If I was interviewing for teaching staff…

Question_MarkRecently I was chatting to a principal about what we would look for in potential staff members if we had the opportunity to build a school from scratch.

I scribbled down some notes, and later copied them onto my Tablet. I tweeted it out on my #DoodlesByDan tag and within about 2 hours it had been retweeted over 100 times. It’s by far the most prolific response I’ve had to any of my tweets.

I thought I’d share the scribblings here with some further thinking around it.

1. I’m over teachers telling me kids have to “earn” their respect. No they don’t. Respect for kids should be the number one pre-requisite for being a teacher. I couldn’t care less what your qualifications are if you don’t get past this first question.

2. Research suggests that teacher expectation plays in important part in whether kids learn or not. If you don’t think kids can learn, then I think you’re probably right. They probably won’t. We can’t have teachers thinking like this.

3. Trust me… there are some teachers who turn up at 8:55 and leave at 3:25. They do exactly what they need to in order to comply with their job description and no more. Not for me thanks.

4. On my travels I meet many keen teachers who are excited to push their thinking, explore new, or old, concepts and research with the mindset that regardless of their ability as a teacher, they want (and are able) to improve. They have what Carol Dweck would call a Growth Mindset. Unfortunately I also meet the odd teacher (as in numerically not characteristically) who has no inclination to explore such things. You know what that’s cool. It’s just not what I’d look for in members of my team.

And that is a key word – Team.

This is certainly not intended to be in anyway definitive.

What would you include in your criteria?

Why you shouldn’t work with me

stop signIf I had a business coach – which I don’t, but if I did – they would probably smack me around the chops for writing a post like this. But hey… what the heck, here goes!

You, or your school shouldn’t work with me if:

1. You’re just ticking a box.

I was approached by a principal a couple of months back who asked, “What do you talk about?” Which I found strange given I assume that people who approach me do – at least – have some idea of what I’m about. When I said I specialise in areas of engagement and wellbeing, his response was, “Oh that’s a shame, we covered wellbeing in Term 1.”

2. You want your teachers to be able to implement strategies “first thing Monday morning”.

This – in my opinion – is the biggest problem with professional learning in education. I discuss this in depth in this post. But in short the First Thing Monday Mindset – as I call it – implies:

  • The teachers in your school are empty vessels waiting to be filled – have you heard that somewhere before?
  • That an individual who has never worked with your kids, colleagues, parents or wider community can in some way offer an insight of immediate value that no-one on your staff has thought of before.
  • Your teachers are so unprofessional in their practice that the two points above hold true.
3. You want all the answers

I’ll be honest, in my sessions I ask more questions than I give answers.

In my sessions we’re discussing engagement, wellbeing & leadership. Three things that look quite different in your organisation compared to the organisation of the next person who reads this blog. I’ve never worked with you, your colleagues, your kids, your kids’ parents or your wider learning community. I’m not the expert- YOU AND YOUR STAFF ARE.

This is the kind of reaction to my sessions that make me love what I do! I love the fact that it took a few days for this teacher to make the connections with what she already knew and what was possible. And I must add this quote to my testimonials:

It might not have had any new ingredients compared to anyone else but by golly, Dan put the ingredients together in way that came up with a fair trade artisan made chocolate truffle instead of the canteen’s stale rock cakes.

When I’m working with professionals, my goal is to stimulate discussion and thinking so as to empower those present to design strategies that will enhance the experiences of everyone in their school or organisation. I seek to recognise and build on the capacity of those in the room, and in turn, their colleagues when they return to their schools, staffrooms and classrooms.

If that doesn’t resonate with you, we’ll add that to the list of reasons you should work with me too! :-P

Speaking of which, 2015 is just around the corner, and I have a handful of spots left on my Executive Partnership Program, as well as limited dates for standalone staff, parent and student workshops.

I’m looking forward to working with likeminded educators in 2015! :)

A cool little project for your school

I came across this really cool little project that your class may (or may not, of course) be interested in taking part in.

It’s absolutely noting to do with me, it’s being facilitated by Steve Box from Queensland, Australia.

He says…


This term, as part of our Year 5 Unit of Inquiry ‘How We Organise Ourselves’, students are inquiring into the structure and organisation of groups in our society and their interactions. As part of this, we are engaging in a Global Postcard Connection that will bring a trans-disciplinary approach (maths, geography, literacy) to our inquiry.  

If you have another teacher at your school interested, they would be welcome. Year 5 is our age, but it isn’t essential for our connections.

What our boys will do:

Each student in Year 5 will send two postcards to classes around the globe. In the message of this postcard will be a simple question that the boys are asking as part of a data collection and to inform their understanding of family structures as a particular group in society.  

They will also share their answer to this same question. The boys will use an online mapping tool to ‘pin’ the destination of their postcards. Collectively we will map and track the distances that these postcards will travel. Using a google spreadsheet, our students will also note the date that the postcards are sent and look at the time that it takes for the postal system to connect us.

What we need from you:

Firstly, please complete the google form here –   that allows us to have accurate details for postage.

One entry per class would be fantastic. Secondly, upon the arrival of the postcard, please note in this google spreadsheet the date of arrival.

Next, we would love to have someone in your class, or the whole class collectively, send a postcard back to us, including the answer to the question posed by our students. Please note the date you send this postcard in the spreadsheet.

We realise that email is such a quick and easy communication medium, but there is something exciting about receiving something in the mail and we hope this helps to build an appreciation of more ‘traditional’ communication modes.

So over to you! Get involved, you never know where something like this could take your kids!

In other news

I’m looking forward to keynoting the Asia Pacific Conference for Adolescent Success in Singapore and working hard to finalise the make up of my 2015 Executive Partnership Program, which next year will include an online option for schools located outside of Australia.


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