Saturday, December 30, 2017

It's getting better all the time (The Beatles)

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Now that I've sorted out my goals for the year (easy peasy lemon squeezy - see my last posting), I have to reset and aim to be better.

Better Than Before (BTB) has been my mantra this year at school; that has all been about establishing a positive collective culture of improvement.

But it has to start with me! 

As Seth Godin says: 

Next year is almost here. And doing what you did this year probably isn’t going to be sufficient.

That’s because you have more to contribute than you did this year.

To reach your goals, you’ll probably need more effective and powerful ways to tell your story, get clients, gain market share and serve your audience.

Venerable master Hsing Yun's instructions match Seth's: 

Do more good deeds to accrue virtuous merits. Create more good thoughts in order to accomplish right thoughts. 

Those are fine things to keep in mind as I begin the pathway to 2018 - Do more. Create more.

Monday, December 25, 2017

My goals beyond (John McLaughlin)

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
Holidays always help turn my attention towards what I want to achieve in the new year (which is next week). There's plenty of down time around family get togethers to reflect and ponder.

Resolutions are not my bag, maan, but setting some short term objectives mos def is (my bag). As you all know: Your focus determines your reality (Qui Gon-Jinn).

Clarity is easier for my professional goals. Here they are:

Get into more classrooms - provide better feedback for teachers - improve my appraisal for others and myself.

Personal goals are trickier. Basically, I have no idea...yet.

Dan Rockwell's post is helpful here as he asks good questions.

#1. What do you need to stop doing in 2018? (If you can’t completely stop it, how might you do less of what drains the life out of you?)

#2. What might you do that gives you energy in 2018?
  • What did you do in 2017 that lit you up?
  • What projects jazzed you up?
  • What personal values were in play when your energy went up?
Values of personal enjoyment/ learning and communicating via reading (50 books in 52 weeks) and writing (my blogs) are my answers.

This year, maintaining the reading discipline proved relatively easy compared to being more proactive with the blogs.

To help with that and reduce the vast number of bookmarks (in my education, music and personal folders) I'm going to concentrate more on writing in 2018.

So, maybe less reading (a book a week became fairly all consuming) and more writing will create the much needed balance to the force.

To have a post go viral  is my personal stretch goal, my wildly audacious goal, my goal beyond for 2018. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Killing me softly with his song (Roberta Flack)

Photo by Aaron Lee on Unsplash

Time to check my soft-skills (with Seth Godin's list):

What am I better at? I don't believe in multitasking as a thing, but I've become better at juggling multiple demands on a daily basis.

Have I asked a difficult question lately? Yes, I do this pretty regularly.

Do people trust me more than they did? Mmm, I believe so. Nothing like time and experience. I've been in my current post for a year now so people have seen me work and understand that integrity is everything!

Am I hiding more (or less) than I did the last time I checked? Less

Is my list of insightful, useful and frightening stats about my work, my budgets and my challenges complete? And have I shared it with someone I trust? No and no. Something to focus on in the new year, once I've figured out exactly what Seth means by this!.

If selling ideas is a skill, am I more skilled at it than I was? No, but I'm not sure I need to sell my ideas in the role I have. I'm more interested in letting others sell theirs, or starting an idea and stepping back (as with PBL in my school this year).

Who have I developed? A variety of people - teachers and support staff.

Have I had any significant failures (learning opportunities) lately, and what have I learned? Yeees. Plenty. Still working on the lessons learned.

What predictions have I made that have come to pass? Am I better at seeing what's going to happen next? I'm pretty good at the vision thing. The timetable adjustments for 2018 are some way along the road I've been advocating for a loooong time (as long time readers will attest).

Who have I helped? Especially when there was no upside for me...Plenty of students, and plenty of staff, and plenty of parents.

Am I more likely to be leading or following? Leading AND following.

Your turn!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Through sacrifice, bliss (Joseph Campbell)

When we [people in power] expose ourselves to the rules first, obey the rules first and make the sacrifices first, our culture is more likely to stick.

The rules that matter the most are the ones about behavior, transparency and accountability.

People might hear what you say, but they always remember what you do.

Seth Godin

Monday, December 11, 2017

I still wave at the dots on the shore (Porcupine Tree)

Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash
Recently, in an authoritative voice, an educator said to a group of other educators: it's always the teacher's fault!

Naturally, he was challenged on this statement, but he held firm.

His point, I think, was that teachers are the adult in the room and their emotional intelligence and management of situations should be at a sufficient enough level to teach and guide and handle students' learning and behavioural needs. Even when they are at their most challenging. Full stop.

Therefore, for him, it was a simple equation: it's not badly behaved students causing problems, it's teacher failure to 'deal' with students.


Got me thinking.

Then I saw this article: kids don't fail, schools fail kids.

Three things were going for the article: the title, the source (edsurge) and the subject matter (Sir Ken Robinson's views).

According to Sir Ken: every student deserves to be treated like the miracle that they are—with personalized, individualized education that addresses that “world within.”

Trust Sir Ken!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's swell of you (Duke Ellington)

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash
Appreciation was mentioned in my last post as something I received a lot of in my job at Westmount school.

But I wasn't prepared for this!

To be honest, I feel a little overwhelmed at the moment (can you be a little overwhelmed or is overwhelmed a thing that can't be quantified? Not sure). But I digress.

This week, I've had some lovely gifts from students, parents, the staff, the trust that operates our school, and the National Leadership team. Amazing gifts - food, wine, gift tokens, cards (a lot of peanut butter!!). 

It's been amazing!

All this in a week when we had the Magic Weavers' Awards at our national prizegiving. My Kaipara campus came up empty this year (we won two or three last year). 

But that's not the gripe from my colleagues.

The idea of celebrating a few out of the many has prompted a lot of debate within my staff. 

En Zedders like equity; we practise the tall poppy syndrome with some diligence. 

As a country, we were foundered on the concept that no one was better or worse than others and that still pervades - probably more so in teaching where we are so used to collaborating and working with others to make everyone better.

As a people, we are suspicious of the rogue ones (sorry 'bout the gratuitous Star Wars reference), the lone wolves, the popularity contest winners, the too good to be trues.

Teachers are also reluctant to adopt free market business strategies like performance pay, bonuses, and the idea that although we're all equal, some of us are more equal than others.

We just are, okay? 

Teachers like me went into the profession for noble reasons, not for money. I've tested this theory a lot and many of my colleagues wouldn't even know what their salary was.

So, back to me and the appreciation I've felt recently.

All of the gifts I received were amazing. The power of words - you can't put a money value on being told the following by your colleagues:

  • He is brilliant at sorting out issues
  • Weaves magic into the hearts of each staff member
  • Plenty of humour
  • Love working with him
  • His positive energy and solutions based attitude have been inspiring
  • Despite being an Arsenal fan, he is a Westmount Champion

Do you now see why I'm a little overwhelmed?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

You know the sun gonna shine in my back door someday (Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee)

It's open letter time again people:
Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

Dear Toni

Hey! It's a year on since leaving the familiar and launching myself into the mystery of 'what's next for Wozza?'

How has it gone? Well, last week I ventured up to Paihia for a meeting with other secondary school principals from Northland.

Being amongst tangata whenua protocols again was the first shock. The next was the generally dour atmosphere during the meeting.

Along the way, it was interesting to compare my life as a campus Principal at a private school with the poor saps, sorry, my fellow professionals at state schools.

Seriously, looking around the room, it took me back with a bump to my time ten years ago at Stratford High School when I would meet with fellow Taranaki Principals; the gradual beat down of demands trying to do an impossible job takes its toll.

As my Principal friends compared their heart attack histories I knew I was in trouble.

At that time, I quickly decided life was far too short to be in that situation so I left and went to the Middle East where I met remarkable people, had loads of adventures and learnt a lot about myself.

I learnt that I needed to push myself, to be busy, to be challenged, to try new things, to not settle.

As I pootled home through the beautiful Northland vistas, past some depressed looking towns in Rapid Roy I remembered how lucky I was to be living my life.

A few posts back, I included a quote from Hunter S. Thompson where he celebrates a life lived with the final statement being 'Wow, what a ride!'

When that feeling goes I start getting the 'what's next for Wozza?' vibe.

Do I miss Woodford House? At times, yes, of course I do - I definitely miss the great Woodford people (tip of the titfertat to my buddies), Bay Espresso visits, the time to pause and reflect that is so hard to eek out in the hurdy gurdy days I currently have (I haven't got that figured out yet), the twice weekly chapels (great meditation time) and I miss being in a formal classroom setting teaching English.

But...but, I love the way Westmount School is so keen to experiment with timetables and everything else, the balanced mix of autonomy and collegiality, the full-on environment of self-directed learning, the teacher inquiry process led by Karen Boyes, the challenge and the adventure (every day is a mystery box), the feeling that I am being appreciated and that my skills are being gainfully employed, the return of optimism and positivity (I was getting dangerously close to becoming a grumpy old fart at Woodford) and the Whole Food Cafe in Maungaturoto is a pretty gnarly substitute.

So, all up, going forward, I often think (to myself) that my skin is still in the game.

But enough about me! How was your year?

Love and peace, happy holidays and Merry Christmas to you and the family!