Thursday, May 23, 2019

Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

Encouragement feels like someone sat beside you and grabbed an oar.

So says Dan Rockwell. He's right!

Recently a team of our bosses visited the school and the abiding result was a huge helping of encouragement.

Rather than an oar, it felt like the whole school was in the boat beside me, each rowing in the same direction.

Wow!! It hadn't dawned on me until then how much I'd missed that feeling.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why do we never get an answer when we're knocking at the door? (Moody Blues)

My usual questions for students that I encounter in our learning centre often hover around the, "What are working on?" variety,

Not too clever, as it turns out. Recently a colleague suggested I should be asking, "What are you learning?" for a deeper dive.
One of the great secrets to fostering deep learning is the ability to help students raise new kinds of questions that they will find fascinating. - Ken Bain
Although better results have eventuated, I'm always on the look out for better follow up questions to get to some deeper understanding after the, "I'm learning about fractions" style response.

Here are some suggestions:

  • How did your learning progress?
  • What were the difficult aspects to this learning so far?
  • What strategies did you use to get unstuck?
  • How do you know that? 
  • What evidence was used?   
  • Why do you think that?
  • What are the trends/key findings you've found so far?
  • Why is that important?

Monday, May 13, 2019

It's gonna take time - a whole lot of precious time, it's gonna take patience and time, um to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it (George Harrison)

Photo by Deniz Altindas on Unsplash
Beginning life in a new school as a leader can be a tricky business. You know no one, and no one knows you.

Starting with the end product in mind is key for me. Simply put: I love working in a team that has each other's back.

I'm talking about great relationships. And that takes patience and time.

According to Dan Rockwell, the first of seven competencies for success is: 

Build Relationship:

  • Create partnerships.
  • Build trust.
  • Share ideas.
Strong relationships shrink problems caused by personal agendas, office politics, and distrust, he says.

I like how he frames that with a strong verb. Build implies a process over time.

But how do you build relationships? There are no easy answers or quick fixes.

It takes time and experience for co-workers to earn trust and develop mutual respect; to create a safe climate that welcomes ideas, diversity, and the opinions of others.

Does an environment of open communication foster all that, or does all that trust and openness lead to open and honest communication.  Which comes first? 

Some people have a natural openness that creates trust quickly. When Karen Boyes set up random groups during her Teacher Academy two years ago, I joined three other staffers and we instantly hit it off and instantly had each other's backs.

Now, that was partly how Karen set up the activities and a climate of trust, but it was also a fluke of personalities.

It all comes down to relationships. And patience and time.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Hey everybody yeah, don't you feel that there's something? (Little River Band)

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

My update of articles on Pocket threw up an interesting article on writing emails that I'm keen to implement.

The idea is to use a military style which basically translates as a less-is-more approach. So, yeah - I'm a fan already.

There are three points to note:

1. Subjects with keywords. The first thing that your email recipient sees is your name and subject line, so it’s critical that the subject clearly states the purpose of the email, and specifically, what you want them to do with your note. Military personnel use keywords that characterize the nature of the email in the subject. Some of these keywords include:
  • ACTION – Compulsory for the recipient to take some action
  • SIGN – Requires the signature of the recipient
  • INFO – For informational purposes only, and there is no response or action required
  • DECISION – Requires a decision by the recipient
  • REQUEST – Seeks permission or approval by the recipient
  • COORD – Coordination by or with the recipient is needed
2. Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF). Military professionals lead their emails with a short, staccato statement known as the BLUF. (Yes, being the military, there is an acronym for everything.) It declares the purpose of the email and action required. The BLUF should quickly answer the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.

3. Be economical. Military personnel know that short emails are more effective than long ones, so they try to fit all content in one pane, so the recipient doesn’t have to scroll.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Up in the mornin' and out to school (Chuck Berry)

Photo by Elisa Michelet on Unsplash

Call me weird, call me perverse, call me non-controversial, but I love that feeling of returning to routine.

My alarm goes at 4.45am once again and I'm into it, arriving at school shortly after 7.00am (it's a 50 minute commute).

The day unwinds - greeting the students off the vans, cruising the LC, maybe a restorative is needed, meetings on zoom and in person, emails to answer, emails to send, people to see, things to do, fare-welling the students onto the vans.

Home around 6pm, dinner, reading, bedtime. 

B.t.w., I sleep so much better during term time - all that brain engagement wears me out of a day, in a good way.