Archive | March, 2013

Keeping Things Balanced

29 Mar

This was sent to me by a former student this week. I’m not sure who came up with it but I felt it pertinent to how I am feeling at the moment with family, work and other commitments. This balance I have often emphasised is important and this illustrated it well.

A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, ‘How heavy is this glass of water?’

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, ‘The absolute weight doesn’t matter.  It depends on how long you try to hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem.

If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.

If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance.

In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it

He continued, ‘And that’s the way it is with stress management.

If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later,

As the burden becomes increasingly heavy,

We won’t be able to carry on. ‘

‘ As with the glass of water,

You have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again.

When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.’

‘So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down.

Don’t carry it home.

You can pick it up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you’re carrying now,

Let them down for a moment if you can.’

So, put down anything that may be a burden to you right now.

Don’t pick it up again until after you’ve rested a while.

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:

* Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, And some days you’re the statue.

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, Just in case you have to eat them.

* Always wear stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

* If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

* If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.

* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

* Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

* Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

* The second mouse gets the cheese.

* When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

* We could learn a lot from crayons… Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colours, but they all have to live in the same box.

* A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.


Videos of the Week

29 Mar

Better talk for better organisations

Brendan Spillane is currently involved in leading the school review and improvement framework in Western Australian Catholic schools. In this talk from the International Conference on Thinking Brendan discusses how important it is to build a culture for conversations, rather than just learn a series of skills.


Leading change

Mark Quigley is the Deputy Principal at Orewa College. He discusses leading change in teaching and learning through a school-wide approach – Ako Orewa. Mark explains the school’s learning environment created over five years and based on proven pedagogy and practice.


Just for fun

From Good to Great

22 Mar


The work of Jim Collins Good to Great (2011) has often inspired me when reviewing systems. It is a book that as an educator I have read half a dozen times. It is with theme in mind I reflect on the following this week as we try to make ourselves simply better.

‘From Good to Outstanding’: Tips for Teachers
Based on extracts from an extended interview with the series’ Inspector, Clare Gillies (CG)

Planning For Individual Learning – Contributed by Dr Alan Davison, Pivotal Behaviour Management Trainer

Curriculum planning is the point at which educational philosophy meets practical teaching and learning.

So… what is your philosophy?

Do you see your learners as empty bottles waiting to be filled up with your knowledge, beliefs and perceptions? Or are they active bundles of potential awaiting the opportunity to burst into learning and develop dormant skills?

Is pedagogy dead?

Things have changed so much that we no longer hear school masters mutter, “If you can’t beat pupils, why teach?” as they look back on cheerier days the world has left behind.

There are now very different values woven into our educational structures, many given shape and meaning through “Every child matters”. The elements “be happy”, “enjoy and achieve”, and, “make a positive contribution”, are reflected in what have become key learning targets.

1. Teach learners as individuals, and enable them to become independent learners.

2. Enable learners to develop their awareness and management of their social and emotional skills.

3. Enable learners to internalise positive reinforcements and motivation through a growing sense of belonging and purpose.

4. Ensuring all learners have a voice in planning and evaluating their learning opportunities and the issues based on their own safety and well being.

5. Develop a form of independence that encourages learners to know when and how to do things for themselves, and when, how and where to find support and help when they need it.

Curriculum planning which both incorporates these elements and supports a teacher training programme which ensures staff understand how to achieve these aims, will prove effective for school, college, teachers, but most of all, in meeting the aspirations of the learners.

© Pivotal Education Ltd 2001-10


Video of the Week

22 Mar


On Leadership
Speaker: Jan Robertson

Dr Jan Robertson, Academic Consultant and formerly Director of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education, talks about her teaching and research which focuses on professional learning. Jan believes that developing deep learning relationships throughout the education community, is at the heart of effective educational leadership. She believes it is her role as a leadership educator, to “…challenge, provoke, affirm, present ideas, and seek commitment to thinking about change and innovation in places of learning, for meeting the needs of tomorrow’s leaders.”

eLearning tools to think about…

15 Mar

In April our College is hosting an eLearning in-service day for the surrounding schools. So this week I thought I would share tools that I have found useful.  Digistore has been created by the NZ Ministry of Education and is a storehouse of digital content to support learning across the curriculum, from early childhood through to senior secondary. You need an Education Sector login to be able to access the resources. The site tells you how to get one if you haven’t already.

How to use digistore: On the digistore wiki ( there are examples of how you can use the digital content in your classroom. – Teachers and students at MRGS have explored how an online learning environment can enhance learning opportunities. Teacher Alison Cook created learning paths to support her Yr 9 science students and shares how she has integrated digital content to support learning. Useful tips for teachers exploring using learning paths with their school’s learning management system.

A Secondary English example: Using a learning path to support the teaching and learning for close reading of a visual text – This learning path is designed to be used to prepare students for the new Level One NCEA English Achievement Standard 1.11 Show understanding of visual and/or oral text(s) through close viewing and/or listening, using supporting evidence.

There are also examples for The Arts, Careers, Health and PE, Languages, Maori, Mathematics and Statistics, Social Sciences and Technology. A great way to share resources. A reminder about the VLN (Virtual Learning Network) that I have found very useful).


Professional Readings

I have been reading the rich document Tu Rangatira (2010) this week. It presents a model of leadership that reflects some of the key leadership roles and practices that contribute to high-quality educational outcomes for Māori learners. It focuses on leadership practices, providing insights into how effective professional development programmes can work towards strengthening leaders’ capabilities, growing capacity and sustaining exemplary leadership in the Māori medium education sector. I found it more holistic than the Kiwi Leadership for Principals and Leading from the Middle: educational leadership for middle and senior leaders documents which in my opinion are at times  a little dry. The values and metaphors of the document relate to the special character of Catholic schools. Worth a read if you are involved at education at any level. This is best to be read alongside School Leadership Best Evidence Synthesis which I will discuss in depth in a later blog.


Videos of the Week

15 Mar

How does a school system with poor performance become good? And how does one with good performance become excellent?



Educational Technology and Mobile Learning – 7 Wonderful Talks on Learning from Failure

To err is human and acknowledging one’s mistakes is the first step towards learning not to do them again. The best thing about making mistakes is the learning that comes out of them. Mistakes are indicative of an ongoing healthy process of learning. We all make mistakes and sometimes we even commit errors ( errors are considered to be much more severe than mistakes ) but we definitely differ in the way we look at our mistakes. People with ” growth mind-set ” tend to accept mistakes as natural happenings that enrich our life experiences. Similarly teachers with a growth mindset look at mistakes as precursors of learning, the engine of education . On the other hand, people with fixed mindset view them as obstacles in life, signs of incompetence and disappointment. Likewise,  teachers with a fixed mindset are more reluctant to tolerate mistakes and they consider them as a hindrance to learning.  David Bohr ( Danish physicist ) once defined an expert as ” a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field”. Bohr’s quip summarizes one of the essential lessons of learning which is that people learn how to get it right by getting it wrong again and again. Education is not magic, education is the wisdom wrung from failure.

Talking about mistakes and failure, today’s post features 8 of the best TED Talks on some great personalities and how how they have learned from their own failures. Enjoy!

1-  Tim Harfard: Trial, error and the god complex

2- Katheryn Schulz: Don’t regret regret

3- JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure

4- Richard St John: Success is a continuous journey

5- Diana Laufenberg: How to learn from mistakes

6- Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong

7- Why you need to fail to have a great career


“Mum, I hate you!” What to do when your teen girl tells you she hates you.

Teaching Strategy – Asking Questions

8 Mar

During my class this week I took time to reflect on my own pedagogy. I found I often ask, “Does anyone have any questions?” and get no questions. I got to thinking, does this mean that students probably don’t know or understand enough to ask a question?

So, I thought to myself ask questions that will tell you if there is understanding. Just remember that just because one student gives the answer it does NOT mean anyone else knows the answer.

Ask more than one student to give the answer to the same question…
Tell me more.
Say it in a different way.
How would you say it?
Say it again.
Then ask the question in a different way and check for understanding.


Professional Readings

Are we over technology?
Jose Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, HAS DECIDED TO THROW ALL TECHNOLOGY OUT of the classroom (shock horror) . His goal? To axe boring PowerPoints from the lives of students and reinvigorate their learning with engaging, human-to-human contact. This is worth a read and made me think about how I use technology.

NCEA and Student Motivation
I spent time doing some post graduate study in motivation and coaching at UNSW. This piece really grabbed me. I thought this particular quote “We also found that whether or not students believe that their teachers care about them and their learning is related to their motivation to achieve” was worth thinking about.


Videos of the Week

8 Mar



1 Mar

This week I have come across some great pieces of research that is worth sharing. The first is Competent Learners @ 20.

The Competent Children Competent Learners study has tracked around 500 children in the Wellington region from just before they started school, to age 20. It has looked at the impact of early childhood education and then later educational experiences and time use out of school on children’s development. It has monitored the development of skills such as reading and writing, and also attitudes such as perseverance and curiosity. When they returned to the participants at age 20, the researchers looked at how the young people had got on with NCEA. They looked at the impact of earlier school performance, engagement in school and their experiences of learning.

Some key findings included:

  • More than half those with low performance at age 8 went on to gain NCEA Level 2 or Level 3. That means that children’s support from teachers and parents, the learning opportunities they had in and out of school and their interactions with teachers, parents and peers, enabled them to make real progress.
  • Those who gained NCEA Level 2 did not necessarily have higher levels of mathematics, reading, writing or logical problem solving at age 14 than those whose highest qualification was NCEA Level 1, or who did not gain any qualification. But they did have higher levels of perseverance, communication, social skills, curiosity and self-management.
  • The period from age 10 to age 14 appears to be a time when it is particularly important for teachers and parents to watch for signs that children are turning away from school and learning. This applies as much to high performers at school as low performers. It was clear how deeply memories of school at this time can colour later attitudes to learning.

Another area I have been reading about this week is Thinking Strategies and the following article Provide Models, Examples and Non-examples.

It suggests similar to expert craftsmen teaching their trades to apprentices, teachers can model thinking and problem-solving skills to their students.

Modeling can take several forms in your classroom:

  • Thinking aloud regarding your cognitive processing of text (e.g., sharing with students how you make connections between what you know and something that you’ve read in the text or how you figured out what the author was inferring)
  • Demonstrating or showing your students explicitly how you would complete an assignment (e.g., writing a summary of an article, taking notes, constructing a graphic organizer, or giving a speech)
  • Showing first-rate complete examples of a work product (e.g., a summary paragraph or graphic organizer) as well as substandard non examples that help students differentiate between a good one and an unacceptable one
  • Acting out, role-playing or developing simulations.
  • Explaining, telling, and giving directions are essential teaching moves, but unless they are accompanied by various types of modelling, the likelihood of struggling readers achieving success is small. Never assume that because students have spent year in school, they have been explicitly taught or have somehow figured out on their own how to do what you want them to do.

These ideas and further concepts can be sourced from

As teachers we always want to continue to sharpen the saw. Make ourselves more competent. A good teacher has to be open to learning. The following are some general strategies.

Teach like a Champion Technique Eight: Post It – Be sure your students know your objective for the day by posting it on the board

What Does a Great Lesson Look Like on the Outside? – Here’s What Your Students and Evaluators Should See in Your Classroom.

And finally a blog that really inspired me this week:

Pick of the Podcasts

1 Mar

Click on the Radio New Zealand logo to go to the podcast I have best enjoyed this week.  It’s a discussion with Paul Tough – the bestselling US author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, published by Random House.



Fitted Storytelling from Edward Roads

Danielle Anne Lynch

Music, Theology, Education, Liturgy

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters


This site is the cat’s pajamas


Meaningful learning and effective teaching with a Finnish twist

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

karen spencer

Let's talk about learning and leading

Education in the Age of Globalization

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Teaching & E-Learning

Learning in Today's World

A View from the Middle

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Powerful Learning: It's a Digital Thing

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Search Msdn

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible


where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mike's Blog

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible


Technology lessons from the classroom...

Welcome to the Frontpage

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

Mark's Learning Log

Director of Learning Inquiries Pty Ltd an experienced educator

Mal Lee

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible

where the mountain meets the surf, anything is possible