Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Educating life long learners

This video makes some interesting points and shows just why it is vital to educate life-long learners.

My opinion:
It is my believe that students succeed in their learning in a supportive and caring environment, where they feel secure enough to learn, explore, challenge, test, discover and engage.  Building a good relationship with my learners also contribute towards building their confidence and skills to ensure their learning is successful, enjoyable, meaningful and lifelong.

My aim this year?
To motivate my learners to be active, engaged and connected learners for life, whilst getting them to use and apply the NZC Key Competencies and any other resources available to them.

How will I do this?
1.  Educate learners on how to make choices, how to think and learn
2.  Encourage learners to be critical thinkers and to use their ideas/thoughts to learn both independently and collaboratively
3.  Value each learner for what they do well
4.  Let learners know they matter

~ The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery - Mark Van Doren ~

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Being happy, Being Brilliant

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading  'The Art of Being Brilliant' by Andy Cope & Andy Whittaker, a book that was filled with motivational quotes, humour and valuable questions about work and life.

Their advice is to have some direction, to set yourself a target by making use of HUGGs (Huge Unbelievable Great Goals).  This will enable you of reaching your targets, if you strive to attain them.

This book starts with the story of Jimmy's Diary.  A classic example of how people might see/experience things differently, but mainly, to make you realize what is actually important in life.

Some advice quoted from the book:

'Success' isn't about becoming a different person.  It's a matter  of finding out what really works for you, and doing more of it.

It's safe to say that positive thinking won't let you do 'anything'.  However, it is even safer to say that positive thinking will let you do 'everything' better than negative thinking will.  Positive thinking will let you use the ability which you have, and that is awesome.  It works this way.  You can walk into a dark room, flip on the switch and immediately the room is lighted.  Flipping the switch did not generate the electricity;  it released the electricity which had been stored.  Positive thinking works that way - it releases the abilities which you have.

The six points the Andys recommended for brilliance in life:
1.  Choose to be positive.
2.  Understand your impact.
3.  Take personal responsibility.
4.  Have bouncebackability.
5.  Set Huge Goals.
6.  Play to your strengths.

Put this into practice to be a top 2%er - someone who is happy.

~ Discover your strengths, learn to make the most of what you've got, identify where you want to be, and take some concrete steps towards you brilliant future.  Just be yourself.  Brilliantly - #beingbrilliant ~

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Digital Leadership via #satchatwc

This morning I'd stumbled upon this Twitter chat, just as it came to a close.  After reading through the timeline, I've decided it would be worthwhile to capture some of the ideas shared. Great for my 'rewindable' learning and everybody else, interested in this topic.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Permission to make mistakes

Why are we so afraid to make a mistake? Is it the fear of being criticized or people's reactions to our blunders? Sometimes, we experience how other people responding negatively to our mistakes, and that lead to us thinking of mistakes as something bad.

But is making mistakes really that bad? I guess not. 

I have the tendency in beating myself up every time after making a mistake, and I have to remind myself to look at it as that I have just had the opportunity to learn something.  Do I find this easy? Definitely not! 
As a perfectionist I find this really, really hard. I need to remind myself constantly that I am human and in the end, I think it is more productive to recognize  mistakes as positive experiences.  (I am working on this!)

Last year I introduced the acronym F.A.I.L. to my 5 year old learners.  It worked a treat, as I have observed how using this was helping them to grow in confidence.  They even reminded me at times; "It's o.k., you are allowed to make a mistake. It's your First Attempt In Learning!"

Therefore, I will definitely use that acronym with my learners again this year - to support them, but most importantly, to help me to show them I am a learner as well and I am not afraid to try and to fail.

I also like the following from, Greg, a Principal in Canada who shared this:

Wouldn't it be nice if this is shared with all colleagues and students in your school?  I am almost certain that a lot more could/would be accomplished, if teachers and students alike know that it is acceptable to make mistakes.

So go on, try something new this year, make a mistake!  I know I will!

~"Those who don't jump will never fly" - Almashat ~

Monday, January 6, 2014

Challenging me to be the Change

I have just finished reading the book "Change" by Richard Gerver.  (Richard was a head teacher, who famously transformed a failing school into one with a  successful learning environment.  He had an exceptional ability to motivate staff to reach  their full potential.)

In this post I will be sharing some extracts from his book where my thinking was challenged and where some of my ideas and thoughts were reinforced.  Needless to say that I found this to be an invaluable read. A book that I would highly recommend to you, if you are looking for a new direction in life, like I am. 

I loved that, at the age of thirteen he dared to asked 'WHY' and had the courage to often go against everything his teacher had asked him to write about, because he objected to being told what to think!
While reading this, I wondered (although I know that sometimes we have to get our learners to write on a common topic) if this could be the reason why some of my 5 year old students were able to produce better stories in their writing every time I had given them the chance to write what they would like about. I do hope so!

Interestingly he mentioned that the education system was and still is, primarily concerned with providing to us that we are efficient: learn it, remember it, demonstrate it and he mention that this robotic approach worked for previous generations.

I really liked his thoughts on SMART targets and how they worked for fixed outputs, but limit the potential for transformation of practice

We need to build change into the very fabric of our organizations and cultures.  We must learn to recognize that the ability to change is built on the ability to question, to challenge and to live outside a comfort zone.  

In the workplace, how secure and treasured do many of us feel? 

The ability to change, on all levels, is now as fundamental to our ability to survive and thrive as is our ability to breath.  Think of yourself as a human smartphone - which stale applications should be deleting from your personal mindset and which new attitudes, systems and skills is it time to download?

Education can be dangerous in terms of limiting people's horizons and artificially boosting self-esteem to an unwarranted level.  If everything is too precise and too specific, there is little opportunity for people to work above or outside their remit; to question, challenge or investigate;  to use their powers of curiosity and creativity.  We all have a maverick side and sometimes we must positively encourage rebellion.  Too often targets are set as a measure of expected performance, not as a tool to encourage extraordinary development.

Too many people confuse 'vision' with 'strategy' and as a result we end up with initiative overload. Too much of what we do and endeavour to implement ends up being layered on top of existing systems which leads to work forces feeling under increasing pressure, time-poor and often highly cynical.  

Always challenge your own actions and thinking - ask yourself, 'Am I doing what I am doing because it has integrity?  Have I really explored the possibilities of what I believe in or am I accepting an easier option?'  Don't sell yourself short, but only take a punt when it really matters to you.

Some of the most frustrating and stifling conflicts in organizations occur when the declared ethos is on of innovation and change but the systems of accountability are fixed points of measurable performance.

Western culture too often demands that the workplace needs to be coldly logical and not somewhere where emotion has a place.  This goes against the branding philosophy of modern times: the Holy Grail for a brand strategy is to provoke feelings in people;  you only have to watch an episode of The X Factor to know its success lies in the fact that every episode will try to make you cry, smile, laugh, rant. Tapping into that emotional drive is what will propel other people to change.

The challenge stands that in order to love change, and therefore be able to lead it, we need to feel that we can control it and not be victims of it.

No one set of conditions or parameters defines the criteria for optimal performance.  This can be a real challenge in traditional management systems which assume that all people are motivated by the same things, are stimulated by the same experiences and work best under the same conditions.      Unfortunately our traditional education structures are again responsible for trying to standardize our behaviours and personal responses in the name of efficiency and mass development.
It is essential to treat everybody as an individual and respect their personal motivations and performance indicators.  In short, standardized performance management will always have a limited impact and will constrain rather than maximize potential for growth, development and achievement and as a result, act against the empowerment principle.

As adults we take good behaviour for granted as a trait of maturity and experience, but I cannot be the only person who is sometimes astounded by the attitude of certain 'responsible adults' towards their peers.
 Too often we expect others to respond and behave in ways we would not do ourselves.  We expect people to suspend belief and behave in ways that they can see, through our own behaviour, are simply a construct:  for example those managers who profess that they want to see their people 'seize the initiative' only to micro-manage their every move to ensure that their own backs are covered.

Richard have distilled six principals that he thinks define the key strategies that ensure a healthy and sustainable culture of change:
  1. Lead by example, take risks and demonstrate that it's right to fail.
  2. Encourage the people around you to try new things and take risks.  Provide guidelines with parameters and a means of measuring results.  Stand ready to support them if they need assistance.
  3. Encourage creativity and allow others the freedom to challenge authority and the status quo.
  4. Do not discount new ideas.
  5. Recognize and reward best efforts even if they fail.
  6. Debrief and evaluate results.  Identify things that worked well.  Determine how things could be improved next time.  Identified lessons learned.

Change requires focus and discipline and, most importantly, time.

The wisest among us know that change is - and always has been - unavoidable.

Encouragement:  Never stop exploring, challenging, hypothesizing, experimenting and learning. Remember:  it is those people who are open-ended and curious who love and lead change best.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  
A TED talk from Richard on the ultimate citizen of the 21st Century.  My key idea from this: 'Find the Gary in every single one of your students'. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Goals or Resolutions

At this time of year, most people are making or have been making resolutions for the New Year. Many of us will have high hopes or firm decisions as to what we would like to achieve this year.

Personally, I don't think it really matters if you call them goals or resolutions, as both can help you get you to where you would like to go. What matters is your willingness to follow through.  

Some good questions to ask yourself:
WHAT do I really want to do?
WHY do I really want to do this?
HOW am I going to accomplish this?
WHEN will I accomplish this?
WHERE will this take me in my personal/professional learning journey?

I have learned to be making use of short-term as well as long-term goals. This really helps, as I have been able to celebrate even the small, every day achievements.  My eyes were not just focused on an 'end-result.' I was able to stay afloat.

One thing is certain though, all will not be plain sailing and I need to acknowledge that teaching could be stressful at times, things could happen and there will be trial and error.

One message that came through via uLearn13 was 'You have to teach... and fail... and then learn... and teach'.  A great affirmative, isn't it?

~ "Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill ~

No goals or resolutions yet?  You can always make use of this (from El Paso Library) by trying to 'choose a one word resolution and use that word(s) by thinking of three simple ways you can utilize it in different ares of your life:  at work, at school, at home, or in a hobby perhaps'.

Image from: El Paso Public library Dorris van Doren Branch

~  Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy. All the best for the year ahead!  ~

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blogging Meme

This is my first blog post for 2014, thanks to my great mentor of 2013, Sonya @vanschaijik who tagged me for this blogging meme!

The blogging task includes:

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don't nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 random facts about me:
  1. I am actually a very reserved person. (so this meme will be a challenge)
  2. My family is the most important people in my life.
  3. I was born in Namibia.
  4. I joined Twitter in 2012.
  5. I enjoy learning new things.
  6. I don't trust people easily and once you've lost my trust you will never get it back.
  7. I prefer my Android over Apple.
  8. I enjoy reading lots of different genre.
  9. I don't like watching cooking shows on T.V. 
  10. I am an avid supporter of the All Blacks and Silver Ferns.
  11. English is my second language

My answers to Sonya's questions:

1) What language do you use when you become emotional?
I think I use my body language to convey (the necessary) signals.  

2)  What is your favourite movie genre?

3)  Who inspired you to set up your blog?
Various educators.

4)  Who are your mentors and why?
All of the people in my PLN (Twitter and VLN) that have been a huge inspiration to my learning and growing personally and professionally.  It is really hard to mention them all, but if I have to name a few, it would have to be:
- Sonya, who have been a tremendous support and inspiration.  Thank you for helping me to believe in myself and for playing a huge part in where I am today!
- Annemarie, my travel buddy to Educamps and EduIgnite evenings, with whom I have amazing and uplifting conversations.  Thank you!
- The #super7 from @kidsedchatnz, who I have the privilege to be communicating with on a regular basis. May our collaboration long continue!

5)  What is one survival tool you would choose to take on a journey?
Swiss Army Knife

6)  Where do you like to go to for thinking time?
Nature (bush / sea - anywhere remote)

7)  Which do you prefer watching on the television or live streaming?
On television - when I want to relax.
Live streaming - when I am learning.

8)  List 3x goals for 2014 and explain why you chose them.
- I will be ethical, spiritual, and motivated at all times (personal and professional).
- I will keep on inquiring to grow myself personally and professionally (which particularly will include my research/learning as an eFellow14).
- I will lead by example for my students to exemplify how hard work pays off through dedication.

9)  Tell me about your closest mountain, river or other natural landmark
The Vingerklip in Namibia - a natural landmark (lovely childhood memories)

10) What is your earliest childhood memory?
My first dog I've got as a birthday present.  I loved her to bits!!

11) Write your favourite whakatauki, quote or proverb and explain why you chose it
"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers." - Lord Alfred Tennyson

Thank you Sonya for tagging me!  I really appreciated it.

Lastly but not least, when number 11 is mentioned, I can't help but think of how quickly an eleven week term can come to a conclusion... 

Here are your 11 questions:
  1. What Inspires you?
  2. What are you reading now?
  3. If you weren't a teacher, what would you do?
  4. If you could change something about the education system, what would it be?
  5. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?
  6. Android or iPad tablets? Why?
  7. What do you find hardest to teach your students?
  8. What will you be doing differently this year?
  9. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be and why did you choose this language?
  10. What is your favourite way to waste time?
  11. What is your life motto?