Archive | April, 2013

Fear and Pain

27 Apr

Crazy as it may seem, this week I had time to reflect on two issues. Fear and pain motivate you to stop, run, avoid, or stubbornly dig in. They don’t move you forward. As a leader this is important to consider.

Fear and pain may ignite a passion to change. No doubt the All Blacks had a great deal of this going into the 2011 RWC. Manchester United had a great deal of pain after being beaten on the last day of the season by their City rivals for the EPL title. The problem, fear and pain only works for the short-term. It creates a huddling effect but doesn’t create a future. These sports teams could tell you that.

Fear and pain are good if they drive you towards two greater things. Courage and joy is the point I have found. What I’m learning then is:

  1. Fear comes with us when we move forward, accept it.
  2. Faith answers but doesn’t eliminate fear. I’m learning to trust others. Empower others I suppose.
  3. Conversations change me. I’m fortunate to have conversations with some of clever kind people; their stories, experiences, and wisdom inspire me.
  4. Sharing my inner-most thoughts took time. However, the more I do the easier it gets.
  5. My journey makes some uncomfortable. Because it does.
  6. I can’t please everybody because decisions based on other people’s values and opinions are not positive.
  7. Exploring and understanding others opens the door for me to explore, understand and communicate with myself.
  8. Doing what’s best for others isn’t people pleasing as long as it aligns with my values.

What have you learned about yourself this year that has made a change?

Professional Reading

Leading inquiry at a teacher level: It’s all about mentorship by Mike Fowler

Click below to go to the article.

April Leadership Reflection

27 Apr

To me the best hope of developing school leadership that focuses on the instructional core, is for school leaders to organise their own networks, develop their own support structures, bring in their own experts. The best hope is to have networks of school leaders who trust and are able to challenge each other.

Unfortunately, the mantra of large bureaucracies may change, and their organisational structures may change, but the reality is bureaucracies generally serve themselves. In the end, they’ll always look from the outside because that’s the easy thing to do.

Video of the Week

27 Apr

The Elements of Teaching Effectiveness a video presentation,  presented by Graeme Aitken

Professional Reading

20 Apr

Leadership as the Practice of Improvement by Richard F. Elmore


20 Apr

Being involved in the National Aspiring Principals Programme (NAPP) this year has got me thinking about my own leadership techniques and how it changed over the years. Some of the discussion and reflections I have already shared and will continue to share here.

I have been thinking about Peter Drucker’s quote “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This links into the Kiwi Leadership Model  and my belief of what it is to be a leader in Catholic schools.

After all this reading and reflection I am convinced that the most influential person in a school community is the principal, followed by an effective Senior Leadership Team. For all the talk of distributive (see Burnham’s article last week) shared leadership, there is an intangible aspect to the Senior Leadership Team that shapes the whole school culture.

No easy job. Senior Leaders have to deal with paperwork and compliance to policies and mandates whiste trying to lead the way for innovation. They are in a place where they have to lead and manage. A principal is a budget master, a PR coordinator, a liability manager, an instructional leader, a teacher evaluator, a coach, an advocate for students, a disciplinarian, a bridge to the community, a communicator to parents, among other things. They are tasked with being flexible while creating sustainable procedures. This is probably why it is so important to have a team approach.

Add to this, the position of leadership takes them out of a peer role and into a place that can be lonely. You can sense it sometimes among the best of principals – a heavy burden during the hardest times of the year. It is a testament to faithfulness and humility that so many of them pull it off. In my short time in the role I must acknowledge it is hard to stay positive.

Here are some of the things I try to do as a member of the senior leadership team:

  • I see staff as people not just as teachers. I want to understand identity and establish a connectedness. I try to give feedback without being critical.
  • I listen. I hope by doing this and establishing connectedness I get reflective questioning and honest feedback on how I am doing.
  • I put akonga at the centre. This means acting goofy in the name of school spirit or volunteering to be at a school assembly or having a silly elf video on the morning announcements. But it also means reminding teachers of good instruction and a more positive approach to discipline.
  • Building and understanding positive culture. We’ve had surprise morning teas and small gifts or notes sent to us that affirm us. These things go a long way.
  • They build systems that work. Although the relational side is huge, it is also nice to have a place that “runs smoothly.” I hope it makes my place a good place to work.

Easter Reflection

20 Apr

It has been a couple of weeks but I thought it would be remiss of me not to mention the appointment of Pope Francis. Many people have said to me that with the appointment of Pope Francis they have noticed a change in the attitudes of many Catholics. I know in my own Religious Questions team and Religious Studies classes we have discussed this. I was astonished by the many people that said to me “we have a new Pope.” People are saying he has challenged many norms and has been far more ‘real’ in his involvement with the common man. Some—and not all of these were necessarily Church going people—also commented to me that there seemed to be a lot more people attending the various Easter ceremonies this year. It may be that Pope Francis’ approach to being Pope is giving people confidence again in the Church.

While there is still much healing and soul searching for many Catholics, to see people during Easter break feel this confidence in their Church, inspired perhaps by the appointment of Pope Francis, gives hope that the Church is looking to being renewed.

During the Easter break, I do hope you had the opportunity to ask your daughter about the Easter liturgies held at the College. These liturgies contained material that would have challenged them and then caused them to reflect deeply within their hearts on Christian values such as loyalty, acceptance, nurture, joy, truth, healing, dignity, service and life.

A question parents could ask their daughters is: ‘What do you remember most from the Easter liturgies held at Sacred Heart Girls College?’


Videos of the Week

20 Apr

I have found the “People like Us” series so enjoy this.



I was reminded of this advert from the 1980s this week. This is a real Kiwi classic.

The Joys of Coffee

12 Apr

Coffee doesn’t just keep you awake, notes Kris Gunnars on the Popular Science website. It may literally make you smarter as well:

This was sent to me by a friend this week as I enter the tough winter training months.

“The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.

Caffeine’s primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine.

By blocking the inhibitory effects of adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.

Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function.” (Read more here.)

We all know coffee can make us feel sharper and more alert—but it’s interesting to learn about the biochemical basis for those feelings.

A Special Shout Out…

12 Apr


I wanted to mention the outstanding CORE Education GROUP that ran their roadshow in New Plymouth last week at Sacred Heart. Please follow their newsletter or link as PD run by them is well worth it.


Technology has become very important in our daily lives. Many of us couldn’t function on a daily basis without our cell phones, laptops, and iPads.  In any case I couldn’t. In addition, our children are overly exposed and stimulated by video games, cell phones, and television on a daily basis. My daughter who is four already writing photo essays using here iPod Touch. With the big boom of technology in today’s societythere is a need to integrate technology in the 21st Century classroom. The term blended learning is a common one.


School Leaders must understand Learning for the 21st Century Classroom emphasizes:

  • Digital  literacy – using communication, information processing, and  digital research tools  (email, presentation software, Internet)
  • Critical thinking/Problem solving-using spread sheets and design tools to solve complex problems)
  • Interpersonal Skills-using personal development and productivity tools to enhance one’s life (e-learners, time managers, and collaboration tools).

The 21st Century classroom combines old content with new skills to create more rigor and relevance for students. Learners are encouraged to take creative risks in this environment while teachers are provided with more opportunities to foster creativity in their instruction. When students look at core knowledge through real-world examples, they are being prepared to compete globally by developing interpersonal communication skills while learning content.

There is some debate amongst educational thought leaders about this learning model.  Some argue that technology does not aid in the retention of core knowledge for students, and the 21st Century Classroom Model focuses on teaching students how to “use” technology with less emphasis on core content.  The “old school” way of teaching affords students a better chance to learn and master the 3 R’s (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic). While there are those who oppose, the fact still remains that; children born in the 21st century are digital natives, and many American graduates are entering the 21st century workplace unprepared.

So do you integrate technology into your classroom?


Videos of the Week

12 Apr



Fitted Storytelling from Edward Roads

Danielle Anne Lynch

Music, Theology, Education, Liturgy

Learn To Love Food

Food Fun For Feeding Therapy and Picky Eaters


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