Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Everyone deserves a chance to walk with everyone else (Family Of The Year)

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

While talking to a colleague recently about her husband's twists and turns to school leadership (he was rescued from a lesser life by a teacher who saw his potential and encouraged him to see a better future) reminded me of a few things.

The question that opens this blog for one: What was the duty of the teacher if not to inspire?

For another my own background: as I failed school no one gave up on me. Ever. No one said - you've failed everything. I think you're done.

As a very young teacher, I remember once at Macleans College making a big mistake with a student - she wanted to be Head Girl and I tried to temper her ambitions because I wasn't sure it was realistic. Her sister, quite rightly, took me to task and I felt ashamed and apologised. 

You know the ending - she became Head Girl! 

And I relearnt a valuable lesson.

Whaia kia maia. Never give up, never surrender!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Motivation is what gets you started (Jim Ryun)

Last week we bid farewell to the senior students - off on study leave for the NCEA External Examinations.

It's been a tough few weeks as we've sought to motivate them to create study plans, complete practice essays, and have a revision programme in place.

The extrinsic and intrinsic motivations that are in play during the three terms that concentrate on Internal Achievement Standards, don't appear to apply to the Externals.

We need a rethink!

Interestingly, it seems the opposite is true in the northern hemisphere, affected by lock-downs and Covid-19 disruptions. There teachers are struggling to motivate students because there aren't exams! 

This (what motivates students and how we sustain and adapt for different circumstances) will be my Teacher Inquiry for 2021!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A manager is a guide. He takes a group of people and says, ‘With you I can make us a success; I can show you the way (Arsène Wenger)

Photo by Johnson Wang on Unsplash

Arsène Wenger's autobiography has an interesting section on what he thinks makes someone a coach. Here's his summary about what a coach should have:

  • A clear vision, a strategy
  • Clear expression, good communication, remains lucid
  • Action on their plans and buy in from the team members
  • Ability to handle stress, judgement, pressure
  • Reflective - able to be objective (someone who doesn't respond to stress with passivity or aggressiveness)
  • Strong convictions
  • Role models behaviour, values and words to influence others possitively
  • Experience and empathy for others' opinions, keeping an open mind
  • Be humane, compassionate
  • Seeks out the best, aims for excellence
  • Detail oriented - focusing attention on each detail

It's quite a list and very demanding. He clearly is the epitome of each bullet point.

The last one is interesting to me - when does detail oriented stray into micro-management.

In the book he says that he knows all of the secrets into the building of the Emirates stadium. He was clearly involved every step of the way in its construction but I don't get the sense that he micro-managed the project. In fact, how could he? He was managing Arsenal to 19 Champion League qualifications along the way.

Detail oriented. I like that.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Dear Mr. President, can I ask you one question? (John Mellencamp)

The United States election captured students' and staff' attention to an extraordinary degree last week.

It would be fair to say that talk in the staff room was centred around how Trump was going to lose and, therefore, it would be the end of his divisive rhetoric. And outright lies.

It hasn't turned out to be as clear cut as hoped, with a huge number of Americans voting for the Donald.

One of his supporters, when asked why she voted for him even though she knew he often had his foot in his mouth, shrugged and simply stated, "He's not a politician".

Which I guess points to a huge, tremendous distrust of politicians in America.

Watching on from New Zealand, it baffles the mind why it's taken so long to count votes and declare a winner. 

In a democracy, it's an incredible thing for the President to ask that counting votes should stop. I guess that would certainly speed things up though. Democracy is such a messy thing - all those bothersome people who vote for the other guy.

I kind of get that though - when Arsenal were winning the Premier League after one game this year (thanks to the alphabet) I thought they should have stopped the season right there - no need to play any more games. Just crown us Champions and move along. Nothing to see here.

Meanwhile we have the undignified incumbent and his family stirring up rebellion over alleged cheating without any proof. It's just unfair! 


Monday, November 2, 2020

I should have known, should have known, how everything is coming up roses (Black)

Currently, the focus at school has shifted a little to prepare for our upcoming ERO visits to my two campuses in Gisborne and Hastings.

Images from The Hotel Inspector episode of Fawlty Towers are never far away when I prepare for inspections. 

It's ripe for comic confusion as attempts to be seen in a true light are made.

Checklists and a vague nervousness akin to when I was observed by senior leaders as a young teacher are the order of the day. It's difficult to shake that feeling.

My favourite inspection was actually when I was a young teacher at Macleans College back in the late eighties. Turned out my ERO visitor was my former tutor at Training College - Ron Martin.

A few minutes after walking into my English classroom he took over the lesson. It was great! As he said to me afterwards, he can tell within 30 seconds how things are in the room and so he decided to join in the fun.