Monday, May 29, 2017

Oh won't you stay, just a little bit longer (Jackson Browne)

I like this from Marcel Schwantes - writing about
Exit Interviews

His suggestion - rather than an exit interview - why not try a 'stay meeting'. The idea being to forestall the actual exit and improve a situation before it gets to that point.

That seems to make sense to me. During the Stay Meeting Marcel suggests the five questions.

It got me thinking...

I found the exit interview at Woodford House, in December 2016, a very strange, surreal experience. It may have helped the school, but it didn't help me at all!

I would much rather have answered two of Marcel's questions in a 'stay meeting', at any time along the way.

Here's the first:

"Do you feel your skills are being utilized to the fullest?"
Marcel: Best case scenario here is discovering that the employee has skills the company or leader never knew about, which is a win-win: The employee wins by using personal strengths that raise personal motivation and engagement; the leader wins by offering new opportunities to tap into those strengths, which releases discretionary effort that will benefit the company, project, or team.
Would have been great if someone at my last school had thought to ask me that. Instead I felt my skills were being under-utilised and diminished.

Apart from me, no one noticed that, so I had to start thinking about fresh challenges elsewhere.

And the next one:

"Do you feel you get properly recognized for doing good work?"
Marcel: A leader will gauge frustration levels by courageously asking this question and openly accepting the response and, if it's negative, brainstorming solutions together. As Gallup has observed in its extensive research, praise and recognition for accomplishments have been repeatedly linked to higher employee retention.  
Maybe I didn't do good work. Maybe I just thought I did. I'm not sure. Maybe they didn't know either.

My best moment was at an early check in with the Principal (Jackie Barron) in 2013 who told me I'd made a good start; she loved that I was 'low maintenance'. I liked that because I do like to just get on with it and I'll check in if and when I need to. I also subscribe to the idea that if you employ good people and they are good at what they do - get out of their way.

The English department at Woodford was a case in point - three exceptional teachers, each of whom could easily lead a department, who had great ideas and got great results. Why would I want to micro-manage them?

I digress...

I've certainly received more positive and encouraging feedback in my new environment from colleagues, students, and parents in 6 months than I did at Woodford in four years. Nor do I miss Woodford's Staff Star and Extraordinary Teacher draws (given the criteria, I never had a look in). 

OfficeVibe, used by Westmount, keeps me thinking about things as well.

I'm going to use these 5 questions during the year with my new colleagues. 

Who knows what power I could unleash.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

You may say I'm a dreamer (Dr Winston O'Boogie)

Are you a DOER, a DREAMER, or a FEELER?

These are the three categories Dan Rockwell names in his blogs.


oers: Plan, organize, make lists, and find energy in finishing things.

Dreamers: Figure things out as they go, love new ideas, bristle at organization and find energy starting things.

Feelers: Despise conflict, display deep loyalty, do things themselves rather than ask others to do hard things, and find energy in relationships.

Me? All three at various times.

Here's my revised look at the above list but with the bold stuff being me (by me):

Doers: Plan, organize, make lists, and find energy in finishing things.

Dreamers: Figure things out as they go, love new ideas, bristle at organization and find energy starting things.

Feelers: Despise conflict, display deep loyalty, do things themselves rather than ask others to do hard things, and find energy in relationships.

Now - your turn!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Put me in coach, I'm ready to play (John Fogerty)

Teachers are coaches. It's what we do - we look and learn and we coach.

Most days we get it right. Sometimes we don't.

We've moved to a coaching model for the staff, and we're about to move to a coaching model for the students under the umbrella of our new Peer Support initiative.

During the early stages we're bound to get some things wrong. Maybe Dan Rockwell's advice will come in handy.

He reckons there are five key aspects to coaching:
#1. Stay curious.(Resist the temptation to give quick suggestions. You know the answer for you. Be curious about the answer for them.Develop a few go-to questions.Tell me more about that.What’s the next step?And what else?)
#2. Be honest with your feelings.
#3. Be direct.(Say what you see.   Prepare coachees by saying, “I’m going to give you very direct feedback.”Explore the difference between intention and impact. Most people don’t intend to shoot themselves in the foot.)
#4. Practice patience.Coaching is a process. 
#5. Be timely.(Coach in the moment. Don’t wait two weeks for the coaching appointment.)

Simple and effective advice! 

Ideas to live by, never mind as a coach! 

Monday, May 15, 2017

it just keeps coming and coming and coming. ... because the mail never stops (Newman)

My daily routines need some rethinking. I'm going to figure out which of these 17 small actions from Thomas Oppong I need and tutu with my day.

So, these are the things that I need to sort out:

1. Check emails at specific times

The average person checks email 77 times a day, sends and receives more than 122 email messages a day, and spends 28 percent or more of their workweek managing a constant influx of email.

Jocelyn K. Glei, author of “Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done” says that while checking emails throughout the day may make you feel productive, the opposite is true.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Jocelyn said, “…keep work emails short, simple and if something can’t be resolved quickly on email, suggest a meeting or simply walk to your colleague’s desk to confirm a plan. You’ll be rescuing yourself and others from those annoying email threads that drag on for a whole afternoon, interrupting everyone involved.”

I need to use Thomas' action approach to clear my inbox more:

When opening an email - make a quick decision: delete/archive, act now (if it takes a minute or two) and then reply/archive, send a quick reply (and then archive). 

I tend to read and leave them, which just means they build up and build up and then I feel like Newman!

2. Focus on importance and suppress urgency

Resist the tyranny of the urgent. Urgency wrecks productivity. Your ability to distinguish urgent and important tasks has a lot to do with your success.

Urgent tasks are tasks that have to be dealt with immediately. Important tasks are things that contribute to your long-term mission, values, and goals.

My time is often spent on the urgent because there is so much urgent stuff to do!

3. Focus on one thing at a time

Start your day by tackling high-value tasks you can complete in the morning. This will keep you motivated to get the next task done in time.

In his book, “The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” Gary Keller said, “Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects. It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”

Charles Dickens once said “I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.”

Funnily enough, I can do this easily at home on the weekends - clear the driveway, bury a water pipe, wash the car...and so on. But at work it's trickier to keep this regime going. There are many demands but I aim to maintain the 'touch it only once' policy as much as I can.

There you have it - three key things to work on, as well as carving out some me time each day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

To let me dance beneath the diamond sky, with one hand waving free (Bob Dylan)

Seth Godin nails it (again):

The reason it's difficult to learn something new is that it will change you into someone who disagrees with the person you used to be.

And we're not organized for that.

The filter bubble and our lack of curiosity about the unknown are forms of self defense. We're defending the self, keeping everything "ok" because that's a safe, low maintenance place to be.

The alternative is to sign up for a lifetime of challenging what the self believes. A journey to find more effectiveness, not more stability.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare (David Bowie)

Week 12 - Book 14: The Future Of Learning (Mark Treadwell) 

don't often get excited about a book that centres on education but Mark Treadwell and John Hattie certainly get my heart racing.

Their crystal clear thinking aligns closely with my own thoughts, hopes and desires for education.

I've had the privilege of hearing them talk about their ideas a few times and they always challenge my thinking.

Marks' six pillars are awesome! Look at number 6 - To implement concept based learning domains and competencies, based on building conceptual understanding, with learners creatively leveraging that understanding to be innovative and ingenious.

How great is that!! I read it and thought - YES! I bet Toni Dunstan's eyes are twinkling as well at Woodford House in Havelock North.

If you haven't grabbed a copy yet (it's only just out, so, like, I forgive you) then go to his website and prepare to be amazed and dazzled!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

I'll reach out my hand to you, I'll have faith in all you do (The Jackson 5)

Apologies first up! I am in the middle of organising a peer support programme for the school and it's not as easy as it sounds. This post is an attempt to sort through some ideas.

Hang in there.

Some research on the concept reveals that there are some consistent themes that schools are keen to target in their peer support programmes.

Overview of Peer Support Session Themes Used by Schools

Session Theme
Number of schools using the theme (n=121)
Orientation to school
Getting to know you
Building the group
Self awareness/self esteem
Cultural awareness
Friendship and trust
Peer Pressure

Instead of these things, my students appear to be more focused and positive about the effects of peer support for goal tracking, and providing practical help between students. So, not so keen on the touchy feelie themes outlined above.

They see peer support operating in the following ways:
  • Small groups of 3 with mix of levels
  • Having games and activities for form time (board games, debates, conversation starters)
  • Older mentoring younger Y13 - Y7; Y12 - Y8; Y11 - Y9
  • Need for peers to be on the same wave length
  • Peer mentoring/tutoring/ counselling of another student
  • At least a 2 year level gap between mentor and mentored
I like this accent on academic help and peer tutoring

I was first introduced to the concept and impressed by it at Cambridge High School back in 2000. Subsequently, I set up a clone of it at King John School in 2004.

Now it appears timely to revisit those ideas and combine them with some of the items in that chart to create a bespoke Kaipara Campus version.

I've ordered the manual from Peer Support NZ so we'll see what that can add to the mix as well and maybe adapt some things to our particular needs.