About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My name is Tara and I am an ENFP...

I'm doing a coaching and mentoring paper at Waikato Uni, it's mostly online and we have two 2-day face to face events and I have just returned from the first one.

I enjoy academia, it took me a day to get back into that slow pace where we have the luxury to thoughtfully chew on ideas and ponder. It's odd going from the crazy stupid pace that is NZ primary schools and back into that philosophical bubble where things make so much sense in your head, then you open your mouth (or write a blog) and the words barely give justice to the amazing insightful neurological connection that you have only just welded into your brain.

Typically, when I am in a room with my Principal and DP, we are racing against the clock, saying things quickly, and hoping that the knock on the door is not going to be an event that will munt the rest of the day. Meetings start off with the phrase "we've got a lot to get through' and we inevitably don't. So to be in a room with these two and having the luxury of time was, at first, unsettling. When the call was made for morning tea I felt like I hadn't been through nearly enough trauma to warrant having a break. A break? From what? 

By the time day 2 came around I was in the zone, brain very relaxed. Pace slowed down with ibuprofen having stayed out late, watching live bands, drinking jugs and basically reliving my Otago youth because, hey, it wouldn't be University without those shenanigans. 

I really enjoyed learning about dialogue. From the greek dialogos - – dia “across, movement” and legein “to speak"
Dialogue (which I always thought was the stuff we make kids put parenthesis around) is a super magical thing. A place where we purge and reveal our assumptions and then get into those middle spaces where (get this) ideas get bigger making the space bigger. It is this place where genius is made, where time and space are ripped apart and bleeding seams leave innovations, celebrations and general exuberance. That particular time and space will never be the same again. Socrates was great at it and he was known to sting people awake by questioning their assumptions. BANG! WAKE UP!

A mentoring course is not something I would have ever chosen to do - but when I saw those familiar philosophers staring out of the recycled powerpoint I knew that things would be okay. I can make this my own.

But I'm not actually here to talk about that. As with many courses where working with people is involved we did a Myers Briggs test. A Myers Briggs test gives you a 4 letter result and these is a possible 16 combinations. I'm a little skeptical about any tests that put people in boxes like this but bear with me...

Statistically, it turns out that, those who work in Educational Management are pretty much consistently of the J persuasion. We were made very aware of the tests limitations but it is always fun to find camaraderie with those who come out with a similar result to you. A knowing glance, at your fellow Ps is especially entertaining when you are in a room with a bunch of Js. Much discussion was held about the P and J divide. 

Many Js confessed that they were naturally more in tune with the 'P ways' but that the job (educational leadership) had changed this.  The demands of the job, the deadlines and so forth meant that their personality traits had to change. This saddens me, if there is any validity in the Myers Briggs theory how on earth are we going to make schools creative, spontaneous, messy, and innovative places when the majority of those who are running them do not hold this way-of-doing as a preference? Then comes the chicken and egg:
  • Is it that the demands of scheduling, are so high because school management is over representative by this personality type?  
  • Would our schools be less 'crazy stupid paced' if there were more Ps in the driving seats?
  • Would schools then become those luxurious places where time is spent slowly chewing ideas instead of running around schedules that might not need to exist?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Has anyone seen my soul?

It's been a long time since I posted. It could very well be traced back to when I entered the world of senior management.  
I thought it was because I had finally grown up. That I had got professional even.
Was it because I thought people were getting tired of my anti national standards and anti pact rants?
Is because I am tired? 
Really tired. 
I've been kidding myself for the past 3 years that it's easier to shut up and put my head down.
However a terrible thing has happened I think. My educational soul has been slowly boiled. Like a slowly cooked frog.

Several things have happened in the past week that has alerted me to the temperature of the water that I am submerged in. I think it must be getting pretty close to my educational death.
It's getting hot in here.
1. Welly educamp. Stunning bunch of educators who are kicking my arse. Thank goodness for them
2. Having dinner with Karyn Gray and Urs Cunningham. Karyn just wrote this 
3. Actually reading this (I have for some reason stopped reading these networkonnet)
4. Starting a post grad online course at Waikato and being genuinely disappointed with the lack of depth and critical literacy 
5. Realising that linking handwriting continues to be subjected onto our children (you know why linking used to be an important skill? Because it was the best way to get the most out of the inkwells?!)
6. Looking at how wonderful and innovative my syndicate looked one afternoon, as the students prepared huts for an overnight stay, exhausted by the bureaucracy to get us there. How did we get to the point where authentic learning had to be so difficult?
7. Discovering that while at my school sleepover a 3 year old blogpost of mine was being shared and celebrated. http://ow.ly/JUcht 
When I read it today (yes three days later - gone are the days where my desire to find out what was being said about me had to be instantly fulfilled) I could barely recognise my former self. She was so passionate, enthusiastic and awesome. What has happened to her?
I think that she has been fucked over by the very thing she was warning others about. 

Friday, April 25, 2014


So we were in the car this morning, heading home from a dawn parade, and somehow the conversation got onto stick shift driving.
We both learnt to drive using a manual car and we started veering into the pros and cons of stick shift driving.

And then a Think happened.

Did the licensing people run into huge amounts of skepticism when automatic cars were introduced onto our roads?
Did they come up against angry mobs when suggesting that learner drivers could BYOC ( bring your own car) to a driving test, as opposed to using a Standard state sanctioned model?
Were there arguments around personalisation of tools?
In the end, were the changes that took place in the car licensing system based around resourcing and the greater economy?

Do you remember car-less days? I think they came in when we had an oil shortage. I remember the neighbour had a sticker on his car which signalled the day he was not to drive. My Dad had an exemption sticker - something to do with the fact that he needed his car to do his job. I wonder if our seemingly infinite supply of interwebs will ever run short? Will we have state sanctioned internet-less days for that? Will there be exemptions?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't forget to pack extra socks...

Gear-lists for school camp never cease to amaze me. They are wonderful magical things.  I remember, last year at Amesbury, that it was the school camp Gear List that got parents in droves to the hub blog. We used the Gear List as a shared writing activity and the students co-created it with the teachers and then we published it on the blog.

This year I decided to take it a step further and have the students create their own personalised gear lists. I'd been fielding emails for about a week for "when would I  be handing out the gear list and many day-to-day requests from the students:
"When are we getting our gear lists?"
"Mum wants to know what I need to take on camp."

One afternoon I walked into class with a pristine pile of photocopying and made the announcement that today was the day they could take home their gear list. And I handed out this:

It was greeted with indignant looks of
"Are you kidding me?!"
And I heard one of the more intuitive members of the class mumble to his friends,
"Oh god, she's gonna make us think..."

On the wall I placed some additional information, for example:

  • We are away for 4 nights and 5 days
  • We will be doing activities such as abseiling, swimming, walking and go-carting
  • The beds only have a mattress
  • We will all be living together so please ensure you and your teeth are clean (okay, I admit that I loaded that one)

Some of them got straight to it and knew exactly how to deal with this situation. Others just looked at me in disbelief.  One of the boys asked me why I was doing this.  I explained that not everyone will need the same things. I showed him a gear list from another school and pointed out that not all children would have two woolen jerseys and that I did not want their families to feel like they had to buy everything on the list.

The next day one of the boys came to me rather upset and said that his mother had told him that it was illegal if i didn't provide him with a 'proper' gear list.

To ensure that I hadn't taken things a step too far, I dedicated a session to checking our gear lists and making sure that everyone was feeling okay.  I even showed them the other school's gear list so that they could add anything that they may have forgotten.  Interestingly it became a great exercise in critical thinking as they poo-pooed some of the items on the other list stating that their lists were far superior.

I could tell though that it was still killing some of them inside and that they really wanted to be provided with a 'proper typed' list.  One morning I came into the class and found one of the boys (who was very disturbed by the gear-list process) writing on the wall chart:

Don't forget to pack extra socks...

Probably a very good point.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Making our learning accessible

We've been pondering for a while how to share our learning and insights that we have gained while conducting our sabbatical research. How do we share the amazing conversations that we have had with all the teachers, students, and principals that we have talked to across the county (spanning Invercargill to Kaitaia) and the amazing people we had the pleasure of meeting in the UK?

We have considered and played around with essays, formal reports, wikis, and websites but came increasingly concerned that they were boring (or worse still) would not read by our target audience (parents, teachers and students). We have started this series in the hope that they are bite sized and easily digestable.

They take ages to make but I am sure that we will get better as we learn more about the program we are using. Here is Episode One - The Introduction. Coming soon: Episode Two - 10 things we hate about standardised assessment and Episode Three - 20 things you can do to Marginalise the National Standards (and not your students).