School’s out Friday

Milk Run from Josh Soskin on Vimeo.

I like this film by Josh Soskin. Sometimes you want the mundane to surprise you, to take you somewhere unexpected.

The start of the Easter Break has meant a day of sublime rest. I’ve even taken the liberty of watching two movies – one after another! Unheard of for me of late. It felt so indulgent to just sit and immerse myself in other worlds. My mind needed it – this term has been frantically busy I’ve felt like everything has been on fast forward. I’m looking forward to a few days of rest and maybe more time to just sit and do very little.

Enjoy the Easter break and eat plenty of chocolate. You no doubt deserve it – that’s what I’m telling myself, anyway. 🙂

School’s out Friday

The love affair with John Green continues…

You can’t tell me there’s not at least one common misconception you might have believed that has been now been corrected for you forever more from this Mental Floss video. I think this would be fun to use with kids – I’d like to see if they knew of the misconception, or if most of what they hear here is entirely new to them in the first place!

I held a parent meeting at school today to discuss Digital Citizenship, and one of the things discussed was the fact that our children all seem to love YouTube and can spend hours being ‘distracted’ there. If the distractions they meet are anything like the videos created by John and Hank Green, then my take is that they are worthwhile. They sure beat some of the mind numbing drivel being served up on commercial television of late.

Once again, apologies for the absence here  – did not post School’s out Friday last week if you happened to notice, and am scraping it in tonight at 11.54pm. You never know, a window of opportunity might present itself this weekend and a post may materialise…or, maybe not. I may find myself curled up in a corner, claiming back the sleep I seem to be depriving myself of lately.

Enjoy what comes your way this weekend. Make the most of the fine Autumnal weather we have been promised (if you’re living in Melbourne, that is). 🙂


The road less travelled…the difficult conversation

When you’ve been a teacher for a long time, there are two paths you can follow. You can remain in the classroom and be responsible for the classes you teach. There are pluses and minuses to this path. The pluses are that you are fairly autonomous . Yes, you’re often working with a team of teachers, but when all is said and done, you control the environment you teach in, and if you’ve established a climate conducive to learning in your classrooms, this can be a very positive experience.  The minuses are that you carry a heavy teaching load, and you have to deal with the correction load that follows suit.

The other path is to take on managerial responsibilities, be it as a Head of Faculty, Head of Year, or other roles that remove you even further from the classroom such as Deputy Principal. With these roles come the responsibility to manage people. Quite early in my career, I took on the role of Head of Year and did this for three years or so. For the most part, I managed the pastoral care of students, and spent my days working with kids and parents. Of course, I worked with teachers too, and sometimes I was pulled in different directions as I felt the need to support staff, but could see occasions when it was their actions that were contributing to the issues they were having with the children they taught. In more recent years, I changed tack and became a Head of Faculty, and am now Director of ICT and eLearning  – roles that have required me to directly manage staff who report to me. It’s these managerial roles in schools that often present us with the dicey subject of the difficult conversation.

No one enjoys the difficult conversation. You’re often agonising over it in the days preceding, going over what you’ll say again and again, rehearsing it until you’re wrung out like an overused dish rag. The nervous energy saps your mental acuity for anything else as you anticipate every  possible outcome. You prime yourself and spend time doing what my mother used to say, “worrying about something that will probably never happen”. Over the years, I think my managerial skills have sharpened, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still find the difficult conversations just that – difficult.

Last year, at the Creative Innovation 2012 conference (click on that link to see the YouTube channel hosting 21 of the keynotes from the two days) in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to hear Steve Vamos speak on just this topic. His no nonsense, grounded in common sense ideas really resonated with me. I especially love his recount of his experience as a 19 yr old working at Liquorland – the lesson he learnt from someone who knew how to hand out advice while maintaining a person’s dignity has guided his interactions with people ever since. My suggestion is you listen to the seventeen minutes and take in the message. If you are managing staff, in schools or any profession, Steve’s ideas about feedback and respect will ring true.

School’s out Friday

Here’s one to test yourself on over the weekend – find your life purpose in less that five minutes. It’s worth a look to assess if you fit the happiness criteria set out by Adam.

Here’s the five questions Adam suggests we need to ask ourselves to determine our life purpose.

Who are you?

What do you do?  

Who do you do it for?  

What do people want or need?

How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?

I presented today at the North Eastern Victoria Region Leadership Conference for Principals in DEECD schools. My presentation abstract follows:

Just what are we preparing our students for?

What will 2020 look like? What are the future work skills that will be expected from the students we are teaching today? How do we prepare them adequately?

Join Jenny in a discussion that will focus on projections for the future, the importance of effective pedagogy in our schools today to meet this future, and the marriage of this with meaningful use of technology to support learning environments that will assist in the development of mindful digital citizens.

I enjoy presenting to groups of teachers and sharing the thinking I’ve acquired from my immersion in networks. When I think about it, sharing my learning has become my life purpose in many ways, when you separate my commitment to my family out of the equation.

If I think about the last of Adam’s questions, I hope I can fulfil the following for teachers: I help people see a different way of doing things so that they can prepare students well for the future.

Adam makes the observation that two of the questions are about yourself, and the rest relate to your interactions with others. He speculates that most successful people focus on the people they serve, and that if you can make other people happy, then life teaches us that you will be taken care of.

So, there’s a bright future ahead for those of us who share in networks to support the learning of others!

Have a great weekend. It’s a long weekend here in Victoria. I  can’t tell you how happy I am to know there are three days ahead of me instead of two. Maybe those dark circles under the eyes will disappear by Tuesday morning. Here’s hoping!





School’s out Friday

Have you figured out yet that I am madly in love with the mind of John Green?

Mental floss on YouTube. Just my thing. Those kind of random, weird, but strangely addictive pieces of useless information that make for the most interesting discussion fodder. I wish John Green lived next door to me. We’d have a lot in common. I’d invite him over for a cuppa or glass of wine and I’m sure we’d laugh into the wee hours. I’ll just have to get my dose of John Green via YouTube, cuppa or glass of wine in hand. I’ll laugh by myself, and maybe leave a comment on YouTube. If you’re anything like me, you’ll subscribe to Mental Floss on YouTube, and the videos might just be some of the most entertaining parts of your week.

Off to bed for me. I’ve just posted this tweet on Twitter.

Sometime, over the last week, I sent out my 20,000th tweet. The last five years here have been the best prof. develop. I’ve had. And all free.

Some of you might be thinking that I’ve wasted a lot of time on Twitter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The learning made possible from the network there has been a decisive part of my growth as an educator. I’m forever grateful to Clay Burell for introducing me to his network and supporting me in my early days there. You were very generous Clay – I am indebted to you.

Have a wonderful weekend. The weather looks good for Melbourne, and I intend to spend some time outdoors appreciating it. I hope you have a similar outlook where you live. 🙂