

Just check and check again, okay!

That way, you won't arrive late on your first day at work.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

There comes a time when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one

Currently, I'm gearing up for a return to active service with OneSchool Global.

During the last few days, a rebranding has happened, so that the NZ campuses no longer go by the Westmount School name.

Instead, we are now known as OneSchool NZ.

OneSchool is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive, truly global schools, with over 9,500 students, 130 campuses and 2,500 staff operating across 20 countries.
The 130 campuses span five regions; Australia, North America, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and Europe – and cities including New York, Paris, Sydney, Rome, Auckland, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hastings and Gisborne (the last two, on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand, are now my patch).

If you want to know more, click here.

I'm really looking forward to getting back into some routines and helping to lead this innovative school as best I can.

Also looking forward to linking up with my NZ colleagues, in and out of OSG, over the remainder of this year.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Two branches of one tree (John Lennon)

Celebrating my 35th wedding anniversary with the nicest person I know - my BFF, so not thinking too much about education today.

But if anyone wants to know the secret, just get in touch. Smiley face.

Monday, April 15, 2019

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.

“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I—I hardly know, Sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Old paint

 I'm reading Carly Simon's autobiography, Boys In The Trees, at the moment.

This quote resonates with me:

You know when you take the paint off an old canvas and you discover that something's been painted underneath it?
That's what I feel like - that part of the old is coming through the new.
Carly Simon

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Waiting for perfect is a never-ending game (Seth Godin)

Last week, I had a fantastic visit to a school in Palmerston North. The Manawatu campus of Westmount School was a vibrant, exciting, open campus with great leadership and staff. Nice muffins as well!

Gave me a great buzz of excitement about what is possible. Not talking about the muffins now.

Reminded me of this George Couros model. A lot!

Jim Seumanu, the Principal, would be that bloke with the fertile brain in the middle.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Trust your feelings, Luke (Obi Wan Kenobi)

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash
'When something bad happens, we can revisit the humiliation and anxiety for months. But the good stuff, if we don’t work at it, can pass right by.

We get what we remember, and we remember what we focus on.'

Seth Godin

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature (Bram Stoker)

Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way, even by death, and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment.

Bram Stoker, Dracula

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that (The Red Queen)

lice looked round her in great surprise. ‘Why, I do believe we’ve been under this tree the whole time! Everything’s just as it was!’

‘Of course it is,’ said the Queen, ‘what would you have it?’

‘Well, in our country,’ said Alice, still panting a little, ‘you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.’

‘A slow sort of country!’ said the Queen. ‘Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

I want to seduce by means of imperceptible passages from one reality to another (Dorothea Tanning)

Endless doors, some open, some improbable, some closed, mostly ajar, showing worlds of possibilities.

One painting with sky for a ceiling and through a fireplace, breaking on through to the other side.

Wallpapers bulging and revealing other worlds from imagination bursting into rooms.

Imperceptible passages from one reality to another.

Yes, I visited the Dorothea Tanning exhibition at the Tate Modern recently and was overwhelmed by the ever moving worlds she creates in her paintings, textile sculptures and installations.

If you are in London, I really recommend a visit.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

I can only do what feels right during these difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising (Emma Thompson)

Emma Thompson is a person of integrity. 

I have admired her talent for a long time, now I have a new reason to admire her, having read this article in The Guardian on the train to London yesterday.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage (Anaïs Nin)

Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash
I found this succinct response to an article on why girls excel over boys at school but not after they leave school, and wanted to share.
Counseling girls to be more confident, avoid overworking and economize efforts won’t be enough to help women catch up to men in the work force. Insistence that employers pay equal wages and combat sexual harassment will do far more.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

One voice, one hope, one real decision (Queen)

Photo by Arthur Osipyan on Unsplash
Examples of leadership are close by every day.

As I wondered past the Churchill statue at Westminster yesterday (on our way to the Abbey to light a candle for recently departed friends and family), I wondered what the great man would make of the current situation here.

Sadly, at the moment, in the UK, examples of political leadership are either in short supply or of poor quality.

Self-interest and political expediency rule the roost.

I am reminded of a simple quote that was a favourite of my mentor, Colin Prentice:

Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The simplest solution

Photo by Brayden Law on Unsplash
The two pillars of a future-proof education: # 1 Teach kids how to lead; # 2 Help them learn to solve interesting problems.

Seth Godin

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Only the beginning, only just the start (Chicago)

Photo by Donnie Rosie on Unsplash
It's February and time to look forward to some new beginnings in New Zealand, while being in the present in Vienna.

A life-time is not what's between,
The moments of birth and death.
A life-time is one moment,
Between my two little breaths.

The present, the here, the now,
That's all the life I get,
I live each moment in full,
In kindness, in peace, without regret.

-  Chade Meng, One Moment

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Over the hills the good times are sitting under grey clouds (Jack Bruce/ Pete Brown)

Photo by Rye Jessen on Unsplash
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed (Booker T. Washington)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Every obstacle is a test; every kind act is an innovation (Hsing Yun)

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
This is my second year of reading the venerable master Hsing Yun's 366 Days Of Wisdom.

Starting each day with a short message and explanation from the venerable master has become a habit, a morning routine.

Reflecting on his message has become a valuable ritual.

Lately they have been particularly apposite.

Here's yesterday's entry: 
Gain experience out of grievance, Accept challenges presented by difficulties, Accumulate wisdom earned from failure, Strengthen willpower cultivated from obstacles.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The first step

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
The first step of seeking change is not to rebel externally but to transform internally (Hsing Yun)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

C'mon, let's go (Dorothy)

'In The Wizard of Oz, we meet a powerful heroine. Dorothy is resolute, focused and honest. A generous partner, leading her friends to where they seek to go.

“C’mon, let’s go,” is a great sentence, worth using more often.

It doesn’t require a permit, a badge or a degree.

It’s simply the work of someone who cares enough to lead, at least right now. And right now is enough.'

- Seth Godin

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Embryonic journey (Jefferson Airplane)

Jorma Kaukonen's autobiography, Been So Long, has a lot of interesting things to say about education.

As he tells it, his parents were like many of that generation - for them a formal education was everything.

Jorma's father was a public servant so the family did time in Pakistan and the Philippines as well as Washington DC while Jorma was growing up. Along the way, he returned to high school in DC and stayed with his grandparents to do so. 

I think I was seeking that sense of continuity and place in the world ...

At the end of high school he understood that higher learning - college, was the next step.

This resonated with me - when I finished school, even though it wasn't discussed, university was my next step, even though neither of my parents went to a similar higher learning institution.

I guess my timing was spot on. As a tail end baby boomer, university was within my reach, even though I'd failed at school and I didn't have any student debt to saddle me down, I was also seeking my place in the world.

And I found it, thanks to right time, right place, right expectations and a large dollop of luck.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sufficient sleep, exercise, healthy food, friendship, and peace of mind are necessities, not luxuries (Mark Halperin)

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash
New term, new year but unfortunately the holiday break resulted in a number of teachers getting sick, including me. 

This happens a lot to teachers, as we ease back from all the daily pressures. During term time we just keep going - fighting through the bugs, but when we relax we get clobbered.

Although Mr Halperin appears to be a dodgy character, his quote sets out five key components to keep in mind this term.

They may be easier said than done, but they are the bare necessities.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Education will become fun...

Schools will undoubtedly still exist, but a good schoolteacher can do no better than to inspire curiosity which an interested student can then satisfy at home at the console of his computer outlet.

There will be an opportunity finally for every youngster, and indeed, every person, to learn what he or she wants to learn. in his or her own time, at his or her own speed, in his or her own way.

Education will become fun because it will bubble up from within and not be forced in from without.

(Isaac Asimov, writing 35 years ago, about what life will be like in 2019)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Greylag geese are flying


The last day of the year:
Greylag geese are flying
In regular formation
Along the shoreline, sky-shapes,
An image of poetry.

Michael Longley (2017)