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.