Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Holiday, celebrate (Madonna)

Wahoo! Holidays!!

For me that always means doing the jobs that came along during the term and I thought (to myself) - I'll do it in the holidays.

So far, that means redesigning my music room - a.k.a. Abbey Road Three (ART) or The Vault. 

As a kid I'd love redesigning my bedroom into various configurations. It's a great way to do a big tidy up, and conduct a 'Ray clean' - you know, vacuum all those out of the way areas and dust stuff to an exacting detail 

  (BTW, 'Ray clean' references Seinfeld in The Statue episode).

In this case, two days have been devoted to reorganising my prized possessions.

Holidays are also great blogging times. My Wozza's Place blog is currently contemplating the start of my teaching career and life during my first three schools: New Plymouth Boys' High School, Macleans College, and Waimea College.

While doing this I've been reading old school yearbooks and digging around the photo archives. Some great memories with a load of great people that I've had the pleasure to meet (and teach) via my career.

I realise what an honour this is - to pass through many people's lives and maybe have an influence.

I. Love. Being. A. Teacher!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Welcome to your life (Tears For Fears)

How does the brain work?

How does YOUR brain work?

How does the brain learn?

How does YOUR brain learn?

What is self-awareness?

What are YOUR learning tools?

Brains from Thunderbirds!
As part of a study skills workshop, I am posing these questions to a class of Year 10 girls at my school today.

To help them answer, I am using four key resources:

That's it. It's all I need.

Believe it!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

There might have been things I missed, but don't be unkind (ELP)

This one's about a student I know who suffers from exam paralysis.

She's a good student in normal situations - diligent, hard working, keen to do the best she can. Only trouble is the exam room - where she freezes.

As she explained it to me, it's like her brain is suddenly empty and she can't find the way back up, out of the rabbit hole (I added the rabbit hole bit - poetic license you understand).

Her anxiety in these situations proves fatal. Although she remains outwardly calm, her inner sensibilities scramble and she can't actually answer anything. 

A Guardian article I bookmarked a while ago may be able to help her.

They suggest 10 tips for anxious students and mentioned that Anxiety UK have a student guide to anxiety. I've plucked out a few that involve taking control back. They may even help my student:

  • Self-talk. If you feel yourself start to panic, tell yourself: don’t panic; you can do this. Self talk can reduce anxiety.
  • Work on controlling your breathing. Try breathing in through your nose for four seconds, holding for two seconds, then breathing out through your mouth for six seconds. 
  • Be kind to yourself – but disciplined. It is easy to become your own worst enemy. Accept that things are tough right now and think about how you can work with your brain to make things happen. 
  • Remember you are not alone. Everyone else may look as if they are coping fine but many of them are struggling too.  

  1. Her other solution would be that NCEA external exams didn't exist... 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Well I'm standin' at the crossroads (Elmore James)

Crossroads mean decisions and decisions happen all day long. Every day. For all of us.

Being a teacher is often about giving advice. That means decisions. Shed loads of them. Every day.

Mr Purdy, what do I do if ....

Sometimes, colleagues ask me advice too.

Warren, should I...

Less often, my grown up children also need a sounding board for their ideas.

Dad, could you...

Usually that means the person wants to talk and try out some solutions. Usually, people know that instinctively, and that's usually how it unfolds. Very rarely do I seek to offer a solution.

It's cool and good and great and I get it.

Everyday- decisions.

Recently, I read this article titled 'Choose or others will choose for you'. It made a great deal of sense.
No matter what kind of crossroads you’re at, it’s never easy to choose. There’s never a clear direction or a silver bullet. Everything comes with drawbacks and benefits, neither of which are apparent. Everyone has advice for you, but few people understand context. You’re unsure about your appetite for risk, and how much you value the reward. Worse yet, sometimes your brain prefers one path, and your heart wants to choose the other.
Lotta truth, right there. Bam.


So, about that advice? Well - funny you should ask!

Dan Rockwell is a daily source for pearls of wisdom. 

Here he is on 'ways to look the beast in the eye':
  • Create four options before choosing one path forward.
  • Believe in your ability to learn, grow, and adapt.  
  • Think more about taking action than doing everything perfectly.
  • Hang with men and women of valor. Listen to people with battle scars. Doers are better than dreamers when it comes to looking the beast in the eye.
  • Worry more about the next play and less about winning.
Go Dan!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

As we think so we become (Buddha)

Week 8, Term 3...hhmmmm...must be practice exam time, right? 

I am not a fan of Benchmark exams. 
Here's why:
  • They mess with my routines
  • The marking trebles  
  • Exams (hand writing essays while sitting for hours) are not cool in the personalised blended educational world of 2016

And yet, I am a fan of Benchmark exams.
Here's why:
  • They give the students new routines to embed
  • Students get quality feedback on their progress
  • Exams provide an individual snapshot of an ability to think on the spot in the personalised blended educational world of 2016

See, I do get it!

Mention of routines reminds me of this, the habit loop, from the Ditch That Textbook mastermind - Matt Miller:

We are a creature of our habits. Duhigg breaks down how practically any habit works in this cycle:
  • Something triggers a routine in your life (the cue).
  • You perform that routine.
  • You get some reward (the reason you keep doing the routine).
  • If the trigger didn’t exist, we would never engage in that habit.
The rewards from Benchmarks seem fairly obvious - successes and failures are individually recognised!

Top tip - read that Buddha quote again!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lots of people talkin', few of them know (Led Zeppelin)

I'm human. I can only concentrate on one task at a time.

My focus determines my reality. If I'm truly focused (playing football, reading a book, watching a film, talking to someone on the phone) I never hear my wife talking to me. Ever.

I can't multi-task.

But here's the thing, nor can anyone else!! Even my wife!

Focus doesn't work that way.

Multi-tasking is more than walking and chewing gum, Multi-tasking involves concentrating on doing more that two things at once at a higher level.

Try talking one on one to a colleague about something important and texting someone else at the same time. Won't happen. Scratch that - it could happen but the text and/or the conversation will be a train wreak.

A study at the University Of London showed that subjects who multi-tasked while performing cognitive tasks experienced significant IQ drops. In fact, the IQ drops were similar to what you see in individuals who skip a night of sleep or who smoke marijuana.

But wait, there's more - new research suggests the possibility that cognitive damage associated with multi-tasking could be permanent.

So, multi-tasking is bad for all of us. Even women!! 

Try telling that to my wife, and she won't believe you!!