Sunday, April 17, 2016

Have You Ever Wondered?

Have you ever wondered about that random person, that one that you see as you go about your daily business?  

Have you ever wondered what their story is? What their dreams are?  

I am a wonderer.  

When I am wondering about people, I wonder how much of the story do we really know and if we knew more, would it change our perspective? 

I particularly wonder this when someone is aggravated and wanting to take that aggravation out on me.  I find it helps for me to wonder if there is another part of the story I am not privy to yet, and that perhaps it is this story that sets the agenda.  Sometimes it is not you or the situation that has them upset, but it can be the final straw that triggers that person to take their frustrations out on you.  Understanding someones story, or that there is a story there, helps take the personal sting out of any confrontation, and allows empathy to guide decisions and responses. 

Because, all of us have a story. 

Everything about us tells a story.  Our scars, our wrinkles, and even our personalities.

Wondering about others stories and their dreams helps me reflect on my own journey because the better we understand ourselves the more chance we have to find joy in our own daily lives.  

I wonder about what it is that makes us, us.  For example;

Where does our courage come from? 

Where does the bravery we need to achieve those things we aspire towards in our dreams, live?

How do we face our fears and do it anyway?  

How do these things shape our story?

I am convinced that our dreams play a key role in our story, even those unfulfilled.  I also believe that no one sets out to reach the end of a life time only to be plagued with regret and remorse for the opportunities we turned down or the dreams we let die.  

Sometime ago, I posed this on my Facebook page, 

"Ask yourself this. 
What, in twenty years time,do you think you might ask yourself, in terms of anything you might regret or should have done? 
If you think there is something you will regret or wish you had done, then don't wish 
that upon yourself.  
Go and do it.  
Life shouldn't be full of regrets or what ifs" 

I posed that wondering 'out loud' for others to consider, because I wondered, are there others who have things quietly bubbling away inside of them that they would like to explore? 

Are there 'itches that require scratching' or bucket lists needing exploring that have perhaps been set aside for 'someday'?

You see, you may be just like me, with a few gems, quietly bubbling away inside of you, most likely buried under the weight of day to day adult responsibilities, or quietly cowering behind a lack of courage.  Or even worse, you might be suffering from an inability to start because the voice of fear is whispering 'you might fail' into your very soul. 

There's that old saying 'what would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?' and it's worthy of exploring deeper.  

Dreams are powerful - they contain a special magic that help us navigate our lives.  This is especially true during the dark moments.  Dreams let us tap into an alternate reality, a future not yet born and one where we imagine ourselves reaching our potential and making the most of every opportunity.  

In our dreams, anything is possible.  

Dreams stay dreams unless we determine that they are worthy of pursuing.  They are a journey, and that journey starts with a single step, a goal and a series of small actions that drive us along the road toward our dream.  

That's when your dream becomes a plan.  

Waking up from a dream, with a purpose and a plan to move forward so you can act on your dreams, has to be the ultimate.  With this in mind, it is worth using some coaching related questions to help explore the possibilities. 

Questions For Pondering: 

Are you happy in what you do and who you are, do you find JOY in your day and are you satisfied?  

If you are, then chances are, you don't need to read any further.  Good for you - share your secrets with the rest of us because, dear reader, the fact you are in this amazing place is to be applauded!  If not, perhaps this is your starting point?  Examining the areas that are not working for you is a chance to see where the change might come. 

Is it your dream?

Sometimes people have dreams that are crafted by the hands of others.  These are the dreams that other people see you fulfilling - sometimes they are those your parents want for you and sometimes it is others.  Look in the mirror - do you own the dream or are you thinking you should do it for other reasons than it is something you are passionate about.  

How important is it to you?  

Is it really something that spins your wheels and makes you want to explore further? Knowing how important something is helps you put it all into perspective.  To work out just how important something is, the scale is a really useful tool. 

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being of the highest importance, where does it sit?  

Obviously, the closer the scale sits towards ten, the higher it is in importance.  Figuring out the level of importance helps you discount or validate the things you are thinking of and the dreams you are dreaming.  We all have things that are a little 'wishful thinking', using the scale helps us to determine if they are really life long yearnings needing to be fulfilled or just a little escape out of our current realities.  

Is it something you are prepared to move on?  

Once you know how important it is to you, you then need to think about acting on it.  How prepared are you to really work on it?  Sometimes our inability to act on something, even though we feel it is of high importance, is because there is something stopping us.  

If it is something you are prepared to make a move on, then what is stopping you?  

Have you really looked hard at what it is that is stopping you from making a move.  Have you written these things down, and analysed them and sought the advice of a trusted friend or family member on how you might move forward.  Maybe it is a who, or a what, or even a YOU!

What road blocks are getting in the way and how many of them do you need to act on?  

Examining these things help you figure out if making some changes toward reaching your dream is worth the effort. Only you know if it is a fleeting 'wishful thinking dream' or a' burning desire that gnaws away at your soul dream'.  Only you know how important it is to you to find a way forward towards that dream.  Sometimes the road blocks we place in front of ourselves (sometimes referred to as excuses) are ones that we can overcome if we systematically work our way through them.  Things like, too old, too young, not skinny enough, too skinny, need more experience, has too much experience etc.  Lets be honest with each other, how many of those are just us not prepared to commit?  Know your barriers and then find some step ladders over them or some tunnels under them or a new route around them.  

Are you prepared to put in the time?

Sometimes our barriers are time.  I wonder if this is a barrier we impose on ourselves, and when we impose it, it is really just masking something else.  It is very true, the old adage - anything worth doing, is worth investing time into, to do right.  I can easily be swayed into a procrastination state when I feel the climb in front of me to be daunting.  A tactic I use to make sure I am not waylaid for long is to break up big tasks into smaller, bite size chunks.  Finding time to do something you really want to do is not that hard if you undertake a bit of a time audit.  Do you know how to achieve your dream and the steps you need to take.  Knowing this helps you put timeframes in and helps you make the time you need. 

Is what you are wanting to achieve actually achievable and does it really spin your wheels?

It might seem like a bit of an obvious question, and a little counter intuitive to what is posted above, but it needs to be said.  Are you being realistic and is it truly amazing - something that will have a big impact on your life.  These questions you have to answer for yourself.  Sure, seeking advice from loved ones is good, but they have their agendas and biases you may or may not be privy to.  Sometimes the really big things in our life have to be sorted out by us, in our own heads.  A useful tactic is to weigh up what others say, and what you know - but ultimately, it is our life.  Sometimes there are trade offs. 

Will this be something you will regret when you are in the twilight of your life, and will you sit on the porch wistfully wondering 'what if'?

This question speaks for itself.  If it is going to cause regret, then how keen are you to live with that?  Only you know.  

I am not a relationship therapist, trained psychologist or psychiatrist.  I am however a wonderer - and my questions are not designed to turn your life upside down, but merely to give pause.  I have noticed as an accredited coach that sometimes a question is a most powerful tool.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

ILE, the Curriculum and a Couple of Wonderings

Scrolling through the Mindlab Google+ community, I noted a post about ILE (Innovative Learning Environments) and an opinion piece in the PPTA (Post Primary Teachers Association) April News.  ILE is quite the educational buzz statement right now.  Leaders I meet are either in the “I have one” group, or “I want one” group, or the “I don’t think so, it’s just a fad” group.  Given how topical it is, it is not surprising that something on ILE caught my eye.

It was a particular comment that jumped up and demanded my attention.

“…students complete projects which aren’t related to the curriculum”. 


The poster then finished with some questions: 

“Is this possible? What learning and/or projects are outside the New Zealand Curriculum?”.

Intrigued, I wanted to find out more.  

Initially, I felt my annoyance level rise.  Surely schools are smarter than that.  I wondered who would suggest such a thing and how well did they really understand the curriculum, because the beauty of our NZC is that it is flexible and it is all encompassing. 

I needed more.

I know not to take the odd comment here and there by its pure face value, and felt I should read the original before passing judgement, especially considering the original was written from a perspective outside my context.  You see, when someone makes some comments that are not from your sector of education, it can be all too easy to fall into the traps of misunderstanding and unrecognised bias. 

So I hunted out the original source.  

It was an interesting read.  You can read it in the April issue here 

I was curious about what was said in relation to project work not linking to the curriculum, and after reading the article, I think it could be easy to misunderstand the initial intent of the author.   I am not sure if he realised that what he wrote could be taken in a way that assumed his understanding of how to incorporate students independent work into the curriculum was lacking.  What he actually said was "...the kids work on independent projects that don't have to have anything to do with the curriculum." 

Interestingly, I am even more curious about what types of project might possibly have nothing to do with the curriculum.  You see, our curriculum in NZ is most comprehensive and yet flexible, and I am struggling to think of a project that could not be linked back to the curriculum.  There may well be projects that are not able to be integrated, but I am struggling to think of one!  I wonder if this is because as a primary trained teacher (elementary for my US readers) I am a 'Jill of all trades' which basically means as a teacher, I can pretty much justify any learning and link it back to our curriculum.  Perhaps you dear reader, can think of some projects! 
I wonder if what that author has failed to make explicit, and hence missed, is that the project days are (I think), most definitely linked to curriculum, but he has not quite made the link as to the how.  

Some of the other opinion pieces on ILE are also interesting and raised a few more questions and wonderings  for me.  

My first is that I keep hearing and seeing people say "The MOE (Ministry of Education)  should pay for PLD" , and it sits a little uneasily with me.  Whilst that would be nice, as a leader contemplating with my team a journey into building and remodelling single cell classrooms into collaborative ILE spaces, (funding dependent) I believe it is my responsibility, alongside our BOT (Board of Trustees) and SLT (Senior Leadership Team), to ensure that our teachers have the capacity, capability and support to make this happen.  It would, as I see it, be strategically linked to our priorities and funding and time would be allocated accordingly.  So, I wonder, if you knew you were having an ILE being built, wouldn't you do that?  Is that not naturally what you would ensure was happening?  Wouldn't that just make sense and be a fiscally and pedagogically smart and responsible decision? 

My other questions are:

What is the philosophy behind the ways classes are operating?

What PD and support, including time, have the teachers had prior to implementation?

How are they (teachers) making explicit links to the NZC?

Who is overseeing what is occurring and how current is their pedagogy.  

Is there a team investigating best practice?  

These are just my starting wonderings.  I am confident if I was to sit and reflect on this for sometime, that I would have more.  

On a more constructive note, I did happen to agree that using research to make our decisions around ILE is smart, and that good learning (and teachings) does happen anywhere - it does not depend on bricks and mortar and flashy furniture.  

Further Reading: (I have blogged on ILE related topics prior should you be interested)