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


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!