Monday, October 24, 2011

Stand By Your Man

I'm not sure if I've blogged about this before but i will have another go at it. Graham Henry was the coach of our national rugby team who were expected to be world champions in 2007, he had had four years, no expense spared and access to the worlds best players. He famously said when challenged "judge me by my results". The team were out at the quarter finals stage and the hatred of a country were all over this man, they wanted blood. Henry also seemed to say that he didn't make any mistakes, and then he put his name in the hat for reappointment for another four years. The NZ rugby union amazingly re-appointed him.
I was the biggest supporter of the re-appointment of Graham Henry as All Black coach. This is where the gold comes from.
It's about failure and success. Sports teams, schools, staff members, teachers, children, parents, we all go through these tough times, we make mistakes. The key is to learn from your mistakes and not to make them again. Over the four years from 2007 to 2011 Henry used hindsight, and adjusted and learnt, he planned meticulously, and brought redemption in 2011.

So what can we learn from this little ditty.
Making mistakes happens to everyone we must learn from them and take action.
Standing by your man is important especially in tough times.
Believe in yourself.
Be prepared to take a good look at yourself.
Trust in others but don't surround yourself with "yes men".
Challenge your ideas, have others you respect challenge you.
Don't get ahead of yourself.
Experience is really valuable.
Have the guts to make a tough decision.

Thanks Ted.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#ulearn11

A tweet fest is lots of fun and following a conference from afar can be good solid stuff. But when you get the obvious stuff tweeted and retweeted you start to doubt the quality of the tweeter. Nothing more obvious than a punter tweeting from a keynote with comments like "children need technology access" or "teachers should be facilitators/floaters".
The reality is that "opinion" is often left out of tweets and direct quotes seem to be the etiquette. I remember a ulearn from a few years back, when we were early to twitter, and the tweets were about the peoples opinion of the keynote speaker, how good bad they are/were. This was embarrassing as the keynote speaker got a bit of negative stuff, we have grown up, but now seem to stick to very safe statements.
Twitter can come back and bite you if you tweet negative stuff, but i think opinion is ok if its clear that its your opinion. So come on guys give us your feelings and opinions. If someone was awesome let us know, send us the link, feed the backs.

Of course there is nothing better than actually being there and networking, thats where the discussion is at its best. Enjoying the conference.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ten Questions

Q: Is it really John Keys fault that a boat hit a reef and he personally didn't drive out a boat and start pumping the oil off Rena by hand?
A: No but it's great watching him squirm around and finally not win votes from a disaster.

Q: Who do you blame when your hard drive plays up now that Steve has gone?
A: Is it Hank? or just look for some guy in San Fran in a black turtle neck and jeans.

Q: Are schools mad buying technology for kids and not sending the devices home?
A: Yes its a personal device the whole 24/7 thing is the only way to go.

Q: Are the warriors fans a bunch of low life bogans, homies and riff raff?
A: No but one of those bastards nicked our warriors flag from the front of the school and we want it back. I know, get over it!

Q: Is your twitter stream needing a makeover, are you sick of the same tweets from the same bastards?
A: Yes, but any addiction is hard to kick, and i'm still interested.

Q: Are you concerned that the national standards were changed and no one told us?
A: Annoyed yes, concerned maybe. Do I care - no

Q: Is Lion way better now you've been running it for two months?
A: I turned all the new "features" off and its like I'm running snow leopard so who cares.

Q: Is anything good about Lion?
A: Yes i found a feature from OS9 days that they have re-established. Click once on a file or select multiple files and then "command-P". You guessed it, they print. Thanks Hank (see above).
Theres one for your sMACdown.

Q: RWC is anyone feeling sorry for South Africa?
A: No, not today, not tomorrow, not next week, month or year.

Q: If you were told that the national standards helped you inquire into your own practice would you be more forthcoming or positive toward them?
A: No not really?

Q: How good is having the short term 4?
A: Real good, these holidays are brilliant and with only 8 weeks. Kapow.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Blinded by the data?

It seems like every piece of quality teaching has to be backed up with evidence and data. Every decision we make has to have measurable outcomes. After spending a few hours at the NZPF education summit it became a little more obvious that there was some discourse around what truly is measurable. Several comments around measurable success: is it really about PISA and OECD or is it something less measurable but more tangible. Sometimes as a teacher we have the gut feelings and gain lots of success but not necessarily in a reading age or maths score/stage. Sometimes its an innate knowledge of where to go next, we must always have these opportunities open and celebrated.

A challenge laid to teachers around Maori and Pacifika learners is that without identity and relationships then academic success will not happen. Seems simple and obvious but do you measure identity and relationships. Are they measurable? If you don’t measure them then have you critiqued what they are, broken them down and set a plan for implementing them. Ka Hikitia is not a strategy, its a philosophy/framework, schools need to devise a strategy, make a plan for all students and implement it. Schools have break down what works for their learners and set some reachable goals and scaffold these on their values and beliefs. Its not all about data or test results there are other more important things. Define them, articulate them, do them.

So i’m going to ask, what does your living local curriculum look like sound like smell like?

What are the non negotiables ?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sports and Life - Parallels

This rugby world cup has ignited a few memories of children who I have taught or coached, so I will pause and go back through the short list for you. Kevin Mealamu (All Blacks) from Tokoroa then Aorere College, he was a good keen flanker and a tough player. James Arlidge (Japan) went to Dillworth had a good kick and was a tidy player. Khan Fotualii (Samoa) went to Onehunga High, couldn't make the top team was a good reserve, lacked a few skills, but loved playing with his mates. Samiu Vahafolau (Tonga) went to Onehunga High, was a giant at school but relied on his size too much. The thing is that these guys didn't attend the elite colleges, they had to work hard to get where they are today and they are scattered in all parts of the globe. None of them were the childhood stars, they we good keen players without being anything special. It's a good message to us all that hard work and dedication pays off no matter what field we are in.
In 2003 a boy who I taught was playing at the rugby world cup for Tonga. He was a New Zealand age grade player and had been a schoolboy star in New Zealand. After playing overseas he was selected for Tonga and played at two rugby world cups. They played the All Blacks and lost by plenty. After the game he rushed into the opposition changing room to see his friends who were now All Blacks, he took with him a bag to fill up with freebie All Black gear, jerseys socks, shorts, some stuff for his mum, after all these were his childhood friends. Sadly those 2003 All Blacks just looked straight through him, they said "hi" and turned back toward their teammates. He knew at that time, that things had changed. He was telling me this story when he said "they will lose, they will get what they deserve". It has stuck with me and he was right. I watched it repeated in 2007 when the All Blacks holidayed during the world cup and capitulated in Cardiff. Wind the clock ahead 4 years and how they have learnt. They have reached out to the country, many many children have met their heroes, they have signed everything, turned up to everything and they even went to Kaeo! They may not bring home the bacon and win this cup but in my eyes they have done what is right, they have kept their feet on the ground and stuck to their values. This has been highlighted this week with photos that parents have shown and sent me of their children with the men in black. I think that as parents and as a community it is important to keep the values that are important to us no matter what our status, fame, or salary because in the end as my friend Sililo said "you get what you deserve". When I look at the our schools values this little story reminds me about integrity, being truthful to yourself and others.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Do we really have to make lemonade?

WTF, we have Student Achievement Practitioners who are lemons. An ex cop a dental assistant and a (apparently) failed unregistered Principal. I was told the other day that the MOE forgot to check registration status. Anne says differently but she would.

My question is who do you put in front of your staff to lead PD?
Do you do your homework?
Do you ensure they are of the highest quality?
Do you have the right to check the CV's and teaching records, and registration status of any PD provider?
Do you have the right to ask for someone respected?
Where is the list of the 47 SAP's and their credentials?
Do you care?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bring on Cambridge High all over again.



Nothing to fear ? I believe articles like this will bring about massive distrust, hatred, and divisiveness in education. Add to that the schools that end up with the wealthier parents, the gap between "have" and "have not". AND those tossers out there who actually want their schools to top these results and who believe in nationals standards, the liers, the result fudgers, the over inflaters, the schools who wouldn't know moderating from guess work, the teacher who hides can now hide behind judgements and false results- IT'S ALL ON. I've met em, it's happening, prepare yourselves for the bagging of each other to begin. The rat race has begun in earnest.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rugby World Cup

Watch these in order and tell me the RWC aint gonna take off - Brilliant!








Monday, August 1, 2011

Bourne Again

I am pretty stoked to hear someone so passionate about education

What do you reckon?




check out this awesome reply from Damon when questioned after the speech

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lion 10.7 should You ?

So uncle Steve says we have to work with a different workflow, we have to use gestures and we will invent a few new names and yee all shall follow.
So what is OK and what is just plain stupid, and what is just brilliant.
No question they want to get the iOS and OSX similar, so they made a few changes.

Stupids
So some smarty pants decided that when you quit something next time you open it the last 50 things you had open will still be there. Example: I had 20 PDFs open and were printing them, I quit preview and the next time I opened preview the 20 PDFs appeared again, QUIT means QUIT apple, I am in charge, not some smarmy exec in cupertino. Safari : if you have ten tabs open it used to annoyingly say "are you sure you want to close all them tabs when you quit", and you knew that quitting meant just that,. Now when you open safrai all ten tabs are still open, just like all 20 PDFs - so now you have to slow your workflow and use the bloody mouse to get rid of tabs or windows by clicking endless x's or red dots in the corner ITS LIKE A BAD WINDOWS dream. Turn this off real fast in system prefs/general.
Scrolling in the same direction the new thing is, to move down a page you move two fingers up (that just doesnt feel right, very un-apple like). I never found it an issue changing between two fingered scrolling on the air and using the finger on ipad/iphone, however Steve found it an issue. Turn that off immediately.
Mission Control: maybe this was launched (excuse the pun Barb) so that people who never used hot corners now get an app to clog up their dock and do exactly what hot corners did, but we do have a gesture for it now. My suggestion, learn the gesture, keep your hot corners and send mission control out of your dock FOREVER.
The four fingered swipe used to bring up the floating opaque window with all the apps that are open, command/tab still works for that, but i loved showing that off during presentations especially when you had hidden the app and brought it forward when needed. Steve felt that wasnt used much and basically put spaces into the swipe process and gave apple apps a full screen mode. Not bad, but how about a gesture for the command/tab thing.
Some absolute egg at apple decided that the four fingered swipe takes you to a page that has dashboard/widgets WTF... Turn that off immediately (disable dashboard) or you will be banished to a place when MC Hammer plays endlessly and you will be told that you cant touch this or any other mac again.
The last clanger is auto correct in typing. I'm an average typist but i automatically hit the space bar after every word i type. It is just not going to work, check out these clangers on the iphone and tell me you want this on your laptop when you are in workflow mode. Dumb IDEA.

OK
So the full screen mode is pretty handy and i reckon it will be brilliant for the attached monitor, will have a crack at that next week when back at work. Its really spaces but with a 4 fingered swipe, OK steve I will give it a go. I wouldnt mind finding out how to keep my favourites bar in safari when in full screen without having to scroll up. and i'm not sold on losing my menu bar at the top of the mac it is only millimeters wide.. the jury is still out.
I was happy with the buy and download and install thing, but how do we install a mac thats had a hard drive meltdown without a dvd. I know you have a plan but bloody hell, its a fidget, my air shipped with a usb drive with the system on it, sell them as an extra option, would keep a few muppets happy.
Notes in mail. I know you are trying and it's cute but notes in mail, really! (it's so 10.3.9) thanks but i was able to quickly get rid of that notes icon and i'm feeling good about that. The world uses evernote now Steve, in fact you should have put a send to evernote tab in mail/everything.
Launchpad- i dont get this one, why have an app in the dock for it, learn the gesture if you want this or get quicksilver and open apps you hardly ever use in seconds - this one is for beginners and although i still have the gestures activated its a never use unless you have forgotten what apps you have or you are looking for something to delete to get more space.
Brilliant
Safari the back to previous page is awesome (three fingered swipe), shame you have to scroll in an unnatural direction but its awesome. The downloads window is tidied up, nice steve.
Mail, the changes are great particularly the threaded mail with the messages all in one, smart and very cool.
Its a solid upgrade, runs at good speed and is a nice interface. Apple didn't get to where its at with one giant leap, great things evolve, look at Manchester United. look at the first ipod with the huge firewire cable and compare it to the ipad2. Its another small step for man, and thats all.
What can we glean from this OS to get some predictions for the future?
Steve wants us to scroll in the same directions as a book: Hint - the touch screen laptop thingie will be the predominant navigator. ie the touch screen laptop is close.
Steve said no DVD with Lion: Hint - why do we need the CD drive anyway? nobody wants to see slim shady no more the CD/DVD is chopped liver.

Please tell me the features you like/love/don't get....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ipads ipods androids and Orewa

The Orewa College scenario (all kids get ipads, its a stationery item) happened at a slow news time in the NZ school holidays but it certainly highlighted a few different issues within education. Paying for our own technology seems very anti “free education” however we seem to be increasingly paying for everything, and if this has benefits for our childrens education then can we afford not to. Some schools have creatively solved this issue by making the device and the internet affordable and children are able to work to pay for there own technology. Factors might be how long will your iPad/netbook last? Imagine asking parents to pay between $400 & $1000 and you need a new one in 24 months. How about all this purchase/investment in technology only to discover that your school has no idea how or what to do with the hardware. Imagine schools wasting kids time with digital portfolios of kids that teachers spend hours on, only to discover they made no impact on learning. Or doing electronic worksheets because you can. The worry could also be schools just wanting to keep up with their neighbours by jumping on the band wagon.

So we need to know what actually does make a difference and then make a plan for how. Nearly every school I talk to have an ipad trial, I'm wondering how they sync, what apps they use and importantly what is at the center of their decisions schoolwide and in classrooms, no question its piecemeal.

I have been lucky enough to get an opportunity to actually do some research into mobile learning. I have been granted the Auckland Primary Schools Association Traveling Fellowship Award. This means that in 2012 I have been granted two terms leave to travel the world to look at mobile learning. My goal is to shake aside the rhetoric and schools wanting to buy gear without making good decisions, replacing them with decisions that put learning in the center.

I will be asking my twitter, Principal and ADE networks for help with finding time to talk and share with me. It will mean lots of NZ travel as well as looking across the pond (Cadel country) the USA and beyond. It should be exciting and probably about three years too late in terms of 1 to 1 mobile devices but regular schools will be taking a bit of time. The early adopters are already over the line, and I hope they are starting to provide the evidence later adopters need.

A few years back I had a friend ring me asking if I wanted to be a millionaire, I said yeah mate, turns out he was selling Amway and wanted me to join him in the money. I said I would wait three years and when he was millionaire he could ring me and I would start then, I was happy to wait. So if you are waiting a bit to see what happens with these ipads then a few months more wouldn't be too long (he never rang back, some mate).

If you are a school or district or cluster who have the mobile devices rampant and are making connections beyond the classroom then I'd love to hear from you. I'm interested in sync, infrastructure, apps, research and more importantly learning/teaching/kids.

I wouldn't mind hearing from people about their thoughts on having a device on their stationery list.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Make the right call

I had a meeting with this guy from the council about sporting facilities for our school. I want a massive 300,000 dollar multi purpose arena and no-one is wanting to fund any part of it. I was trying to explain why the simple things are easy to do and that schools cant sit back and do nothing. So take this as an example of why we cant sit there and do nothing.

Several years ago we bought 6 outdoor basketball hoops and backboards (10k) for school. We made sure the hoops were low, so that 5 year olds can throw a hoop. As we only go to year six we didn't need to go to ten foot hoops, but we made sure they were removable so that the vandals wouldn't ruin our gear. Here we are 8 years later with about 5 teams playing regularly and hundreds of kids have put in thousands of hours of games/fun/practice over the years. My son and his mates are all still playing basketball regularly for their high schools. I go watch his games and kids from all sorts of schools and backgrounds are all over basketball.
Six years ago a young guy who arrived at school saw the older boys hooping and decided that he wanted to play. This young boy is on the short side and when he started it was quite cute to see someone even holding a ball that seemed so big. Obviously with the low hoops and smaller balls the game became achievable. Now six years on Tauhir is a very very good player, he isn't the tallest about but he can play. So much so that he is going to a worldwide basketball training camp in Florida sponsored by IMG. His family are digging into their pockets, raising cash and helping their young fella chase a dream. If he went to a different school would he even be playing basketball?
I'm not patting our school on the back here, i'm saying that without opportunity kids wont play or participate.
Ever wondered why NZ doesn't produce tennis players, it's a dead sport in NZ because the kids don't play it. Softball is dead. Cricket is dying. Hockey, partially dead. The list goes on, don't get me wrong your school may be going great at hockey, seems everyone in Palmerston North has hockey (insert weird here) but Tennis, it's all over, you once were brilliant but now you are custard.
So get the facilities and let the kids decide what gets kicked for touch.

So answer this: why don't the sports do something? Soccer NZ had a team at the world cup, the all whites were famous for 6 weeks. Now 1 year later what have they done to promote soccer, to deliver the knockout punch. Here is what they did. Play two crap games against Mexico and Australia and lose 3-0 twice, then moan about why the shouldn't have played.
Why didn't they set up a mini soccer field at every school, put in posts with nets, kids crave facilities, they want to put the ball in the back of the net (who doesn't). Lets get this straight, i can't stand soccer but i do love sport and i recognise the importance of all sport, so I built two mini soccer fields with post and nets, because kids come first.
Maybe my next Tauhir will play at a world cup.
Will yours kids play anything without opportunity?
Stop spending your money on admin blocks!


Thursday, June 2, 2011

The value of sport

Sport : It keeps you healthy, having fun, learning skills, building co-ordination, creating teamwork and lots of other educational winners. Ask any old timer for the memories sport has given them and it always ends up with friendships. I remember some great games, and amazing moments but more than that I remember what people said, what they did, how they reacted, and the stories that followed those games. I remember the people, the laughs, giving your mate a bit of stick, stories of who scored the best try, and even who didn't pass me the ball in the final at Okara Park when I was certain to score and you dummied and got snotted (insert Lee Tamaki here). My friends, Lo, Ace, Dana, Pops, Smokey, Fili, J, Nail, Baldie, Smelly, Raenuts, Mew, all the Sionies the list is endless, they are the reason we play sport. The thing is that sport, even from a very young age builds these moments, these events, things that stay with you for a lifetime. A few years back there was a brilliant team, the Otahuhu College 1stXV, they were absolute underdogs, they played an entire season undefeated and went on to win the Auckland Championship for the first time in many many years, it was amazing to see this small school do the damage. They had a world class player, Orene Aii he was sublime, sensational, and has gone on to be a terrific player with a successful career all over the world. Ask Orene if he ever got a match winning drop goal and he will smile, not for the fact that they won the final with a miracle drop goal those many years ago, but for the boys who played in his team, his schoolmates.
This week at school I have been following the rivalry that two lads have been talking about, Saturday will be a step in a friendship that might be blogged about in 40 years or more, talked about between mates for yonks. The two of them aren't interested in anything but this game, guarantee the teacher will be getting the post-mortem next week on how the game went, god knows shes heard all the banter this week.
Waitakere White vs Waitemata Black Under 8's, 9.15 Saturday, tickets available on tiketek.
This is one I wont miss!

video

Thats the value of sport.

Oh and Lee Tamaki you owe me bro, 2 crayfish and a few woodies and we are all square, but I probably (definitely) wont forget. My idol Sid Going scored tonnes of tries at Okara and I was denied my first one by you cuz, damn right I'm still spewing, even though we won the final.

Latest pictures in the Waitakere win 12 tries to 8.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Who motivates the motivator?

Aren’t leaders supposed to motivate the team, have the staff firing? Who motivates the motivator? As a principal, you are it, so who or what gets your juices flowing?

I reckon its important to think this one through.


I have a few theories, some ideas and possible answers but I wouldn’t mind your 50c worth, please contribute.


So before you can answer who or what motivates you, you may have to understand where your staff are coming from. The lowest level for staff could be survival mode, they have a job but lots of things are going on, stress comes from every side, they worry about everything, the kids are hard work, they aren’t well organised, the rent is hard to pay, negative mind set, “leadership is doing things to me”. Next comes safety mode, you are a solid teacher, you have job security, no risks, the boss is ok - a bit fickle but ok, mindset steady, leadership is mixed, things are steady. Then you have belonging mode, teamwork, mostly motivated but needing someone to motivate you, enjoying being at school and appreciative but on their own terms, part of a team but sometimes a click, sometimes even teaming up against the boss, but usually this mode is a very positive environment. Probably strolling. After this is achievement mode, I reckon this is the time when you move out of that stoll and fink “strolling” mode, people are motivated to move past and really achieve, teamwork and self motivation, ownership and belonging are inherent, staff are celebrating achievement, genuinely happy for others, collaborative.

You can be achieving at survival mode, and indeed in all of them, but if you want to get results back you must get to achievement mode.


You may ask what this has to do with the motivating the motivator, but it is actually the staff that motivates you. They are the people who get you rocking, they are the ones who boost those around them. I know that I feed off staff who get on a roll, staff who go that extra mile. I pick up their vibe, I love it when they achieve. I love it when they celebrate kids learning, celebrate discoveries they have made. Those stories of kids achieving just keep you bouncing. Yes I am motivated by wanting to do things really well, to turn out the best possible performance. I love working things out and doing a great job of it, seeing it through, but these things pale in comparison to when a staff member nails it. When a staff member gets it, when a staff member makes everyone proud.

So the key for me is to make sure you know what mode your staff are at, and help them get to achieving mode, there may have to be some challenges, some awkward conversations and some uphill battles but if you aren’t motivated then it all goes flat.


So it seems that if you want to be motivated you have to do the motivating, and get staff through those modes and over to achieving.

Most good leaders who stay in their schools are motivated from within their school.

The other muppets who stay (too long) have staff in safety mode, they are in safety mode.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

15 Reasons Why Leadership Works

Looking back always helps looking forward. Last November we attended the ACEL conference in Sydney. Apart from the odd laugh and ale the focus was on leadership. I hung out for something decent and Hargreaves delivered at the last minute. I was a little disappointed in the conf up until then, but our redemption was gr8.
He has now published the whole presentation "Performing Beyond Expectations"and you guys can read, so click on the link above for the facts and stuff like that. Its important that you read from the source at some stage. It's a real goodie. If you want the executive summary with the half truths thrown in for free then i've attached my very boring notes, they have attached audio files which you wont get (pay for the conference you slackers), you just get the scribbled notes:
What was great was, he followed what made good leadership change looked like and then gave this gem.
THE FALLACY OF LEADERSHIP CHANGE
1 Speed
2 Replacement
3 Data / Numbers
4 Prescription / Standardisation
5 Competition

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

3 show stoppers

1 Sandwich Chillers, you know the obligatory steel food cabinet.
2 The "tuck", the "Jerry Seinfeld", the man with the shirt tucked in.
3 Don Brash and his ungainly gait, yes his walk.

Sandwiches, lets get to the nitty gritty here. Bread is a nice wrapper, it sits in a bag for a few days without going stale, it can be heated to make warm welcoming toast, or it can wrap those lovely fillings and hold together a very satisfying lunch. Thats two states of niceness, warm or room temperature. When EVER is it ok to eat cold or chilled bread. It's downright wrong. So why do we have to buy our sandwiches from coffee shops etc from those bloody chillers. What happened to those veneer coated sandwich racks, with the plastic doors that you opened, and you used the tongs to put your selected treat on your own plate. These sandwiches were especially a treat as a kid when on the top floor of the Farmers building. Oh the selections were endless, salad sandwiches which specialised in iceburg lettuce, cheese and onion, egg with parsley. The real clanger for me was that the ladies who made these culinary delights did so with love in their hearts and fags in their mouths, and not within a bulls roar of a chilled cabinet. Harden up New Zealand, bring back the veneer.

So Greg Norman did it, Jerry Seinfeld specialised in it, and now men who really should have learnt from the 80's are still doing it. It's not OK, its downright not on. I don't care what the excuse is, the tuck is the tuck, stop it right now.

Ok so why is Dons gait such a show stopper. Well firstly he walks upright, OK thats fine but when he turns to address others he has the stiff neck, and then he has that sort of protruding foot gait where the foot isn't sure if there will be ground under it as it's about to land. When you add the turning stiff body and the unsure stride, its all over. Did anyone see him get in and out of the midget a few years back. Sorry Don it's all over, put the slippers on and get a blanket over the knees, find the lazy boy and take the 430pm Nursery Dinners.

Life cant go on while society accepts this sort of behaviour.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

3 characteristics of a leader


Following all those conferences from rural northland: google teachers #gta2011 - apple educators #adeanz - #nappgen2011 aspiring principals - #slide2learn australian mobile learning.
It was quite a disruption to the first week of the holidays. Fishing, lawnmowing, watching sport on sky, and these bloody conferences, there I was thinking i'm missing everything, something.

After favouriting tweets I went back and read through the links. I couldn't help but think Derek was onto something.
The quote that bit me on the backside was this “there are three characteristics of a leader, they have vision, they are able to articulate that vision, and they engender the trust of others to pursue that vision.”
This came from Leadership for 21st Century Learning Don Hanna.

I was asked a question in tweet form from Julie.
So why wouldn't I use dereks quote as my answer?

Problem is, what does this vision look like and sound like on a daily basis and how do you get to the stage that its being actioned ?

A leader has to have a vision but it needs to be shared, it needs to be owned by all those on the staff, and it needs to make sense, not some airy fairy crap. The vision cant be just about data driven educational outcomes. It has to include a philosophical synthesis of teachers, expectations around hard work, expectations around empathy, and a whole school approach to not just students but their whole family.
After that paragraph is ticked the action of the vision and the trust of others to deliver on it is paramount. So what should leaders do to help others deliver the vision?
They have to live the vision themselves through action. Taking the time to help teachers and staff deliver to children and families in and beyond the classroom. Backing your staff in your community, supporting them when the gossip is running. Giving staff opportunities to lead, being there to support them after hours and in class. Celebrate the success of teachers and kids. Thanking them publicly in speeches, newsletters etc.
The list could go on, let me know your essentials for engendering the trust of staff to implement the shared vision.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If you expect pathetic you probably will get it

Recently heaps of fellow principals attended the NZPF conference in Wellington. I got a few tweets coming from there from @carolynstuart . @lenva was also in attendance but she doesn't have the principals funded 3g coverage and there was no wifi available to get her thoughts out there. So I made some sarcastic remark about NZPF being old farts not knowing about twitter and carried on with my day. I suppose that some principals can take the attitude that twitter is for people with too much time on their hands and is a load of crap, fair point. I suggest most however don't even know what it is and how it could be used. Still it shouldnt be a judge of a good conference. I'm just using it as a small measurement tool of digital principals. However it begs the question as to weather Principals are in touch with their digital side when wifi isn't a priority at their conference and no-one cares or comments. Then you also ask if we see it as essential in our own learning.
So I digress. A colleague of mine subscribes to the eAdmin training from the MOE. She sent me through the latest offer of professional development for leadership teams and principals. This is really funny, embarrassing and somewhat insulting. I reckon it could be one of those secret stings, you know those FBI tricks where they send wanted criminals free tickets to NBA basketball games and tickets for their kids, when they turn up they are arrested. Maybe if you go on this course with the eAdmin team you get ERO, National Standards visitors, and letters from people wanting charters and more grief.
So read below and be insulted, but also remember that you can't throw stones if I use the "conference without wifi and no-one cared" as a digital gauge.

I have run workshops with over 50 principals in the last 6 months and all have left setting up and using their own wikis, most have gone away using the cloud as a default. What are the eAdmin Team doing? Give yourself an uppercut guys! File structure OMG.
Sorry eAdmin Team I don't mean to offend but this is not what should be being taught to Principals. (feel free to use my sting theory)
Oh and all NZPF people, you aren't old farts, you are great people doing a brilliant job and I tip my hat to you. BTW no chance of offending anyone enrolled on the course, they probably haven't seen the interweb yet.
Just trying to get a point across thats all. If you expect pathetic you probably will get it.
PS How funny is the Macintosh line at the end - MACINTOSH ha thats so 1997. Wellington now has saturday shopping incase you didnt know.e-Admin  Training Homepage

Kia Ora _______

We would like to invite you to make a booking for the Managing Your Computer Files e-workshop running in term two: 2nd-27th May.

"Do you have problems finding the file you're looking for?"
"Are your folders a mess?"

If you answered yes to either of these questions then this 1 hour online interactive e-workshop is for you. Managing Your Computer

Files e-workshop is designed to teach you the concepts of good file management and give you practical examples and techniques on

how you can achieve this in your school.

In this e-workshop our trainer will show you:

  • How to create folders and subfolders
  • How to move a file/folder to another location on your PC
  • The recommended way to Naming your electronic files - we will share with you some recommended tips!
  • How to use one of windows search features to find your saved files
  • How to create shortcuts to the files that you use regularly
The Managing Your Computer Files e-workshop is designed for:
  • principals
  • deputy principals
  • administration staff
  • Note: This session is not suitable for users of Apple Macintosh computers.

Monday, March 28, 2011

iPod iPad iCant be bothered, iM in denial ?

The stories from people who have heard their ADE Joe Morelock speak are impressive. I think this is a good example of ipods ipads being done well. Read the links, click through, interesting stuff.

Canby School District have an iPod touch & iPad 1:1 Programme
Every 3rd grade child gets an iPod Touch/ iPad.
They have shown some huge increases in literacy and maths scores.
Main wiki on iPod use.
Using iTunes as a Digital Portfolio.
The teacher action research blogs - the stuff that is actually happening.
Using voice memos for reading fluency.
Geeky stuff on syncing.

They are not electronic worksheets.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Q & A

Question : Is Mary Chamberlain not renewing her contract with the MOE because she sees what is on the horizon and just cant stomach it?
Answer : You bet ya.
Question : Why has it taken Pat Lam two seasons to finally put pressure on Joe Roks.
Answer : He now has an assistant coach who isn't a "yes man".
Question : Why do i cringe and hide when i hear eportfolios ?
Answer : The teachers do hours and hours of work and the leaders take all the glory and the kids couldn't really give a shit especially in two years time.
Question : Why is the labour party such a load of shit ?
Answer : Because Phil Gough is as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.
Question : Have Auckland University sold Astlle to the ministry of Education?
Answer : Who knows but its a bloody good rumor, and we will all be forced to do eAstlle as national testing kicks in.
Question : Does anyone actually give a shit about facebook privacy settings anymore?
Answer : No not really.
Question : Does Ken Robinson have anything else to say other than, education was built on an industrial model and now times have changed but education hasn't?
Answer : No, but he is very charming and witty.
Question : Will anyone run an educational conference where the social networks will form the guts of the conference?
Answer : Not while we bow and hail international peddlars selling their glossy crap.
Question : How long will it be until schools run real coffee shops?
Answer : It depends if you are an inner city tosser school, or does it?
Question : Is twitter for twits.
Answer : Shit yes.
Question : Should schools be operating without Facebook and Twitter?
Answer : Not really, but the tweeter will have to be a twit, see above.
Question : Was that bad shit in Japan or what?
Answer : Unbelievable.
Question : What do all the high school teachers doing Cambridge exams do after September 3?
Answer : Tutoring of course ($$ kaching), at "some" schools they even tutor kids they teach, using the school as a base! tut tut, wheres your ethics?
Question : Who can actually hear Stewie Griffin?
Answer : Brian (the dog, thats for you mumbleboy) and then after that its situational.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sweating the small stuff

Talking with a Christchurch Principal we chatted about the change of thinking in staff. Things that were trivial and unimportant have been placed in the trivial and unimportant box. This has been the default stance by so many people, including the many teachers in the christchurch area. People have been forced to take things the way they are and to not sweat the small stuff. I remember having a long conversation with my sons high school principal about how his school had travelled to India and worked with schools in the poorest parts of Delhi. When he returned to school he had a saying that was called "A I" which stood for "After India". The things he saw, the hardship, the poverty, the loss of life, the living conditions, brought so much reality and balance to his outlook. He believed this experienced was life changing stuff.
Recently the same Principal wrote in their newsletter about how wearing a neck tie was :
"about being aspirational in dress standards"
"boys gain confidence and are simply more teachable once they adopt aspirational and clear dress standards"
and this classic was that, wearing a tie :

"is seen in the minds of boys as being aspirational and being serious about their exam marks"

Clearly this Principal has completely forgotten his "after India" experience.


Often we have special needs students and they are very hard work. Over the years I've seen these kids come and go, they provide a massive challenge to schools. The parents can often be stressed, many times I have heard people judge these parents. I always pause and take a dose of reality, imagine being that parent, they have that special needs child forever. These people live with a massive dose of reality.


My questions are -
How long does this dose of realism remain ?
How can teachers, school leaders and parents not living in situations of true hardship get a dose of realism ?
Who is a true realist on your staff, and do you admire them ?
How do they act, and what can we learn from them ?
Is it fair to fob things off that is the small stuff, but is important to them ?

Seems its a juggling act sweating the small stuff as well as avoiding sweating the small stuff.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boston Legal - Alan and Denny come to NZ

Surely everyone is a fan of the ever smarmy Alan Shore and our cherished red neck Denny Crane. Well let me paint a scenario, an episode of Boston Legal that just has to happen. Some of the jokes spilling from my somewhat childish mind are too rude to say but im sure HBO wouldn't hold back aka shirley schmito. However I digress. Alan Shore always needs a formidable challenge, a fight against the government would suffice, how about a cause, say the dumbing down of education, how about a fly fishing trip squeezed in for Denny? Are you starting to get the picture. It may be time for another SLEEPOVER. what about a road trip? or even better a visit to the colonies.

Alan : "Denny we are going to New Zealand"
Denny : "don't they shag kangaroos there Alan"
Alan : "they fish"
Denny : "Ive always wondered what happens in the pouch"
Alan : "they fish"
Denny : "do they shoot"?

By now friends of boston legal are salivating, and the rest of you have clicked "next blog" hoping for "extracting-teeth.com - a do it yourself guide".
So Alan and Denny head to NZ to take up the cause of the Boards Taking Action Coalition, he is taking the govt to court. Alan is somewhat bemused how the govt can legislate Nag 2a and have the first educational goal of NZ as "Realise the full potential of every student". Alan plans to fight the law, the law is an ass and he will proove it as he always does in a nice 51 minute slot + advertisements. However Denny is along for the trip, he discovers the lakes, mountains, and is loving it, only distracted slightly by the court stuff and the occasional "denny crane" quote for the media. Now you could only imagine the conversations in the back rooms talking about education, the double breasted suit, the calm folding and endless buttoning of Alans jacket.
Of course Alan plans to call John Key and Anne Tolley to the stand... the ending is all too beautiful, the sharp witted Shore making mince meat of a crime against kids. And Crane, not liking Alan's anti government stance, but the audience loving his endless quips, growls, whistles and looks at Aunty Anne.

GOLD - Denny Crane

Monday, February 7, 2011

Home School

I have a few issues about the ability of parents to home school kids.
Its a parents right !
Well I've got a few "What ifs".

What if the parents aren't capable ?
What if the kids are chronic truants and the parents have supported them to miss school ?
What if CYFPS have a long history with the family and they now want to homeschool the kids ?
What if there isn't a single book in the house ?
What if the kids are miles behind at their current school ?

So here is what I have discovered. The MOE helps families write their plans (application) and teaching programmes. They approve nearly all applications (schools get a say but rarely is the information enough to stop the parents rights). ERO visits about 8 kids per year as a "check up". ERO give the usual three weeks notice (time enough to buy some books) when they visit. No families have home visits before allowing home schooling. Checks with CYFPS are not done. The only paper work they need to do once approved for home schooling is a Justice of the Peace declaration that says "we are doing the work". No national standards here, actually no standards at all. Parents get paid in two installments the $700 odd dollars for home schooling (fair enough if the system is not being abused). Some facts above are subject to the podgorani exaggeration methodology however they are believed to be accurate at the time of writing.

So there are a few concerns, no blame here, just concerns. If you want to build a kitchen, move toilets, build a garage, you have to jump through many hoops with the MOE. However a kid can be removed from school to vanish from the system to hide from authorities, deprived an education without a home visit. It needs sorting. I did a quick email around and all of my "what ifs" are true stories that came from my colleagues. Food for thought.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Epic Fail

I’ve been stewing on this post for a while. So do we sit back and say nothing or do we just accept the case, close our eyes and get on with our lives. I’m talking about the kid who was found in a cupboard after Cypfs returned the kids to their parents. They were taken away from the family for seven years, then returned after someone/group of people said these parents were now fixed and fit to have kids. They then tortured and beat the kids and one girl seemed to get the worst of it.
Every school has sorry cases, I have seen some really bad shit when it comes to kids. Stuff that made me so angry, mainly because I was powerless. However there were people that held power in this case and they failed the children.
I know the school and teachers didn’t beat the kid, but they more than anyone should, and will be, asking themselves “could we have done better”.

Maybe we should all ask, what can we learn from this?

Every teacher can take a lesson from this: stand up for kids when no-one else will, trust your gut feeling, say something, take special interest in those children without friends, listen, get to know your kids, get to know the families of your children.

Every leader can learn something here: trust your staff, listen, get to know your families, make it your business, don’t accept peoples word - actions are far more trustworthy.

I know that over the years I have hesitated over Cypfs and making that phone call, only to find out after making the call that the family has a track record as long as your arm. It’s a bit like accepting bad behaviour and then putting your foot down, if you were vigilant all along you wouldn’t need to shout or even raise your voice, it’s about setting standards and maintaining them.
I cant blame people for this sad shit, I don’t know the truth, but I can and will learn from it.
I know NZ wants the best for these poor kids. I hope they are with a great family enjoying life. And want to say how sorry we are for what happened to you guys!

NCEA- My 50 cents

I'm a bit bored of the whole debate with Auckland Grammar choosing to go with Cambridge int exams and not doing the new zealand curriculum. However I have looked at the calendar for 2011 and I note that the last day for kids doing CIE exams is October the 7th. They then have two weeks holidays and the first day back after the holidays the CIE exams start.

So if i teach say, History for Y11, 12 ,13 at Grammar/any cambridge school, I don't have any classes after October the 7th, I have no marking either. I will however teach again in early February 2012. Possibly getting nearly 4 months out of the classroom. So if they are on an average salary of about 80k ( a unit of two) then they are getting about $1000 a week in the hand for 4 months of what.

Yes this is a simplistic view, but its getting quite laughable, its not Grammar here, its every Cambridge school.
No moderation, no marking final exams, a three term year, 4 months non contact.
Who is really getting the advantages?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vodafone or Bust

We all know that the smartphone market is all about data, something the telcos didn’t get right when the first plans came out. Now the data is coming and we are eating it up, unless you have an iphone on vodafone.

So iphone is going to be a wifi distributer, great news you say. Well here is the first thing you need to do. GET OFF VODAFONE NOW. I had 4 years of vodafone on 3g and then 3gs and Voda kindly gave us 3gig per month. So in 4 years the most I used in a month was 240mb, here’s why, the network is so slow that it crawls, forget youtube it just spins, forget app store for anything of a decent size (5mb) and basically wait ages for mail and twitter to refresh and safari to load. If you are in denial then sit beside me and we will speed test, you will lose!
So I went to iphone 4 and went to Telecom XT, the hated network with the bad reputation. Result ? = unbelievable

I’m in rural northland tethering to my Air and internet sharing, son on ipod using Vonage talking to his mate in Wales, wife on ipad getting email and clicking through to links to online shopping, daughter on macbook (god knows what she is up to) me using the air to bet on the TAB and send texts on the iphone while thethering. The pages are loading with a snap.
In exactly the same spot using 3gs with Vodafone I couldn’t use the browser on the iphone because it timed out. It was slower than dial up !

I speed test from rural northland on the iphone and get 5.4mb down and 1.2mb up. I go to Waitangi, same news, Whangarei marginally slower but blistering compared to that other nonsense.

The answer is in the bandwidth that vodafone (900/2100mhz) and telecom (750-850mhz) networks run on. The iphone is built to run on Telecoms 3G (850mhz) frequency, it can run partially on Vodafones 3G frequency. So this is a known fact but that doesnt mean anything, it’s just a sales pitch. Well you carry on with Vodafone and your 2 and a half G network and I will blister away with endless mobile broadband in my hand. Oh there is a possible savior on its way for the vodafone iphone users, the new phones for Verizon may have a different mhz, but you would need a new iphone and a long wait (something you are used to if you're on Vodafones network).

Good luck suckers, enjoy your iphone at half speed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Our forgotten 15-year-old classroom stars

I read the latest report and wanted to write a blog about the OECD scores and reports, however the fishing, drinking, golf, sun, beaches, food, dog, family got in the way, so I copied this one from an academic with far better wordsmithmanship, enjoy.

Why aren't we celebrating our international success in education, asks Warwick Elley, emeritus professor of education.

In a year when our news was dominated by reports of earthquakes and mine tragedies, collapsed companies, droughts and cricketing disgrace, it was great to learn that our 15-year-olds are still in the top echelons of the OECD in reading, science and maths.

In the latest survey, New Zealand students were ranked fourth out of 34 OECD nations in reading literacy, fourth in scientific literacy and seventh in mathematical literacy.

Why isn't it front page news?

Why don't we celebrate the achievement of our schools in producing so many bright students, with so little per capita expenditure?

At this time, when schools are completing their academic year, and plaudits are being handed out to our top sports teams, business leaders and media stars, we should be congratulating our rank and file teachers for drawing the best out of thousands of children, and showing the world that we still have a great education system.


As in all past OECD surveys, New Zealand students were shown to achieve near the top, surpassed only by countries with ethnically homogenous populations such as Finland, Korea and Japan.

A quick glance at our results in literacy shows that our mainstream Pakeha students had a mean score higher than any other country. We may value our ethnic diversity, but we should also allow for its influence on educational outcomes when evaluating the quality of our education.

This year we showered congratulations on our All Whites, for making it into the top 50 nations in the soccer world.

Our 15 year-olds were fourth in the OECD survey.

This year we celebrated when our Silver Ferns defeated Australia in netball. Our 15-year-olds beat Australia in reading, science and maths. This year we proclaimed our All Blacks as heroes for shutting out South Africa, Australia and each of the UK teams. But so did our 15-year-old students. Did anyone notice?

There is much more to learn from the comparative results of the OECD survey.

While New Zealand students maintained their position near the top, Australian authorities are deploring their "significant decline since 2000" on all the skills measured.

The Ministry of Education in England has called for wholesale reform as their own report shows that, in the survey of all 65 nations that participated in the survey, their students slipped from seventh in 2000 to 25th in reading, eighth to 28th in maths and fourth to 16th in science.

Meanwhile, another country we like to compare ourselves with, the United States, languishes well down the scale, around the average of all OECD countries. So much for former President George W. Bush's hopes for the No Child Left Behind programme.

All three of these countries spend more per capita on education than we do, yet all show lower performance levels.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for our Minister of Education.

Throughout this period, 2000 to 2009, all three of these countries have had in place a system of national (or state) standards in primary schools, with annual compulsory assessments, reports to government and league tables designed to rank their schools.

We too are introducing a system of national standards, compulsory assessments, reports to government and league tables in our primary schools.

How long before we start to drop off the top of the OECD scale? It is no wonder that teachers in all these countries are continually protesting against the obvious drawbacks in this system. It is of note that the significant decline in the Australian figures was caused largely by a drop in the proportion of high achievers.

Is that where we are heading?

It is true that the latest survey still shows a wide dispersion of scores among New Zealand students.

We have more high achievers than other countries, but still too many at the lower end of the scale. However, the proportion of Kiwi students who did not reach Level 2 - the OECD benchmark of being able "to participate effectively and productively in life" - was 14 per cent, not the much-vaunted 20 per cent claimed by the Government.

These under-achievers are readily recognised in this survey. They can be identified by gender, by decile level and by ethnic group, but repeated studies overseas show us that compulsory assessment and league tables do not change them.

The recent Council Educational Research survey revealed that 85 per cent of principals and 86 per cent of teachers believe that National Standards "will not change the patterns of achievement".

The Minister of Education may welcome the positive feedback she is receiving from some parents about clearer reports of their children's achievement levels, but only 5 per cent of principals believe that they will help under-achievers.

The problems lie not so much in schools' efforts, but in such social problems as poverty, dysfunctional families, and home language traditions. In a year of frequent teacher-bashing, we should recognise that we have many dedicated, competent teachers, doing great things for our children's minds, and our future national prosperity.

Merry Christmas New Zealand teachers. Pat yourselves on the back.

By Warwick Elley

or this might happen in NZ it's happening in Australia