What’s your why?

Do you know what your ‘why’ is?

idea bulb paper sketch

Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

In 2007, Pastor Mark Hands told me a story about a trip he’d had to Disneyland. On this trip, he had noticed that all the employees were smiling and helpful, and seemed quite purposeful. He eventually asked why this was so. The ride attendant replied with a single statement: “My purpose is to ensure you have the best day of your life.” It turns out that this was Disneyland’s overarching purpose statement. By having a purpose statement, it provided a singular focus off which every decision and action could be hung. If what they were doing wasn’t working towards creating the best day of the visitors’ lives, then it needed to change. Ps Hands’s challenge to me was then to focus on what my purpose was and to develop a purpose statement to match.

In 2014, Simon Sinek presented a TED Talk (http://bit.ly/purposeandwhy) in which he discusses what makes some companies successful, while others struggle or fail. He discovered (and wrote a book about it) a principal he calls The Golden Circle. He suggests that the key differentiator is that the successful companies and individuals have a crystal clear core belief, and this is what they start with – their ‘why’. They then move through the ‘how’ to the ‘what’, but the most important part is their ‘why’.

My ‘why’ crystalised back in 2007 and has guided my all my decisions and actions, through the variety of roles I’ve held over the years. It’s pretty simple: I’m about developing young leaders of character, who will influence their community for God and for good. I hope to be able to explore over the next few articles, how this is guiding what we’re doing at my current school. Who knows, some of it may be applicable to yours as well.

Going further than that though, I believe it’s important that we all – staff, parents and students – spend time considering what drives us, what God’s purpose for us is, and to consider our ‘why’. Understanding that will help each of us stay on track and make choices that bring us closer to what God has in store for us.

So, what’s your why?

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Some digital parenting tips

destroy-cell-phonesI don’t often (actually, never) make comments or tips on parenting. As a parent of four, I know that the job is hard, insanely complex – we’re dealing with little humans here – and often unnoticed. Having said that, as someone who works with teenagers in high school I’ve been coming across more and more disengaged and tired students and, increasingly, parents who are asking for help. So, here are some of my non-negotiable parent-tech-tips.

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Hi there! It’s been a while…

old-planeEarlier this year, at around EduTech time (so late May, early June), I came back to this place to find an article that I’d written a while back. It’s not unusual for me to visit this blog – it’s my thought space, my place of reflection and promotion of ideas, and I’d visited multiple times already in the year. What was unusual this time was that EduTech had been on my thoughts for a while (as I wasn’t going to be going this year) and my most recent post was about EduTech, posted while at EduTech. It dawned on me that I hadn’t been a very loving father to my blog – I’d been ignoring it, and you – the people who read it.

Now, I have all sorts of reasons for not having updated or posted on my blog for over a year, and in fact, I even started a post that day (which then faded into the haze of my busyness). Some of these are fairly straight forward and probably happen to everyone:

  • My role at work changed
  • I got very busy in my role
  • I moved to a new job, over 1700 km away from the last one
  • It is a very busy job
  • I got distracted

[TL;DR: There’s no excuse, really for not having the reflective time. All educators, or those involved in the education system, require self-reflection as part of our professional practice. I should have made time. I didn’t. I’m sorry]

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EduTech 2015: Panel. Some great questions and statements.

DiscussionThis post is really just a jotting down from the panel. I’ve missed stuff, reworded some and added my own spin to a lot. Imagine dot points – it’ll make it hurt less. Take it as you will. I’ll be fixing it up some time in the future. Maybe.

PD in the morning. Great idea. Always exhausted by the end of the day. My takeaway… are we starting at 4 in the morning?

Yammer for public conversations about what’s going on in your classroom. If you want to really go public, how about blogging, twitter, youtube? I think they’re all great ideas with some great (and scary) implications for our learning, as well as our kids learning.

Use online modules ifor stuff that doesn’t

Stop spending so much time quantifying everything – it takes way too much time and effort. Focus on what you need to do well and do that. Stuff the quantification.

Have a purpose (the why?) and keep bringing it back to that. The purpose of hte whyu is to centre that.

I want to visit Ormiston College. Tamara Sullivan, Dean of E-Learning,

Getting going effectively

1. There’s something that everyone wants to try, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

2. those who don’t want to do aren’t allowed to stop those of use who do want to do it from doing it.

Kids voice being heard in decision making

MOOC: New school creation (had students on the panels)

MOOC: How to teach us (by students) – already joined

What would you encourage people to not do:

“I come from a family of shepherds, I lead from behind”. Try to lead from behind. Don’t just walk into a staffroom and say “This is what we’re doing… suck it up!”

EduTech 2015: Super Awesome Sylvia – Maker

Super Awesome Sylvia

Super Awesome Sylvia’s page is *definitely* worth visiting.

Internet sensation Super Awesome Sylvia made an appearance on the main stage! She brought one of her bots with her (a watercolour bot which paints water colour paintings from a scanned image) to show what a young person can do with very little parent/teacher input.

Use of maker ideas (doesn’t have to be electronics) develops a love of learning… for the sake of learning.

Ideas for getting started:

1. Take baby steps – you don’t need to create a fully working robot on your first go. How about something that flashes an LED bulb?

2. Cheap is good. Don’t worry about expensive products. Use off-brand – most of the time it works just as well.

3. Failure happens. You will make mistakes – you will learn from them.

4. Be the student – get along side your kids

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff – just get out there and make something.

Go visit her site and get some making happening.

http://sylviashow.com/

EduTech 2015: Learning Analytics for the Whole School

Learning AnalyticsBreakout session: TrackOne Studio presented this session. They’re an analytics platform which I’d seen used by another teacher previously. I love the idea of analytics because we have so much data on our students but often don’t have an effective way, or even the time, to actually make sense of the data and then use it to really differentiate on an individual learner’s needs.

Some questions which need answering:

1. Who will access the data and for what purpose?

  • School leaders
  • Teachers – access to your classes data e.g. NAPLAN. Access to this data can help you really target your teaching on an individual basis focusing on strengths and weaknesses.
  • Students – Kids seeing where they are at is incredibly powerful, but needs to be handled carefully.
  • Parents –

2. What data is available and where is it stored?

  • Schools tend to have one main data store (School Management System) – academics, behaviour etc. But where else is it kept? Your LMS (e.g. Moodle), spreadsheets?
  • Exams? ICAS, NAPLAN, surveys, in-class tests?
  • where is it?
  • what is it?
  • who currently uses it?
  • who would benefit from using it?

3. What are the requirements of a Learning Analytics solution?

  • Integration with your existing systems. If you have to put your data in more than once – you’re going to lose your staff.
  • Cater for the needs of all members of the school community – Principal, Teachers, Parents, Students.
  • Flexible without being complex. It should be fairly intuitive. It should be able to give the information that’s needed when it’s needed.
  • Target the appropriate data to the appropriate people. Should be delivering the data that a person needs, and only the data that that person needs.
  • Able to be extended and refined

4. How can we visualise the data so it is easy to understand?

  • Tabular, comparison charts (internal v. external, internal v internal etc)
  • Using the data, you can quickly identify the outliers and act upon it. So someone who does well academically, but under-performs in NAPLAN may need more test preparation, someone who is achieving okay academically but really excels in NAPLAN may not be working to their potential in class.

TrackOne has a heap of ways of quickly grabbing the data you want and presenting it in a variety of ways so that we, as educators, parents, or even the students, can see where someone is at, and what areas need more focus, and which bits are going really well.

TrackOne Studio: http://www.trackonestudio.com/

Analytics… grab that data and make it work for you.

EduTech 2015: IntelEDU – Looks like my school’s done a lot right

Sometimes at these conferences it’s easy to become a bit down… there’s all these cool schools with smart people, doing cool things and producing smart kids. But, what’s really cool is that my school is well on the way to being as cool (if not cooler) than those schools. We’ve been re-imagining assessment and its role in the learner’s life. While we’re not yet 1 to 1 (and we never will be… we’ll be many to 1!), we’re well down the path to a BYOD (or CYOD) environment… we’ve got new wifi infrastructure, we’re going to have NBN soon, and our really smart teachers (that’s all my colleagues) are pushing the boundaries of what a teacher laptop and iPad can do… They’re ready, our students are ready… but is the world ready?

So it’s really nice that the guys from IntelEDU pointed out a heap of things that schools need to do prior to actually rolling out B/CYOD and to ensure good learning. Guess what? We’re doing it or have done it. How awesome is that?

#wearecoct