Thursday, September 21, 2017

In the light you will find the road (Led Zeppelin)

Photo by David Moum on Unsplash
Hurricane Irma was not the only storm happening recently.

A good friend of mine was navigating a fairly brutal storm of her own.

Initially, there were a few flight or fight style decisions to be made. In the end, fight was the only option.Quitting is not an option if you follow the 'never give up, never surrender' mantra from Galaxy Quest!

Soul searching was the order of the day and she is (it's an ongoing process) weathering the tempest and learning tons of stuff about herself. 

Like what?

Stuff to do with 'above the line' thinking like owning the failure (that comes from, and leads to, greater empathy) with no blame or excuses.

And courage - she found it tough to admit she could do better; she told her students, "I need to improve. You need to improve".

Although it has tested her optimism, she has realised that stuff needs addressing if the culture is to improve.  

Finally, she has learned a valuable lesson in fortitude.

Dan Rockwell says: Own the consequences of your failures, but don’t circle the drain. Remorse for causing harm is healthy, but bags of guilt crush the spirit.

“Woe is me,” might seem noble, but it’s self-centered.

 She'll be stronger for this experience!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Though I'm dressed in these rags, I'll wear sable some day (The Animals)

Learning coaches - part three (I think)

After extensive research, comprehensive surveys of all our students, staff and parents, and considerable analysis and soul searching involving long nights hunched over results in deep concentration, with all due modesty and sobriety, I can reveal, in a world premiere kind of way, an info graphic to beat all info graphics on, fanfare please...Learning Coaches!!!

Footnote: Every place has its jargon so some explanation required - LC is Learning Centre (where our senior students study in a self-directed fashion); OA is Office Administrator; the three places listed as preferences are in the LC.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In the mist dark figures move and twist (Iron Maiden)

Photo by Harman Abiwardani on Unsplash
Currently, a friend of mine is looking the beast in the eye.

My advice? Listen to Dan Rockwell on the subject. I think he's spot on:
  • Create four options before choosing one path forward.
  • Believe in your ability to learn, grow, and adapt.
  • Remember times when you rose up and faced big challenges in the past.
  • Respond to your fear of losing by developing strategies and taking aggressive action.  
  • Think more about taking action than doing everything perfectly.
  • Hang with men and women of valor. Listen to people with battle scars. Doers are better than dreamers when it comes to looking the beast in the eye.
  • Worry more about the next play and less about winning.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Don't overthink it. Just do it.

Something like that.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why doncha? (West Bruce and Laing)

Failure shmailure.

Photo by PICSELI on Unsplash
I've had occasion this week to talk quite a lot about failure with students and parents.

Seems some people get quite paralysed by the idea of failure.

Now, as long term Baggy Trews readers know - I am quite acquainted with failure and I've bemoaned the fact a few times that our modern student types are not, to their detriment.

With this in mind, I came across this in my bookmarks: How to teach children that failure is the secret to success. Time for a revisit before deleting the link.

The main take away - when your child is struggling on something or has setbacks, don't focus on their abilities, focus on what they can learn from it.

They're watching you, you know.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

What one-billionth of one percent are we going to choose to teach in school? (Seymour Papert)

Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash
At our Senior Educational Leadership Team (SELT) meetings we often discuss the curriculum we should be using in our schools.

We know our current curriculum is not cutting the mustard. 

We know we are basing our teaching and learning on an outdated structure, a hold over from the industrial age.

A hold over from when NZ opened for business as a branch of the British Empire. Some universities and some prestigious schools needed stuff to teach and it may have made sense then. 

We are perpetuating that circumstance in some form or other, and it no longer makes sense.  

We know our schools in 2017, with our desire for career ready students, have different needs to those that existed 100 years ago.

Yet, as Will Richardson reminds us, educationalists have long seemed loathe to mess with the recipe.

From the junior school until Year 8 we are holistic in nature, but then from Year 9 we introduce discreet subjects designed to funnel students into NCEA.

The NCEA boat is a canal boat going through a narrow channel; those babies are tough to turn around once they are pointing in one direction. 

But, at some point, we have to do it.

As Seymour Papert posits, now that we have access to pretty much all there is to know, what one-billionth of one percent are we going to choose to teach in school?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

You're the hidden cost and the thing that's lost In everything I do (Jackson Browne)

Photo by Philipp Lublasser on Unsplash

At present, I'm struggling a tad to be as efficient as I can be while establishing some me-time balance. It will be a neat trick when I pull it off.

I do like a challenge! 

In my current job, I knew going in that my downtime was going to be eroded, but I didn't realise it would disappear. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Finito - Kapish. 

Which was stupid of me. 

My job is that of an enhanced Deputy Principal, on steroids. I had no time when I was a DP at Cambridge High School. There was (and is) no 'free period' when you are a DP.  

Regular readers will recall that I checked this particular pulse a few months ago. I knew this term I would need to carve out some me-time at school, but, has it happened? Has it heck as like.

So I re-read this article by Mark McCartney from the Guardian - How To Do The Most Work In The Shortest Time, to take stock. 

First a reminder of Mark's top tips. 

1. Disappear (Lock yourself in a room away from distractions and focus fully on one task at a time). Nope - cannae do that yet. Feels slightly off to do that - I like being accessible a little too much. This one's a case of - must apply myself harder. 

2. Don’t fight distraction  (work in short bursts, with high levels of focused attention). Check - that's the way I roll.  

3. Simplify (what can you stop doing?). Still learning. This is probably something I can start doing more next year. Needs must this yesr.  

4. Find your rhythm (spend the first 60 minutes of your day on the one or two really important tasks you need to get done). Check! I have always arrived at school an hour early. Currently it's 90 mins.  

5. Strengthen (actively arrange your role so you can focus on what you are good at). Not yet. Same answer as #3.

6. Watch the robots
(focus on being effective). My aim is true.

7. Be honest. Always!

So how did I do, compared to earlier in the year? The above answers haven't changed much...yet.  

As Mark says:

It’s often our own deeply entrenched habits that stop us from getting more done more quickly.

Basically, I could do better. I will do better!  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The strong survive, they stay alive, they always cool (The Four Tops)

 Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

Version 1: The first step of my Learning Coach inquiry picked up pace this week.

Version 2: Going forward, to cover off the Learning Coach journey that will roll out because I have skin in the game I will further be unpacking after drilling down into the nitty gritty.

I hope you chose Version 1! Version two makes no sense!

What I've been doing is finding out what a Learning Coach is all about and understanding how it works - it seems there are a variety of ways people approach it, and obtaining insights from students and staff via my surveys.

This will continue into next week as I further analyse the surveys.

Seth Godin (I LOVE his succinct posts) has reminded me about a key element in my inquiry and I aim to keep it in mind after I finish a Learning Coach model for our campus.

It's this: Don't forget the second step
Step two is easily overlooked. Step two is turning it into a habit. Committing to the practice. Showing up and doing it again and again until you're good at it, and until it's part of who you are and what you do.
Right on brother!