Monthly Archives: August 2011


I last wrote a blog post nine days ago. I know I'm not setting aside time to write here like I used to - only 31 posts here in 2011, compared to 41 at the same time in 2010, compared to 55 in 2009, compared to 59 in 2008 and so on and so on ... you get the picture. Anyway, what I'm experiencing is also what A list blogger, Joi Ito, has recently blogged about . Interestingly, the only feedback I got from that last post came via Twitter. Leaving a comment here doesn't broadcast as widely as a Twitter shout out - even though there is something nice about getting the feedback on my own site.

And then I read another A-lister, Hugh MacLeod's blog post the other day, and his words rang out true for me.

Earlier today I told everybody on Twitter and Facebook, that I’m leaving Twitter and Facebook.


Because Facebook and Twitter are too easy. Keeping up a decent blog that people actually want to take the time to read, that’s much harder. And it’s the hard stuff that pays off in the end.

Besides, even if they’re very good at hiding the fact, over on Twitter and Facebook, it’s not your content, it’s their content.

The content on your blog, however, belongs to you, and you alone. People come to your online home, to hear what you have to say, not to hear what everybody else has to say. This sense of personal sovereignty is important.

I like it. Not that I'm ditching any of my social media hangouts because no one could ever accuse me of being on Twitter or Facebook too much - but I've been here too seldom of late. And I know that actions speak louder than words in terms of arresting the posting slide here - but as everyone knows, on a blog, words are actions!

On the difference between schools that I've noticed since switching jobs:

- there's a difference between a sense of self entitlement and a sense of defiance even if the outward behaviours can look similar.

- that no matter where you are, taking the time to build a positive relationship with a child is the best way to make any form of progress. Come to think of that, taking the time to build a positive relationship with anyone is the best way to make any form of progress.

- that a huge difference in boundaries and accountability exists between home and school for many kids, regardless of whether they are well off or poor.

- that mobile phones are ubiquitous, regardless of socio-economic status.

- that everyone involved in education is extremely busy. There are no easy gigs in schools any more.

- at times, leadership can feel like spinning wheels in the mud.

- that kids don't just leave the rest of their life behind when they head into school but for some, it can be a welcome respite.

- that a change in schools can stretch out skills and knowledge in a way that cannot be done by staying put in the one site forever. This is an aspect that our new open-ended tenure system will not help with - one has to work hard to stay fresh in a long term familiar environment. On the flipside, you don't produce anything lasting or of worth if one is too quick to move on from one position to another.

- that all schools are and have a right to be proud of their own unique combination of culture and learning.

CEGSA had its rescheduled annual conference on Saturday, and I attended this year as a regular participant with no responsibility for any presentations or workshops. I even dressed casually which backfired when the committee decided to issue awards for the 2010 Leading Lights and I got photographed with president Trudy Sweeney wearing jeans and a hoodie! Anyway, here are a few paragraph summaries of what I decided to attend.

Opening Keynote / Tom March:
The concept of the Webquest is not dead even though some leading edge educators might think so. Tom March, along with Bernie Dodge, is one of the co-creators of the concept that seems almost quaint now in the era of social media. But as Tom points out, it is important to not keep chasing the shiny new toys just because they seem exciting and new, and the webquest can be re-invented for the Web 2.0 era and push students into higher order learning.

Tom's Higher Order Learning Diagram

But the point that Tom made that resonated best with me was the concept of "grit" in learning. Engagement is one thing but meaningful purpose and a willingness to wrestle with learning and persist through to new understandings has never been more important.

Twitter observations:

Get Me On The Net / Karen Butler:

I really enjoyed the fact that Karen is one of those educators who doesn't let technology issues become an excuse for not pursuing relevant learning for her students. She started by apologising for being nervous and unsure of how her presentation would go. She was surprised that she had a relatively full room, expecting only a handful of audience members. She needn't have been either surprised or nervous as her presentation was excellent.

She showed us through a number of examples of her students producing short films on a wide range of contemporary issues. Karen really showed us the power and flexibility of new media in order to redo work to get things to a personal or accepted standard, with the video footage including claymation, remixed digital content as well as filmed footage by the students.

The second half of her presentation wrestled with issues that many of us championing technology in the classroom are familiar with - excessive filtering, making do with old and limited equipment, slow school web connections - but with a commitment to keep pushing to be innovative with whatever can be accessed. A really great presentation from a dedicated educator.

Penny Collins / To Google and Beyond:

A jam packed 45 sojourn through the many iterations of Google search from a recent Google certified teacher. Enthusiastic and informative and a few new avenues of attack the next time I go searching.

There was also a keynote from Margaret Lloyd on ICT and the Australian Curriculum after lunch, followed by a session using iPads from Christine Haynes, plugging Apple's own Challenge Based Learning. (Does the world need yet another tech company producing ts own curricular or inquiry approach?) So, it was probably fitting and telling that my final session was on Oracle's ThinkQuest run by the very capable and enthused Tina Photakis. Overall, a day well spent and the one day formula seemed to mean that all sessions were all worthwhile. Next year, it will probably be time for me to step up and offer something back to the local edtech community.


So, stepping into this new Assistant Principal role has been a full on experience for me; that's for sure. A school that is just over six months old not only in facilities but in culture means that I might have missed out on some of most of the hard work in getting things up and running, but I'm still finding that there is plenty of teething issues that require my attention and hard work. We actually have the official grand opening this week with the State Premier, the Minister of Education and many more important guests in attendance. Something else to put down as a first in my career.

The frantic pace, the steep learning curve has put the blogging on the backburner over the past fortnight. I'm also thinking carefully about how much I want to blog about my new school anyway. I have new collegial relationships to build, a very multicultural student population to get to know a lot better and new systems and circumstances that require time and contextual insight to fully understand. I'm inclined to blog on the side of caution. So, if you only read good news stories involving my new site, it is not because I'm wearing rose coloured glasses or trying to "spin" a one dimensional viewpoint. I'm just trying to be respectful.

I am taking some of John Spencer's advice for beginning teachers and remixing it for my new leadership role. It goes something like this:

Be bold. Be humble.

It's become my mantra as I approach the start of the school year [my new role].  It's the paradox that keeps me in a place where I can serve my students [colleagues] with confidence and lead my students [colleagues] with humility. It's not a middle zone, either.  I don't "take down" the boldness by being humble or "take down" the humility by being bold.  Instead, it's a sense that I should be completely bold and completely humble simultaneously.

I like what this translates for me. To be an effective leader and someone who will work with a whole bunch of educators all at various places in their own educational journey, I need both of those qualities - boldness and humility. The boldness to ask the questions that will uncover what I need to know for the decisions I will need to take, the confidence that I bring ideas and experiences that will push the school in the direction it wants to go. But equally important is the humility that my colleagues will know a lot more about these students, this community, this new-born facility than I will know. I need to listen to their complaints, their fears, their opinions and their advice. Humility alone will give the message that I don't know what I'm talking about. Boldness alone will alienate staff who've been in these trenches longer than this new boy. But with the two combined together, I just might be able to make a difference.