School’s out Friday

Peter Maggs shared this video today at the DEECD Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century event. He made the point that we probably all needed to ‘be more dog‘ by getting out there and taking on challenges that take us out of our comfort zones. It was very apt given that many of the people who have volunteered to be involved in the DEECD program are new to online spaces and the idea of sharing their ideas publicly.

I was honoured to be the Keynote speaker today. I was asked to share my story with the participants – how I became a networked teacher. I got some wonderful feedback from people who were there who said they found my presentation inspiring. I took as much from the experience as they seemed to. Doing something like that is validating. Sometimes you can get bogged down in the day to day challenge of trying to move people with their use of technology in classrooms and you can forget just how far you’ve come. Today was confirming for me and helped seal my resolve that the thinking I have is on track and that I need to continue sharing my learning and supporting others with theirs. I need to try to find the time to write, to unpack where I’m at and help others come to an understanding of developments taking place. Let’s see if that pans out and I find opportunities to write more than the weekly School’s out Friday post!

More on the thinking inspired by the video above. I’ve always identified with cats. I love that cats are aloof. I love that they choose the people they like and set their own timetables. I love their independent nature that doesn’t require validation from others. If I equate cats with the job I have, then it’s clear to me that those characteristics I so admire are not the best fit. You can’t work in Educational Technology and be aloof, choose the people you like and set your own timetables. You definitely can’t have an independent nature that shies away from collaboration.

No, to work in Educational Technology means you need to be more dog. And when I think dog, I’m thinking of the gorgeous black labrador cross, Bella, who shares our lives. Bella is ebullient, she greets everyone with a smile and she loves mixing with a crowd. She’s tenacious – if there’s food in the offing, she’s there, eager to snaffle the prize. She’s persistent, always seeking out the extra cuddle with a nudge from her sometimes cold nose. Yep, to work in Educational Technology you definitely need to be more dog. You need to be excited by what you’re doing and where it’s heading. You need to be friendly and warm and enjoy working collaboratively with your peers. You need to be seeking out those who are interested and you need to nudge them along to help you move others.

So, be more dog. Especially if you’re working in the Ed Tech field. Sure, you can be more cat sometimes, but choose that time wisely. You might like to leave it for the weekend.

I’ll be being more cat over this weekend. I intend to set my own timetable for the morning, and that means no alarm clock going off at 6.30am and a decent sleep for a change. I hope you’re able to do the same. Enjoy. 🙂


How do you react? Active Destructive, or Active Constructive?

Yesterday, Maria Roberto visited Toorak College to lead a day long session about Wellbeing and Positive Psychology. It was a great day – we were all immersed in the vast repertoire of knowledge Maria imparted, and from the feedback I was hearing, the majority of the staff who participated thought that it was time well spent. Spending a whole day focused on your Wellbeing seemed a bit of a luxury, but it was evident too that our Wellbeing as teachers reflects heavily on our ability to teach well. If you’re not in a good state, how can your teaching be at its prime?

There were many takeaways, but one segment of the day that really resounded with me was the discussion surrounding how we react to others. We participated in a role play and had to respond with either ‘active destructive’ or ‘active constructive’ statements to our partner who was effusively describing something that had inspired them from the day. When taking on the ‘active destructive’ role, your statements began with ‘yes, but…’ and when taking on the ‘active constructive’ role, your statements began with ‘yes, and…’.

active constructive responding   Google SearchSource:

This exercise really got me thinking. Working in the area of Educational Technology, I’ve found myself in many discussions where the ‘yeah buts…’ dominate. When people are confronted with change, it’s sometimes easy to nullify the new idea with a series of ‘yeah buts…’ that reinforce the status quo. As many of you would know, it’s quite deflating when you’ve discovered something that you think has the potential to invigorate curriculum or change our workflows and all you meet is resistance. I’ve had to retreat at times and build my strength again in order to keep ploughing on at what I know can make a difference for the learning environments of the students we teach. It’s really helped that this year I’m now working as Director of ICT and eLearning at my school. I’ve been given ‘wings’, so to speak, and it makes an enormous difference to be able to present ideas that can gain some traction because you have some degree of positional power.

Over the last few years I’ve realised that I counter the ‘yeah buts…’ by immersing myself in teacher networks. When the doubters have been in the majority, it’s been to the networks where I have retreated to find the ideas and energy to continue. I’ve read numerous books that have helped me to retain a positive mindset, and one that had a lasting effect was Brene Brown’s ‘Daring Greatly’. Her Leadership Manifesto is pinned on my wall at work, and I read it when I feel the need to gain strength to continue.

DaringGreatly LeadershipManifesto 8x10


You can download this from Brene’s website. Click here for the direct link, but do read Brene’s work and watch her TED talk for further inspiration.

Here’s another picture that hangs on my wall at work, a quote from David Jakes, turned into a pretty effective picture by my good friend Bill Ferriter. It rings true with the ‘active destructive’ and ‘active constructive’ discussions we had yesterday.

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Being conscious of our reactions matters, in all facets of our lives. Thinking positively, using optimistic language, smiling the Duchenne smile and using humour are all important if we are to remain healthy in both our working and home environments. My task – employ these daily. Maybe you should too.