Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Cognitive Psychological Tool.

I needed a really intelligent title to this blog, and you got it.
teacher: As a teacher you keep asking a question of your principal, its a difficult question to answer but its bloody important. The principal agrees with you saying "I know, I know, its a difficult one" and then they do nothing. You ask again, and have a good chat about it again, at a time when the Principal seems ready to be approached. Again nothing happens, its too hard so it gets ignored, so you stop asking, BUT you don't stop caring.

principal: Here is what you thought the first time they asked that question: This is a massive can of worms, one that I'm not sure is the highest priority, but it is important. You also know that answering this question will require very uncomfortable conversations with long serving staff, and it will require courageous conversations, consultation with lots of people and a long sustained process. You kind of think, I might park this puppy until it really has to be faced.

teacher: your cant give up caring, and you don't want to stop asking.

how do we solve this problem ? try Johari Window ?

@mumbleboy introduced a very nice tool to analyse leadership in our school and for others to feel that they can be open and honest without slamming a hammer on our already fragile personalities. This was really helpful and one that can help with the scenario above as it enables people to tell you whats in your blind area. The Johari Window was devised in 1955 and really is worth a read and for those of you who are brave enough, to experiment with. We all have blind areas that we just dont see, and everyone else can see it. How many passes does the team in white make. Have a read - follow the links, google it yourself, it could be quite powerful.
Even just thinking about your blind spot for yourself as a teacher, leader, dad, mum, or whatever, it's worth considering.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Attention 2 Detail

After a week of the usual (mostly verbal diahorrea) you look back and think about what really matters. On thursday arvo we had a visitor who was asking about 4min walkthroughs and she asked how do I know they have made a difference. @mumbleboy started with some sort of intelligent answer when i had a penny dropper. So for the very first time in my life I interrupted mumble and splurted out an answer, my show stopper, my thought for the week. The funny thing was that this one liner was ringing loud in my head and it came from the mayor of wheneuapai Tank Herring. One thing about Tank is that he calls a spade a shovel. Tank is a bloody great rugby coach and last year I had the pleasure of working with the old shagger for the whole season, his line was: "attention to detail". It doesn't sound like a show stopper but in rugby coaching with rep teams, or top line players the little things are everything. Attention to detail with highly skilled players makes a massive difference.
You see when the i thought about my teachers who have had the most walkthroughs, they all say that they have improved their own practice, and they have looked at themselves and made small changes.
Small changes for top line rugby players are made through attention to detail.

Top line teachers and leaders are always looking at and paying attention to detail. If you believe in attention to detail, then you will make a difference for yourself, your staff, your class, your parents, your school, your community.
tTake care of the little things and the big problems wont surface. Small changes and small steps lead to improvement, its all in the detail.

Im guilty of brushing over stuff, switching off a bit, and I need a bit of reminding, maybe its a bloke thing, a podgorani thing, or a bullshit filter thing, but whatever the reason, i must do better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

where 2 from here

Ok I have a dilemma a bit like Graham Henry. I want to make changes but i'm not sure what changes, i dont even have the goal posts to aim at because i haven't discovered them yet. It's kind of exciting but on the other hand a little difficult to plan for when you are not sure where you are headed. ERO have packed up their bat and ball and handed the school a clean sheet and said we trust you and your direction, go for it. We don't wait for ERO to give those cards out but sometimes you can think things are great and actually there can be a smug mediocrity and until ERO actually give you the thumbs up, you naturally want to hold off on a random path on the unknown. I'm feeling we are at a point in the cycle where we are ready to ride straight off the cliff. I don't want to do more of the same and don't want to just sharpen the pencil. The post about learning communities has been really awesome for thinking through new ideas. It has allowed me to think of some of the possibilities for our school. I know when this can of worms is opened to staff there will be a set of goal posts on the horizon. I reckon having eyes, ears and opinions from the classrooms will help leadership see things from every perspective, something i think we all have to be careful of as leaders. I am determined to ensure that on this journey of discovery that the staff are going to play a big part in the ideas and ownership.
I see Team Solutions has a visioning facilitator, what a wank fest, or is it? maybe we should give her a bell just to prove that we can do it in spite of some b.s systematic method. Most of the time the GGF (global gut feeling) has seen the right decisions made, but maybe this time a heavily planned visioning process is worth a try and or a laugh.
Should i head off to the library for vision books & dial 0800 vision ? or go with @mumbleboy the ninja and the whole team of mad hatters, @pinksickle included ?

By the way Ted needs some advice. Here is my backline for the next few games mills15 sivi11 ma'a14 conrad13 luke12 dan10 quentin9. Feel free to put your backline down, p.s kahui for conrad as soon as he is available.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Telethon Lemon

While on Pons Rd on Sunday looking for a decent flat white I saw 4 tweenage girls singing three little birds outside a shop. They were raising money for telethon. They were full of life, laughing at the odd wrong word being sung, clicking fingers, singing their hearts out. Miss Podgorani was immediately attracted to the tweenage antics and immediately dug into a pink zipped purse to give her hard earned to the Supremes. The Supremes even had the official lanyards, to say they were fundraising for telethon. I'm picking they had been practicing all week, had talked it through at school and were really looking forward to ticking all the boxes of helping NZers in need. This is heart warming stuff.
I have a friend who is a Principal who has received the All Blacks raincoats, when I saw them in his office I couldn't help but think how much these are a bloody waste of money. It pisses me off that these bullshit charities actually get people like the All Blacks on board. The All Blacks could really make a difference for some of the very very needy charities, but they are sucked into their corporate crap.
They have milked 2 million dollars for RAINCOATS probably stitched together by chinas child labour force.
How would these Ponsonby Intermediate girls be feeling when they grow up to discover this sham. Perhaps as teachers we have a part to play. But why should we be those Kiwi knockers. Why should we rubbish the charity NZers have shown.
Michael Laws has started the attack and TVNZ will be all over this like a rash and we will have a week of telethon bashing, a bit like the Dean Lonergans fight for life stuff.

You have to read Michael Laws article, see link above.

Maybe the Supremes from Ponsonby Intermediate could take their songs to the street and hand the cash over at the food bank. Its not so glamourous, and the CEO of Kids Can might not get their big six figure salary, but at least the money would go directly to those who need it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Building a Learning Community

Its now time for you observers of the Podgorani to stop passing by without contributing, I'm calling you all to attention. I need a discussion or contribution on this post.
We have an opportunity at school to go beyond the assessment and routine of school and really do something special. I want to talk about building a learning community, what ideas do you have that gets them in the door, that builds communication, that builds families together with the school, that opens the door all the way from high maintenance mums to the working dad, the Maori and polynesian community, the masses of ethnicities, send in your ideas. I have listed a few below that seem insignificant but done properly they can be powerful.

Road Crossing Duty - great dialogue to be had here.
Values Postcards - sending something in the mail is awesome and so simple.
Twitter - get some followers and keep it current.
Interactive School Website - parents and your community must feel welcome and make it easy.
Parent Information Days/evenings - literacy numeracy and just plain old fun.
Big school events: cross country/athletics/art shows etc - make them the best they have ever been, food, and fun.
Morning Coffee Days - one principal has a local coffee shop and publishes the times she will be there (once a week) which gives parents the opportunity to join them informally.
Home Visits - you have to knock on doors to get to know people, invite them to events personally.
Assemblies - these are not freemasons meetings, invite your community.
Magic Key - I heard of a principal who sent keys out to the community and had a prize for the person with the key that opened some box, he had heaps attend.
Race Night/Quiz Night - which double as fundraising and social activities.
Term Booklets - send home a booklet of achievement each term.
Meet the Teacher - before the year started.
Principals Forum - Informal discussions (2 per term) with any parents not specifically about your own kid, but ideas, discussion and questions about education.
Homework - Neil has the whole family medal thing working with his hwk challenges.

I know that writing an idea in one sentence can seem naff and can sound shallow and in a lot of ways a blog doesn't even start to scratch the way we open our door to learning and engagement but so what. Keep it short and flick them in the pot and we will assume any idea you have is actually done really well. This is your opportunity to sound good without having to back it up.