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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I feel reborn, I'm like a Phoenix rising from Arizona (Frank Costanza)

Above the line thinking by the cool kids at Teacher Academy

Time at Teachers' Academy with the most wonderful Karen Boyes has reaffirmed some long held beliefs:

  • Teachers are hilarious
  • There are some great teachers out there in Westmount schools
  • Teachers are not afraid (for the most part) to challenge themselves and give things a go
  • My colleagues are great learners
  • The group chemistry is a mysterious and wondrous thing and we had an awesome bunch. Especially the small group of Murray, Kelsi, Gina, Renée and me (none of whom I knew before starting this PD and only Renée I'd met briefly before)

How wondrous? When we were given a task during the three days at Teacher Academy and told we could go anywhere to work, we stayed together as a group without any tacit agreement to do so (the only group to do that btw) - we just liked each other's company obviously. Wondrous.

I've known this feeling before a few times. At UNITEC 1999-2000 doing a post graduate diploma I was in a large bunch of educators and we all instantly clicked. Even the co-ordinators of the course commented on it!

The power of a team that clicks. Mighty.

So - raise your glasses and salute Super G, Muzza, K Dawg, Renoir and, erm, me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Well she's walking through the clouds with a circus mind that's running wild (Jimi Hendrix)

It's conference and PD time in Wozza's World this week.

I am super impressed at the commitment by my current employer to provide all staff with quality PD opportunities. Yes, all!

These things aren't cheap - three days out of school for each staff member, accommodation for two nights, flights and so on. A massive undertaking.

With great outcomes! In all sorts of ways.

One of the things I missed at Woodford House (and I do really love you WH and I do kind of understand why but not really) was the lack of such opportunities for me personally.

This week there have been two great professional development events for me to attend. The first was about Campus Trading and the financial aspects of what makes Westmount and OneSchool Global keep on ticking. 

Sure, some of it was gobbledegook and way over my pretty little head, but it was wonderful to see colleagues getting so passionate about revenue streams and stuff. Very inspiring!

Now, okay, normally my eyes glaze over when finances are involved but I came away with new, and deeper, and more meaningful appreciation for the context I work in. And that was a good feeling people!

Next up are three days leadership PD with the delightful Karen Boyes. Rightfully world famous in Nu Zild, Karen is a superb presenter, and all round lovely person. She makes learning fun! 

Three days with Karen is a joy.

Niggles: sorry, but, going forward, if I hear one more , learning journey underpinning the nitty gritty, I will cover off a retreat...and may just scream!

Again we are positioned in rows facing forward, looking at a screen, as a talented individual lectures us (at times about the nastiness of this practice in the 21st century). The irony is not lost on them. But still it continues.

And the English teacher in me hates it when slides to power points have grammatical errors. Okay, I know most people d'o'n't' care about apostrophes but would it kill to get them proofread?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Carpe diem

What do the 13 most innovative schools in the world have in common?

Well, for a start, they don't look like traditional schools with separate classrooms and siloed subjects and they do deal with the real world and they do change the role of the 'teacher' forever.

In short they don't look like 99% of New Zealand schools.

And that's a worry. And it needs to change. And it needs to change now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's stopped rainin', everybody's in a play and, don't you know, it's a beautiful new day (Electric Light Orchestra)

Decisions decisions.

Recently, I wrote about my daily decision making. Sometimes decisions can come back to bite me, but I can't travel back in time via Rapid Roy (Skoda Rapid), my version of a DeLorean, and do over. Gotta live with a bad decision and endeavour to learn from it.

I like to continually remind myself of Buddhism's eightfold components to the path (which it itself is the fourth noble truth). 

Right Mindfulness is one of the eight.

Right mindfulness means being aware, mindful and attentive to three things: the activities of the body; sensations/ feelings; thoughts/ideas.

The head and the heart are clearly key components to Right Mindfulness.

Earlier this year, The Leadership Freak (a.k.a. Dan Rockwell) weighed up some of the head and heart-based questions that lead to decisions. I bookmarked the post and (like the noble eightfold path) return to it from time to time.

His judgement is that heart-based questions like:

  • What does integrity/honesty/openness tell you to do?
  • What does respect for others tell you to do?
  • What does compassion/kindness tell you to do?
  • What does courage/confidence tell you to do?
should rule the day.

He's really talking about Right Mindfulness, and asking some brilliant questions.

The way is clear.