Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who knows what's good or bad

Alhamdulillah. Here is a little story I have been referring to recently when my Cognition colleagues have struck a problem.

The situation we always live in is like the wise Chinese farmer whose horse ran off.

When his neighbour came to console him the farmer said,
"Who knows what's good or bad?"

When the wise Chinese farmer's horse returned the next day with a herd of horses following him, the foolish neighbour came to congratulate him on his good fortune.

"Who knows what's good or bad?" said the farmer.

Then, when the farmer's son broke his leg trying to ride one of the new horses, the foolish neighbour came to console him again.

"Who knows what's good or bad?" said the farmer.

When the army passed through, conscripting men for war, they passed over the farmer's son because of his broken leg. When the foolish man came to congratulate the farmer that his son would be spared, again the farmer said, "Who knows what's good or bad?"...(and so on and so on).

In Star Wars - Yoda's response to Luke - You will know... when you are calm, at peace, passive - implies a zen attitude much like the wise Chinese farmer. The foolish neighbour is the active, the wise Chinese farmer is calm, at peace, passive.

The Buddha said - "Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

As salam alaykum, alaykum as salam.

Monday, December 28, 2009

National Professional Teacher Standard 12

This post is part of my presentation for Standard 12. Part of the focus of my presentation is ICT skills and how professional development opportunities for Qatari senior leaders can be found on the internet.

The link to the standards (for the people attending this workshop) is http://teachers.net.qa/

In the left hand column of my weblog is a survey for those people attending the workshop with laptops. You can access this survey at any time over the next week and add your answers. I'll report back on the results at a later date.

Happy surfing the internet - Mr Warren

هذه الصفحة هي جزء من العرض الذي سأقدمه حول المعيار الثاني عشر والذي يركز في قسم منه على مهارات تكنولوجيا المعلومات وكيف يمكن للقادة في دولة قطر الحصول على فرص للتطوير المهني من خلال الانترنت.
http://teachers.net.qa/ يمكن الحصول على معلومات إضافية حول المعايير المهنية الوطنية من خلال الموقع التالي
ستجد على الجهة اليسرى من صفحة الموقع الخاصة بي استبيان قصير يستهدف المشاركين في تدريب القادة. في حال كان لديك لاب توب يرجى المساهمة في تعبئة الاستبيان. كما يمكنك تعبئة الاستبيان خلال الأسبوع القادم. سيتم عرض النتائج في وقت لاحق.اتمنى أن يستمتع الجميع باستخدام الانترنت - مع تحيات السيد ورن / والمترجمة رفقة

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I read the news today oh boy.

I have received word from New Zealand that, apparently, I have upset one or two people with a previous post about leaving Stratford High School. So I'd like to clarify things - I am proud of the school, I am proud of having been its leader for three years and I am proud to tell people in Qatar that I am from Stratford, Taranaki. I mostly enjoyed my experiences at the school, I loved teaching the students and being their leader, and the great majority of staff supported me genuinely and whole-heartedly.

It seems some readers thought my comment about 'lame-ducksville' referred to the town of Stratford. No - it didn't.

When someone resigns from a job they enter a time when they can not/should not make decisions for the future of the organisation. They are considered to be LAME DUCKS. This is an actual term and not a term I have made up! My comment in the earlier post was about me being in this state and then 'limboland' before starting my new career in the Middle East. That meant I was in a waiting, holding pattern. I thought this was self-explanatory and not one I had to explain.

Neither Lameduckville or Limboland actually, really, literally, exist.

I hope that clarifies things (please note: Jacky proofread this post to check for ambiguities).

Merry Christmas to all of my Stratford friends!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Please take my advice...

Over the last week or so I've started delivering some professional development to a leadership group set up by the Qatari Ministry of Education. The audience is made up of about 70 principals or vice-principals who have been disenfranchised. That means their schools have closed down and they have had to reapply for their jobs in the new Independent schools structure. In the meantime they have to attend special professional development sessions that Cognition Consulting have been contracted to supply. Which is where I come in.

The group has been going for about 9 weeks and will go until February. I've only been here two weeks so I'm coming along after things have settled into clear patterns with this group. They are working through the National Professional Standards that have have been written for both teachers and leaders. As a document these standards are actually pretty impressive, as far as these things go. I'm a less-is-more kind of guy (as you know) and I like the simple and repetitious format that Qatar has used. If you're interested you can find them at http://teachers.net.qa/content/standards/detail/2289 The leadership standards follow on from these ones.

If you scroll down to standard 8 you will find the standard I presented on today.Its heading is Apply knowledge of students and how they learn to support student learning and development. Right up my alley. I love to know who I'm working with and was pleased to see this as a teacher standard in Qatar.

The venue for the sessions is at a wedding reception complex called Regency Halls.

This is the entrance to the venue with one of our Principals enjoying a pre session cuppa.

The wedding reception area where the men go for their constitutionals.

Mohammed is with one of my co-presenters - Karin. The area that we present in to the Qatari Principals.

There are four of us working with this group of 70 leaders - two kiwi blokes (John and me), one Aussie woman (Di) and one South African woman (Karin). John has led this group from the beginning. Karin has been here a little longer than me and Di arrived after me. The other four members of the leadership team (Aussie Dene, Lawrence - a South African who's lived in NZ for 12 years, Aussie Dorothy and Maureen from NZ) are working with a group called Cohort 7. This is a group of about 100 who are also aiming to be new Principals in the Independent School system. Complicated? Why yes! We are all led by Colin (another NZer).

The leaders are mainly men (about 50 of them, to 20 women) and firmly segregated - by their own social conventions. It is really interesting watching the cultural mores between the two sexes. For instance the women wait until the men have had morning tea before they venture out and they return to their tables that are decked out in bridal white, to eat and drink. The men eat and converse (and smoke) together in the main hall where the weddings clearly take place. Most of the women are in full black abaya and niqab (the veil). The men are all their customary white thobes. I haven't quite worked out the significance of the black - the purity of the white is easier to understand.

They are a really lovely bunch - funny, intelligent, thoughtful, opinionated, challenging, questionning, supportive of each other, and fantastic to work with. I'm loving the interaction and I've learned so much from them already. One of them, Mohammed, has taken on the role of teaching me some Arabic. He reminds me a lot of Jack at Stratford High School. He teaches me a new phrase each session - as he says - I am here for a while so I better learn some of their language. Mohammed is a little unusual in the 'class' because his English is pretty good. Most require a translater. We have two to help us - Hani and Refka. This in itself is something of an art - to talk and allow time for the translator is hard for me to get used to. Just one of the many challenges that needs to be overcome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Can you hear me Major Tom?

My new career as an educational consultant began with three days on an interview panel considering applicants for principalships here in Doha. In turned into a really rewarding experience and certainly gave me new insights into arab life. I could immediately connect with the applicants - many of them Principals already - and I was really humbled by many of the stories I heard.

I've included a picture of the panel - turned out my friend Graeme McFadyen, who has also come over here from his position as a Taranaki Principal, was on the panel too. We joined Aussie Dene and Elsie our translator and had a great time meeting some exceptional people over the three days.

The leadership team was holed up in a swank hotel for the interviews but generally works out of an office in Al College (pronounced col-liege). It's a school that was closed and turned into an office complex for teacher training. It's really nice as you can see. Our office is on the mezzanine floor to the right of the window in this photo. The rest of the team is a fabulous group of people including a South African, and Aussie or two and a bunch of En Zeders.

Stay tuned for national standards and more fun in the sun.