Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's a matter of trust (Billy Joel)

As I've mentioned before, I operate under a high trust model in my classroom.

My students know that because I tell them. I set out some simple parameters at the end of my slide show presentation about what students can expect of the year.

Slide 1:

Slide 2:

One's personal integrity comes in part from one's trustworthiness - so, in my students' case, how much they keep to these simple guidelines. 

So far I've been really impressed with my students this year. 

They are well aware that when trust is broken, it is very very hard to get back.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

She walks like a bearded rainbow (Cream)

I am not a fan of abbreviating words. I don't know why. I'm just not.

Add it to my pet peeves: drill down, skin in the game, stick to the knitting, baby and bathwater, moving forward, unpack et al.

My hackles (erectile hairs on the back of my neck) are often raised in the jargon filled teacher-speak world I live in. 

Three abrevs have surfaced this week: arvo, comms and comp. Ick times three.

Afternoon to 'arvo' is, clearly, the result of letting Australians loose on the Queen's English. Enough said.

Comp (because competition is so hard to say) and comms - don't get me started...oh, but I have though, haven't I.

I've started so I'll finish.

Communications has five syllables and so reducing it to one may seem an appropriate thing to do. Yeah nah, I disagree.

It's all about being precise and using the long form is the opposite of laziness to my mind.

When people say comms they are usually using short hand for the full title: a Communication and Information bureau/ department. I would advise bypassing the tautology and say simply, 'communications'. I can live with that, but not comms!

BTW (LOL) - I'm also the guy who when ordering at the McDonald's drive through says, "I'll have three soft serve cones please".

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Here comes the flood (Peter Gabriel)

There are lies, damned lies and statistics - Mark Twain.

We've reached that point of the school year where you find me knee deep in statistics.

Yes indeed.

It's medication time! A.K.A. annual report writing time! 

The actual report takes me a fair old while to write. I need to remember a load of places and techniques from the year before to find the right statistics and then comment on them.

I was busy explaining this to She Who Must Be Obeyed after she wondered how my day was, and she asked me a great question: is it worthwhile (meaning - does it affect/change what you do)?

And the resounding answer from me was - YES! Actually. It is!

Doing this report for the Board Of Trustees has resulted in some clear and definitive changes in how our English department operates. We needed to be better at certain things (even though our results were pretty good overall).

Now, doing my English report for last year has given me an overwhelming feeling that we have made the right changes.

Einstein: definition of insanity - doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

We made changes last year - not universally popular ones in my department it has to be acknowledged, but they were great changes!

I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mr Blue Sky, please tell us why (ELO)

Sun is shining, a blue sky day, and stinking hot!

Must be a NZ school day in February!

Time to get cool with some sites (see what I did there?).

1 It's okay to date new technology, don't marry it.
A snappy title will go a long way huh! This article had one and was a friendly overview of tech trends in education. 

2 Innovation 1
We now have a Director of Innovation at Woodford House - the wonderful Toni! I applaud that idea - which is an innovation all on its own. Toni and I are fans of Hobsonville Point - a school with stacks of ideas. Clare Amos at that school is a driver of ideas and this little taster is pretty darn cool.

3 Innovation 2
Apparently you can teach innovation! Not only that - there are ten ways to do it! Wahoo!!

4 The bus
Not to be outdone, Leadership Freak comes up with 12 ways to rise after being thrown under a bus (not literally).

5 A cranky question
I love this question - are we too busy schooling? I also love that the writer admits to being a bit cranky - there's nothing wrong with a bit of crankiness from time to time.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I usually played such things as rough-neck and thug (Captain Beefheart)

Roughing it in Eskdale with the Year 11's Part 1
Two words: school camp. 

Some love 'em (like me), some folks don't. It's all good.

Roughing it in Eskdale Part 2

This first week for the term, at our school, is all about a gentle start - just seniors and a load of non classroom activities - camps (Year 11 and 13), trips to universities, and visiting speakers is the order of the day.

The start of a school year is always different in each school. Some schools stagger the start with different year groups, some get everybody in. Some launch into classes straight away, some don't.

Each one is valid.

The point is we've started the year and the next 10 weeks at school will be vibrant, exciting, frustrating, rewarding, challenging and full to the brim of potential!!

So - let's get into it via:

1 Tube map education
Say what? What does the London Underground have to do with education? I like this analogy.

2 Engagement
I'm keen to immediately engage my students. I'm always thinking of ways to do this and always looking for the disengaged. Get 'em on board early and life is a lot easier for the next 10 weeks.

3 Try something new
It's a new year - fresh starts for students and time to retire some old texts and embrace some fresh ideas. Everyone needs a reminder about this!

4 Blended learning
Time also for a reminder about establishing a good classroom culture for blended learning.

5 Wildly audacious goals
This is the best time of the year coz we can all have wildly audacious goals!

Monday, February 1, 2016

People, we is not wrapped tight (Frank Zappa)

Back to school.  Three little words. That mean so much! 

Back in the saddle. In the old bib and tucker.

Need some motivation? Let's get to it shall we?

1 The 80/20 rule
Creativity and innovation is the name of the game.

2 Leaders need to teach!
I'm a firm advocate for this - trap is leaders forget quickly what day to day classroom life is all about.

3 Managing change
Ch ch ch ch changes - Bowie knew a thing or two about managing change. Not sure if he saw these four tips though.

4 Be resilient
How to be resilient when things get tough. Might need this one after a long holiday break!

5 Dumb all over
And to finish off - Leadership freaky solves dumbness in leaders. No, really!