Monday, July 4, 2022

Did this meeting of our minds together, ooh, happen just today, some way? (Chicago)

Photo by Ana Municio on Unsplash

A phrase that has long been adopted by OneSchool Global, is 'Learning To Learn'.

It's a key attribute to have for life. In a way it symbolises all of those soft skills that are so important post compulsory schooling. 

Employers are not necessarily interested in what you did in a Year 11 mathematics assessment, but they do want you to be adaptable, use your initiative, have integrity, problem solve and ask questions.

Neil Postman says this in his seminal work, Teaching As A Subversive Activity, on the value of questions: 

"Once you have learned to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know." 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

It is inevitable (Mr Smith)



When you are in a leadership or management position (as I have been since 1986), mistakes are to quote Mr Smith - inevitable.

But fear not gentle reader, philosopher Alan Watts has this great take on mistakes:
"Regard yourself as a cloud, in the flesh, because you see, clouds never make mistakes. Did you ever see a cloud that was misshapen? Did you ever see a badly designed wave? No, they always do the right thing. But, if you will, treat yourself for a while as a cloud or a wave and realize that you can’t make a mistake whatever you do. Because even if you do something that appears totally disastrous, it will all come out in the wash somehow or another. Then through this capacity you will develop a kind of confidence. And through confidence you will be able to trust your own intuition." 
Thanks to James Clear for including that on his newsletter.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Achieve more, every day.


 

One of last week's highlights was a visit to the Hastings' factory of Hustler (if you are looking for farm equipment, look no further) with my Year 13 students.

That giant sign (pictured above) hangs high above the factory floor - delivering its message 24/7.

It reminded me of a post by Seth Godin - called Could be better.
Three words that open the door for insight, understanding and improvement.

Gratitude isn’t in question. Neither is acceptance of the situation. It’s not unpatriotic or disloyal to talk about how something could be improved. Instead, when we care enough to say, “could be better,” we’re putting ourselves on the hook to create. You need to care enough to describe an improvement.

Because once you’ve announced how something can be better, you get the chance to show that it can be done.
Achieve More, Every Day is Hustler's version of Could be better.

I love that idea!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

We sang a song with a happy beat (Wet Willie)

Where I work - OSG Hastings' Campus


Starting with two days in Auckland with other Principals, it was an amazing week just gone.

OneSchool Global is an extraordinary organisation with a truly inspirational environment within which to work. I mean, really!

Quick refresher: OneSchool Global is a worldwide network of campuses for the children of Plymouth Brethren families. Students stay with us for the last 11 years of their schooling. In NZ there are 17 campuses spread over both islands split into 5 districts. I am privileged to be a District Principal for the North East region (taking in Hamilton, Gisborne and Hastings' campuses).

My week

Monday am - flew to Auckland from Palmerston North for two days of Senior Educational Leadership Team (SELT) meetings. We discussed topics such as our ten foci for 2022, the Culture of Care within our campuses, our goals for our Learning Centres (where students in Years 9 to 13 work), and more!

Tuesday pm - flew back to Palmerston North.   

Wednesday - spent the day with my Hastings' Year 13 students as they had a series of workplace visits - touring three Brethren businesses and working on CV's and job seeking type activities. This was a real eye-opener of a day - I had no idea about the sheer scale of these businesses!

Thursday - my first full day at Hastings' campus for a while catching up with people and completing my various reports - a normal Thursday responsibility.

Friday - a public holiday in NZ called Matariki (Matariki signals the Māori New Year).

Quite a week!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings of the bluebird as she sings (The Monkees)

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash


Getting developed professionally is a tricky thing these days - what with differentiation and various hierarchies of needs.

Our professional development calendar at school looks like a map of the London Underground.

That calendar corrals people together in terms of group needs - Teacher Aides, Office Administrators, Principals, certain levels within the teaching force, and so on - all have some distinct PD needs. The aim is to cater for those needs.

Within those broad groups there are subgroups (length of experience, age, interest levels, ability range are some) and then within those subgroups are individuals with their distinct idiosyncrasies, quirks, and irrationalities.  

How on earth do you provide for that level of differentiation?

Individual teacher inquiries are one way and I really love them.

Recently, I counselled a staff member who was doubting the value of a teacher inquiry. My advice was - locate something he is passionate about, something attached to his specific teaching that would be meaningful for both him and his students.

We don't get enough opportunities to focus in so deliberately on our own needs. So, when the chance comes along, we must grab it and invest in it.

Monday, June 13, 2022

We are considered cultured if we have a civil mind (Ysing Yun)

Photo by Pavol Tančibok on Unsplash


After I was absent for a few days a colleague thanked me for the little things I do around the place. Things like unpacking the dishwasher first thing in the morning, putting water in the coffee machine, emptying the staffroom rubbish bin, locking up the school, putting the dishwasher on at the end of the day - all those little things.

The appreciation was welcome but surprised me a little because I don't normally think about these little job things - they are all just things that need to be done and as I'm always first to school and mostly last to leave, it would feel weird not to do them. 

Who would do them if I didn't? Why would I leave them for someone else to do?

I'm not alone either. Luckily I work in a campus with people who have a high degree of social responsibility.

How do I know? Plates, dishes and cutlery are mostly put into the dishwasher after use and not just put into the sink. That's a good barometer. 

It all comes down to civil consciousness in the end.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Listen! Do you want to know a secret? (The Beatles)

Photo by saeed karimi on Unsplash

Shut up! Listening to other people is important!

How important? Well, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic - how well and frequently you listen to others is a better predictor of your leadership potential than your actual intelligence or personality.

High quality listening is a rare commodity, though. That phrase, 'they like the sound of their own voice' is a thing.

Most* people
are thinking about what they want to say next and not listening fully (*btw I have no research-based evidence for writing 'most' beyond that it feels right). I can see it in their body language.


This is human nature, I guess. Most* people are egocentric. In this modern world within which we work and live, we are often told to 'back ourselves', to express our inner voice, which results in being the centre of attention. That means a talk fest which often results in blather.  

Most* people don't seem to be able to resist the temptation to talk. That inner voice gets frustrated and the mouth opens. When that happens amongst a crowd, there is often no place for listeners. 

Okay, so what can be done about this?

Tomas' four enablers of high-quality listening bears repeating:

  • Focus (give your undivided attention)
  • Empathy (be open and considerate)
  • Self-control (wait for the other person to finish)
  • Inclusion (include the other person in your story)

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us (Stephen Covey)

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash


It seems counter-intuitive, but workload is the number one cause of stress at work.

Mostly this kind of stress has a positive vibration - at a moderate level, positive stress can make us more alert, stay motivated, and work towards goals.

For instance, I feel a positive stress to help my at-risk students improve their grades. This means working closely with several students, finding their motivation points, tracking data and having conversations with teachers to find appropriate strategies.

This kind of challenge/stress focuses our attention, talent and energy. 

Negative stress can happen when too much is expected and people get overwhelmed, or if the work piles up continually without time to reduce the pile.

It seems obvious - but too many tasks prevent people working well if there is no time for reflection.

I've found that the more conscientious a person is, the more they struggle to turn bad stress around into good stress and then end up unwell, not sleeping, making errors, and then potentially becoming below the line people (blaming others and coming up with excuses).

Reflection time is a must have. We all need it.

So, how can bad stress be turned back into good stress?

Some of these ideas may help:

  • Acknowledging workload stress is a good start
  • Consciously keep above the line thinking going (ownership, not blame)
  • Manage the workload, don't control it. Prioritise (I don't use to do lists but some of my colleagues do - one even keeps a done list - whatever works for you)
  • Take a meaningful pause (I aim to go for a walk three times a week to exercise and clear the head)
  • Eat healthily (a piece of fruit each day helps)
  • Decide if it's good stress or not
  • Don't fight it - acceptance that the tasks will never stop coming is affirming with the right mindset
  • Say no if you need to. Push back on deadlines (someone else's urgent/importance may not be yours)
  • Manage your emails (touch them only once)
  • Delegate tasks if you can (but beware loading up on others workload)
  • Laugh a lot! It will keep you sane.
  • Seek support - others may have already walked those steps or else have some good ideas.

Good luck as you navigate the path to good stress!

Monday, May 30, 2022

I see Warren every weekend, he makes a living as a fisherman (Cassandra Jenkins)

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash


Discussions at home recently have had me thinking about what motivates me. I notice 'motivation' has been a regular topic in this blog over the years but I've mainly concentrated on what motivates students - not what motivates me. So here goes with my top 5 (they are in random order as I thought of them):

  • A sense of purpose - I need to know/feel that what I am doing fulfils a purpose. This is to me a basic human need. I'd like to think that we are all wanting to achieve something worthwhile while we live on Planet Earth.
  • Fresh challenges - I need to feel that I am continuing to grow as a professional. My length of time spent in schools has never exceeded five years. I crave fresh challenges. Reinventions if you like.
  • The serving others/ leading others combo is very seductive - I need that combo. I tried to step back from it once and within a short amount of time I was itching for a wider leadership role. According to my LinkedIn friends, it's just me.
  • I need to know my skills are being utilised to the fullest. When they are not, I get itchy feet.
  • I like to get proper recognition for good work (but this is a nice to have, not a must have).

That about sums up what motivates me and it's pretty clear, isn't it, that for many reasons, I thrive on intrinsic motivation. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do (Steve Jobs)

Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash


I've always been slightly perplexed by job descriptions. Often, they don't appear to have much relationship with the actual job. After a while, the realities of the job take over from the Job Description and employees don't look at it ever again.

For instance, I've seen a lengthy official Job Description for my support staff, but they had to hunt for it to show me and it came in multiple parts.

So, to combat that scenario, each year I've had meetings with my support staff to ascertain what they actually do in their job. The 'real' job description extrapolates out from the official one (which exhaustively covers all possible bases) with tasks and specific areas of responsibility.

The 'real' one changes each year as people come and go and is co-constructed with the people in the jobs. It suits individual strengths and weaknesses and isn't a document to keep people accountable. Instead, it's an informational document for the support staff and the teaching staff to know who is doing what and how the job matters.

It's quite powerful when purpose is aligned with tasks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

I find it very, very easy to be true. I find myself alone when each day is through (Johnny Cash)



Above the line thinking is today's subject. 

Although I've written about this idea previously, I haven't posted that infographic before.

I am reminded about this daily as that infographic is on the staffroom wall by the exit door.

Swiss Miss also posted a link to a video in a recent newsletter that includes this philosophy. It's worth a look.

Above the line thinking. A constant challenge.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it (Daniel Kanneman)

Photo by Samuele Errico Piccarini on Unsplash


I caught myself overthinking something this week and that's rare for me (it took me a while to even realise I was overthinking too. Again - rare). 

It's of interest to me why I did that and what I can do next time. 

So, I went to my go-to - Dan Rockwell, for some advice and here's what he has come up with:

The more you think about something, the bigger it becomes. 
The sooner you act, the clearer you become.

Focus on thinking, get more thinking.
Focus on action, get results.
Action creates clarity. Inaction magnifies confusion.

Thanks Dan. One for me to file away and pull out when needed.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Opportunities, opportunities, you've gotta take them whenever you can (The Divine Comedy)

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash


I thought I'd share this little pearl today. It's from James Clear's weekly newsletter.

It comes from husband and wife combo, Benjamin Zander, a longtime conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and Rosamund Zander, a family therapist, on the power of point of view:

“Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves facing in life, only appears unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view. Enlarge the box, or create another frame around the data, and problems vanish, while new opportunities appear.”

Source: The Art of Possibility

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Hurry up and wait, but what's worth waiting for? (Stereophonics)



Putting things on hold is a common student trait. Not just students, but that's what I see a lot of at school.

I have some students - yes, males, who really struggle with distant deadlines. Weeks go by and little, if anything, is happening along the way. Checkpoints come and go. Deadlines arrive and things that are cobbled together at the last minute often don't pass muster.

Procrastination is often seen as a time management or organisational inability, but research may be pointing at different reasons and therefore, different ways of helping students to overcome the trait.

Tim Pychyl, is an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ontario, Canada. He’s conducted research on procrastination and he found that emotions rather than time management are frequently at the root of procrastination. Task avoidance doesn’t happen because students don’t know about the tasks—students avoid tasks because of the feeling associated with completing them - "We think that by putting things off, we’re going to feel better.”
 
There is a biological basis to this rationale. When we feel stressed about a task, our amygdala (the brain center that regulates emotion and perceives threats) responds by telling our body to avoid the situation causing us anxiety.

Procrastination is then a short-term solution as it provides a reinforcing, positive loop: stressful task, perceived threat, avoid stressful task, and feel better.

The good news is that there are some ways to help students overcome procrastination. The following is from an article on Edutopia.

Focus on one step. Breaking down large tasks into small steps is a surefire way to get the ball rolling.  Offering to help divide the task into small parts can be just the help your students need to see the path forward. 

Rewards after the task. Our brains crave dopamine, the “feel good” hormone, and prefer to repeat behaviors that make us feel good.  

Knowing the student and their moods. We all have times of day when we are most alert. Aim to schedule challenging tasks when a student is most focused and do not schedule them when they aren't!  Scheduling tasks during times of high energy will help students be most productive and lessen the opportunity for procrastination.

Reframe negative thoughts. Remembering forgiveness and compassion when students start to emotionally shut down because of feeling overwhelmed is important. 

Consistency is key. They go through long periods of procrastinating followed by a burst of energy and focus, often staying up all night to complete assignments.  Encouraging and rewarding sustained effort is important.  

Don’t wait until you “feel like it.” Many students procrastinate because they are waiting for just the right moment to get started. Just do it! We need to teach our students how to look beyond their feelings in the moment.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think

 

Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash


Writer David Foster Wallace on the importance of controlling your attention:

"Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about "teaching you how to think" is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed."

Source: This is Water (courtesy of James Clear)

Monday, April 25, 2022

Gods (Emily Berry)

 


Gods

While her companion talked on and on sheaimed to keep her expression neutral butallowed her gaze to pass occasionally fromhis face to the large colourful paintingbehind him, which depicted a pair of Hindugods cavorting in an idyllic landscape. Just tothe right of his head she had a glimpse of abright blue pool beneath some trees, and asshe nodded and murmured small soundsof encouragement she imagined herselfplunging into the lake and swimming witha powerful front crawl to the other side.Emily Berry (2022)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Autumn (Alexander Posey)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Autumn

In the dreamy silence
Of the afternoon, a
Cloth of gold is woven
Over wood and prairie;
And the jaybird, newly
Fallen from the heaven,
Scatters cordial greetings,
And the air is filled with
Scarlet leaves, that, dropping,
Rise again, as ever,
With a useless sigh for
Rest—and it is Autumn.

Alexander Posey 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Self-compassion

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash


Study-break time bewteen Term 1 and 2, and I'm devoting a couple of posts to some poetry that has accumulated in my in-box.

Self-Compassion

My friend and I snickered the first time
we heard the meditation teacher, a grown man,
call himself honey, with a hand placed
over his heart to illustrate how we too 
might become more gentle with ourselves
and our runaway minds. It’s been years
since we sat with legs twisted on cushions,
holding back our laughter, but today
I found myself crouched on the floor again,
not meditating exactly, just agreeing
to be still, saying honey to myself each time
I thought about my husband splayed
on the couch with aching joints and fever
from a tick bite—what if he never gets better?—
or considered the threat of more wildfires,
the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream,
then remembered that in a few more minutes, 
I’d have to climb down to the cellar and empty
the bucket I placed beneath a leaky pipe
that can’t be fixed until next week. How long
do any of us really have before the body
begins to break down and empty its mysteries
into the air? Oh honey, I said—for once
without a trace of irony or blush of shame—
the touch of my own hand on my chest
like that of a stranger, oddly comforting
in spite of the facts.

James Crews

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Look through any window yeah, what do you see? Smiling faces all around rushin' through the busy town (The Hollies)

Photo by Nicolas Solerieu on Unsplash

Recently, I was involved in some professional development that used something called the Johari Window. I was asked to discover who I was based on selecting six adjectives from a list. 

Hmmm, I may have reservations about this, however, I can reveal to you my chosen six were: adaptable; calm; cheerful; friendly; dependable; reflective. These go into my Open window.

Others then gave their version of me and while some went for similar adjectives, a few selected 'bold'. This went into my Blind window. Now, I'm not sure what 'bold' means to different people, but maybe I am. It's not how I see myself and that is the point.

Apart from that, Johari's (four pane) Window (the other two are Façade and Unknown) was interesting, but I'm still keen to know where I take it from here.

Something I've known for a looooong time is that I'm a relationships/narrative guy. I'm not a data driven guy, in that, while I can analyse data and produce theses to test, I tend to be suspicious of it all.

When I'm presented with a long succession of statistical tables my eyes tend to glaze over. I'm better with the pictorial graphs of trends. They glaze over because tables/graphs don't tend to include the narrative, nor reveal the relationships, and so, I find myself getting frustrated.

Another thing I know is that I like systems, but they need to have a purpose and for me that means serving people. For that reason I belong in a job like teaching - serving others. I could never run my own business.

Which all serves to point to a fundamental bias - I'm an English teacher. I have a Master's degree in that area and a few post-graduate diplomas and degrees in Educational Management that focused on qualitative research, not quantitative.

Basically, I prefer words to numbers. I'm just built that way. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Those who think they know, don’t (Edward de Bono)


While recuperating from covid-19 this week, I enjoyed reading this post by Dan Rockwell looking at four ways to improve your leadership.

First - Quiet your ego. 

Relax! You aren’t better than others. You don’t control the world. The universe won’t flinch when you’re gone.

Second - Embrace learning.

Compared to all the things that could be known, you’re a moron.

“Those who think they know, don’t.” Edward de Bono

Learning and relearning are more important than the things you know.

Third - Lift others.

Arrogance puts people down. Greatness lifts people.

How do people feel about themselves after spending time with you?

Fourth - Stand for something that matters.

Being great requires unbending commitment and unquenchable tenacity.

Great to be reminded of those things.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Let's go slow (Tim Finn/Phil Manzanera)


Dan Rockwell in his recent blog suggested 20 questions to audit personal energy. I figured I'd give it a go.

He suggests asking team members to assess their ability to manage personal energy, using a 1 to 10 scale.

  • I know my most productive time of day. Yes, I do - 10
  • I typically stay on task until I need a break. Depends on the task but probably low on this s0 4
  • I regularly express gratitude. Yes - 10
  • I feel my boss seeks my best interest. Yes -10
  • I take breaks during the day. Yes, I do now - 10
  • I eat healthy food. Hmmm - 6
  • I have a consistent bedtime. Yes - 10
  • I know what today’s priority is. Yes - 8
  • I frequently do things I love to do. Yes - reading and listening to music daily would qualify here - 8 (I'd like to do it more hence the 8)
  • I feel like I’m heading in a good direction as a person/employee. Yes - 8
  • I usually get the day’s work done. Yes - 10
  • I understand and embrace organizational purpose. Yes - 10
  • I use my strengths every day at work. Mostly yes - 8
  • I feel like I make a meaningful contribution every day. Yes - 8
  • My work aligns with my values. Absolutely - 10
  • I feel like my boss listens to me. Yes - 10
  • I enjoy a hobby. I do - 10
  • I exercise regularly. Not as much as I should but generally yes - 6
  • I feel like I’m growing as a person. Yes - 10
  • I hang out with fellow employees outside of work hours. No - except for after work drinks on rare occasions but not regularly - 2. I'm interested that Dan includes this question which kind of implies you should. But I need the weekend to recover from 5 days at school and have never 'hung out' with colleagues that much - tennis games with Peter Joyce was the most I've done.
Dan then asks these four questions:

What did you learn after completing your energy audit? I feel like my rating for personal energy is really high. But I knew that going in.
Which items most influence your energy in a positive way? Having a sense of purpose, alignment and knowing my skills and strengths are being utilised. Negative way? Up to this year being time poor was a factor (my need to finish jobs took a hit because I would try to do too many things and spread myself too thin) but I took steps to correct things this year and so my energy levels remain consistent I am findng.
How might you better manage personal energy? I feel pretty comfortable with things - I aim to walk three lunchtimes a week - on course this week after a zero week because of poor weather. I always feel more energy if I get regular exercise and eat better.
What’s one thing I could do to better fuel your energy? Eat better (the lure of the chocolate bar).

Sunday, March 27, 2022

You can't live in a time zone, you've gotta move on (The Kinks)

Photo by Shot by Cerqueira on Unsplash

Attitude.

I am interviewing for a position at the moment that is quite specialised - Learning Coach and NCEA co-ordinator.

None of the applicants have that specific experience, but so what? I figure I can train them in the specifics.

I'd rather have someone with the right emotional intelligence and willingness to learn new things than someone with a niche specialism. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

To know more about a person, we need to listen to them and observe their behaviour (Confucius)

Photo by Anna Marie on Unsplash

I'll be doing my four-minute walkthroughs in the coming weeks. Actually, inflationary policies mean the current trend is to go for ten-minutes but I can pretty much get it done in four still. Four to five.

Whatever the time period, the purpose remains the same. And so do the means: evaluation/appraisal through speech and actions.

Many would say that getting an independent party to evaluate is fairer because there is no relationship between the parties but...whatever. The object is still to be as objective as possible. And a strong healthy respectful relationship helps, in my humble opinion.

The receptiveness of the participants to accept an evaluation openly is key. That means trust, openness and those reciprocal relationships. Important, because people who can accept their evaluation know their strengths. 

According to Venerable master Hsing Yun:

To put the results of an evaluation to use, one must use it as a direction for future learning, thereby improving and reviewing one's performance. The evaluation report should also help one overcome one's weaknesses, enhance one's strengths and encourage one to strive for the highest standards.

With him 100% on that! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Can't seem to let it go, but too much to say. My mind is a running stream stretching out by the side of a willow tree (Paul Weller)

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Feedback. As indicated previously, I have struggled with it in the past.

Like many, I've always felt vaguely uncomfortable with people watching and appraising me. I find that uncomfortable feeling hard to shake. I struggle to accept compliments; don't find I need simple reassurance and I am certainly not aching for unwarranted criticism thanks very much.

Doesn't leave a lot of wriggle room, huh.

Seth Godin's belief is that the person giving feedback needs to be 'someone who understands genre and has the insight to share what they know in a way we can use'.

Absolutely. I've yet to experience it that often (Colin Prentice, Roger Moses - both from the 1980s - take a bow). So, I'd guess that it's rare.

Seth Godin has some good advice around this:
A simple approach to learning how to solicit and receive feedback: Begin by showing a well-meaning peer someone else’s novel, painting, design or business plan…

You might discover that when you show it to a friend (“here’s a chapter from a novel I’m writing” or “Here’s the logo my firm is considering”) you get harsh, direct criticism, filled with certainty and warning.

It’s easier to hear, because it’s not your work. They’re busy criticizing a chapter that JK Rowling wrote, or a logo that the late Milton Glaser created.
I just need to work out how I could adapt this idea for teaching/leading a school.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

A handshake, a greeting, the way we sit in a meeting or wear a mask–it’s a chance to connect and to make a difference for the person we’re with. All in, or not at all (Seth Godin)

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Seth is alluding to correct use of social niceties in that quote.

Meetings on zoom are a particular challenge for a lot of us. It's tempting to indulge in other things that may be pressing rather than give undivided attention. Embarrassing if you get caught out!

Sometimes, too, it's hard to get a word in edgeways when a few people dominate a meeting. It's easy to give in to the frustration and not contribute.

Wearing a protective mask correctly is another of those niceties that has become increasingly important in our correct climate. Some students struggle with this and need reminders during the day. 

I'll remember Seth's words for my own behaviour and when addressing staff and students about those masks - it's a chance to connect and make a difference and he's right - all in or not at all (echoes of 'do or do not - there is no try' in that one).

Monday, March 7, 2022

It's cloud illusions I recall, I really don't know clouds at all (Joni Mitchell)

Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash

Walking is man's best medicine (according to Hippocrates) and walking at lunchtime remains a thing I love to do.

It started while I was at Woodford House back in 2013 when Toni, Dionne and I would put on walking shoes, I'd take off my tie, and we'd walk for 30 mins around the wooded streets and farm lanes behind the school. Fabulous.

It was a great idea started by Jimmy - the PE teacher, and we kind of adapted it into a download of ideas/ thoughts and occasional grumbles.

I've carried it on since then (without the grumbles) with a variety of co-walkers. At the moment it's just me and that's fine. 

It allows for a meditative state to replace the decision making of leading/managing the campus.

I'm outside, walking one of two routes around the Mitre 10 Sports Park that is next to our Hastings' campus: the long - 35 minutes (for when I have a non-contact period 5 and I can eat my tuna and Cruskits in peace); the short - 25 mins, involves a short cut that bypasses the athletics track.

I'm also a keen cloud gazer, something I've mentioned before. Watching clouds is quite therapeutic I find. You lift your gaze for one thing and thoughts move from the mundane to the lofty immediately. 

A sense of perspective is guaranteed.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

I'm a problem child, I'm a problem child, yes I am (AC/DC)

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Each year there are a few tricky students who need special attention. They seem to come in twos for me.

They are students, always boys, who, I find, need extra emphasis on structure and organisation to become more self-directed.

They are not easy problems/challenges to solve. It's complicated.

Difficult problems, as Seth Godin knows, 'stick around until someone with insight, dedication and commitment shows up and gets to work', and, 'seeking out difficult problems is far more effective than avoiding them'.

Not that we avoided difficult problems in previous years, but it usually took the first term to figure out who they were. This year we identified our two students early (much earlier than last year) and began regular weekly meetings to check on study plans and progress in each of their subjects. 

Using a meeting template, being methodical and immediately communicating with relevant people (the student, parents, relevant teachers, support staff, Learning Coach) is really helping.

Thankfully, I don't have a teaching class this year so I now have the time to do this properly.

It feels good!

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Everybody's got someone to lean on (The Traveling Wilburys)

Photo by Ashley Whitlatch on Unsplash


When you take care of yourself, you’re a better person for others. When you feel good about yourself, you treat others better. 

Solange Knowles