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!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Listen, do you want to know a secret? (The Beatles)

Seeing is believing - a strategy is required!

Why am I interested in figuring out what a good learning coach does?

As Dan Rockwell highlighted in one of his posts - managers notice environments and people.

  • How does the environment feel? Hinder? Elevate?
  • How are people interacting with each other?
  • What is the energy level of individuals or teams?
I have noticed what is largely missing from our Learning Centre because I notice what I am not doing well. I have noticed how some teachers are not interacting as learning coaches with their students.

I see and continue to believe we are lacking an essential person to help free up our teachers to become (better) learning coaches.

It's hard not to notice how the environment of the Learning Centre is geographically perfect for learning coaches to prosper.

My inquiry has now gathered together student, staff and parent voice.

Time to analyse!

Monday, August 14, 2017

So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way (Joni Mitchell)

Learning coaches, learning conferences, learning centres, life-long learners.

I like the way our rhetoric has embraced the idea of learning and moved away from 'teaching'. Although I've never really subscribed to the concept of teacher as teller and wise old holder of the knowledge, okay maybe a teenie weenie bit 30 years ago when I was kicking off my career, I now greatly appreciate the fact that teaching has morphed more and more into lead learner status.

I'm currently researching what a learning coach is spost to be all about. What does a good learning coach do, how is that different to the old model, and how does it suit our context at Westmount school?

Three good questions right?

I started with some research. Mostly came up empty but here's a bit of what I've found out so far, regarding some key points of being a learning coach and how this role can be a mutually enjoyable and rewarding relationship.
  • Coaching is a one-to-one relationship in which the coach’s experience assists the learner with their action learning.
  • Coaches can help especially with the reflection and conclusions.
  • Individuals prefer to learn in different ways and the coach should be aware of such differences.
  • The role of the coach in action learning is to support and enable the learner.
  • Building a comfortable relationship is important.
  • The will to complete the learning or be a good coach is the main success factor.
  • Teachers (expert collaborators) need to make learning visible, need to have the capacity to facilitate learning conversations with learners regardless of content
Reading this again reminded that I did a lot of coaching stuff in the Middle East while working for Cognition.

That's where I'm headed next.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ar, that's a shame (George Costanza)

Sometimes, with the best will in the world, life gets in the way of my blogging schedule.

Take today.

A combination of my wife working, torrential rain, darkness, and a need for me to shift two horses from a soggy boggy paddock to a dry stand yard before heading off to school meant no post on Baggy Trousers.

I did read this great interview when I got to school though and retweeted it as fast as I could.

Here it is for your perusal. It's important. Take some time. I'll wait.

Done? I know right! 

This bit...amazing 'this week, Chinese language learning startup, Liulishuo, which uses machine learning algorithms to teach English to 45 million Chinese students, raised $100 million to accelerate its work'.

Boggles the mind!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Follow your bliss (Joseph Campbell)


Teaching in the primary school is a career pathway I deeply respect, but it's not for me.

I've been a secondary school teacher since 1983, I've always maintained that I could never have been a primary school teacher.

I like to visit, but I couldn't live there.

My patience wouldn't hold. 

Talking to primary teachers at school, they indicate they couldn't work in the secondary part.

Interesting, how we find our niche.

I respect this ability to access our own realities.

Together we make a great team. Professionals being challenged inside a niche environment of their own choosing. 

Making connections and developing relationships. 

Doing the best we can.