Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I'm starting with the man in the mirror (Michael Jackson)

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
Lesson 2: Accept your mistakes. 

Somewhere in the lead up to the plans I devised for our second PBL day, there was some crucial information that I glossed over. Then, on the day, I had to be in three places at once and things turned to curdly custard. Fast.

Like getting stuck in quicksand: the more I struggled to get out, I deeper I dove. 

Lesson 6: Sometimes you just need to focus

So, what did I do? Closed my eyes and focused. Breathed. Accepted my mistakes. Built a bridge.

In the end, other staff rallied around, and older students came up trumps and a lot of positive learning was the winner on the day.

Who knows what's good or bad?

P.S. If you, my young padowan, want the other 10 lessons - go and have a squiz at this list).

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Get going. Then get better. (Ahmed/ Olander)

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash
Cutting edge, leaders in innovation, the tip of the arrow.

Recently, I've heard those phrases a lot. What do all these phrasas mean and what's needed to attain that status, and stay there? After all - everyone is doing their best to be cutting edge, right?

George Couros is my go-to-guy on innovation in education

Here he is on what it is and what it isn't:

To simplify the notion of innovation, it is something that is both new (either invention or iteration) and better. Innovation is not about the “stuff”, but about a way of thinking. 
For example, it is not the iPhone that is innovative, it was the thinking that created it in the first place. Innovation is about mindset more than anything. In fact, if you made an iPhone that looked more like the first version than the current one, it would no longer be innovative, but simply replication. There is no new thinking, nor is it better than what we have now.
What qualities are needed to be innovative?

The Velocity boys (Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander)  are still my go-to-guys on this.

This is what they have to say:

It takes 'courage, focus and determination, but gives back efficiency and rewards intuition, iteration and gutsiness'.

Their warning is always one I aim to keep in mind:
For organisations with structures that sand down all rough edges and desiccate anything juicy, something terrible will happen: nothing.

Monday, February 5, 2018

I'm thinking about eternity (Bruce Cockburn)

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash
Start of school hyper brain activity has been back to haunt me for the last few nights.

Happens every time - my brain goes into overload territory with the thousand night-time thoughts that come to me as I'm getting prepared for the students rocking up on the first day of the year. 

Flooding in come lists to prepare, messages to deliver, support for staff, values to promote, culture to embed, emails to's like a giant game of chess - thinking ten moves ahead.

At night, of course, everything is magnified ten times and once the jumble of neurons has begun the process I'm semi- awake and thinking, "I need to write this stuff down somewhere".

Fatal. By this time I'm awake and all the other voices in my head start up - Superbowl memories from the previous day, things I've said to people haunt me, stuff I should have said or done but didn't, all that joins the stuff I need to still do. 


Then I get up. 

The sun is shining in the sky, there ain't a cloud in sight. It's stopped rainin', everybody's in a play and don't you know - It's a beautiful new day. 

And you know what? Looks okay. The world survives into another day and I'm thinking about eternity. 

Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

There's a city in my mind, come along and take that ride (Talking Heads)

Photo by Andrew DesLauriers on Unsplash
So, here I am at conference with all my Westmount colleagues and buddies. Wow - I must say they scrub up well!

All the effort to organise the event and actually get everybody under one Holiday Inn roof is, like, totally worth it.

Highlights from day one: 

  • Chris Gregory producing a minor miracle - a maths lesson that I actually enjoyed AND learned something about cuboids from - thanks to my table colleagues!
  • Catching up with my confrères including Renoir, K Dawg, Sunshine and Rainbows (gonna miss you)
  • Dessert
  • Being called 'Fearless Leader' by one of my staff
  • Meeting all the Tasman and Manawatu staff - good looking bunch
  • Getting locked out of the building because my entry card demagnetised (top tip - don't put it anywhere near your mobile phone) and walking around for ages outside on a beautiful calm night
  • Buzz word bingo: the winner on the day was 'journey' way out in front (23 mentions). The rest? 'Roll out' 6, 'Unpack' 6, 'moving forward' 8, 2 'underpins' and one 'without further ado' (NOT by B Sloan shock horror)
  • Gaining a few new acronyms - EAP, WIIFM, and the truly epic HCP (Human Capital System)
Day two - I wonder what you have in store...with any luck it's some more fun activities (Jim's PBL intro, Chris' maths lesson, Jon's musical warm downs) and far less being talked at for 40 minutes with wordy powerpoints.

Remembering always: you gotta take the crunchy with the smooth, there are many on-line sources for advice these days on 'how to give great presentations without talking to powerpoints for 40 minutes'.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Everyone in the world has to strive to improve if they want to be outstanding (Hsing Yun)

Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash
It's the start of a new academic year. True fact: my students will come into school next week and some of them will not succeed this year. Because they won't strive to be the best they can be, to be outstanding.

Some will - strike 'some', a lot will strive for success and be pushy and not settle for second best, and that's as it should be.

But I know going in that a continuum will again exist between those students and the ones that try to coast and under-perform, and the ones that give up because it's too hard.

That's the tragedy of school. All are capable but personality will enter the equation and the obstacles that test them will find them wanting.

For me/us the questions remain: how do I/we instill in them the spirit to strive for the best, the desire to produce outstanding achievements in any task?

Isn't that what we are all about?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Who knows what's good or bad (the wise Chinese farmer)

Image result for hot desks

Hot desks. Hot offices.

With our brand spanking new administration area, we've entered a brave new world.

Gone are the individual study/work areas for staff, gone is the idea of 'owning' an office or a workspace.

Instead it's hello to open plan and a more social space - with enlarged kitchen, new communal dining area, and large collaborative table setting the new agenda.

For me, it will take some adjusting to, as I'm used to having an office to dress up and personalise. Sadly, it means no Arsenal flag in the new environment. I may not cope.

But - you sometimes get what you need, rather than what you want, and this fits in with my goal for the year of getting out and about more.

It will be very interesting to watch the changed dynamics in the staff room during this first term. Some will love it. Some will hate it. Some will adjust. Some won't.

I sense a flat meeting may be in order! After all, it worked for The Young Ones.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Paint your palette blue and grey (Don McLean)

Photo by Ryan Hutton on Unsplash
I've been away from home for four days helping my youngest daughter build some gates and fences at her new house. 

She and her partner live 8 hours away by car so a large chunk of two days was spent travelling back and forth.

During that time I had infrequent time to check my emails from my school account. Things are hotting up.

Greetings from various people, students asking questions, staff getting in contact: usual preliminary stuff about two weeks out from school starting again for the academic year.

Nothing drastic or vitally important.

Sometimes it's good to get away. Like looking at the night sky and gazing at the moon or the stars.

Gives a sense of proportion and perspective.