Wednesday, March 28, 2018

If you got the notion, I second that emotion (The Miracles)

Photo by Franck Veschi on Unsplash
As a leader, it's important I have a large dollop of emotional intelligence.

What exactly is it?

emotional intelligence
  1. the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

I was discussing this with a colleague recently. After I'd explained the concept, she laughed and said, "Oh - I have very little of that".

She's a good listener, which I regard as a crucial skill, but she was right about her EI.

In our heart of hearts, I think we know whether we have much EI or not (you could try this little online test to check against your idea of yourself). 

Generally, there are three key skills involved:
  • Emotional awareness 
  • The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving 
  • The ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.
Okay then, so you can see why leaders need it, right? How does your leader stack up?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Just take what you need and leave the rest (The Band)

Photo by Amritanshu Sikdar on Unsplash

Don't get me wrong, I love change.

In my working life, I've lived and worked in a number of countries (England, China, Qatar, UAE). In New Zealand I've lived and taught in many regions: Taranaki, Auckland, Hawkes' Bay, and Nelson). During those jobs, five years in one place is still my record and that was during last century.

All that adventure means: different cultures, different restrictions, different climates, different geographies, different colleagues, and different bosses. 

All of these different organisations brought about a lot of change.

Adaptability and flexibility are therefore deeply ingrained in my psyche along with relentless positivity.

So, when I wonder if there is such a thing as too much change, you should listen because I'm worried about that tipping point, when the rate of constant change becomes counter productive. 

The analogy of a barrel of water is a good one: there is a limited capacity for water (change); change disruption is how much water is in (and is being added to) the barrel.

How much water in the barrel can an organisation handle before saturation happens?

Luckily, quite a bit is the answer.

Except it's not the abstract idea of 'an organisation' that needs to be considered. It's people who feel change saturation, not a school.

When the water barrel is overflowing, the potential for disengagement and apathy, frustration and increased stress, fatigue and burnout, resistance and confusion, cynicism and skepticism are present. 

In addition, there is the potential for any great on-going initiatives to suffer as well; exciting existing projects may, and probably will, fail to gain or maintain momentum because everyone is cream crackered, and over it! 

And that would be a tragedy.

So, what needs to happen if that saturated bloated water gorged barrel is overflowing?

Someone with the overall vision (possibly/probably from a group often referred to as 'The Powers That Be') needs to step back and consider the collective impact those changes are having. Everyone else has either vested interests or is too close to the change implementation process.

Just take what you need, and leave the rest, is one way one looking at it, or, as William Arthur Ward says, "The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails".

Monday, March 19, 2018

Let’s hear it for the boy (Deniece Williams)

One of our staff members turns thirty this week. Which makes him half my age. Pause for quiet, wistful introspection...

That makes him an eighties' baby, 1988 to be precise.

At lunch, one by one, we sort of mused aloud about what we were doing  30 years ago: a couple of teachers were pregnant, and so on. Cue more of that wistful introspection...

During the week my Goo Goo G'Joob blog happened to focus on Bryan Adams' Restless album

That also prodded some eighties memories to the surface centred around marrying Jacky Smith and then Keegan, Adam and Samantha's arrival before the eighties were done. 

Along the way came fluro jumpers, a long mullet, skinny leather ties, bright shirts, bright socks, odd socks and eighties music like Bryan Adams.

During the eighties, while my wonderful Woodford House colleague, Jo McDowell, was at high school, I was, as she says, teaching.

Arr, the memories: film projectors and the advent of VHS tapes - the camcorders were huge things; chalk and blackboards - the chalk played havoc with my contact lenses; text books (I know, right. I've spent the years since throwing them away from various schools); School Certificate, University Entrance and Bursary; no computers or cell phones or interweb; reading periods in the library (I miss that); bizarrely, teaching literature I hated from my seventies school days like The Old Man And The Sea; teaching social studies, badly; banda and Gestetner copying machines for student worksheets; worksheets!!!

We've come a long way baby!

Huge shout out to all my former colleagues and students from New Plymouth Boys' High School (1983-85) and Macleans College (1986-89) who put up with my idiosyncratic teaching methods and those fluro jerseys.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I find it hard to tell you 'cause I find it hard to take (Tears For Fears)

Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash
What makes a popular post on Baggy Trousers and Wozza's Place?

The answer is, "Who knows?"

Here are the popularity stats for these two blogs:

Above: Baggy Trousers

Above: Wozza's Place

They reveal two clear cut winners in the popularity stakes. So let's have a look at them, shall we?

Written while living in the Middle East, this was about mentors and some key people who have influenced me.

Only one of the three is still alive - Warwick Gibbs who is still teaching at the same school. His first year there was 1972 (my Year 10 or fourth form year in old money). He is still a huge influence!

What was it about this post that struck a chord with 3,428 readers? Who knows!

Wozza's Place has bags of posts about my personal life and how I feel about people. Mitch Albom is not that well known I wouldn't think but maybe he is. I just don't know.

Over to Baggy Trousers - I still haven't found what I'm looking for was the third most popular post on both blogs but the runaway leader on Baggy Trousers. It was also written during my experiences in the Middle East, detailing my conflicted reaction to teacher evaluations. 

Nearly a thousand people have viewed it so it must be doing something right but I'm not sure what. Like Mitch Albom, John Hattie is not that well known outside of education circles and he does polarise opinion so, again...I just don't know.

I think the lesson here is not to overthink it! Just write and let the chips fall where they may!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Five GOOD reasons to come to work on Mondays.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Mondays: yeah, I'm not a fan either.

Apparently, Mondays don't care.

And they ain't going nowhere, so Mondays need to be squarely faced, head-on, eyeball to eyeball with relentless positivity! Don't let Mondays push you around.

Ha! Last week's Monday morning was an utter disaster (cut a mole while shaving and it wouldn't stop bleeding for four hours, yes, four hours!! I eventually arrived at school in time to deal with a student discipline matter, which meant I forgot I was supervising classes in the Learning Centre, then I made a pig's ear of a supervision schedule - yes THAT kind of Monday).

So why didn't I just stay in bed?

Five good reasons (as opposed to all those weirdo nebulous copy cat reasons you read online when you google 'reasons to go to work on Monday', and there will be no gratuitous mention of John Hattie or Seth Godin in sight this time out):

1. Let's get the obvious DAH one out of the way - it's my job and I need the essentials of life to survive, like food, shelter and records. Can't get 'em if I don't have a job.  

2. Reset. Apparently, many people use Mondays as their reset button. Good idea! Wipe the slate clean, start a new week, and start off a new approach maybe? Apparently research indicates that people who start a diet on a Monday have greater success! Hmmm, food for thought (apologies if you just started a diet and that was a tad insensitive).

3. Any day above ground is a good day. I need to get over myself. Give myself a good talking to and follow my mother's advice which she most probs gave me on a Monday - deep breath! Pin your ears back!

4. That relentless positivity. I honestly believe it will get better as I go along. Two deep philosophical thoughts keep me going on Mondays (and any day that goes haywire): Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you; and You have to take the crunchy with the smooth.

5. Hey! I'm the eldest in my family: I don't shirk my responsibilities.
Bonus reason: take a look around you - maybe it's night time and the stars are out, maybe you're reading this on your phone, on a train going to work, maybe you just got your baby off to sleep and you're 'laxing with a cuppa. Wonders are all about you. It's no big deal if things don't exactly go your way on Mondays.

So, there you have it: Mondays sorted. What else would you like me to fix for you?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Five reasons why I don't need 'exciting' or gossip.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Each morning I hear, "What exciting things are lined up for today?"

Each night I hear, "So, any gossip?"

Here are five reasons why I didn't need those things during my work day.

1 Exciting in my work context means different things to what's in the asker's brain. In MY brain, exciting means little things: a Year 4 girl telling me I'm her role model; being told a troubled, argumentative student rethought her approach and did the right thing. That's exciting and thrilling for me, and inspiring. 

2 In the asker's brain, exciting means something BIG and  exhilarating like Richie McCaw landing in his helicopter on the field, or snow suddenly dropping from the sky in autumn. Those are big rush moments that are very unlikely in my day and so when they don't happen, it's a let down: "Ooh, so there's nothing exciting happening today/boring!"

3 The dopamine rush of 'exciting' is vastly over-rated. We now live in a world of instant gratification. People have become dopamine junkies - checking their phones every few minutes for the rush of a 'like'. I prefer the long-term small gain rush of working towards the goal. Not so much the realisation of the goal. One of my sons asked me once (in his twenties having ticked off a big goal), "Dad, I've wanted that for so long. What do I do now?"  

4 Gossip fits into the dopamine rush category. Only when I'm genuinely shocked by a piece of news (recently, the sudden resignation of a colleague) do I want to pass it on. Mostly it's just stuff and nonsense.

5 Gossip implies games and secret agendas and a lack of openness. You know that place, where whispering takes place, and the room quietens even more when a boss walks in and people look guilty because they've been gossiping. I don't like that junk.