Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Each time I find myself flat on my face I pick myself up and get back in the race (Frank Sinatra)

End of the term and cream crackered.

I wonder (to myself) whether anyone's done any research into (the lack of) school productivity in the last week of school terms.

Oh, you over there towards the back. Ar har. You haven't done any, but think you may have read something somewhere.

Yeah, you're no help.

I'm tired, the rest of the staff are tired, and the kids are tired. Hard to imagine, when I started teaching back in the day, we had three term years. Man alive o. Tough. Brutal.

'Spech that second winter term.

Hold up. Next term is only three weeks long for the seniors, then onto externals. Revision time.

In effect, like that balloon thing in the picture, we have squeezed all of our quality teaching time into three shorter terms. 

Throw in all the disruptions that come every week in a busy school and, BAM, that creates pressure pressure, I got pressure, Oh Yeah. To quote the mighty Ray Davies of The Kinks.

No wonder we're cream crackered.

Which explains why this post is like that balloon - full of hot air, pretty, but ultimately vacuous.

Did I mention I'm tired?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

In the light you will find the road (Led Zeppelin)

Photo by David Moum on Unsplash
Hurricane Irma was not the only storm happening recently.

A good friend of mine was navigating a fairly brutal storm of her own.

Initially, there were a few flight or fight style decisions to be made. In the end, fight was the only option.Quitting is not an option if you follow the 'never give up, never surrender' mantra from Galaxy Quest!

Soul searching was the order of the day and she is (it's an ongoing process) weathering the tempest and learning tons of stuff about herself. 

Like what?

Stuff to do with 'above the line' thinking like owning the failure (that comes from, and leads to, greater empathy) with no blame or excuses.

And courage - she found it tough to admit she could do better; she told her students, "I need to improve. You need to improve".

Although it has tested her optimism, she has realised that stuff needs addressing if the culture is to improve.  

Finally, she has learned a valuable lesson in fortitude.

Dan Rockwell says: Own the consequences of your failures, but don’t circle the drain. Remorse for causing harm is healthy, but bags of guilt crush the spirit.

“Woe is me,” might seem noble, but it’s self-centered.

 She'll be stronger for this experience!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Though I'm dressed in these rags, I'll wear sable some day (The Animals)

Learning coaches - part three (I think)

After extensive research, comprehensive surveys of all our students, staff and parents, and considerable analysis and soul searching involving long nights hunched over results in deep concentration, with all due modesty and sobriety, I can reveal, in a world premiere kind of way, an info graphic to beat all info graphics on, fanfare please...Learning Coaches!!!

Footnote: Every place has its jargon so some explanation required - LC is Learning Centre (where our senior students study in a self-directed fashion); OA is Office Administrator; the three places listed as preferences are in the LC.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In the mist dark figures move and twist (Iron Maiden)

Photo by Harman Abiwardani on Unsplash
Currently, a friend of mine is looking the beast in the eye.

My advice? Listen to Dan Rockwell on the subject. I think he's spot on:
  • Create four options before choosing one path forward.
  • Believe in your ability to learn, grow, and adapt.
  • Remember times when you rose up and faced big challenges in the past.
  • Respond to your fear of losing by developing strategies and taking aggressive action.  
  • 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.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Don't overthink it. Just do it.

Something like that.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why doncha? (West Bruce and Laing)

Failure shmailure.

Photo by PICSELI on Unsplash
I've had occasion this week to talk quite a lot about failure with students and parents.

Seems some people get quite paralysed by the idea of failure.

Now, as long term Baggy Trews readers know - I am quite acquainted with failure and I've bemoaned the fact a few times that our modern student types are not, to their detriment.

With this in mind, I came across this in my bookmarks: How to teach children that failure is the secret to success. Time for a revisit before deleting the link.

The main take away - when your child is struggling on something or has setbacks, don't focus on their abilities, focus on what they can learn from it.

They're watching you, you know.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What one-billionth of one percent are we going to choose to teach in school? (Seymour Papert)

Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash
At our Senior Educational Leadership Team (SELT) meetings we often discuss the curriculum we should be using in our schools.

We know our current curriculum is not cutting the mustard. 

We know we are basing our teaching and learning on an outdated structure, a hold over from the industrial age.

A hold over from when NZ opened for business as a branch of the British Empire. Some universities and some prestigious schools needed stuff to teach and it may have made sense then. 

We are perpetuating that circumstance in some form or other, and it no longer makes sense.  

We know our schools in 2017, with our desire for career ready students, have different needs to those that existed 100 years ago.

Yet, as Will Richardson reminds us, educationalists have long seemed loathe to mess with the recipe.

From the junior school until Year 8 we are holistic in nature, but then from Year 9 we introduce discreet subjects designed to funnel students into NCEA.

The NCEA boat is a canal boat going through a narrow channel; those babies are tough to turn around once they are pointing in one direction. 

But, at some point, we have to do it.

As Seymour Papert posits, now that we have access to pretty much all there is to know, what one-billionth of one percent are we going to choose to teach in school?