Sunday, May 30, 2021

Zoom in or zoom out?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Am I working at the right level? Do I need to zoom in or zoom out?

These are great questions for teachers to keep in mind.

Currently, I am teaching a Year 10 English class (Grade 9 in America) and focusing on a film study.

This am I working at the right level? question, combined with the need for differentiation, makes this a very tricky proposition.

Teacher knowledge, experience, and professional skills can all guide me to an extent, but whether I'm hitting the right level for each of my students?

Bottom line - I'm not completely sure.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth (Henry David Thoreau)


Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

Here's a great question from writer Elizabeth Gilbert:

What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?

I've been thinking about this and Eleanor Roosevelt's remarks about values that I posted on Purdzilla, and an idea that a colleague told me about (thanks Lisa):

Write down everything that you love doing…..then cross off everything that anyone can do (watching movies, walking, reading etc). The list needs to be specific to you. What you are left with is what you really value, your why.

Writing my daily weblog posts definitely fits into all of these categories. As my Wozza's Place quasi mission statement says: 

What I write here is not my teaching, but my study; it is not a lesson for others, but for me. And yet it should not be held against me if I publish what I write. What is useful to me may also by accident be useful to another. Moreover, I am not spoiling anything, I am only using what is mine. And if I play the fool, it is at my expense and without harm to anyone. For it is a folly that will die with me, and will have no consequences.
Unlike blogging, teaching doesn't align with Gilbert's quote (failure and success are very relevant), but I love doing it (always have done) and it has real value for me. As I've said before, I am very proud of my career choice - to serve others.

The value list is a tough one to do. My initial thought was that most activities could, theoretically, be done by others. 

However, my teaching style is my teaching style (everyone on planet Earth is unique); my relationships with everyone I come into contact with are all unique so playing with Asher, sharing meals with Jacky, sharing discoveries with my colleagues, helping Jade with her essays' grammar, our family zoom conversations, banter with Kev and GK (and so on) are all things I love and could not be replaced by others.

All three sources (from Elizabeth Gilbert, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lisa) are really helpful in honing in on core values and the things that are really really important.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Getting out of the way

John Paul Warren (Lead Pastor of
The Church of South Florida)

For many years I've subscribed to the idea that if you hire good people - you should trust them to do their job and get out of their way.

I'm not sure that works for students to the same extent though, so I'd dispute Mr Warren on this thought. The meddler in the middle approach is one I like and one I've written about before.

But for staff? You betcha!

I really appreciate being trusted and left to do my job by my boss. In our careers, we've all probably had some experience of micro-managing control freaks in the past. I don't understand that approach.

So I'd reframe the quote as, "When employing good staff, trust them and get out of their way".

Sunday, May 16, 2021

You don’t have to start, but if you do, you have to finish (Seth Godin)

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

I'm liking this post from Seth Godin:

Sometimes the rule is:

You don’t have to finish, but you do have to start.

And sometimes the rule is:

You don’t have to start, but if you do, you have to finish.

This is great! Never give up, never surrender!

Monday, May 10, 2021

A chain of pearls for thy neck (Tagore)

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Yesterday, at morning tea in the staff room, we were discussing Mother's Day in NZ which was last Sunday.

I mentioned the fact that a lot of my Facebook friends whose mothers have passed away, like mine, don't really relish Mother's Day.

Even the most positive amongst us find it painful to consider that we can no longer celebrate our mothers as we used it. I've lived without my mum for 38 years now and every day is Mother's Day in my world, but I miss that annual celebration with her.

As this is Baggy Trousers, though, I'll leave you with this thought (I've read it a number of times and I'm still puzzling it out):

Gitanjali 83

Rabindranath Tagore

Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls for thy neck with my tears of sorrow.
       The stars have wrought their anklets of light to deck thy feet, but mine will hang upon thy breast.
       Wealth and fame come from thee and it is for thee to give or to withhold them. But this my sorrow is absolutely mine own, and when I bring it to thee as my offering thou rewardest me with thy grace.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

It's motivation baby, tell me what you thinking, I'mma give it motivation. Yeah uh yeah, it's motivation (JTM)

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

My Teacher Inquiry was revisited today (looking at the motivation of students) for the first time for a while.

Happily, I made some progress by reading three Edutopia articles and starting my student questionnaire via Survey Monkey.

First, of course, I had to join Survey Monkey - that took time, what with filling in profiles, verifying emails and what not. And sort of dented my motivation a tad.

Once that was all done, I started populating a survey. I have dozens of questions to pose but now I need to sift through them and edit/prioritise them somewhat.

In between doing this I became a little distracted by emails pinging (it's so hard to avoid reading the snippet that pops up for a second in the right bottom corner of the screen and fatal if you click on it), taking a couple of phone calls, locking up the school, and seeing staff who needed to discuss tomorrow's relief with me.

It's tough keeping on track sometimes.

My next challenge to overcome is to eek out some more time to continue the process. I have the motivation, but the habit has not embedded itself yet.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

One day at a time is good for you (John Lennon)

Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

New starts are just around the corner.

Term 2 begins tomorrow and we'll be without a couple of key staff members for a while this term. That means employing relievers for some time before help arrives.

One of those staff members will be starting her new job tomorrow and that's often an unsettling time.

Around week 4 of this approaching term we'll be back to near full strength with the introduction of two new staff members.

Again, an unsettling time for them and the campus as they and we adjust.

I have just opened up George Couros' newsletter in my emails and he has this to say:

Regret often comes in the things that you don't do.  

Change, even positive change, can be incredibly hard, but focusing on that "better" one day at a time can lead to something truly great. 

The only way to make the future better is by making the most out of the present moment.

That's a great thought to start the new term with and I agree with him - one day at a time, and focusing on that day to get the most out of it are the ways forward for those staff members who have left or are arriving and for us at the campus dealing with the gap.