Thursday, January 29, 2015

I want to hear the sound of the waters lapping on a higher ground (Jackson Browne)

Acting up is a phenomenon that we are embarking on big time at school for the first term this year.

Our new Principal doesn't start until Term 2 so that means we have four people acting up during the term.

It means three acting Senior Leaders, and one acting middle leader during this time. In addition to that, we have two brand new middle manager replacements starting.

To a point, I think this all creates some wonderful opportunities for these four people to experience a different role for the term. Their management development has the potential to be very valuable.

But is this too much of a good thing? 

Some may say that four acting up positions is excessive. Particularly as we'll have an acting Principal and an acting Deputy Principal - the two main leadership positions in the school.

Having been an acting Principal for a term in 2003 I know what a demanding role this can be, but I knew I was still, basically, keeping a seat warm. 

Like everything: who knows what's good or bad? It gave me an inkling of the role without providing a clear picture of its lonely responsibility.

The school that is supplying our new Principal has obviously dug its toes in and decided to be staunch over the notice period she needs to serve.

A huge pity. For her.

I also know how difficult it is to NOT start the new job at the beginning of the new school year. It immediately makes you start on the back foot, and means the rest of the year is a lengthy period of adjustment. 

If I had been her Principal I would have shipped her off early and then others would have acted up for her. Lost opportunity. A lack of vision.

Funny old life innit?!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Well you know we all want to change the world (The Beatles)

Sir Ken Robinson is a wonderfully entertaining speaker. He's of course preaching to the choir as far as I'm concerned when he says that we should ditch the industrial model of teaching.

This is worth a look before we start our school year. And don't be put off by the length - the talk is about 15 minutes - there's a random cartoon tagged on at the end of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It must be jelly ('cause jam don't shake like that) (Glenn Miller)

I love these YouTube videos by Soul Pancake starring Kid President. 

A genius piece of casting, editing and message sending.

As I get set to start the school year I'm revisiting his pep talks to get me in the mood.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I can't wait to see what it's like on the outside now... (Frank Zappa)

Starting to gear up for the start of another school year and my thoughts return to the big picture.

The shift happens series is pretty well known now. There are so many variations. 

I quite like this one - purely to stimulate some more thought about what the hell we are doing in schools if we maintain any kind of industrial model of teaching.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This is my true freedom (Alter Bridge)

A recent conversation with my youngest daughter went along these lines: she wanted me to build her a coffee table for her new house and I pointed out that while I was okay with big projects that involve a crowbar, hammer and a skill saw, I was NOT adept at cabinet making. My skills are not fine enough. 

I told her I could make a rough table out of 4x2 but not a presentable table for her lounge.

She completely failed to understand that and has kept asking and I have kept trying to explain my difficulty with the finesse required to successfully become a cabinet maker.

I remembered this conversation while reading a section of Dr Ian Hunter's excellent book Imagine.

He uses the example of Thomas Chippendale to explain his third pillar of innovation - knowledge.

Dr Hunter says: Intellect alone will not maximise your knowledge. Knowledge of others, knowledge of yourself, knowledge of your culture- while not academic pursuits, these are vital for innovation.

It's this self knowledge that Dr Hunter explores.

Chippendale had sideboards full of it and, in my fifth decade, I like to think that I have a fair dollop too (and, b.t.w. I also know my daughter).

Dr Hunter again - The innovator MUST have a cultivated knowledge of themselves: their strengths, their weaknesses, their abilities, and their limitations. 

Chippendale knew he was a cabinet-maker and designer, but he was no businessman so he hired a succession of smart business partners.

Back to me - I know my building strengths, and I know my limitations. Given the tools, the resources, a good teacher, and a motivation to make a fine product I'm pretty sure I could make that coffee table. 

But until then I'll aim not to be a hindrance to the cabinet making profession and stand over here.

A man's got to know his limitations ('Dirty' Harry Callahan).

Friday, January 9, 2015

Read 'em 'n weep was her adjustable slogan (Frank Zappa)

Given teachers in NZ are currently luxuriating in a well deserved summer holiday I don't feel the urge for heavy posts about education at present - had enough plum pudding and Christmas mince tarts to last me a while. 

I don't even have much of a hankering for checking all the edu-news that comes my way via emails and The Walrus Gumboot (as much as I love The Walrus Gumboot).

So - here's something fun from YouTube which has, on the surface, NOTHING to do with education - but UNDERNEATH there's a whole lotta stuff going on (I'm picking).

As a teacher, for instance, like Jimmy: 

  • We need to prepare well so as to appear confident
  • Teachers need to be extroverts and perform in a classroom
  • Teachers need to have confidence (comes with practice)
  • We need to know that it's often hit or miss - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't
  • We must recognise our limitations
  • We have a limited time frame to get our message across
  • Once it's done - take a bow, put it aside and move onto the next lesson

Enjoy this from Jimmy Fallon

Monday, January 5, 2015

Is this the state of play? (Yes)

Further to my take some risks post - I like this convenient chart from by the wonderfully named Kasey Bell.

Seems to me she's covered all the bases here!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I must plummet boldly forward (Greggery Peccary)

This is from Margie Warrell and her blogpost Motivation alone is insufficient.

It's 2015 and for some reason that date seems portentous - it's like a sci-fi   title, from a film made in 1972. 

So- it's 2015 and that time of the year when people set themselves up for disappointment: new year resolutions. 

According to Margie, 80% of new year resolutions fail by the end of January!! Even bearing in mind that 75% of all statistics are made up that figure is a sobering one.

I've never indulged in the new year resolution bizzo myself. Unlike my wife, I'm not a long term planner (or even much of a short term planner). I really understand why Paul McCartney sold Magical Mystery Tour to The Beatles based on a simple pie diagram (right) and why Pete Townsend  did the same amount of forward planning on Tommy.

It's a guy thing.

I often struggle with my goals for the year at school. When I was a Principal my first order of school business in the new year was to get the staff to decide them for me!

One goal/objective/aim is clear, so I've effectively jumped to step 3 on Margie's chart - some unfinished 2014 business - that final reach for the bunch of bananas: prep for a vertical dean structure at Woodford House for 2016.

My general goal/objective/aim for 2015 is to be more ambitious and a little less risk averse. I like Margie's first strategy point - what is it I want more of in my life? For a few years now my ambitious side has been dozing. Time for a wake up in 2015, I feel, and embrace a risk or two.