Oct
22

A Letter to Myself (and why you should write one too)

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Photo by Andrew Dunstan You’ve made it through the first week of term. Some of you are beginning Surplus Staffing processes, some of you are fending off vaccination demands, some of you are juggling bubbles in Level 3, some of you are arguing dollars in the budget cycle, and some are just finding it hard […]

Oct
01

Whose Permission Do You Need?

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Photo by Pablo Varela When talking with principals, particularly those who are ‘stuck’ with a particular situation/habit/need for change, the biggest road block is often themselves. They have rational possibilities (choices) clearly in front of them but those annoying “little voices” start chattering away and they don’t take action. You can read our post Voices […]

Sep
24

Imagine

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. Imagine if there was no “I” at your school. That would also mean, no me, no mine, and no my – not even a you, or a your, or theirs. Only a WE. What would your school look like? What would it look like from your perspective as principal?  For a start you wouldn’t […]

Sep
17

Change Sometimes Needs A Push

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Photo by Stephen Hui   You’ve probably all heard the saying, “never waste a good crisis” which was originally attributed to Winston Churchill and has now been recycled a million times (particularly in the world of business where one person’s ‘crisis’ is another person’s ‘opportunity’ – e.g. no one is quibbling about the cost of […]

Sep
10

It’s Character Building

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. Growing up, my Dad had lots of great advice for me. Two pieces have stuck with me through thick and thin. One he pulled out for the first time during our very first time playing golf together (and last as well now that I think of it). As he swung backwards and forwards wildly […]

Sep
03

Empowering the Other Heroes

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  If you are feeling the pressure right now maybe you need to ditch your superhero cape for a moment and find some other heroes to help. It’s about distributing the load. Sort of like this –    So who are these other potential heroes in your school and why might they not be sharing […]

Aug
27

Take Notice

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. Hey you! Yes you! The one reading this blog! Yes you! Now don’t be shy, I’ve got some questions for you – yes you! I’ve always been a big advocate of the Five Ways to Wellbeing model. Probably because there’s only five to remember, but also because it is so simple and makes heaps […]

Aug
20

Stepping Up is Easy – Staying There is Much Harder

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Who gets the oxygen first? So here we are again . . . Those of us in New Zealand have just gone into a nation wide lockdown with schools closed and everyone expected to stay home unless an essential worker.  A fragment of the unwanted Delta COVID-19 variant has sneaked through our borders and for […]

Aug
13

Talking to Justin

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. We offer something a little different this week – a link to a discussion we had with Justin Baeder from the Principal Center. Justin is based in Seattle on the Pacific Northwest coast of the U.S.A. where he is the Director of the Principal Center, an organisation that aims to help senior leaders build […]

Aug
06

Ruminoid Arthritis

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  I’ve come up with a new medical term. Hell, I don’t even have a degree (although I do have a couple of useful diplomas, and some may say I have a degree in life), but this hasn’t stopped me coining a new affliction; a disease; a malady. Don’t bother looking it up – it’s […]

Jul
30

You Are Not A Machine

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. This week we have a guest post from Stephanie Thompson who is the principal of Beach Haven School in sunny Auckland New Zealand. Stephanie has a wealth of leadership experience in many educational settings and graciously agreed to share some thinking about life in the swivelly chair.  I found the above meme when I […]

Jul
09

Making It More Likely

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Photo by Marcel Strauß A couple of weeks ago Saira Boyle wrote a great guest post about what she called the “Green Focus Power Hour”. In a nutshell she described an early morning routine that energises her – you can read about it here. When I initially considered her method, a seemingly random thought popped […]

Jul
02

Go Where The Grass Is Long

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Photo by Petar Tonchev . Just recently I found myself talking with a colleague about the myriad of things that we end up doing in our roles. A recent example was when I found myself sweeping water out of the junior boys’ toilets for an hour or so. Lucky me! There’s nothing like sweeping water […]

Jun
25

The Green Focus Power Hour

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. This week we are sharing a guest post from a fellow principal in New Zealand, Saira Boyle from Willowbank School. As an experienced principal, Saira has been become increasingly conscious of the demands that our leadership roles make on us, and has generously shared some thinking and tactics that are worth considering. In our […]

Jun
18

When Enough is Enough

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. 40 hours? 50 hours? 60 hours? 70 hours? . . . How many hours do you work in an average week? .   .   .   .   . Recently we shared some data regarding the work habits of New Zealand rural principals. One confronting statistic was that 47% of the group were working 60 hours or […]

Jun
11

Stoic

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. A few years ago orange was the new black. Shortly afterwards anything that was new, exciting and a must have, was the new black. With this in mind I proclaim that in the world of leadership a thing called Stoicism is the new black. Well, I would proclaim that, if it was actually something […]

Jun
04

Sharing Some Reality

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Photo by Leon The busier you are, the harder it is to find the time and energy necessary to reflect on even small things.  Which is likely the reason you usually buy a particular brand of toothpaste when at the supermarket. And also the same reason that it’s tough to step back and consider bigger […]

May
28

It’s all in the Mind

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.   Recently I’ve been walking around thinking, “thank God it’s Week ten already.” The problem with this thought is that it’s simply not true. We are just about to complete Week 4, and it already feels as though a full term has been completed. It certainly didn’t help to have a very un-Forty Hour […]

May
26

5 Minute Roadie 2 : Be Slacker Better

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We know you’re probably thinking, “is it Friday already?”  But not this time . . . the Forty Hour team are heading to New Plymouth to share some thinking at the NZEI Rural Principals’ Conference and thought we’d drop the second in our 5 Minute Roadie series to celebrate. This time Steve explains a phrase […]

May
21

Imagine if People Thought of Principals as Taonga

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. This week we are sharing a guest post from a fellow New Zealand principal, Michael Fletcher. Michael has worked in education for nearly 30 years, half of that in leadership positions. As the Principal of Chaucer School for the last 7 years he shared; “There are days when I can’t believe I’m getting paid […]

May
14

5 Minute Roadie 1 : Vocation or Job?

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  This week’s post is a little different – it’s a short video. Steve and I had a chat about the difference between ‘a vocation’ and ‘a job’ while driving to Methven last week to share some provocations with the Canterbury and Westland Secondary Principals.  One take, done live – what could possibly go wrong?  […]

May
07

School Leader or School Martyr – Which are You?

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Charles Shultz It often seems that school leadership is a tight rope strung between the opposing realities of doing a job or living a vocation. There is a big difference between the two, but like many aspects of our roles, the edges are easily blurred. .   .   . Teaching as a whole used to have […]

Apr
16

40 HP Speed Dating

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. It’s the end of term! Time is short! And so is this week’s 40HP blog piece. The 40HP team have pushed the buttons quite a bit this term. We’ve tried to be provocative and we’ve tried to get people thinking about how they do their roles in a quest to leading a more balanced […]

Apr
09

A Sick Story

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Source pxhere.com   In New Zealand, school leaders are allowed to accumulate unused sick days. I’ve got zillions as have plenty of school leaders who have been lucky enough to have avoided a major illness or need for extended leave. Back in the ‘good old days’, it was considered perfectly acceptable to be ‘sick’ for […]

Apr
02

The Management versus Leadership Debate is Dead

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. Last time I wrote about how we often over think our roles and that this in turn creates problems that aren’t even there. It was part of a piece about slowing things down, especially at this time of term. Recently I was part of a discussion regarding the dilemma that we all face – […]

Jul
17

WELCOME TO THE FORTY HOUR PRINCIPAL BLOG

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You’ve found the Forty Hour Principal blog page and that is a good thing! We’re glad you are here. Our aim is to create conversation about school leadership in an attempt to make the role more sustainable, healthier, and even more fun. We’re positive about our jobs and know that we are privileged to be […]

Mar
26

The Seductive Trap of the Swivelly Chair

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Photo by Christin Hume So you’ve got a fitness device that tells you how many steps you’ve done today. Awesome. But have you got a sitting widget that tells you how long you’ve spent on your principal butt? In fact, have you ever counted? Well maybe it’s time to start. There’s a lot of scientific […]

Mar
19

Time to Keep it Simple

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. We’re now well and truly into the busyness of Term. We’ve got seven weeks under our belts, and if you haven’t already hit the “rocky times” of the Term, then chances are you’re about to.  “Rocky times” tend to arrive when people are tired. Patience flows out the door like the outgoing tide, and […]

Mar
12

Pleasing People is a Losing Strategy

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. “You can’t please all the people all the time”. These words are often quoted after a particularly drawn out or stressful event. They are a figurative shrug of the shoulders that signals an end point. But the truth is that for many of us there is a lot of angst that comes before this […]

Mar
05

Pause Breath Smile

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Emotions are there to help us understand the stuff we’re going through. But it’s not always helpful. Emotions also help us convey to others what we are feeling. Jacinda Ardern being labeled by the Press as being “angry” about those not sticking to COVID-19 restriction expectations is a classic recent example. Who knows if she […]

Feb
26

What Do You Believe?

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Photo by timJ  The 40 Hour Project is all about making positive change, but often it seems really hard for people to do this. There are factors at play that leave people doing the same old/same old despite the reality that they have many options. There’s definitely the drag of the status quo at play, […]

Feb
19

The Why?

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  . Last week David wrote a great piece on the How being as important as the What. It’s a piece that has resonated with me a lot and is really the core of the Forty Hour Principal Project. To put no finer point to it, it’s the HOW that makes the difference between spending […]

Feb
12

The How matters (at least) as much as The What

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. Right now, there are a whole lot of people just beginning the adventure we call principalship. Maybe you are one of them. When most people start a new job, the thing ‘on top’ is often, “what do I need to do?” This is completely understandable, but ignores the real choices that can be made […]

Feb
05

2021 Loading

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. 21 things to have a decent crack at in 2021: Around the turn of the new year, every new year, there seems to be an inordinate amount of self help lists published. Invariably the number of things on the lists tend to correspond to the amount of years in the new year. For example […]

Dec
11

Drawing a Line Under 2020

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Photo by pan xiaozhen The Forty Hour team are officially declaring 2020 over.  We won’t waste your time reflecting on what has happened since this time in 2019 – suffice to say it was unexpected, unique and life changing. As you go to perhaps the most well-earned Christmas break ever, make sure you give yourself […]

Nov
27

Post-it Notes and Why They Matter

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Photo by Nathália Rosa I like Post-it notes. I like the way they let me capture a task then park it until I’m ready to take action. Way back at the beginning, I had a principal who carried a small notebook in their top jacket pocket. Anytime you started talking to them they took it […]

Nov
20

Making a Difference?

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. When I worked in the Hanmer Springs State Forest in the late 80’s I knew at the end of the day where I had been and what I had done. I could look back at a row of pines and see a line of freshly pruned trees. It was that simple. It was the […]

Nov
13

Last Week Someone Stole My Mailbox

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. Last week someone stole my mailbox. I was driving out the gate on my way to work last Friday and a part of my brain slowly registered something was wrong – my mailbox was gone! It’s the weirdest feeling to suddenly realise a familiar feature of your world has inexplicitly changed. And right behind […]

Dec
04

MY GROWTH MODEL

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. I wonder if, after all the dust has settled, and we take a look back at 2020, that we’ll look back on the year as one of fantastic personal growth. No doubt it’s been a crap year. We’ve all been pushed to the ends of our collective tethers. There have been times when we’ve […]

Nov
06

Not All That Glitters is Gold

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. It’s been a helluva year! Suffice to say 2020 has been a year right out of the box. It’s certainly been full of challenges, frustrations, false dawns and even a bit of heartache. In New Zealand we find ourselves in a position that life is pretty much back to normal, but there’s always an […]

Oct
30

Leading With Fulfilment

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. Leading with fulfilment “Fulfilment is a feeling of satisfaction that you get from doing or achieving something, especially something useful.” – Collins Dictionary This week Steve and I are talking with a group of school leaders in Rolleston (just south of Christchurch). The theme for the discussion is “leading with fulfilment” and I have […]

Oct
23

Solomon’s Paradox

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. There’s something about writing a blog about principalship, and leadership in particular, that gives a certain air of “worldliness” about the writer. It appears that the writer somehow flies above all the crap and has a view of life that soars a number of clicks above the insane level that those who don’t write, […]

Oct
16

Where Does Your Energy Come From?

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Photo by Lê Tâ Here in New Zealand we have just launched into Term 4 – traditionally a time of high intensity and looming deadlines. A time when things can get a little bit crazy more often than we would like. So right now is a time when you need to manage your energy. We’ve […]

Oct
09

Alice in Wonderland

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. There are certain times of the day when just about anything can happen, and it most likely will. I call this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ time. These are times when you can easily find yourself figuratively following some furry creature down a rabbit warren with no idea where you’re going or what’s going to happen. […]

Oct
02

Alignment Matters

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Photo by Natalie Daley It’s great that we are in a Term break at last (at least for those of us in NZ). This year is proving to be anything but business as usual and the challenges just keep coming. We’re been operating in a “hoping for the best, but ready for anything” type mode. […]

Sep
25

Barking or Sniffing … keys to communication

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. This term I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about communicating. In particular about how I communicate with my school staff of around forty adults. The most recent staff appraisal of me suggested that communication wasn’t always my strength. A little bit inside me yelled back sarcastically – “give me strength!” Communication of course […]

Sep
18

Asking The Uncomfortable Question

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Photo by David Holifield   You probably know the metaphor of “the carrot and the stick” where a stubborn donkey needs to be encouraged to move. There are two basic options (as donkeys are hard to push around). You can dangle a carrot just in front of its nose and, if hungry, the donkey will […]

Sep
11

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR TOMORROW

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Photo by Devon Divine Just like a song, every blog article needs a great line to pull you in right from the start. Something that’ll catch the imagination, and won’t let go.  I’m trying to find something that’ll make the term “psychological detachment” sound enticing and thrilling. Something that’ll get your attention and not let […]

Sep
04

Being Seen as a Person First

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Photo by Markus Spiske   Humanity  When people are giving their all, when the pressure’s on and they are stretched too thinly, that is when it is very easy to be hurt by others.  And there seems to be a lot of educational leaders feeling that hurt at the moment.  These are good people doing their […]

Aug
28

3am

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. You take a look at the bedside clock. It’s glowing 3:00am and, truth be told, you’ve probably been awake for an hour already. There are nigglings, plans, and plain old emotions in the form of concerns rushing around your head.   Your mind is alive with thoughts. Many are worries. You lie there knowing […]

Aug
21

Opportunity

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Photo by Raul Varzar Those of you back in the land of Level 3 lockdown (NZ context) have my utmost sympathy. There’s no easy way to run a school under these conditions and you have a massive task on your hands. Kia kaha – you are in my Level 2 thoughts! This week I’m “piggy […]

Aug
14

Micro Reflection

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. To be honest I wondered if my topic for this week’s article, reflection, was still appropriate now that New Zealand is being re-visited by the COVID-19 virus and parts of our country are in lockdown.   I was going to start off by painting a beautiful picture. You see in South Westland, just near […]

Aug
07

CHOICES AND VOICES

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Photo by Selin Şahin   You probably know the classic “conscience” model of decision making where you have a small Angel on one shoulder and a small Devil on the other. A decision needs to be made and they compete with each other to convince you which path to take. Each takes turns to whisper […]

Jul
31

The Four ‘P’s of Principalship

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  Photo by Loic Leray I’m not really known for my short blog pieces. The last one I wrote ended up as a world record for me in word count! Recently I’ve been enjoying some Seth Godin blogs. He is the total opposite of me. He says the bare minimum, and then leaves. His words […]

Jul
24

TIME IS FINITE, CHOICE IS NOT

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Photo by ASHLEY EDWARDS Time is finite, choice is not . . .   “If you agree that some of your important leadership work is done outside of 9:00AM to 3:00PM, Monday to Friday, why can’t some of your important non-work  activities happen inside of those times?” That’s what I added to the bottom of a post a few weeks […]

Jul
17

THE FORTY HOUR PRINCIPAL

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  . “I hadn’t been at my school for very long. It was a country school with a straight road of about 6 km separating it from the edge of town. Perfect running distance to unwind after a hectic day of principalship. I left my car in the carpark and took off down the road. […]

Jul
10

What Are You Looking At?

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Today we are sharing an idea that will be familiar to those of you who have read “The Forty Hour Principal”. It’s about positive thought patterns. Photo by NeONBRAND   Archery is a funny sort of sport. You make an immense physical effort but must keep completely steady and minutely controlled throughout. The margins between […]

Jul
03

BEING SLACKER BETTER

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English is a notoriously tricky language to navigate. Take a look at this classic sentence describing a panda to see that simple nuances and grammar can dramatically alter the meaning of what you’re trying to say. A Panda eats, shoots, and leaves or A Panda eats shoots, and leaves. (It’s also available in joke form.¹) […]

Jun
26

The Gift

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  Photo by Jess Bailey   Simon Sinek, in his 2017 video clip called “Empathy“, makes an important point (among a host of other great thinking) that should resonate with many principals. Firstly; “You’re not in charge, you’re responsible for those who are in your charge.” He likes this point so much that he says […]

Jun
19

Who’s Sitting in the Principal’s Chair?

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Have you ever been at your desk, in your car, or in the shower and thought something like; “How did I get to be the principal? This is crazy!” “I hope nobody finds out – I don’t know what to do.” “I can’t believe they appointed me.” If you answer “yes”, it’s a high chance […]

Jun
12

Flattening The Curve

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  Sometimes you can look at a problem for a long time and have no idea what the answer is going to be. But sometimes, just sometimes, you get a little glimmer of an idea that ignites a whole tsunami like wave of ideas and solutions. The other day I lucked in. A member of […]

Jun
05

Add The Big Rocks First

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    A couple of weeks ago I suggested that unless something was on your calendar it wasn’t very important, and crucially, probably wouldn’t happen. So . . . what is on your calendar? I know you have your next Board meeting, the Monday catch-up with your office team, staff meetings, assemblies, teaching commitments . […]

May
29

Into the Cauldron – another principal’s perspective

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    This is a guest post by a principal colleague, Mike Hope, from the Rangitikei.    With the excitement and nerves of starting a new principal role at the beginning of this year, the last thing I needed was to be dealing with a pandemic in my first term. The year started really well, […]

May
22

Connection

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  Ok, so last time I wrote I said I was tired. This time, two weeks later, I’m exhausted. This is different to being tired. It’s the next step up for sure. It’s that feeling you get when you get home and you slump into the couch, and thirty seconds later you’re asleep. It’s that […]

May
15

What’s On Your Calendar?

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  When your team’s winning you don’t change the captain – even if they are an arse. When your school maths results are going up you don’t bring in a new system – even though some individuals are failing. When it’s Mothers’ Day you don’t suggest that chocolates are unhealthy – even though Mum . […]

May
08

Join the Realisation Revolution

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There’s been a great video circulating on social media recently by Tomos Robertson AKA Tom Foolery called The Great Realisation. Maybe you’ve seen it. It really is wonderful and follows a line that David and I have been promoting for a while now. In our current climate of lockdown and isolation it’s come into even […]

May
01

Slowing Down The Spin Cycle

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  Hands up if the run into Level 3 left you feeling like you’d accidentally spent 3 rounds in the octagon with Israel Adesanya. The general consensus is that it was exhausting! The world wants things to go back to how they used to be, and predictably, our education system is doing its part by […]

Apr
24

HAVING TIME TO TAKE YOUR TIME

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There’s something about being in lockdown that has resonated very positively with me. The other day I found myself walking through my neighbourhood during a very pleasant autumnal like, but sunny day. There were people everywhere, walking about, smiling, waving, being genuinely cheerful. All adhering strictly to the 2 metre social distancing requirements, but also […]

Apr
17

Soft Skills or Hard Reality?

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“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again” Nelson Mandela   So the good-ship “home learning” has launched, and you and your team have done your level best to make it as smooth as possible. Once you get some momentum up things […]

Apr
10

BE SLACKER BETTER

By | Blog

The other day I found myself looking over my wife’s shoulder as she viewed a clip on line from comedian and TV personality Miranda Hart. Some of you may know her show, “Miranda”. “Turn that up,” I said to Helen, “what did she just say?”. Miranda was talking about life in lockdown and the pressures, […]

Apr
03

WHAT NOW? WHAT NEXT?

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Anika Huizinga   I’m taking a chance here. A chance that you are just far enough into lockdown to be starting to wonder how things might look on the other side. And here’s where that question gets both exciting and scary – it’s going to be different.     Before digging into this thinking any […]

Mar
27

IT IS WHAT IT IS

By | Blog

Woah, what a crazy couple of weeks it has been since I last wrote. This time last week as a principal, I had just made the decision to postpone our school camps, to stop having school assemblies and we were talking about moving the Staffroom into the Hall so that we could all practise the […]

Mar
20

YOU’VE GOT THIS

By | Blog

A day may be a long time in politics, but not as long as a week in a school with a pandemic virus doing the rounds. There’s a lot happening right now, and you as a leader, are right in the middle. .  .  . The adrenaline junkies among us are probably feeling excited, those […]

Mar
13

LANGUAGE CREATES REALITY

By | Blog

I’m not sure who said it first – it seems to be attributed to a whole heap of people including Viviane Robinson, but the statement; “Language Creates Reality”, rings truer with me everyday. Like with a lot of statements or quotes, I tend to twist the meaning slightly to suit my purpose. With this quote […]

Mar
06

SMALL CHANGES WORK

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I did an extraordinary thing last weekend. I rode a 36km mountain bike event. Being in the race wasn’t extraordinary. Several hundred other people did the same. And it wasn’t my time nor the place I came, because it was by far my slowest ever for completing the event. It was by no means my […]