Chatting with Carol Dweck

Many of you would be well aware that much of my coaching and consulting work revolves around Mindset, and in particular the implications of Fixed and/or Growth Mindset thinking.

The world’s leading researcher in this space is Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University. She was in Australia last week and I caught up with her to chat about how her Mindset theories have been implemented, as well as some of the myths, misappropriations and challenges of Mindset.

You can listen to our chat here.

Education Media Tech & Social Media

[Still] struggling to get our head around social media in schools…

In February this year, I had the opportunity to ask over 1000 senior students from about forty schools across Australia, which statement best summed up how their school taught social media. I’m assuming schools would do this, as I can definitely recall a subject called Media Studies when I was at school back in the nineties…

I asked…

Which of the following BEST describes the manner in which social media is taught in your school?

a: It isn’t really

b: We only really get told what NOT to do

c: We are educated as to the power of social media to help us learn in school

d: We are educated as to the power of social media to help us learn, connect with others and develop a positive digital footprint.

This was the response [CLICK ON THE GRAPH TO ENLARGE]:

I then asked them whether or not they thought a Google (or your preferred search engine) search would make or break them, if a prospective employer chose to search for them online…

This was their response:

I think these two graphs present an interesting stimulus for a chat about how we approach social media in schools…

  1. Only around 70 senior students out of >1000 thought that an online search would stand them in good stead. This is a worry, as employers have been using online searches since the days of MySpace (remember that??)
  2. Over a quarter didn’t know what an online search would throw up.
  3. The vast majority of students thought an online search wouldn’t be an issue as there would be very little – if anything – about them online.

I wonder if we’ve taught kids that the opposite of a negative digital footprint is to have no digital footprint?

I also wonder if that’s because we haven’t really taught kids about social media. One of my most popular posts of all time was one I wrote back in 2012 called Driving Down Social Media Way in which I asked readers to imagine that we taught kids to drive the way we teach them about social media. In short:

1. Driving lessons would be taught by adults (teachers or parents) with little or no experience of driving.

Sure they may know of certain brands of cars or be aware of some of their capabilities. They may know it is illegal to speed or drive without a seatbelt, but in reality they have spent little time behind the wheel.

2. Driving lessons would only focus on what not to do.

An average driving lesson would entail students being preached to about the dangers of speeding, drinking driving or not wearing a seatbelt. There may be a little advice on how to keep you and your car safe, eg. regular service checks, installing an alarm and NEVER allowing a stranger to get into your car would all constitute sound advice.

3. Driving lessons would NEVER take place in an actual car.

In fact cars would be banned in the majority of driving schools. Students would be able to take notes, draw pictures or even present a PowerPoint on how to drive, but they would only be able to put these lessons into practice once they were out of sight of an adult.

It seems little has changed – which is unbelievable silly ridiculous bordering on negligent.

If you have the time or the inclination, here is a little spiel I gave in 2016 to some teachers on the subject… (it’s one of my favourite talks actually and please note the kids’ survey questions in this talk were from 2016, not the ones I cite in this blog post).


Education Leadership

Acting on Evidence

This blog post is in response to a piece written by Dr Deborah Netolicky. It would be worth reading it to give you the context of my response below. But if you want the quick version:

  • Social Ventures Australia, The Commonwealth Bank and the Education Endowment Foundation released the Aussie Teaching & Learning Toolkit that looks at loads of different research in an attempt to rank effect or non-effect educational practices by cost and by the “security” of the research.
  • Fairfax Media published a piece about the Toolkit entitled The 10,000 Pieces of Research That Will End the Homework Wars.
  • I said, “Nonsense” in my section on the TER Podcast, and lots of others said similar, and Dr Deborah Netolicky blogged about it far more eloquently than I did.
  • SVA responded in a blog post saying, “Chill out” (it was far more reasoned than that, but you get the gist).
  • Dr Deborah Netolicky then responded with more words of caution around the use of meta-analyses on education research as well as the value of being publicly challenged.

Phew… you with me?

As has already been pointed out there are many who hold reservations about the veracity of meta-analyses. Dylan Wiliam pointed out several issues in a comment on a post I wrote last year about Visible Learning in the Aussie Documentary Revolution School.

But even if we assume – just for a moment – that we could place 100% faith in the “padlock” system, we are then presented with how we act according with evidence.

There are countless examples in society of where, even when presented with fairly substantial evidence, people still make “interesting” decisions – whether they be jurors in a courtroom, parents who choose to run the gauntlet with measles, smokers, or dare I say it, leaders of the free world.

So it’s interesting to note in his E4L blog post, John Bush states:

“We do not envision the Toolkit as a resource that should dictate or direct professional decisions in schools. Instead, we hope school leaders and teachers will use it to start discussions with their peers and to help inform their professional judgement with research evidence.”

For what it’s worth I find these words encouraging – not that E4L – or anyone else for that matter – need or want my blessing – but I believe these words also serve to highlight one of the fundamental issues in education.

In my current research I’m reflecting on the point that schools have never had more research, policies and programs aimed student well-being, yet the NSW Centre for Education Statistics & Evaluation present findings that suggest these are simply not being implemented or if they are, they are missing the mark.

This could be because as Stephen Ball suggests in his 2006 book, Education Policy and Social Class, that the disparity between policy, programs and student experience could because whilst providing goals or outcomes, such documents rarely tell you what to do. They may provide links to further resources or options for action, but a response from individual schools still needs to be put together. The contextual nuance means that the success or otherwise of these responses are hard to predict. He states that the enactment of such texts, “relies on things like commitment, understanding, capability, resources, practical limitations, cooperation and (importantly) inter-textual compatibility (Ball, p.47, 2006).

Furthermore Ball suggests the more ideologically abstract – which one might argue describes the concept of well-being and perhaps learning too – the less likely it is to be accommodated into the practice of a school.

To be clear, I’m not anti the toolkit, just as I’m not anti Visible Learning or meta-analyses per se, rather I’m urging – as I thinking most are now – a careful, contextually appropriate and nuanced approach to school improvement.


Social Commentary

Disharmony Day & 18C

Today my kids went off to primary school wearing orange t-shirts.


Because in Australia, it’s Harmony Day, a day the government says, celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity.

“It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.”

So it took incredible comedy timing to decide that today would be the day the government should move to amend Section 18C in the Racial Discrimination Act.

Just a bit of background for my overseas readers…

Section 18C was added to the Racial Discrimination Act just over 20 years ago, with the passage of the Racial Hatred Act. Under Section 18C:

(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

  • the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
  • the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

There is a safeguard under Section 18D, that states that: conduct that prima facie breaches 18C will not be unlawful if it is done “reasonably and in good faith” for artistic, academic, scientific or other public interest purposes (or in reporting on any such conduct), or presumably in the form of hilarious social commentary in cartoons etc.

It appears to me that 18D gives people plenty of get-out-of-jail cards if they get caught being a little racially intolerant by those pesky politically correct nut-jobs.

But back to today – Harmony Day remember…

The Federal government backed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act that retain the offence of “intimidate” on the basis of race, but replace the words “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” with “harass”.

Let’s look at that word… Harass, and how it might open Pandora’s Box. defines harass as follows:

verb (used with object)
  1. to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute.
  2. to trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc., as in war or hostilities; harry; raid

You can call someone the “n-word” at work but how many times do you have to call them that before we can say you’re doing it persistently? 

Or if you inform someone on the bus: “F-off, we’re full!” If it’s only now and then… what’s the problem?

With regard to Indigenous Australians, Federal MP Linda Burnie puts it like this: 

“The racial discrimination that exists towards Indigenous people in this country is still very profound. It is just astounding to me that those advocating any changes to 18C probably have experienced no discrimination in their life and have very little understanding of what discrimination means.”

I’m not sure why the government would want to make such changes, although I feel in some way it’s a move to firm up support from the right of their party. The right is the new black after all – or maybe not.

And I’ve always wondered exactly what it is that those who have campaigned for changes to Section 18C feel they are unable to say or do. But I get the sense we’re about to find out after the decision made today.

Today my kids went off to primary school wearing orange t-shirts.


Because in Australia, it’s Harmony Day, and it appears the government is more interested in token gestures on days like this rather than looking after the interests of our most vulnerable, oppressed members of society.

Harmony Day.

Go figure.

Education Social Commentary Social Justice

When Dan met Stan

A month or so ago, I ended up sitting next to award-winning journalist Stan Grant on a flight to and from Wagga Wagga. We got chatting about his work, the 12 months since his speech regarding racism in Australia had gone viral, and we discussed the broader issues in Indigenous communities around Australia.

I’m very grateful to Stan for agreeing to catch up again, this time with a mic in front of him for my #OffCampus section on the TER Podcast, and we chatted about the need to change the narrative around Indigenous communities in Australia.

“Even with the best intentions, some people think near enough is good enough for Aboriginal people”  – Stan Grant.

Feel free to listen to the whole podcast below, but my interview with Stan kicks off at 29:32…


Education Social Commentary Wellbeing

**THIS** might just be the biggest challenge facing your school…

Of all the challenges facing Australian schools in the 21st Century, including funding, falling behind Asia, and preparing kids for jobs that don’t yet exist, there is one challenge that is not being afforded the attention it deserves, and in light of the shifting political landscape it might just be the biggest challenge facing schools in the 21st Century; “Do young people feel as though they belong at school?”

In 2015, the NSW Department of Education published a report of the findings of a 2013 pilot survey of 78,600 high schools students in public schools across the state. Using the Tell Them From Me (TTFM) Survey, students were asked to respond to questions about their experiences of school.

This was the standout finding for mine.


It’s referenced against Canada, as this is where the TTFM survey was designed.

These findings suggest that even when belonging is at its “best” – in Year 7 – around 30% of kids feel as though they do not belong at school. I appreciate that this might not represent your school. But what proportion of your students feel as though they don’t belong?

It’s important to recognise that as well as benefits to learning, studies have shown a teenager’s sense of belonging has the strongest link to depression – even more so than attachment to parents (assuming there has been no prior mental illness). This should serve as a prescient warning, given that kids who start school next year will graduate in 2030, the year that the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will become the leading cause of disease in the world.

Interventions that promote school belonging should therefore be a vital part of any approach to enhance student wellbeing, but schools are in an almost impossible situation as they do not operate in isolation. In many ways they reflect the society they serve, and the issue of youth belonging is a hot topic at the moment in light of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s suggestion that disaffected Muslim youth’s involvement in terrorism and crime is a result of allowing so many Lebanese Muslims into Australia in the 70s. Dutton is seemingly unaware of the irony that his words only further disaffect those of the Muslim faith.

When you feel you don’t belong where you are, you go looking for someone – anyone – who gives you the impression that you matter. This is the modus operandi of every gang in the world.

And of course, Minister Dutton isn’t alone. This year saw the return of Pauline Hanson to the Senate, riding the crest of a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, supported by the likes – of all people – Sonia Kruger. Ray Hadley, Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt we expect and we can reassure ourselves that young people aren’t listening to them, even if there parents are. But the host of The Voice??? 

And of course it’s not just Muslim youth who might feel marginalised. Cast your mind back over 2016 and think how some young people might be affected by a national newspaper carrying a cartoon depicting Indigenous fathers as incapable of raising their young.

Or how might adolescents being raised by same-sex parents be impacted by the debate about marriage equality? And just how do schools ensure that these young people don’t feel ostracised, when in 2015, education departments banned schools from showing Gayby Baby, a short film exploring what it’s like growing up with same-sex parents. Yep, banned.

And of course there’s the furore surrounding the Safe Schools Coalition – an intervention to promote school belonging for LGBTIQ kids. An issue brought into sharp focus this week with the death of 13 year old Tyrone Unsworth.

The results of the Brexit and US Election campaigns have highlighted that ignorance, fear and “othering” gets votes whilst for and for media organisations, hits, likes and ratings. But at what cost to our young people and society in general?

I was in the UK a few days after the Brexit vote and saw the impact of the campaign. Leaving aside the fact that some of the more ill-informed thought voting “Leave” actually meant that immigrants had to leave, there were countless examples of minority groups being targeted, either verbally or physically. Many of these groups were young people in schools. I can remember when UKIP was a joke.

And since Trump’s election win, US media are reporting a significant rise in hate crimes including episodes of racist or anti-Semitic, pro-Trump graffiti along with threats or attacks against Muslims, many of which are occurring in schools. I can remember when Trump was a joke.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-12-11-10-pmI also remember when the likes of Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi were something of a joke in Australia. But given Bernadi’s “dog whistle” tweet on the evening of Trump’s win, featuring a red baseball cap with the slogan “Make Australia Great Again” (which is still “pinned” to his Twitter profile) we would be foolish to dismiss them out of hand.

Whilst many have suggested that Australia’s compulsory voting laws mean that such right-wing rhetoric will never win the top job, that misses the point. Brexit and Trump have given increased legitimacy to such views. We even have terms for it now, “Post Truth” and “Alt Right.” It legitimises bigotry, it trickles down to our young, and whilst Attorney General George Brandis believes this is an inalienable right, I’d suggest we need to recognise the impact it’s having across society, not just in politics.

I know schools are constantly challenged to better prepare students for a world that doesn’t yet exist, particularly as we appear to be outperformed by our Asian neighbours in education league tables. Maybe that’s why we’re seeing an increased emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) or it’s sibling STEAM (A is for Arts), whilst also developing their so-called 21st Century Skills of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking (The 4 Cs).

But if kids don’t feel like they belong when they walk through the gates at school, we’ve got Buckley’s chance of any one of these acronyms or approaches having an impact. And then we’re going to face much bigger social issues than just losing the “Education Race” to Asia, and in my opinion, it won’t be the schools that are to blame.

Even though – of course – they will be by politicians and the media.

Education Social Commentary

Do Schools Kill Learning?

Ten years ago, a talk by Sir Ken Robinson was published on TED. Having being viewed over 41 million times on TED alone, it has become one of the most – if not the most – viewed TED talk ever.

It was provocatively titled: Do Schools Kill Creativity? 

The popularity of Ken’s talk catapulted him into the Public Speaking Stratosphere, not only in education, but also more broadly with many corporate and multinational organisations engaging him to present to their communities.

Clearly his message resonated. But as his message spread, many took issue with him. Such as Tom Bennett – the UK Government’s Behaviour Tzar and founder of researchED – who in his review of Robinson’s latest book Creative Schools dismissed his TED talk as “a lie” and dismantled pretty much every argument Robinson has made about the shortcomings of education. The reader is left in little doubt that Bennett is not even on, let alone driving the Robinson Bandwagon. And he’s not alone. A quick online search will turn up plenty of others who take issue with Robinson’s stance.

And I’m all good with that. I have no problem with open debate about ideas.

But the vast number of people who do resonate with Robinson’s message indicates to me that for some, schools did kill their creativity. Or at least that’s how they perceive it. However, for this to be a debate worth having we first need to agree on whether or not creativity is core business for schools, and even if we assume it is, it then begs the questions, “What is Creativity? How do we measure it? How many kids’ creativity is being killed, and is it enough for us to worry about?”

Again, an online search will demonstrate that these questions perpetuate a merry-go-round of arguments, the proponents of which seem disinclined to learn from each others position, and to be honest, the more I see of these arguments, the less inclined I am to engage. And this isn’t a defence of Sir Ken. I doubt he needs me to fight his battles for him.

Rather I’m interested in what might happen if we changed the question.

What if the question was: Do Schools Kill Learning? 

I’d hope that most would agree that learning is core business for schools. And I’d also hope that most would agree that we wouldn’t want too many of our kids leaving in the manner reported by Eryk Bagshaw in the Sydney Morning Herald after the first of this year’s HSC exams:

Rote learnt or not, for the thousands of students who walked out the door on Thursday, many would rather not think about the poetry of Robert Frost ever again, just as those who buried Clueless and Coleridge’s Kubla Khan before them.

I contacted Eryk over Twitter to see how he had come to this position, and his response was:


Imagine, for a second, if that really is the case.

Imagine if, after 13 years of learning the skills required to read, interpret and appreciate poetry, you never wanted to read poetry again.

Now I appreciate that wanting to read poetry is not synonymous with learning, but it must provoke thought about what, why and how we teach and assess – surely?

But imagine if, after 13 years of being in schools that aim to encourage life-long learning, our “best” students who entered tertiary education, felt compelled to cheat – rather than learn – at one of the countries most prestigious medical schools. Can you imagine? Well, you don’t need to.  

A couple of years ago I witnessed first-hand the lack of learning in tertiary education. I was a casual tutor on a Graduate Diploma of Teaching course and I was struck by how many of the 200+ post-grads were focused solely on whether their assessment task was a Pass, Credit, Distinction or High Distinction. Rather than discuss how they might improve their understanding of pedagogy or teaching in general, feedback sessions were dominated by “Yeah, but why did I lose marks?” or “What do I need to do to get a Distinction?” and even occasionally, “Doesn’t matter, I only need a Credit on this one.”

I do wonder if this attitude might be the by-product of the emphasis placed on grades by teachers, parents and students in school. It seems to me that such a focus on performance can sometimes diminish the focus on learning. As Dylan Wiliam suggests, grading work results in students not reading the teacher’s feedback (which one assumes would enhance learning). He argues:

“Students who get high marks feel they don’t need to read the comments, and those who get low marks don’t want to.”

Imagine if one of our most common practices in school was actually diminishing learning.

And can you imagine if students with learning differences believed they were dumb and lazy?

How many of our students leave school feeling they do not need to learn, or in fact they are incapable of learning?

I acknowledge that all the examples I have used in this post – with the exception of Wiliam’s quote – could be described as anecdotal, and I agree that a series of anecdotes does not necessarily an evidence base make. Indeed, one of the arguments made against Ken Robinson is his over-reliance on anecdote.

But, look through the anecdotes I have highlighted.

Do you know anyone who might have a similar tale to tell?

How many readers of this post would have to say, “Yes” before we deemed it appropriate to at least consider the question: Do Schools Kill Learning?

Or perhaps, whilst it might be more confronting, it might be more appropriate – assuming we’re willing to act on the answers – to focus on particular groups of kids in our community and ask, for these youngsters:

Does Our School Kill Learning?


Education Leadership

Making teachers nervous the key to lifting standards?

nervous emojiFour years ago I wrote a piece for the UK Huffington Post reflecting on the nonsense being espoused by the then head of OFSTED, Sir Michael Wilshaw. Upon his appointment as Chief Inspector of Schools he dispensed this advice to UK headmasters:

“A good head would never be loved by his or her staff. If anyone says to you that ‘staff morale is at an all-time low’ you know you are doing something right.”

In the same piece I noted that whilst now living in Australia, it was prudent to keep an eye on UK education matters, as more often than not, Australia adopts education strategies and policies borne out of the UK – albeit with a significant time lag – for example, standardised testing, national curriculum etc.

And now it seems Australia is at it again.

News broke this week that the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) will now be known as the NSW Education Standards Authority and will be given even more power to lift school compliance and teacher quality.

In a Sydney Morning Herald article, NSW Education Minister – the usually sensible – Adrian Piccoli said,

“The board ought to make schools nervous around school registration requirements, and it ought to make teachers nervous around teaching standards.”

Why the minister would want to add to the stresses already at play in schools is beyond me. For example, in Australia, school principals are five times more likely to face threats of violence than the general population, and seven times more likely to face physical violence whilst statistics show that early career teachers leave the profession at alarming rates. I can only presume he has taken advice that suggests instilling fear into already-stressed individuals and organisations is best for lifting outcomes. (I’m yet to read any research that suggests this is the case… but hey-ho).

And how will – do you think – the minister and the NSW Education Standards Authority determine whether these nervous teachers have improved? What targets will be set? Go on… I bet you CAN guess…

Take it away Tom…

In that same SMH article, Tom Alegounarias, who will become the part-time chair with a chief executive beneath him in the new structure, cited the highest achieving education jurisdictions globally as a target for NSW.

“It’s about setting our targets against international standards. How do we get to Shanghai, how do we get to Finland?”

Clearly I can’t miss the opportunity to suggest to Tom that the best way to get to either Shanghai or Finland would be by plane – boom-tish! (I’m here all week!)

But I have written before as to why we shouldn’t be overly smitten with China’s approaches to education (seriously… cigarette companies sponsor schools) or uncritically fawn over Finland (for example, youth unemployment is double that of Australia).

Unsurprisingly, Alegounarias also suggested that the reform would be deemed a success if there was “a big bump” in the state’s NAPLAN results in the next few years. This reductionist approach is concerning given that it has actually been suggested that such a “bump” would prove nothing. In case you don’t want to read that article in full, here is a very important section of it… (italics indicate direct quote from the article and I’ve added bold to the bits I think are really important).

Margaret Wu states that the fluctuation in NAPLAN scores can be as much as ± 5.2. This is because of a standard error of measurement of about 2.6 standard deviations.

This means there is a 95% confidence that if the same students were to complete the same test again (without new learning between tests) the results would vary by as much as ± 5.2 (2.6 x 2) of the original score. This represents nearly 12% variability for each individual score.

The standard error of measurement depends on the test reliability, meaning the capacity of the test to produce consistent and robust results.

What some researchers say is that the NAPLAN test’s large margin for errors makes the comparison across years inaccurate.

For example, if a student gets 74% in a test and another gets 70% and the error is 5, that means that essentially the first mark is 74 + or – 5, and the other mark is 70% + or – 5.

This means the two different marks can overlap by a fair bit. So it is not really possible to say a score of 74 is that much different to a score of 70.

The implication is that when you take this into account over a whole cohort of people it is difficult to sat (sic) categorically that one set of marks is any different compared with another.

In short:

Teachers and principals should not be judged based on NAPLAN findings and, as others have argued, more formative (assessment during learning) rather than summative (assessment at the end of a learning cycle) measures for providing teaching and learning feedback should be explored. 

What concerns me most is this stuff about NAPLAN – as well as research around teacher wellbeing – isn’t written on a scroll hidden inside a booby-trapped tomb within the grounds of a mythical city that no-one can find… it’s on the inter-web-thingamajig… and I’m pretty sure that most government buildings would have access to that. And before people counter with research that suggests the opposite – that teachers are lucky to have the job they have and could use a little more stress in their lives, and that NAPLAN rocks – I’m only putting forward the links here by way of adding to the conversation.

Too many arguments in education are based around all-or-nothing binaries, and people are quick to jump into one camp or another and attach a hashtag. But I reckon the solutions might a little more nuanced than that.

But nuance does not a vote winning catch cry make, or a feel good movement create…

To understand more of the nuance, the government could ask teachers what they think (like I did on Twitter) – click the tweet to see the discussion that follows…

But then again, open discussion with the profession might make politicians nervous.

Education Social Commentary Tech & Social Media


dollar signA couple of months ago I was – along with other bloggers and “industry influencers” – invited by a large tech company to attend a free workshop showcasing their new tablet and software. They were happy to “donate” to me (and by extension I assume others) a tablet worth over $1000 in return for my blogging about how I used it in my work.

I declined.

I’ve been receiving these types of offers since people started reading my blog. Many start-ups recognise that bloggers/tweeters who – in return for swag* – blog/tweet enthusiastically about said start-up serve as an extremely effective PR team as they have the added advantage of appearing organic. (Seriously… go back and read that link – Educators… look who is the parent company!)

I decided from the outset to avoid such relationships with companies (it’s on my contact page, but some still ignore it). I figured if the four people reading my blog were reading it because they valued my opinion, the least I could do was make sure that opinion was as objective as possible. It’s also for this reason that I don’t take ‘referral’ fees from other speakers/consultants which is also a common practice. If I recommend someone to you it’s because I think highly of their work.

Now to be clear, I’m not saying that bloggers/tweeters shouldn’t engage with companies in the manner I’ve suggested above (although many educators and most state education departments do say that), rather I’m saying that disclosure is a must. In fact it’s  not just me saying it. Last week I asked Twitter what it thought…

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 4.05.51 pm









As expected the majority of respondents believed that disclosure was important but I was surprised that nearly 20% of respondents were not aware that this happened.

The fact that nearly 20% of tweeps who responded were unaware of this happening suggests a couple of things to me.

  1. Perhaps it doesn’t happen. Perhaps every blogger who is approached by a company turns them down, and I’m merely assuming the worst.
  2. Perhaps it does happen, but bloggers aren’t disclosing. Because I reckon if every blogger was disclosing then surely these 20% would have – at some point – seen such a disclosure.

And I’d really love to know the reasons behind the 4% voting that bloggers “need not disclose.” If you were one of them, please comment below – I’m interested in your POV.

I don’t know if bloggers and tweeters consider themselves broadcasters, but just as commercial broadcasters disclose their arrangements and relationships, (granted – some needed some encouragement) maybe budding edu-stars should do the same as it might go a long way to maintaining/enhancing their credibility as their stars continue to rise & shine.


When I used #aussieED in the original poll, I used it believing the hashtag identified teachers online who had an interest in Australian education, who as they were browsing, might stumble across the poll and have their say. However, as Brett’s tweet suggests, #aussieED is more of an entity than I’d realised, and as such I wish to stress I was not singling out the entity that is #aussieED or its founders/moderators.

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 4.42.32 pm










*Swag* – Used here to describe anything that includes, but not limited to: high value products, low-cost/discounted products, travel, accommodation, a platform at a conference, sponsorship of events etc.


Engagement & Motivation Mindset

Coaching: Do You Wanna Impress or Improve?

coachImagine a young cricketer who is regarded as an excellent prospect. Let’s call her Sara. She gets selected for a representative training squad, thus getting access to a higher level of coaching than she has had before. As a right-hander, Sara regularly scores runs, but knows she has a weakness when a ball is pitched up on middle & leg stump.

As the representative team meet for their first net session, Sara perceives this as her time to shine, to impress, to ensure she is selected in the starting XI for the first game.

The last thing she wants is a ball on middle & leg in front of the coaches.

And yet if she is to improve as a cricketer, a ball on middle & leg is precisely what she needs. In fact she needs plenty of them particularly whilst she is around such high-class coaches who have the ability to help her improve her technique.

But often in cricket – and other sports – school and the workplace, when we’re around those who potentially have the most to offer, the situation dictates we need to impress rather than improve. We want to spend time demonstrating what we can do, rather than asking for help for the things we can’t.

Assuming that both the coach and the coachee (in this case Sara) are interested in improvement, one way around this is to conduct a coaching conversation. It can take many forms, from a chat over coffee to a more formal setting, but the essence of a coaching conversation is to empower the coachee to identify what they need to work on.

As with most relationships, a good coach-coachee relationship is predicated on trust, and assuming that is in place, a coaching conversation for Sara might look something like:

Coach: What’s your goal Sara?

Sara: To get into the starting XI for the first rep game.

Coach: What do you need to do in order for that to happen do you think?

Sara: Keep scoring runs, work hard in the field.

Coach: So how are things going?

Sara: Good. I’ve got a decent average, and I feel like I’m hitting the ball well.

Coach: Would you like to score more runs, if you could?

Sara: Of course!

Coach: So what’s stopping you?

You’ll notice that the coach has only asked questions, and has already shifted the goal from “getting into the team” to something more tangible like “scoring more runs.” The coach has also opened up the conversation now for Sara to identify some of the factors that prevent her from scoring even more runs.

Sara: I tend to struggle with balls on middle & leg. I can’t score well in that area, and I’ve been bowled a few times and caught off a leading edge several times too over the past couple of seasons.

Coach: OK, so we’ve got an hour or so where we can set up the bowling machine and work on something. What do you think we could work on together in order to help you score more runs?

Can you guess what Sara is going to suggest?

Within the space of a few minutes Sara has shifted her mindset from not wanting a single ball on middle & leg to suggesting she spend the next hour working on nothing but.

Sara and her coach take the goal of getting into the team – an outcome, that in reality, she has little control over – and is now able to focus on the shorter term, more tangible goal of improving her technique on middle & leg. And of course, if she gets this right, she’s probably more likely to end up getting into the team.

How might you use coaching conversations in your work?

In 2017, I’ll be offering 1:1 coaching. Let me know if you’d like to be kept in the loop about this!