Tag Archives: Balance

Work Life Balance

13 Feb

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Work-life integration is the idea that vital if you are going to be successful in any area. When you integrate successfully, you’ll have no guilt in allowing home and work to mix.

My wife has often asked me “Why do your students always come first?”To say this the life of a teacher is not enough.

I read recently  that with work-life integration, there is no “first” — just next to. If you take away the element of competition, there’s less stress and animosity.   have had a rethink where the office actually is, and rethink work hours when needed. This integration has made me more present to both.

Here are three things I am going to work on in 2016:

1. Know when to take a break.

2. Set boundaries. Work-life integration is only successful when expectations are outlined and managed.

3. Bring home the good, not the bad. While I enjoy a debrief it must be parked and move on at some stage.

Good luck with your year. Define your goals early to avoid becoming stale.

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The conditions for great teachers to thrive

2 Nov

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As curriculum leaders we must create conditions for our students and teachers to thrive. Here are some thoughts on getting your team to thrive.

Growth: Great teachers are learners; they want to move forward. Usually, they have mastered the key skills in teaching and are looking to refine their practice or explore innovations of various forms. They want the space and time to grow professionally. However, this has to be seen in the context where all teachers are working collaboratively, forming larger groups where the levels of expertise will vary. This is the challenge.

Recognition: This is a key motivating factor but we are not talking simply about financial reward. Maximising pay is important but salary increments never do justice to the additional value really great teachers deliver. It is also often the case that very strong teachers are self-effacing, don’t want a fuss made and don’t court public affirmation. What matters is often simply that their work is recognised, acknowledged, appreciated, and not taken for granted. Beyond the rigmarole of formal lesson observations and examination postmortems, there needs to be a culture where excellence is acknowledged on an individual basis and celebrated publicly. This isn’t to create divisions – it is to identify where we have role models, to have exemplars for others to follow and, crucially, to ensure that the exponents of great teaching get the recognition they deserve. If you have a lot of teachers like this, then you need to apply this to them all. Do I do enough in this area? No… but I must and will do more!

Care: Finally, it is important to create a culture where teachers are looked after as people. Great teachers often have a touch of the ’tis but a scratch’ attitude. High performing people are not immune to stress or the usual array of health or personal set-backs. I’m a great believer that you get more from everyone by being conspicuously supportive with personal issues. Whether this is taking a flexible approach to part-time working, returning from maternity leave, enabling people to see children in their primary assembly or graduation, helping people to look after elderly parents or simply get to the bank.. it pays to be generous and flexible. I always say ‘family first’ because that is how I feel about my own. If you want people to give their all, they need to feel that the trade-off is worthwhile; the community spirit fostered by a strong family-first approach, nurtures loyalty, commitment and the determination to strive for success.

Positive Learning Environments: Part Two

23 Sep

constructivist

I suppose the key to these is the key competencies of our national curriculum and ensuring we are getting it right in the classroom.

  1. Focus a good deal of your teaching on “learning how to learn” skill development. Read up on how to teach study skills, learning to learn skills, research skills, inquiry skills. Make sure that your students grow both in terms of content they learn and the “learning to learn” skills they need to develop in order to learn well in the future.
  2. Make “asking questions” central to your teaching and to your learning environment and school culture.
  3. Give students more choices and options – in the classroom.
  4. Use inquiry strategies, research skill building activities, interactive learning and projects as critical parts of teaching. Incorporate more interest based projects into your curriculum.
  5. Where possible, make learning experiences more “authentic”. Ask “how does this relate?” How can you provide students with a concrete understanding of their future options? Can you take field trips to different places of business? Colleges and universities? Bring in speakers?
  6. Create more ways to integrate learning across the curriculum and consider ways to redesign the curriculum. When redesigning or renewing the curriculum, examine whether curriculum materials or programs have a significant component built around developing curiosity, motivation, relevance and interest.

There is little doubt there are lots of challenges here but it up to us as teachers to challenge ourselves to create authentic learning environments.

Blended Learning

25 Aug

Blended

Blending learning is a new and often misunderstood pedagogical term. The best blended learning teachers understand that blended learning is student-centred and based on data. I emphasize that “three Ps” should guide how teachers approach student driven blended learning:
  • Students choose their own path: By empowering students to pursue the topics that interest them in formats that best suit them, blended learning is appealing, engaging, and personalized. What’s more, it helps students feel a sense of ownership over their learning, while teachers provide expert guidance.
  • Students work at their own pace: By customizing the pace of instruction and learning to meet individual student needs, blended learning enables students to spend their time more productively. Students can focus on improving skills that need work and skip past material that they have already mastered, which makes instruction more targeted and responsive to the differentiated learning levels in a particular class.
  • Students choose the place where they learn: Because so many useful and engaging resources are available online, students can learn from home and on the go, as well as in more traditional classroom spaces. This means that learning can happen any-place and any-time.The classical flipped classroom.

What have been you experiences in the Flipped environment?

A Thought on Leadership

14 Aug

Leadership

A good leader makes things happen. This is no different in school. A leader must have certain skills that need to be paramount. Given the increasing complexity of the industry here are some things I have been reflecting on. Of course central to this is my philosophy “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 Vision

Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29: 18

Vision as a picture of the future a leader has in mind which inspires him and he shares it with others for them to feature in bringing it to pass. Being a leader requires you to have a clear vision of the future and being able to communicate it passionately and clearly to others.

Leadership success begins with vision. You must endeavour to create a compelling vision, clarify it and market it properly for people to buy-in. The success of your leadership is tied to the actualization of your vision.

Passion

Passion is essential for effective leadership. I have observed great leaders in corporate, religious, academic, political and social organizations, one thing they have in common is that they are very passionate with what they believe in.

Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said, “Passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. Nothing great was ever achieved without passion.” Leadership is a marathon and passion is the energy you need to finish fine.

Confidence

Firm belief in yourself is a key to being a successful leader anytime. It helps you go the way and show the way. Douglas McArthur said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”

Confidence is a fundamental basis of leadership. It helps you to stand your ground during challenging times. Self-confidence is not magic; it can be developed.

Communication

To share your vision, inspire others, and sell your products and services, you need good communication skills. To excel in leadership, you must master the art of effective communication. Great leaders are great communicators. Don’t just communicate; connect and collaborate. Communication styles differ from leader to leader. As a leader, your communication must be clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete and courteous because your ability to communicate and connect effectively raises the bar on your leadership.

Compassion

Compassion is one of the silent but principal qualities of a leader. One grave mistakes people make in life is asking for hands while they have not touched a heart. A leader should be compassionate.

Compassion is the people-centric mindset of a leader that inspires him to aspire and perspire to help others become better. This is not weakness but, strength.

A compassionate leader loves his people and this motivates them to give their best to make his leadership a success. To be a great leader you must shift from “I” to “We” mentality because this helps you show kindness, care, fairness, genuineness and gain trust, respect and loyalty.

Curriculum Leadership

16 Nov

Effective teaching is about providing learning facilitation and leadership for students, so that they can feel empowered to engage in learning and meaning-making and have solid ownership for their learning.

Collaborative meaning making is the best tool for engaging people in a dialogue. The shared vision of learning is the imaginary future; and real curriculum leadership, not just management is the way to get there. Unless students and teachers are buying into the district vision, it doesn’t really matter what the papers have written on them, or how beautifully crafted the mission and vision statements are.

Family

12 Jul

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – Pope John Paul II

I love this quote from John Paul. This term in my inquiry and work I have learned that leadership is difficult. It can be complex, stressful and formidable. It often conspires to reward and frustrate simultaneously. More often than not, it is two steps forward and one back. It is just the nature of the schools or institutions. It is the end of the term so it is time to reflect.

I believe in servant leadership. It can that make you feel like you are part of something significant, even life-changing. Leadership that makes you want to be ‘part of something’.

I live for those moments that everybody gets it. The “we did it together” moment. Raising others up. No agendas. No undisclosed causes. Just for the betterment of students, learners, akonga.

Yet, truly authentic leadership at its highest level exacts a price and it takes a toll. It is all-encompassing. Never off the clock. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy the holiday break. It is a chance to recharge the batteries and refresh the soul.

For this reason, leadership requires a balance. This is especially true if we are to serve others at the highest level. The stories are too numerous to count – leaders who have done phenomenal things for their organizations – yet, have left a scattered path of failed families, failed marriages, and troubled children in the wake of their organizational triumphs. Those truly great leaders have balance. They have their support team.

As I enter the holidays and make our plans and goals for the term to come we need to put home at the top of our priority list. Home is where real leadership starts. And it will be the most difficult and most important leadership job we will ever tackle. And the most rewarding. Family. My family is ground zero…the foundation of my leadership. They deserve the best. Not what we have left-over from long days of serving others. I suppose what I am saying this week leadership will flourish and grow to the betterment of the organizations and people that we serve outside of our family. These holidays I am taking time for family. I hope you do also.

Professional Reading

“To lead the people, walk behind them.” – Lao Tzu

Thought for the week

Remember to keep a good balance between your revisions and rest these school holidays. Don’t burn yourself out, but don’t waste the time.

Keeping Things Balanced

29 Mar

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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
becomes.’

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.

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