Wednesday, January 31, 2018

There's a city in my mind, come along and take that ride (Talking Heads)

Photo by Andrew DesLauriers on Unsplash
So, here I am at conference with all my Westmount colleagues and buddies. Wow - I must say they scrub up well!

All the effort to organise the event and actually get everybody under one Holiday Inn roof is, like, totally worth it.

Highlights from day one: 

  • Chris Gregory producing a minor miracle - a maths lesson that I actually enjoyed AND learned something about cuboids from - thanks to my table colleagues!
  • Catching up with my confrères including Renoir, K Dawg, Sunshine and Rainbows (gonna miss you)
  • Dessert
  • Being called 'Fearless Leader' by one of my staff
  • Meeting all the Tasman and Manawatu staff - good looking bunch
  • Getting locked out of the building because my entry card demagnetised (top tip - don't put it anywhere near your mobile phone) and walking around for ages outside on a beautiful calm night
  • Buzz word bingo: the winner on the day was 'journey' way out in front (23 mentions). The rest? 'Roll out' 6, 'Unpack' 6, 'moving forward' 8, 2 'underpins' and one 'without further ado' (NOT by B Sloan shock horror)
  • Gaining a few new acronyms - EAP, WIIFM, and the truly epic HCP (Human Capital System)
Day two - I wonder what you have in store...with any luck it's some more fun activities (Jim's PBL intro, Chris' maths lesson, Jon's musical warm downs) and far less being talked at for 40 minutes with wordy powerpoints.

Remembering always: you gotta take the crunchy with the smooth, there are many on-line sources for advice these days on 'how to give great presentations without talking to powerpoints for 40 minutes'.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Everyone in the world has to strive to improve if they want to be outstanding (Hsing Yun)

Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash
It's the start of a new academic year. True fact: my students will come into school next week and some of them will not succeed this year. Because they won't strive to be the best they can be, to be outstanding.

Some will - strike 'some', a lot will strive for success and be pushy and not settle for second best, and that's as it should be.

But I know going in that a continuum will again exist between those students and the ones that try to coast and under-perform, and the ones that give up because it's too hard.

That's the tragedy of school. All are capable but personality will enter the equation and the obstacles that test them will find them wanting.

For me/us the questions remain: how do I/we instill in them the spirit to strive for the best, the desire to produce outstanding achievements in any task?

Isn't that what we are all about?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Who knows what's good or bad (the wise Chinese farmer)

Image result for hot desks

Hot desks. Hot offices.

With our brand spanking new administration area, we've entered a brave new world.

Gone are the individual study/work areas for staff, gone is the idea of 'owning' an office or a workspace.

Instead it's hello to open plan and a more social space - with enlarged kitchen, new communal dining area, and large collaborative table setting the new agenda.

For me, it will take some adjusting to, as I'm used to having an office to dress up and personalise. Sadly, it means no Arsenal flag in the new environment. I may not cope.

But - you sometimes get what you need, rather than what you want, and this fits in with my goal for the year of getting out and about more.

It will be very interesting to watch the changed dynamics in the staff room during this first term. Some will love it. Some will hate it. Some will adjust. Some won't.

I sense a flat meeting may be in order! After all, it worked for The Young Ones.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Paint your palette blue and grey (Don McLean)

Photo by Ryan Hutton on Unsplash
I've been away from home for four days helping my youngest daughter build some gates and fences at her new house. 

She and her partner live 8 hours away by car so a large chunk of two days was spent travelling back and forth.

During that time I had infrequent time to check my emails from my school account. Things are hotting up.

Greetings from various people, students asking questions, staff getting in contact: usual preliminary stuff about two weeks out from school starting again for the academic year.

Nothing drastic or vitally important.

Sometimes it's good to get away. Like looking at the night sky and gazing at the moon or the stars.

Gives a sense of proportion and perspective.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

There's a way out of this (Edie Brickell)

Photo by Hamza El-Falah on Unsplash
Attention. Spans. 

Mine is lousy. I flit like a fantail from idea to idea. 

However, I'm not anywhere near the severe end of the attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) spectrum and my failures as a school student are not blamed on my short attention span. 

It's just that my boredom threshold is comparatively low. And I didn't think this is a bad thing. I don't see it as a problem to be solved.

All these things come to mind as I embrace a new timetable this year. I wonder how I would cope with three long periods in a day, or a whole day in the learning centre.

Without some awareness of my issue and some careful chunking of my day, I suspect I'd be in trouble. Then problems ensue.

So, some advice for teachers that helps me with my attention span issues:

  • Establish good routines and habits
  • Build in breaks and movement as part of the routine
  • Establish positive relationship with me - acknowledge my challenges
  • Use socratic questionning skills
  • Offer choices - foster self-directed learning (and I need routines and structure for this too)
  • Variation - use a variety of strategies - small groups, pairs, independent work
  • Encourage practical hands-on real world learning - have me write and act out stuff, record an assignment on video, make models, solve problems, do SOLEs
  • use UDL techniques to suit my strengths

Thanks. I feel better having shared that.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The secret of success lies in the determination to attain the goal (Hsing Yun)

Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash
Setting goals was obviously on Hsing Yun's mind at this time of the year. 

I especially like his analogy of a machine: If you force the machine to produce over its capacity, there is a high chance the machine will break down and fail to achieve the desired output. 

Having goals and targets that exceed our capacity is like having no goal at all.

Instead, Hsing Yun says, a goal is set by considering its feasibility, the necessary conditions, what steps need to be taken in what order, and our capacity to achieve it.

In addition, he refers to the famous story of The Tortoise and the Hare.

This year, I have set a goal of having a post going viral. So I will work away at that over my blogs and, like the tortoise, I will keep on crawling/posting every day to give my goal a chance at success.

In the end, I will reach that goal (it might take some time).

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Goin' mobile (The Who)

  1. 1.
    of the nature of, caused by, or relating to a virus or viruses.
  2. 2.
    (of an image, video, piece of information, etc.) circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another.

    "a viral ad campaign"
  1. 1.
    an image, video, piece of information, etc. that is circulated rapidly and widely on the Internet.

    "the rise of virals in online marketing"

Goin' viral. Specifically: the urge to go viral.

I suspect it's aligned to the modern craving for celebrity status, a hunger for one's 15 minutes of fame.

So, it's a slightly twice shy goal of mine, this need for popularity, but I'm heartened by the fact that going viral is a total fluke.

Basically there is no formula for going viral. Something resonates, is shared widely and then, boom = viral.

Thinking about it, I can only see it happening on this blog or Wozza's Place. That's where the original content lies. Well those two and Goo Goo G-Joob, but I can't see my music blog hitting those freakish conditions easily.

With that and Austin Kleon's example in mind, I've started a notebook to collect my idle thoughts about potential post topics for my blogs (yes, writing about going viral is in there).

The clock is ticking; I have a year.