Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We may never pass this way again (Seals and Crofts)

Photo by sergee bee on Unsplash
After the first round of my Four Minute Walk-Through (4MWT) process/regime for the year I have a few random thoughts to share:

My writing is hard for people to read but, meh - my brain is reading/ decoding/ reflecting/ observing/ synthesizing/ concluding/ questioning and you want to read what I have written? I get that, but something has to be sacrificed.

Questions. I aim to provide one or two questions to get staff to reflect on their practice. Nothing heavy, mind. Nothing existential LOL. More like, what will you do to...?

 Or, How do you know...?

I have John Hattie in my ear as I visit: 'Teachers can and usually do have positive effects, but they must have exceptional effects'.

Via the 4MWT I can get a sense of what is really happening. Teachers often get a mini fright when they look up and register my presence in the room (having entered as unobtrusively as poss).

Younger kids love seeing a visitor in the room - they rush to show me what they've done; older kids are wary of visitors and are reticent to show me their work. Why is that? When did that change?

Back to my hurried scrawl as I visit: do I need to take notes as I go? Pretty much yes, I forget stuff. But maybe I should wait - I don't want the 4MWT to be evaluative if I can help it.

This is where learning takes place and as the leader of learning it's where I can help make a difference. Once I'm in the 4MWT groove, I don't want to stop.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I'm her two penny prince and I give her hot love (T Rex)

Photo by Breather on Unsplash
"So, how are the hot desks and hot offices going," you ask? And, "How about that goal of getting out and about more, huh"?

Interesting you should ask. 

Even though I've been in to visit Year 3 a couple of times, I've yet to get into senior syndicate classrooms after three weeks. BUT! I have two formal observations of new staff to do in the coming week and this will spur me on to delay the administrivia that flows my way on a daily basis and shift myself to observe all teachers! Yes, indeedy.

As to the hot seat approach? Well, it appears, in Nu Zild offices at least, it's deemed not so hot!

Research indicates interesting types of archetypal behaviour:
Hot-desking tends to affect different employees in different ways. There is often a subtle division between those who can "settle" and reliably occupy the same desk every day, and those who cannot.
Settlers arrive first, choose their preferred desk, and by repeating their choice over time, establish this desk as "their" space. Settlers can secure the best desk space (often near the windows), can furnish their desks with all the materials and equipment needed for work, and can sit near their closest colleagues.

I've avoided becoming a settler by moving to a different office/desk each day (the one time I didn't, it was noticed and commented upon). Hence I've become a wandering hot-desker, even though I arrive at school first.

On one hand: without a base, a home, a place to lay my hat (and put up my Arsenal flag), at times, I've struggled a bit these first three weeks. Yes it is, it's true.

As a senior manager, for many years my English classes always fitted in around other staff timetables and I seldom had a room to call my own. Sad face!

It can be unsettling and destabilizing being always on the move. No roots get put down and no one knows where to find me on any given day.

On the other hand: the less is more, minimal approach makes me light on my feet; everything is reduced to essentials; goodbye clutter (apart from my stress ball) and the lack of ownership is a freedom feeling - no roots provides for a more altruistic existence.

And no one knows where to find me. Happy face.

Monday, February 19, 2018

It's that same old dizzy hang-up, I can't do with you or without, tell me why is it so (Isaac Hayes)

Photo by John Reign Abarintos on Unsplash
We talk a lot about Self-Directed Learning at our school.

To get to there, our students need a certain degree of self-awareness. Staff debate at the moment is centering on the readiness of many of our students to be Self-Directed Learners, as they appear to lack this requisite self-awareness.

Awareness of our selfness. That's a big ask for anyone.

According to Hsing Yun (366 days of wisdom), it incorporates estimating our value in accordance to our:
  • morals
  • knowledge
  • working skills
  • interpersonal skills
  • achievements
  • family and educational background
That's some list.

As he says, if we don't know ourselves, we will end up without any value.

From that starting point comes self-discovery, then comes self-confidence, then comes self-empowerment, and finally self-independence.

And THAT'S where my direct job ends, and where my influence takes over.

That's MY goal. Always has been.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I'm starting with the man in the mirror (Michael Jackson)

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
Lesson 2: Accept your mistakes. 

Somewhere in the lead up to the plans I devised for our second PBL day, there was some crucial information that I glossed over. Then, on the day, I had to be in three places at once and things turned to curdly custard. Fast.

Like getting stuck in quicksand: the more I struggled to get out, I deeper I dove. 

Lesson 6: Sometimes you just need to focus

So, what did I do? Closed my eyes and focused. Breathed. Accepted my mistakes. Built a bridge.

In the end, other staff rallied around, and older students came up trumps and a lot of positive learning was the winner on the day.

Who knows what's good or bad?

P.S. If you, my young padowan, want the other 10 lessons - go and have a squiz at this list).

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Get going. Then get better. (Ahmed/ Olander)

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash
Cutting edge, leaders in innovation, the tip of the arrow.

Recently, I've heard those phrases a lot. What do all these phrasas mean and what's needed to attain that status, and stay there? After all - everyone is doing their best to be cutting edge, right?

George Couros is my go-to-guy on innovation in education

Here he is on what it is and what it isn't:

To simplify the notion of innovation, it is something that is both new (either invention or iteration) and better. Innovation is not about the “stuff”, but about a way of thinking. 
For example, it is not the iPhone that is innovative, it was the thinking that created it in the first place. Innovation is about mindset more than anything. In fact, if you made an iPhone that looked more like the first version than the current one, it would no longer be innovative, but simply replication. There is no new thinking, nor is it better than what we have now.
What qualities are needed to be innovative?

The Velocity boys (Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander)  are still my go-to-guys on this.

This is what they have to say:

It takes 'courage, focus and determination, but gives back efficiency and rewards intuition, iteration and gutsiness'.

Their warning is always one I aim to keep in mind:
For organisations with structures that sand down all rough edges and desiccate anything juicy, something terrible will happen: nothing.

Monday, February 5, 2018

I'm thinking about eternity (Bruce Cockburn)

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash
Start of school hyper brain activity has been back to haunt me for the last few nights.

Happens every time - my brain goes into overload territory with the thousand night-time thoughts that come to me as I'm getting prepared for the students rocking up on the first day of the year. 

Flooding in come lists to prepare, messages to deliver, support for staff, values to promote, culture to embed, emails to's like a giant game of chess - thinking ten moves ahead.

At night, of course, everything is magnified ten times and once the jumble of neurons has begun the process I'm semi- awake and thinking, "I need to write this stuff down somewhere".

Fatal. By this time I'm awake and all the other voices in my head start up - Superbowl memories from the previous day, things I've said to people haunt me, stuff I should have said or done but didn't, all that joins the stuff I need to still do. 


Then I get up. 

The sun is shining in the sky, there ain't a cloud in sight. It's stopped rainin', everybody's in a play and don't you know - It's a beautiful new day. 

And you know what? Looks okay. The world survives into another day and I'm thinking about eternity. 

Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.