Monday, July 4, 2022

Did this meeting of our minds together, ooh, happen just today, some way? (Chicago)

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

A phrase that has long been adopted by OneSchool Global, is 'Learning To Learn'.

It's a key attribute to have for life. In a way it symbolises all of those soft skills that are so important post compulsory schooling. 

Employers are not necessarily interested in what you did in a Year 11 mathematics assessment, but they do want you to be adaptable, use your initiative, have integrity, problem solve and ask questions.

Neil Postman says this in his seminal work, Teaching As A Subversive Activity, on the value of questions: 

"Once you have learned to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know." 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

It is inevitable (Mr Smith)

When you are in a leadership or management position (as I have been since 1986), mistakes are to quote Mr Smith - inevitable.

But fear not gentle reader, philosopher Alan Watts has this great take on mistakes:
"Regard yourself as a cloud, in the flesh, because you see, clouds never make mistakes. Did you ever see a cloud that was misshapen? Did you ever see a badly designed wave? No, they always do the right thing. But, if you will, treat yourself for a while as a cloud or a wave and realize that you can’t make a mistake whatever you do. Because even if you do something that appears totally disastrous, it will all come out in the wash somehow or another. Then through this capacity you will develop a kind of confidence. And through confidence you will be able to trust your own intuition." 
Thanks to James Clear for including that on his newsletter.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Achieve more, every day.


One of last week's highlights was a visit to the Hastings' factory of Hustler (if you are looking for farm equipment, look no further) with my Year 13 students.

That giant sign (pictured above) hangs high above the factory floor - delivering its message 24/7.

It reminded me of a post by Seth Godin - called Could be better.
Three words that open the door for insight, understanding and improvement.

Gratitude isn’t in question. Neither is acceptance of the situation. It’s not unpatriotic or disloyal to talk about how something could be improved. Instead, when we care enough to say, “could be better,” we’re putting ourselves on the hook to create. You need to care enough to describe an improvement.

Because once you’ve announced how something can be better, you get the chance to show that it can be done.
Achieve More, Every Day is Hustler's version of Could be better.

I love that idea!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

We sang a song with a happy beat (Wet Willie)

Where I work - OSG Hastings' Campus

Starting with two days in Auckland with other Principals, it was an amazing week just gone.

OneSchool Global is an extraordinary organisation with a truly inspirational environment within which to work. I mean, really!

Quick refresher: OneSchool Global is a worldwide network of campuses for the children of Plymouth Brethren families. Students stay with us for the last 11 years of their schooling. In NZ there are 17 campuses spread over both islands split into 5 districts. I am privileged to be a District Principal for the North East region (taking in Hamilton, Gisborne and Hastings' campuses).

My week

Monday am - flew to Auckland from Palmerston North for two days of Senior Educational Leadership Team (SELT) meetings. We discussed topics such as our ten foci for 2022, the Culture of Care within our campuses, our goals for our Learning Centres (where students in Years 9 to 13 work), and more!

Tuesday pm - flew back to Palmerston North.   

Wednesday - spent the day with my Hastings' Year 13 students as they had a series of workplace visits - touring three Brethren businesses and working on CV's and job seeking type activities. This was a real eye-opener of a day - I had no idea about the sheer scale of these businesses!

Thursday - my first full day at Hastings' campus for a while catching up with people and completing my various reports - a normal Thursday responsibility.

Friday - a public holiday in NZ called Matariki (Matariki signals the Māori New Year).

Quite a week!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings of the bluebird as she sings (The Monkees)

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Getting developed professionally is a tricky thing these days - what with differentiation and various hierarchies of needs.

Our professional development calendar at school looks like a map of the London Underground.

That calendar corrals people together in terms of group needs - Teacher Aides, Office Administrators, Principals, certain levels within the teaching force, and so on - all have some distinct PD needs. The aim is to cater for those needs.

Within those broad groups there are subgroups (length of experience, age, interest levels, ability range are some) and then within those subgroups are individuals with their distinct idiosyncrasies, quirks, and irrationalities.  

How on earth do you provide for that level of differentiation?

Individual teacher inquiries are one way and I really love them.

Recently, I counselled a staff member who was doubting the value of a teacher inquiry. My advice was - locate something he is passionate about, something attached to his specific teaching that would be meaningful for both him and his students.

We don't get enough opportunities to focus in so deliberately on our own needs. So, when the chance comes along, we must grab it and invest in it.

Monday, June 13, 2022

We are considered cultured if we have a civil mind (Ysing Yun)

Photo by Pavol Tančibok on Unsplash

After I was absent for a few days a colleague thanked me for the little things I do around the place. Things like unpacking the dishwasher first thing in the morning, putting water in the coffee machine, emptying the staffroom rubbish bin, locking up the school, putting the dishwasher on at the end of the day - all those little things.

The appreciation was welcome but surprised me a little because I don't normally think about these little job things - they are all just things that need to be done and as I'm always first to school and mostly last to leave, it would feel weird not to do them. 

Who would do them if I didn't? Why would I leave them for someone else to do?

I'm not alone either. Luckily I work in a campus with people who have a high degree of social responsibility.

How do I know? Plates, dishes and cutlery are mostly put into the dishwasher after use and not just put into the sink. That's a good barometer. 

It all comes down to civil consciousness in the end.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Listen! Do you want to know a secret? (The Beatles)

Photo by saeed karimi on Unsplash

Shut up! Listening to other people is important!

How important? Well, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic - how well and frequently you listen to others is a better predictor of your leadership potential than your actual intelligence or personality.

High quality listening is a rare commodity, though. That phrase, 'they like the sound of their own voice' is a thing.

Most* people
are thinking about what they want to say next and not listening fully (*btw I have no research-based evidence for writing 'most' beyond that it feels right). I can see it in their body language.

This is human nature, I guess. Most* people are egocentric. In this modern world within which we work and live, we are often told to 'back ourselves', to express our inner voice, which results in being the centre of attention. That means a talk fest which often results in blather.  

Most* people don't seem to be able to resist the temptation to talk. That inner voice gets frustrated and the mouth opens. When that happens amongst a crowd, there is often no place for listeners. 

Okay, so what can be done about this?

Tomas' four enablers of high-quality listening bears repeating:

  • Focus (give your undivided attention)
  • Empathy (be open and considerate)
  • Self-control (wait for the other person to finish)
  • Inclusion (include the other person in your story)