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.

11 comments:

AllanahK said...

I had refugees from Christchurch staying with me last weekend.

I was stressing that the house wasn't tidy enough before they arrived.

They couldn't have cared less- my house had all the things that a house needs- security, warmth, running water, electricity and a flush dunny.

The fact that the inside had a fair amount of clutter didn't phase them at all. At least the clutter wasn't in a smashed heap on the floor.

I suppose the small stuff helps us get through the big stuff sometimes.

I call some of the small stuff the 'low trust model'. If you don't trust people to make small decisions each day then they won't feel trusted to make the big ones when you need them to.

I prefer self determination over tie wearing!

Marama28 said...

Boo to dress standards! I think best in my Chuck Tailors!
I like your question - "Is it fair to fob things off that is the small stuff, but is important to them ?" - making me think.
Sometimes you can 'ponder the small stuff', without sweating it?

Podgorani said...

Two very nice points here which interest me. I like the way both of you have not just made observations but suggestions or other questions. Very nice, and food for thought : Sometimes you can 'ponder the small stuff', without sweating it?
and this gem: I call some of the small stuff the 'low trust model'. If you don't trust people to make small decisions each day then they won't feel trusted to make the big ones when you need them to.

I'd like to think there are others out there with thoughts on this one

Tara said...

...and is being in 'hardship' more 'real'?
I think of this when I see a (what I perceive) as a rich person sweating and groaning when hauling their boat into dock in the same way I hauled a pram over the curbs when I couldn't afford a car. Same stuff, different problem...

GimliNZ said...

I remember hearing the following story that has stayed with me!
"If you are lying in a hospital bed with a broken leg and the person in the bed beside you has had both their legs amputated. Although you will feel relatively better off than them - your leg will eventually heal, and puts your injury into some kind of perspective, this doesn't take away the pain you may be feeling at that moment from having broken your leg. i.e. you are still entitled to feel whatever you're feeling.

Everybody deals with 'the small stuff' in different ways. For some they may choose to ignore it, for others it may be all they can control and so it becomes 'big stuff'.

I think we need to respect our diversity in not only how we think and act but also how we feel and react!!

Podgorani said...

I suppose Tara it is percieved that the guy with the boat has plenty of cash so he isnt doing it as tough, but as you say its perception. There are many people out there in schools who dont need hardship its just who they are.
Al good call this : I think we need to respect our diversity in not only how we think and act but also how we feel and react!!
I tend to be one who doesnt sweat the small stuff but i have a staff member who is brilliant at not sweating anything, yet still be very caring and truthful. Sometimes its just good to have these people around as well as those who sweat the small stuff because they can bring attention to detail that others (insert podgorani here) dont observe.

Allanah King said...

That's why, I think, that you need all types on a staff. You need big thinkers and you need people to cover and catalogue the library books.

People can compliment each other as long as the little guy can see a vision of progress and feel like they are valued.

In a small school like mine you have to be everything to everyone.

Thinking here of the Podgorani picture a while back of some birds sitting on a power pole.

Craig said...

I often wonder if the people who sweat the small stuff get the 'big picture'.
In my experience, those people who get the 'big picture' are more excited with learning - there own or others - and see obstacles as opportunities rather than as a way to blame someone else or expect them to fix things for them.
The next question is, I guess, how do we enable and support more people to get the big picture (in an imbedded way - not just with words)?

Podgorani said...

well there is an opinion worth agreeing with, however I cant start seeing much without having the big picture. I need the big picture to survive. It might all be back to the Herrmann http://www.hbdi.com/ brain model and making sure we know more about others, to make sence of peoples place or understanding. Still that dopesnt answer the question that Craig has asked, and an informed one it is....
Im going to seek solutions to that question..
however as Mr Papello says I MIGHT BE SOME TIME.
others out there however may be challenged enough to jump in with there 50cents

inneskennard said...

Wow and then along comes Japan. It is hard to see the big picture when you are immersed in the trivia of the moment even if attending to that trivia reveals a part of the bigger picture - if we let it. The challenge is not to bound from trivia to trivia. Leaders can ask key questions such as "Why not?", 'So what?', 'What next?', 'What if?'Starting small is OK, sweating small is unproductive.

Podgorani said...

Starting small is OK, sweating small is unproductive.

Well who would have thought someone from deepest Masterton had the experience to grace us with such wisdom. Not since Lochore and a very young Charles has Wairarapa witnessed so much leadership.

Innes the nail has been hit. this is pretty good too: the challenge is not to bound from trivia to trivia.

would love to hear some more thoughts and YES pricey I am still looking to answer you. I have a quiet weekend in northland planned I may find some time, providing Papello doesnt want to go to the pub.