Reading for inspiration and learning

Reading books

Now I know…that its immensely important to read and learn as much as you can from others as well as yourself.

‘The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.’ Mark Twain.

Being an only child I had a few choices to keep myself amused when I was young including subbuteo, football, the cat ( not really the tortoise as it didn’t do much) or reading.  The majority of the time I chose reading.
It started when I was young.
I have vivid memories of waiting until I thought my mother had gone downstairs after saying goodnight to me, sneaking out of bed, turning on the landing light and leaving my door slightly ajar so I could carry on my mind travels with Harry Harrison, Wilbur smith and Susan cooper.
I went through a period of time during university when reading took a back seat to other pursuits but thankfully it came back with a vengeance and now it is a larger part of my life and learning than ever before.
Here are some of the amazing books that have inspired me over the last year or so.  They are not all directly linked to education.  Due to my position, at school,  the books on slightly skewed towards leadership as I wsh to be the best I can and so aim to know as much as I can from others whilst making my own decisions and directions.

The list does not include the wonderful blogs that I read daily. I think that is a post for another day.

They are not in any particular order and this is not a top ten.

Linchpin  / The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

I know that Seth is not to everyone’s taste but I really enjoy his books.  The main reason for this, I think, is that they have spoken to the part of me that has had big ideas but can’t quite for whatever reason step over that last hurdle and ‘ship’.

‘Again and again our success turns on not being a low cost leader but a high trust leader.’

Multipliers by Liz wiseman with Greg keown

This book really spoke to me about how we treat others who we work and learn with and brings to the forefront one of the buzz themes of leadership which is raising capacity.  It gives some very simple and achievable ideas and strategies for developing your own leadership alongside the leadership of others.

” Multipliers invoke each persons unique intelligence and create an atmosphere of genius-innovation, productive effort and collective intelligence.”

I aim to be a multiplier.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin and Rosamund Stone Zander.

I still remember being told for the first time about TED talks…”It’s a thinking mans YouTube.” The talk by Ben is one of my very favourites and speaks to me on many levels.  I really enjoyed the notion in the books about the ‘games’ of life, learning and work.’

” It’s all invented anyway so we may as well invent a story or framework of meaning that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us.”

I’m not sure you can argue with that.

Leadership on the line Staying alive through the dangers of leading by Ronald Heifetz and Marty linsky

I really enjoy learning from these authors as they seem to out their heart on the line as well as speak from it.  The book is a great read and resource for those wishing to develop their ‘humanity’ as well as their leadership.

“Leadership is worth the risk because the goals extend beyond material gain or personal advancement.  By making the lives of those around you better, leadership provides meaning in life. It creates purpose.”

Obviously it isn’t the only thing that provides purpose and meaning in life but it does play a huge part in everything that we do.

And lastly

The Truth about Leadership Barry posner and James kouzes

Now, some people seem to deride books about leadership the same way others deride self help books.  I believe that we can learn from many, many sources.  These two authors have spent many years researching leadership in a variety of forms.  I do not take what they say as gospel and I also do not agree with everything they write but they do know why they are talking about and are very worth reading when you have time.

” You can’t look for the man behind the curtain to solve your problems. You have everything you need.  It’s about taking the first step.”

It often is that first step that makes a difference.  Some never seems to be able to manage it.  I’m very grateful that through the wisdom of others as well as my own decisions I am managing to make that choice to take the first step.

Thank you for reading. I will continue to do so. Will you?

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Two years on…

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Now I know…

It has been just over two years since I became a Vice-Principal.

My career before that had included teaching and learning in every primary age group and holding a number of middle leadership positions.

During these past two years I have learned so much about myself and leadership as well as others.

This post, 4 Attributes of a Great Assistant Principal, by George Couros (Thank you George), gave me the opportunity to reflect on who and where I am as a leader.

I am a self starter, but I have had to learn to do this.  Over my career I have worked with nine different principals.  I have learned from all of these. My learning has not always been positive but it has been there.  It is over the last five years or so that I have learned that ‘nothing is impossible’.  The possible and impossible is planned, evaluated and reflected on but it is sometimes started without a ‘whole’ plan in place. It is a joy to see what can happen. An example of this is the learning walkthroughs that happened last year, that had their seed in conversations I had with year leaders that have now lead to us having a phonics continuum. Our learning and teaching in phonics has tightened up in this area due to this continuum and data is showing improvement.

Another attribute, that was definitely there (isn’t it there for all of us?), that has grown over these two years is that I am more confident, excited and enthusiastic when challenging authority.  I remember my pride a few years back when I was awarded the ‘most likely to speak their mind’ award as a year leader in my previous school.  As a leader it is now my role to create and promote the space within our school for this to happen both ways.

I also try my very best to accept what is said and take responsibility of any mistakes I make.  A couple of weeks ago I was in a classroom when an incident occurred, I hadn’t seen it, the teacher thought I had, we had a discussion that exacerbated the misunderstanding and then I heard from my principal that my colleague had been disappointed that I hadn’t supported her. I went to talk to her straight away, apologised for the misunderstanding, which is what it was and through our reflection we moved on.

We are all learning.

Let’s make sure it keeps happening.

Scratch (ing) the surface and digital leaders

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Now I know…

For the last three weeks I have been running an after school scratch club.  Scratch is great. For me, and the children I am learning with, Scratch is lego on a screen.

When we met for the first time only Jason had ever used scratch before.  Three weeks down the line the children are developing ideas I could never had thought of.  They continue to amaze me with their creativity, passion and innovative thinking as well as the speed of their learning.

Having heard about scratch a couple of years ago it has taken me a long time to introduce it to school but I am so glad I have.  There are 19 members of the club which is a mixture of Years Four to Six as well as boys and girls.

I was lucky enough to have been pointed towards Learn Scratch which has been an invaluable resource.  We have plowed through the lessons at a speed comfortable for all and managed in three session to complete Scratch 1.

After reading this wonderful blog post by Daniel Edwards I reflected upon the Digital Leaders we have in school and the space we are giving the children to share, connect and learn through teaching.  I asked the children in the club if they would be willing to teach others and there was a resounding ‘Yes!’. So next Wednesday here we go.

The learners become teachers.

We will then explore these children taking on other responsibilities such as becoming ‘Digital Leaders’.