Thursday, November 25, 2021

Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day and head back to the Milky Way? (Train)

Photo by Liam Martens on Unsplash

Wish me luck - I'm going out into the big wide world today to a meeting of the local (as in, Hawke's Bay) association for secondary school principals.

This is a rare occurrence as I spend most of my time (99.99%) inside the OneSchool Global School orbit of Campus Principals/ Associate Principals and my Regional Principal. 

Great as this is, it's important to step outside the organisation from time to time and see what's happening out in the public schools and meet other people.

Usually when these meetings are on I'm at the Gisborne campus or else my absence for a day is too disruptive to my Hastings' campus. Not that I'm indispensable you understand - more that I would need to lean on a number of staff to cover my absence and that doesn't feel right when they are so busy.

At the moment, of course, the senior students are out doing external NCEA exams so this has freed up our schedules.

I'll report back on the experience in the next post.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

You're to have not to hold (Madonna)

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

The mixture of staff in any school creates an endlessly fascinating tableau that provides a ripe ground for analysis.

Staff rooms are interesting places and the culture varies greatly depending on the make up of the staff. This creates a plethora of different cultures including, at one extreme, toxic ones.

I've been a staff member enough times to recognise a toxic one when I see one. Luckily for me, feeling knives in my back has been a super rare occasion. Mostly I've been fortunate and worked with some outstanding people in a number of different countries.

Sometimes the chemistry of personalities clicks and it's a wondrous story in a staffroom. Over time people adjust and the longer they are together the more adjustments, tweeks and allowances are possible. Everyone jostles for their space and finds their own comfort zone. Strength comes from that.

In times of adversity you get a different sense of people's personalities compared to when things are smooth sailing. People can often revert to default settings.

I noticed when my four children were growing up, if one was away at a friend's place the other three would interact in a very different way. 

The influence of one person is immense and should never be under-estimated is the lesson to be learned there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Counteract wrong thoughts through positive beliefs (Hsing Yun)

Five weeks into Term 4 in the southern hemisphere and it's been a tough 5 weeks. In fact, I would say this has been the most full on 5 weeks so far. Now - that's saying something given the turmoils of the year.

I need some inspiration to keep this pace up for another 4 weeks.

So I am turning to my good friend of mumble mumble years (we were at school together) for some inspiration.

Here he is:

Oh! One other thing from around this time… I met the most amazing guy.

It has become my party stopper. When someone asks “Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?” I think, “I got this.”

The criteria being that you have to have met the person, they have to have said your name, and you have to have talked for 5 – 10 minutes, i.e. longer than I spoke to The Edge.

I met Mohammed Ali. Shook his hand. Introduced myself. Had a chat. After which he punched my shoulder and said, “Great to meet you, champ!” To which I replied, “I know!”

(I didn’t really say that. But the champ called me champ).

Mo – that’s what his friends call him – was such a lovely guy and, what he said about himself being exceedingly handsome – it’s true!!

(When I say punched my shoulder, I mean he gently touched me with an open hand – or else I’d still be in traction).

Why do I find this inspirational? Well first there's the story teller (let's call him Greg): he's an inspiring figure - altruistic, fun to be around, and also exceedingly handsome (hi Greg!). Plus he writes extremely well, with a personal voice that shines.

The story itself reveals a lot about us - even the great and famous are human (same with Muhammad Ali); some events are touchstones in our lives that sustain us - I've heard this story a few times over the years so it's obviously something that has become a significant meeting in Greg's life. We all have these moments of clarity, although I can't recall anyone asking me this direct question, I have flashes of talismanic meetings during educational conferences that stand out; plus, of course, Ali is an inspirational, larger than life character.

Thanks for allowing me to share the story Greg. It helped me out, gave me a different perspective on a difficult working day.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Now there's two trains runnin' on that line (Little Feat)

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

A couple of quotes from The Purdzilla Show blog have sustained me in my working life this week so I'm going to repeat them here without any further commentary.

Both are from Sheldon Kopp:

You are free to do whatever you want. You need only face the consequences.

All important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data. Yet we are responsible for everything we do.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

I've been workin', I've been workin' so hard (Van Morrison)

A friend and former colleague of mine included some notes from counsellor/presenter Aaron Ironside on her recent blogpost.  

The basic message was: I am not what I do - I am not my job

Who am I – is a different question as to What I do.  We cannot use our job to fix our view of ourselves, to upgrade our self-esteem, to make us upgrade our self-esteem – it’s not sustainable.

We need to keep our sense of self, who am I, the real me as a private concern.  Not one that is being determined or defined by work.

It’s just a job.  You are more than your job.  One day the job will be over.  Who will be left when it is all taken away?  It only muddles it if you let your work get entwined with your sense of self.

This is interesting because the lines between self and job are definitely blurred in my experience.

The way we lead/teach is an extension of our selves in many ways. Our individual style and personality and ability to form and sustain relationships is a fundamental part of how we do our job.

Our working life is a big chunk of our time - from 7.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday in my case (luckily there is no weekend sport or evening meetings like I had when Principal at Stratford High School).

I believe that our character traits affect our success or failure in life. My time at work is heavily influenced by my character traits. I am very much what I do.

Who I am and what I do are inter-dependent to a huge degree.

To an extent I do agree with that middle paragraph - there is a private me, and I do play a series of roles at school - all tangential ones - but me as teacher, as servant leader - that's who I am - to my core.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore (Bob Dylan)

Photo by Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash

One of our aims this year as a school was to start and end the year strongly.

As Usain Bolt says, 'There are better starters than me, but I'm a strong finisher'.

We have definitely entered the beginning of the end of the year period for senior students as they work through their practice exams and we prepare for their last school day in mid November before they start NCEA externals.

For the Year 13's their career at school is creeping towards an end, although it's a protracted end game with study leave from mid November, recognition of excellence ceremony in early December, and finally, a graduation ceremony in January. 

Always a weird time of the year in school as we go through those farewell rituals while simultaneously planning for the next year.

In this case we are interviewing for three new staff (one is a maternity cover, the other two are for additional staff). This is all VERY exciting. It's always great to introduce new staff into our dream team.