Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Thirty minutes of cheerful ritual humiliation of the old and greedy. And could we have our first contestant, please! (Monty Python)

Being in a staff skit at school is a well accepted ritual.

It goes with the territory.

This week the staff is performing as a bunch of Fred Daggs as we recreate the Gumboot Song during a cultural day celebration.

Each class was assigned a country by the Year 13 students and obviously we landed Aotearoa.

My first involvement in this form of ritual humiliation was in my first year of teaching - 1983 at New Plymouth Boys' High School. The staff had to do a performance as part of an old boys' day. We elected to do a Monty Python skit - the secret service/ cricket one. A lot of laughs!

There have been many memorable further staff shenanigans over the years - often at school camps and assemblies.

My last one was at Woodford House, 2016 - the staff did ABBA's  Mamma Mia in seventies garb. Hilarious.

It's all part of teaching - just another role, where you check your dignity at the door - you have to get involved and shed your inhibitions.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Well she got her daddy's car and she cruised through the hamburger stand now. Seems she forgot all about the library like she told her old man now and with the radio blasting goes cruising just as fast as she can now (Beach Boys)

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Seth Godin tells us that most of what we do at work is one of three things: 
  • Fun: It's engaging, it gives us satisfaction, people smile.
  • Urgent: Someone else (or perhaps we) decided that this paper is on fire and it has to be extinguished before anything else happens.
  • Fear-based: Most common of all, the things we do to protect ourselves from the fear we'd have to sit with if we didn't do them.
  • Not on this list: importantA day spent doing important work is rare indeed. Precious, too.
Today was a good one at work for me (must be, because that's what I told a fellow Principal who rang me on the way home today to check in with me).

Fun - staff meeting at 8.15 is always fun times, plus I had fun teaching my Year 10 English class and learning some dance steps for a staff item after school. I smile a lot at student actions during the day - one boy today was hilariously wearing surgical gloves - when I asked why (DER!) - he said, with a grin - 'Covid!'

Urgentchecking the UE status for my Year 13's and getting rulings on various requests HAD to be done today. 

Fear based - Thursday is my deadline for filling out a weekly report for my Board of Trustees equivalent (called Campus Administrators in our context), plus a weekly report for my immediate line manager (called a Regional principal), and responding to all of the staff reports that are due every Thursday. This all takes me a few hours every Thursday.

Important - doing a report on a professional discussion about MAP Growth data today was in this category - it was a polite request from a colleague, but an important one because it got me thinking about next steps in the data analysis. That will have positive repercussions for student learning.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

This dream can pass just as fast as lightning - oh Cindy incidentally, baby I ain't putting you on (Faces)

Watching my grandson (aged 15 months) go about his daily learning is fascinating!

A lot of his time is deeply involved in incidental learning*. 

To wit: He was carrying around a clothes peg which my daughter fixed to his jersey. He tried to get it off - couldn't.

She unclasped it and gave it to me. I put it on the table within his reach. He grabbed it and tried to replicate what he'd just seen my daughter do on his jersey. 

Fantastic. Incidental learning! Big fan!!

* Incidental learning is unplanned or unintentional learning. It may occur while carrying out an activity that is seemingly unrelated to what is learned. 

For many people, mobile devices have been integrated into their daily lives, providing many opportunities for technology-supported incidental learning. Unlike formal education, incidental learning is not led by a teacher, nor does it follow a structured curriculum, or result in formal certification.

However, it may trigger self-reflection and this could be used to encourage learners to reconceive what could otherwise be isolated learning fragments as part of more coherent and longer-termm learning journeys.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Long ago and far away I heard your voice (Blue Oyster Cult)

Our post covid-19 world will take some bedding in for lessons to be learned.

However, Dan Rockwell's poster statement (above) bears thinking about right now, as he says - Leadership is all about people, now more than ever.

Why is forward-facing kindness important? 

Because education is all about relationships. 

George Couros also mentioned this in a recent blogpost:
"You have a focus on relationships first (staff and students). – One of my favorite principals in the world stated that if you were exceptional with connections but weak with content, you could last a longer in education than if the reverse is true. Of course, we want educators with both, but focusing on the relationship piece is paramount, this goes beyond students as well. I know some very gifted educators, who are great with children but struggle with other adults. The focus is on finding school teachers, educators that are focused on the benefit of every child in the school, not only ones they teach directly. If the word “relationships” does not come up in your interview, I would be concerned."
Relationships and communication. Without those two elements, good will struggles to exist.

Have a think about how you were treated during covid-19.

See what I mean? Relationships right?!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Like a bridge over troubled water I will lay me down (Simon and Garfunkel)

Photo by Hazel Clifton on Unsplash

The final day of the-Term-that-wouldn't-end was all about celebrating the talent within our school. We were given some options to choose from by the powers that be. We went with whole school chalk drawing and a bridge construction activity for senior students.

In cold and wet conditions we bravely forged ahead with these activities.

The actual end product wasn't really the point, even though there were House points up for grabs. It was more the way Houses got themselves organised and how teams within those Houses worked together.

For the bridge one, each team had two pallets, two saws, two hammers and a bag of nails. They had 30 minutes to construct their bridge to span a 2 metre gap.

Watching this unfold was an education!

One thing I noticed was how the three House teams reflected their student leaders and their individual styles of leadership.

It often takes standing back and observing to notice those things. 

In the same way, each of our campuses within OneSchool Global New Zealand must also, I guess, take on the personalities and leadership styles of their leaders.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Moving on keep moving on-yeah, moving at one million miles an hour Frankie Goes To Hollywood)

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Watching teenagers' working habits in our Learning Centre is always fascinating.

Some get easily distracted, others can work through the interruptions.

A US study once found that students are distracted more than quarter of the time (so in an hour long LC study they are distracted for more than 15 minutes on average).

That's been noticeable since the return from lockdown but I guess there were equal distractions at home during the day that we weren't able to see or monitor.

My other thought is - so what. 

Adults get distracted as well - probably for the same amount of time. I know I struggle to maintain focus for long periods of time. 

Certainly on zoom meetings my mind wanders, I check my watch and look for distractions if I'm not fully engaged.

My point? The next time students get distracted - be empathetic and kind and remember how we'd react.