Do you know what your ‘why’ is?
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?
Earlier 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]
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.
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?
Day 1 of EduTech 2015 is here. The opening keynote is none other than Eric Mazur. He’s a professor over at Harvard University and is currently looking at new ways of learning (or actually the stuff that we know but have difficulty implementing… thanks Education ministers). @eric_mazur
Some of the major takeaways here are that our current assessment strategies are aimed primarily at ranking students, rather than helping students learn, or even really assessing the implications of what they know and how they’d use it in real situations. Authentic assessment really is driven by situations that would apply in the world around us. He shows how assessment in the states is all about isolation (apparently they’re not even allowed to take watches in because they could be smart watches). When we work in the world outside the classroom (note: not the real world… what is real? That’s a topic for another post), there’s no-one there telling him he cant refer to other experts in the field, that he has had to know it all before hand, when he’s working on his nano-stuff.
In fact some of the aims the system is claiming it’s working towards are actually penalised – exams promote cramming, which has negligible knowledge retention comparatively.
So what now?
Let’s mimic real life (his words) – let’s mimic what happens in most industries outside of the artificial walls of hte school.
Collaborative learning? How about collaborative examinations. He drew attention to one of his university phyusics classes, where he uses an individual round of testing, followed by a team round. We could plainly see that there was quite a lot of demonstration of understanding, and little stress. It could be assumed that those students who have less knowledge learn even more while assessing. Is this a bad thing? After all, what are school actually for?
4. Resolve Coach/Judge conflict
Use external evaluators. Keeps you from being the executioner, allows you to remain as a mentor/coach.
Calibrated Peer Review.
We Must Rethink Assessment. If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll get the same results. We’ll have great leaders for yesterday, rather than for the future.