Categories
Education Leadership

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! 😛

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! 🙂

Categories
Change Education Leadership Tech & Social Media

When teachers say they’ve not heard of Sir Ken

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a room full of Australian teachers if they’d heard of Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Ken - Do you know who I am

One person tentatively raised their hand – and even then, he didn’t seem too sure.

I was seriously taken aback, not least because I use Sir Ken’s name in some of my promotional material!

Dan has appeared alongside the likes of…

But it got me thinking…  these teachers really haven’t even heard of him?

And just to be clear, I’m not saying we should all be kneeling at the altar of Sir Ken. Whether you agree or disagree with his arguments, hang off his every word or are a bit over the whole creativity thing is really beside the point.

The point is you’ve probably heard of him. But what about your colleagues?

If you’ve landed on this post courtesy of Twitter, I’m betting that you think I’ve made this up – after all Sir Ken has over 200,000 followers, most of them teachers. As if a teacher – let alone a room full of teachers – wouldn’t have heard of him. That’d be like Luke Skywalker not being au fait with Yoda’s body of work. luke and yoda

But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Twitter can be something of an echo chamber – that is – pretty much everyone is saying the same things about education over and over. With the constant reinforcement it’s easy to start thinking that this is how all educators think.

I believe that Twitter and other social media forums are the real drivers of professional learning – for those who connect – but what about the vast majority of teachers who aren’t connected in this way?

How do you spread the word to your less connected colleagues – in a way that genuinely influences the practice of your organisation?

And just in case you don’t know Sir Ken, check out this talk. And by the way, I’ve just been confirmed as a keynote speaker alongside him next year! 🙂

Categories
Education Engagement & Motivation Leadership

The problem with professional learning

I love getting feedback. After each speaking engagement or facilitated workshop, I seek feedback from those who attended and from those who engaged me for the gig.

I enjoy receiving positive feedback (obviously) but it’s the feedback that suggests improvements, or points to flaws in my delivery that push me to be better at what I do.

Having said that…

I do tend to bristle at the types of feedback that are along the lines of:

Teachers want something they can take away and do first thing Monday morning.

For me, this mindset is the biggest problem with professional learning – particularly in education.

Let me explain why I think that. And by explain, I mean ask you some questions.

How many Professional Learning days have you attended in your career? How many had a take home message? How many can you remember? How many of those messages still resonate with you?Expert_01

I’d hazard a guess that for each of those questions the number got lower and lower right?

Here’s the thing. It’s not like I’m out there teaching people how to tie their shoe laces (great talk by the way!). 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 ARE.

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.

I believe that the First Thing Monday Morning Mindset is a product of the way teachers have been treated over the years. Continually told that we need smarter teachers or that the system’s failing; that the Uni’s aren’t preparing teachers properly or, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, look at your holidays!”

Some teachers genuinely believe they need a guru to come in and give them a list of things to do with a class or staff body that the guru has never met. It’s quick, to the point and everyone can tick that box off the list of things to do that year.

It would be interesting to see what kind of bang for buck your school gets for this approach to professional learning. It would be interesting to ask each member of your staff the four questions I asked earlier. We know the answers of course, and yet we persist…

So, in an attempt to appease everyone, and at the same time stay true to my philosophy… here IS one thing you can do first thing Monday morning…

Suggest to your Principal that at the end of this term, or the next, your school holds an IDEASFest. I’m sure you’ve seen enough examples of this kind of thing through TED talks, FODI and the like to get the idea.

Open it up to any member of your learning community – parents, kids, teachers, maintenance staff – and hear what they have to say about the things that matter to them and your school. You could frame the talks to be around a certain theme, or be less prescriptive.

No big bucks for keynote speakers, no experts or gurus and I’d bet you’ll have to persuade some that this would even constitute professional learning… 

But I’d also bet that this kind of day would provide you and your staff with a take home message or two that might resonate the rest of your career, let alone just the weekend.

Categories
Leadership

TOP SECRET: For Principals’ Eyes Only

Are you a Principal?

Yes? Read on. No? Walk away from the screen. You were never here.

——-

Last year I posed a question in a blog post.

Why did the principal cross the corridor? Why would the principal of your school come into your classroom?

As principals, I thought it might be useful to share the results with you.

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 4.21.29 PM

Three results really stand out for me.

i. Nearly 30% of teachers think that their principal would cross the corridor to hang out with the kids and see what they’re up to. 

I think this is great, because after all this is what we’re all about! But I wonder why this figure isn’t higher…

ii. 31% of teachers wouldn’t expect to see their principal in their classroom.

I wonder why principals aren’t popping into these classrooms? What would you say to these principals?

iii. Not a single respondent thought their principal would come into their classroom to learn from them.

It’s a shame that teachers feel this way, as I’m confident most principals are well aware that they could learn a great deal from their staff.

I wonder what you can do in your school or those schools in your networks that would positively influence these figures?

I’d love to hear some of your ideas below in the comments section.

Categories
Change Education Engagement & Motivation Leadership Wellbeing

Forget teaching… how about some learning?

If you’re interested, I’m involved in two professional learning events in the coming days.

PLANE Festival of Learning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can REGISTER HERE to attend or you can watch the Live Feed here.

Follow on Twitter using #FOL12

If you’re there, please stop by and have a chat!

PLANE LeadMeet – The Wellbeing Series

On Tuesday 23rd October at 7pm (Sydney Time) I will be hosting the first of four LeadMeets – online Webinars aimed at school leaders to discuss ideas in and around wellbeing. They are free to attend.

Watch the promo below and REGISTER HERE.