Tag Archives: Leadership

Signs you are a great leader

A nice post of the signs of good leadership. Something all school principals should aspire to.

Link here

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8 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast 

I’ve been quite inspired this article – you should read it!

8 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast 

 

 

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Term 3 Week 2

Thank God, a seven year old child knows what the church is, namely, holy believers and those who follow the voice of the Shepherd.
-Martin Luther, 1537

These first two weeks have been very busy. Grade 5/6 have been to Canberra, we’ve welcomed a new family to our school and also a new pastor in Pastor Sam. So much has been done and also needs to be done!

We commenced this term with the story of Mary and Martha as recorded in Luke. Jesus visits the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha, and while Martha is doing all the work, Mary is sitting listening to Jesus. Martha gets angry and asks Jesus to tell Mary to ‘get back to work!’ Jesus’ response is one we need to recall, “Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

It reminds me of Luther’s words above – that often younger children are aware of the things in life that are truly important. Appreciating beauty, enjoying a laugh, hugging their friends and family – and giving thanks to God for His gifts. The older among us are often the first to forget these things.

Let us follow our children’s example and be reminded that our main goal in life is to follow the voice of our Shepherd. He is our sustainer, guide and teacher. Time given to God to be in his presence gives us the strength to do what needs to be done on this earth.

As we begin a new period of learning, let us all be faithful in giving our time, focus and love to our Lord.

Blessings, Tom

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Sabbath – Wayne Muller

I finally got around to reading this amazing book – a must read for leaders, those who seek the spiritual, the busy people…let’s go with everyone!

A “successful” life has become a violent enterprise. We make war on our own bodies, pushing them beyond their  limits; war on our children, because we cannot find enough time to be with them when they are hurt and afraid, and need our company; war on our spirit, because we are too preoccupied to listen to the quiet voices that seek to nourish and refresh us; war on our communities, because we are fearfully
protecting what we have, and do not feel safe enough to be kind and generous, we cannot take the time to place our feet on the ground and allow it to feed us, to taste its blessings and give thanks.

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When the Mass begins in a cathedral, the space is transformed the instant the first prayer is offered. The space is not different, but the time has been transformed. When monks enter an ashram or monastery and sit in silence, only when the bell is rung does the meditation begin. The space may be the same, but the time is consecrated by the mindfulness that arises in the striking of the bell. When Muslims are called to prayer five times each day, all work ceases, and all the ancient words, spoken aloud for centuries, rise like fragrance to the skies. Just so, during Sabbath the Jews, by keeping sacred rest, could maintain their spiritual ground wherever they were, even in protracted exile from their own country. It was not Israel that kept the Sabbath, it is said, but the Sabbath kept Israel.
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If we forget to rest we will work too hard and forget our more tender mercies, forget those we love, forget our children and our natural wonder. God says: Please, don’t. It is a waste of a tremendous gift I have given you. If you knew the value of your life, you would not waste a single breath. So I give you this commandment: Remember to rest. This is not a lifestyle suggestion, but a commandment—as important as not stealing, not murdering, or not lying. Remember to play and bless and make love and eat with those you love, and take comfort, easy and long, in this gift of sacred rest.

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All Jesus’ teaching seems to hinge on this singular truth concerning the nature of life: It is all right. Do not worry about tomorrow. I have come that you might have life abundantly. Be not afraid. Over and over, in parable, story and example, he insists that regardless how it goes for us, we are cared for, we are safe, we are all right. There is a light of the world, a kingdom of heaven inside us that will bear us up, regardless of our sorrow, fear, or loss. Do not wait to enjoy the harvest of your life; you are already blessed. The kingdom of God is already here. It is within you and among you.

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Our reluctance to rest—our belief that our joy and delight may somehow steal from the poor, or add to the sorrows of those who suffer—is a dangerous and corrosive myth, because it creates the illusion that service to others is a painful and dreary thing. Jesus says there will always be opportunities to be kind and generous. Just as there is a time for everything under heaven, so is there a time for nourishment and joy, especially among those who would serve.

But we must ask this question: What if we are not going anywhere? What if we are simply living and growing within an ever-deepening cycle of rhythms, perhaps getting wiser, perhaps learning to be kind, and hopefully passing whatever we have learned to our children? What if our life, roughhewn from the stuff of creation, orbits around a God who never ceases to create new beginnings? What if our life is simply a time when we are blessed with both sadness and joy, health and disease, courage and fear—and all the while we work, pray, and love, knowing that the promised land we seek is already present in the very gift of life itself, the inestimable privilege of a human birth? What if this single human life is itself the jewel in the lotus, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price? What if all the way to heaven is
heaven? Sabbath challenges the theology of progress by reminding us that we are already and always on sacred ground.
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When we move too fast we shield ourselves from the actual experience of suffering; we see only its outward manifestations and appearances. In our frantic craving for relief, we try to make the appearance of suffering go away. But we risk eradicating the symptoms without ever understanding the disease.

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According to Henri Nouwen, Jesus’ three temptations were these:
To be useful. To be important. And to be powerful. Useful, important, and powerful—are not these the attributes that still tempt every one of us who seek to do good in the world?

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The word humility, like the word human, comes from ‘humus’, or ‘earth’. We are most human when we do no great things. We are not so important; we are simply dust and spirit—at best, loving midwives, participants in a process much larger than we. If we are quiet and listen and feel how things move., perhaps we will be wise enough to put our hands on what waits to be born and bless it with kindness and care. But in the end, we are granted the tremendous blessing of knowing that we do very little at all by ourselves.

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Crucial Conversations – Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler

Two graphics from the book which I found helpful:

CC model

Summary model

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Moral Courage – Rushworth Kidder

A few points I pulled out of this excellent book:

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What, then, is moral courage? It can be defined as the quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face up to ethical challenges firmly and confidently, without flinching or retreating. It is a “quality of mind” as well as “spirit” because, like all ethical endeavours, it partakes of both the rational and the intuitional capacities, both left-brain and right-brain activity, both the processes of intellectual discourse and the feelings of rightness and wrongness inherent in each individual.

  • It enables us to face up to problems—not necessarily to resolve them, and certainly not to promise that we will master them, but to address them squarely, frontally, and with determination.
  • It requires action that is both “firmly” persistent and “confidently” assured that its tools—the moral, mental, and emotional elements of argumentation and persuasion—are sound enough to weather serious resistance.
  • Finally, it requires us to act “without flinching or retreating” in the face of persuasions, from the subtle to the violent, that make us want to turn tail and run.

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Step 4: Understand the Risks I
Understanding risk involves the contemplation of possible outcomes…Have I adequately assessed the dangers involved both in acting and in failing to act? Am I clear on the moral hazards, even if the situation involves physical hazard as well?  Do I have a clear picture of the three principal challenges — solving ambiguity, exposure, and loss—inherent in any situation

Ambiguity.

Am I willing to face up to the ambiguity and confusion that surrounds this problem? Can I penetrate its mysteries without being baffled, duped, or mentally overwhelmed? If I fear I could be wrong about the facts, does that
prevent me from moving forward? Or do I have that tolerance  for ambiguity, that confidence in my ability to figure things out, which is essential to moral courage? Can I distinguish persistent firmness in the face of wrongdoing from true moral courage in the face of right-versus-right dilemmas?

Exposure.

Do I recognize the fear of exposure that can inhibit moral courage? Am I willing to make myself vulnerable for the sake of achieving some higher good? Do I acknowledge that by acting with moral courage, I may be thrust into a highly visible leadership role—whether I want it or not? Or am I hoping I can hide and still make a difference? Have I got the focus and stamina to weather the exposure that frequently accompanies morally courageous acts?

Loss.

Do I grasp the peril to my income and position—as well as to personal relationships and public reputation—that may be involved here? Is this the hill I want to die on? Have I underestimated the risk, so that I might lose everything to no avail and be accused of foolishness? Or have I overestimated the risk, so that what I think to be courageous has very little risk at all, leaving me open to charges of mere bluster and bravado? Do I understand that moral courage shines most brightly when the stakes are highest?

 

State of the World Forum Values

IMG_1219

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Creative schools – Ken Robinson

This one is a must read for educators…and politicians making educational decisions too!

 

“If you design a system to do something specific, don’t be surprised if it does it. If you run an education system based on standardization and conformity that suppresses individuality, imagination, and creativity, don’t be surprised if that’s what it does.

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The students who feel alienated by current systems of standardization and testing may walk out the door, and it’s left to them and others to pay the price in unemployment benefits and other social programs. These problems are not accidental by-products of standardized education; they are a structural feature of these systems. They were designed to process people according to particular conceptions of talent and economic need and were bound to produce winners and losers in just those terms. And they do. Many of these “externalities” could be avoided if education genuinely gave all students the same opportunities to explore their real capabilities and create their best lives.

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Education is really improved only when we understand that it too is a living system and that people thrive in certain conditions and not in others. The four principles of organic farming translate directly to the sorts of education we urgently need to cukivate. Paraphrased for education they might be:

  • Health. Organic education promotes the development and wellbeing of the whole student, intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.
  • Ecology. Organic education recognizes the vital interdependence of all of these aspects of development, within each student and the community as a whole.
  • Fairness. Organic education cultivates the individual talents and
    potential of all students, whatever their circumstances, and respects the roles and responsibilities of those who work with them.
  • Care. Organic education creates optimum conditions for students.

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A few years ago I bought a new car. It took a long time. Once I’d decided on the model, I was offered an endless series of choices to customize it to my personal tastes and needs: colour, fabrics, sound systems, number of doors, engine size and so on. It was like filling out a tax return. I asked the salesman how many versions of this car there actually were. He didn’t know but guessed that mine would be unique, just like all the others he’d sold. In contrast, I got my first car when I was twenty-three. Back then, there was only one question: “Do you want it or not?”

Nowadays, we take for granted that we can personalize just about anything, from the apps on our smart phones, to the clothes we wear, to our pages on Facebook. The same is true of health care. As technology and the understanding of biology continue to develop, the medicines you take will become ever more tailored to your individual body type. This process of personalization seems to be everywhere, but it has yet to take root in education. This is ironic, because it is in education that personalization is most urgently needed. So what does that mean? It means:

  • Recognizing that intelligence is diverse and multifaceted
  • Enabling students to pursue their particular interests strengths
  • Adapting the schedule to the different rates at which students learn
  • Assessing students in ways that support their personal progress and achievement

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Great teachers are the heart of great schools. In their various roles, they fulfil three essential purposes for students:

  • Inspiration: They inspire their students with their own passion for their disciplines and to achieve at their highest levels within them.
  • Confidence: They help their students to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to become confident, independent learners who can continue to develop their understanding and expertise.
  • Creativity: They enable their students to experiment, inquire, ask questions, and develop the skills and disposition of original thinking.

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In planning the school curriculum, I much prefer the idea of disciplines. A discipline is a mixture of theory and practice. Mathematics, for example, is a combination of methods and processes and of proposition knowledge. The student is not only learning about mathematics, but also how to do mathematics. The same is true of disciplines that involve physical skills and the control of materials and tools, including music, art, design, engineering, technology, theatre, dance, and the rest.

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Andreas Schleicher is director for education and skills and special adviser on education policy to the secretary-general at the OECD. “The world economy no longer pays you for what you know; Google knows everything,” he told me. “The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know. If you want to learn if someone can think scientifically or translate a real-world problem into a mathematical context, those things are harder to assess, but they’re also more important in today’s world. We see a rapid decline in the demand for routine cognitive skills in our world and the kinds of things that are easy to test and easy to teach are also the kinds of things that are easy to digitize, automate, and outsource.”

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conditions for growth

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The principal – Michael Fullan

While I have been devouring books for my Goodreads challenge of reading a book every fortnight, I haven’t been able to catch up my notes. Here are a few choice insights from Michael Fullan’s book “The Principal”. More book related inspirations shortly.

On effective principals

“The more effective principals were those who defined their role as facilitators of teacher success rather than instructional leaders. They provided teachers with the resources they needed to build social capital—time, space, and staffing—to make the informal and formal connections possible.”

On accountability

“Capacity building is to accountability what finance is to accounting. Finance is about how people organize and invest their assets; if you have only) accounting, you are merely keeping careful records while you go out of business! In the same way, there is more to accountability) than measuring results; you need also to develop peoples capacity achieve the results. Extreme pressure without capacity results in dysfunctional behaviour.”

Top 5 principal actions leading to results

1. Establishing goals and expectations
2. Resourcing strategically
3. Ensuring quality teaching
4. Leading teacher learning and development
5. Ensuring an orderly and safe environment

The ‘right and wrong of change’

Fullan - change

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Why don’t I make time for exercise?

The man or woman who hates his work scowls at the alarm clock, rolls out of bed with frustration, takes his time getting ready, mopes around the office, counts the minutes to 5pm, turns on the television when he gets home to distract himself, and then goes to bed late only to repeat the cycle tomorrow.

– Joshua Becker

There was a time not that long ago when I would bounce out of bed in the morning for a ride or a run. I might supplement morning exercise with an afternoon swim or ride too. It seems those days are long gone. I used to set goals to drive myself to exercise and what started as 10k fun runs and short triathlons became half marathons and half ironmans.

A great deal has happened since those days which are in reality only 5 years ago. There have been two changes of organisation and two changes of location. Changes of role have led to much less time and energy available for exercise. Often it is the latter which is the demotivator and perhaps this post should really be titled ‘Why don’t’ I make energy for exercise?’

I know exercise helps me be better at what I do. (and for those who don’t agree I urge you to read this)

I don’t believe I mope around school nor do I count the minutes until 5pm. There is far too much to be done to be able to mope around and usually I am counting the minutes I am at work past 5pm! I do find myself getting out of bed in frustration, being unproductive with my time in the morning and watching TV to distract myself at night. I’d like to change that.

I was encouraged by an article recently which encouraged leaders undertaking long hours in their work to spend some time considering what their ideal start to the workday would be. Mine would look something like this:

5.30 – wake

5.45 – 30 minute runIMG_0929

6.15 – 15 minutes stretching/yoga

6.30 – breakfast with newspaper

6.45 – shower and dress

7.00 – walk to school

7.15 – clear overnight emails and set plan for day

7.45 – cup of tea and finish newspaper

8.00 – staff commual prayer

We are about to commence Week 9 of the second term of school and I’m going to try to nail this for the next 3 weeks. Remembering my own advice ‘to be gentle on oneself when commencing a new path’ of course! Join with me #getoutofbedmrbrennen

You can read Joshua Becker’s article which inspired this post here.

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Good deeds

This week marks the beginning of the church season of Lent. This week the staff and students considered the following words of Jesus:

…when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt 6:1-4)

The church season of Lent encourages us to remember Jesus’ sacrifice and service. His ministry was often carried out in small ways—quiet conversations, healing people and encouraging them not to tell others and so on. It was a ministry of great humility. This morning we installed our student leaders at assembly and Pastor Cecil encouraged them to remember that leaders are often those who quietly, and sometimes silently, go about their business of supporting others.

As Christians it is a great temptation to become frustrated with those we serve and even express frustration at God’s call to serve. “God, I know you ask me to serve but surely you don’t mean that person who is mean to me?” When I feel this way I am reminded that when Jesus was in the depths of his own despair, he took time to pray for those that persecuted him. He carried such a heavy burden for us all and served so diligently.

The blessing for us all is to know that Christ continues to serve us and encourages us to love as he loves. May our new student leaders inspire us all to serve God’s people in the same manner that he serves us.

Blessings

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