Monday, April 19, 2021

Whistling men in yellow vans, they came and drew us diagrams. Showed us how it all worked out and wrote it down in case of doubt (The Housemartins)

As a life long fan of lists (but paradoxically - not to-do lists), I like this advice: 
Be a schedule builder not a to-do list maker! 

I aim to limit my must dos in my diary from zero to three each day. But I am a creature of habit and I do like schedules. I still like to use a printed one-page-a-day diary instead of a a digital one, and I still like to set up the week on a Sunday. Our school uses a ten day timetable so if I'm feeling particularly crazy I do my schedule for those ten days.

This works for me - it may not work for you!

Things like my teaching timetable, regular zoom meetings, face to face meetings, duty slots, times for doing my weekly reports, appointments, Learning Centre supervisions, and regular student meetings are put onto my schedule.

I like to physically write them down each week (rather than set them up digitally as recurring events) because they then lodge in my brain (hence the, mostly, one week version rather than the ten day one).

As I indicated in my previous post, I'm time poor. That means my schedule is pretty full with stuff and I sometines have to double book myself (a zoom meeting while doing a supervision is reasonably common).

If I was to do a to-do list each day I wold probably explode. So I don't.

But I do recommend the scheduling approach.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Good things take time

Karen Lau on Unsplash

"Everything good needs time. Don’t do work in a hurry. Go into details; it pays in every way. Time means power for your work. Mediocrity is always in a rush; but whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing with consideration. For genius is nothing more nor less than doing well what anyone can do badly."

Source: From the essay "A Successful Novelist" in How They Succeeded (sorry - I've lost the hyperlink to this source but the quote stands).

In my current position, I am very aware that I am time poor for my job. This is basically because we are understaffed and so I cover a lot of ground: supervising classes; teaching an English class; taking a form class; splitting concentration between two campuses (or three campuses for 9 weeks of this term).

There is always a price to pay. In this case (spreading myself thin) it is less time to devote to other aspects of my job and quality slips, even if other people don't see it, I know I could do better.

This is nothing new!

When I was Deputy Principal at Cambridge High School I really struggled early on because I suddenly made loads of mistakes because I was rushing through things.

I've learned to live with that feeling to a certain extent. I'd still like more time though.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Minutiae vs polish

Debby Hudson on Unsplash

People who excel tend to obsess over the details.

People who struggle also tend to obsess over the details.

The difference is what details they focus on. Minutiae vs polish.

Most things don’t matter—but when it does, you want to get the details right.

James Clear

Sunday, April 4, 2021

What education is going to be about

Linguist and philosopher
 Noam Chomsky on seeking what is significant:

You can't expect somebody to become a biologist by giving them access to the Harvard University biology library and saying, "Just look through it." That will give them nothing. The internet is the same, except magnified enormously.


The person who wins the Nobel Prize in biology is not the person who read the most journal articles and took the most notes on them. It's the person who knew what to look for.

Cultivating that capacity to seek what's significant, always willing to question whether you're on the right track, that's what education is going to be about, whether it's using computers and internet, or pencil and paper and books.

Source: The Purpose of Education (hat tip to James Clear and Bret Victor)

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Nobody knows it but you've got a secret smile and you use it only for me (Semisonic)

Max Nayman on Unsplash

Recently, the blogpost below by Seth Godin got me thinking:
And who are you really?
There’s a desire to celebrate our “authentic” self.

But perhaps our considered self, the one that shows up when we’re doing our best to be consistent, generous and professional–that’s our authentic self. And the voice that slips out when we’re tired, stressed or busy is simply an incomplete and lesser version of who we actually are.

We’re the sum total of the interactions we choose to create and the changes we contribute.
Now, I'm not sure about this.

As I wrote on my Wozza's Place blog, I consider my professional self to be part of my authentic self because it's part of the sum total of who I am right here, right now.

But it's just a part because my professional self (Principal of two OneSchool Global campuses and teacher of English to a class of Year 10 students) is a role I adopt between 6.45am (when I arrive at school) and 5.00pm (when I leave for the day).

Between those hours I certainly aim to be doing my best 'to be consistent, generous and professional', but it's a role unlike other roles I have adopted (blogger, husband, friend, brother, father and so on). 

I'm sure if you asked the variety of people I interact with in my various roles they would tell you some different things about who I am.

Also recently, I was asked to supply 500 words on who I was - reading that piece which focussed on my professional life is very one sided (my career, academic achievements, why I love my job) with a few cherry picked things about me that have become a kind of shorthand over the years - Beatles/Arsenal/Star Wars.

It didn't get to the nitty gritty of who I am, that wasn't the brief. Social media won't help you much either - that's all designed to present certain self-images, right.

I feel some Walt Whitman coming on (from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry):
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are,
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul,
About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung out divinest aromas,
Thrive, cities—bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers,
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual,
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

You look around with both eyes clear (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

From George Couros

This is a great set of things for both observers and new teachers t
o keep in mind.  

Sunday, March 21, 2021

At the end of the day, you are the only one that is limiting your ability to dream, or to actually execute on your dreams. Don’t let yourself get in the way of that (Falon Fatemi)

NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The trouble is that my students who need to keep that quote in mind are in the throes of teenage rebellion and mixed up confusion, and so - far too young and immature to take that on board.

That's a vast generalisation but the truth is in there for a lot of them.

Getting in their own way is what they are all about.