Dec
02

Unruly Lists

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Photo by Thomas Bormans  How’s your list going? You know the one – the one with all the stuff you have to get done before the end of Term. I’m currently finding mine is tricky to control. Even if I beat it with a metaphorical stick, it still seems to fight my need for order. […]

Nov
25

Ctrl Alt Del part 2

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  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog piece about the reset buttons on a computer, Ctrl Alt Del. I thought they were a useful way of looking at your own reset when finding yourself in troubled waters in your school. Term Four is the term where everything comes towards you at mindboggling […]

Nov
18

Tempting Fate

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Photo by Casey Horner  A fortnight ago I wrote about the privilege of going on a school camp and the fact that even though it left me well behind with other important work, I didn’t care – it was worth it. Sitting here 14 days later, I’m reflecting that I may have tempted fate with […]

Nov
11

Ctrl Alt Del

By | Blog

  Ok, so it’s been a few weeks now. And to be honest I was hoping that maybe over time the feeling would’ve seeped away and that maybe, just maybe, I’d have pulled on my big boy’s pants and just gotten over it. But I haven’t. Gotten over it I mean. I’m talking about the […]

Nov
04

School Camp

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  I’m just  back from camp. Four days with our Year 8s in the beautiful but wild Arthur’s Pass deep in the Southern Alps. It rained day and night for the entire time we were there. Not wimpy east coast rain either, but real hose like, soaking, proper rain. And it didn’t matter, because the […]

Oct
28

Letter to Myself Revisited

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Photo by Ridwan Meah  You’ve made it through the first couple of weeks of term. Some of you are beginning Surplus Staffing processes, some of you are fending off complaints, some of you are walking along the appointment tightwire, some of you are arguing dollars in the budget cycle, and some are just finding it […]

Oct
21

Bin The Pile Early This Year

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  If you would like a guaranteed way to feel mentally ‘lighter’ in less than an hour, try scheduling 60 minutes of work-based decluttering next week. All you have to do is block out 1 hour in your diary and devote it to; Deleting any openly displayed piles of paper in and around your office […]

Sep
30

Knowing Yourself

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Photo by Önder Örtel In a complex, often demanding job like ours, everyone has times when things get a little ‘wobbly’. This is true for newbies and 20 year veterans alike. The trick is to recognise it happening as early as possible and then lean hard into the stuff that creates your own wellness. What […]

Sep
23

Keeping it Simple

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We’re now well and truly into the busyness of Term. We’ve got nine 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 with […]

Sep
16

Feeling Creatures That Think

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Photo by Milad Fakurian It’s 7am and we’re in a van convoy (well 2 vans going the same way) of local principals heading to the NZPF Annual Conference. We’ve got a two hour drive ahead of us and people are beginning to settle into the early rhythm of this adventure. There are multiple conversations starting.  […]

Sep
09

Flourish

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Last week I found myself getting ready to write my blog. I was on school camp, at the base of Mt Hutt. I’d snuck away from the energy and locomotion of the 32 Yr 7 and 8’s and set up my laptop outside on a deck overlooking the Canterbury plains. The evening had an early […]

Aug
26

Critical Mass

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. “The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.” Paulo Coelho author   There’s truth and power in those words. As an aspirational 40 Hour Principal how you do your job has an impact on others. And from the 40 Hour Project perspective, the others I’m talking about are your colleagues. When you […]

Aug
19

Super Vision

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. I’ve never been a big fan of the two words Supervisor and Supervision.  Whether I look at the official definition or not they still both leave me with an authoritarian overseer feel about things. Like you’re been watched and well, you know, supervised. For me there’s an emotive judgment to the word that suggests […]

Aug
12

Perhaps the Swivelly Chair is Too Comfortable

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  There’s a great kids movie called Wall-E that came out a few years ago. It’s one of those early Pixar animated films that actually has a story line. It’s 2085 and the world is a mess. Humanity has abandoned the (broken) earth and for generations has been travelling through space looking for a new […]

Aug
05

The Red Umbrella

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Photo by Alessandra Caretto    Around the corner of the building ran Brian. “Mr Zee, Mr Zee!” he yelled in a frantic tone. Each “Mr Zee” sounding more and more urgent and concerning. Me, being the Mr Zee in question, well I couldn’t avoid these cries. It was the end of the day, well, the […]

Jul
29

To Teach or Not to Teach – That is the Question

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Photo by Vladislav Babienko I have a growing feeling that the next few weeks are going to be huge. There’s a weird sort of vibe in the wider cosmos and I have a suspicion that winter needs to make way for something better – quickly. I don’t know how things are looking in your particular […]

Jul
08

Avalanche Peak

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  In Arthur’s Pass you’ll find a number of amazing walks. Some take you further into the mountains, up the mountains, over the mountains and down into the valleys on the other side. These walks in New Zealand are called tramps. One of my favourites is up a very steep mountain side called Avalanche Peak. […]

Jul
01

Admin Costs

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Photo by Sear Greyson As you read this, here in New Zealand we will be celebrating the appearance of the star cluster we call Matariki. These stars can be seen at mid-winter and using the Māori lunar calendar, mark the start of a new year. A new year is always a perfect time to take […]

Jun
17

Hope

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  . On the way to work, when I’m feeling particularly naughty, I do the adult equivalent of a kid dawdling to school. I take the long way. In Timaru there is never a long way to anywhere, so I have to be a little creative Maybe this is a form of procrastination, but it […]

Jun
10

You are Not Short of Time

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Photo by Lukas Blazek  Time, the most precious gift and the one thing that we can’t replenish – when it’s gone, it’s gone. Each of us gets 168 hours every week. You, me, and Elon Musk got exactly the same amount last week, and each of us used it differently. I don’t know about you […]

Jun
03

Covid Crush

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. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece that said when I get sad I get awesome.  Well, I try to at least.  And in the article I encouraged leaders to go out and find their “awesome trigger” – that thing that fires the belly! For me, my awesome trigger is finding something […]

May
28

Expectations

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. It’s been a while since this blog kicked off – 25 July 2019 to be precise when we published a post by Steve called, “Leave it At the Gate”. Every Friday of Term time since then we’ve pushed out some thoughts to people such as yourself somewhere in the multiverse. Mid 2019 . . […]

May
20

The Awesome Trigger

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. Someone said at the end of last week … “Man, it’s been a long term!”. Yes at that stage we were only two weeks into the Term, and yes, that someone was me, but yup, it had been a long term already. Three weeks in and I’m already looking for my awesome trigger. Awesome […]

May
13

Chasing Perfection

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Photo by Vitolda Klein Luckily, I’m a teacher not a builder. I say this because while I’d love a new Ford Ranger (with EV stickers on it), I’d be so slow in my job that I couldn’t afford to run it. Why? Because I’ve realised I’ve got a problem – I like projects to be […]

May
06

Epic

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. Have we been looking at this all wrong? I’ve been sitting at my keyboard for quite a while now. Waiting for inspiration to hit and for the words to begin to fly from my fingers. I’ve got this feeling that I want to write something epic! That I need to write something epic. Something […]

Apr
15

Advice to Your (Younger) Self

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Photo by Fran on Unsplash We’ve all been younger versions of the person we are today. And most of us have been younger versions of the principal we are today. These two things are linked but not the same. Unless you are very young (and hence not likely to be a principal) there’s a lot […]

Apr
08

The Hardest Sentence Is The First One

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. The other day I found myself daydreaming. Or maybe it was procrastinating. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to tell. I was about to pick up the phone and have a difficult conversation with a parent. They’d already rung and told me they weren’t happy with something, and I’d told them “calmly” that I’d be […]

Apr
01

Even a Zoom Has Possibility

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. There are plenty of tough bits in school leadership right now, but there are also gems of goodness that are shining through and need to be kept and built on as we move past the current challenges and onto the inevitable new ones. .   .   . Somewhat perversely, one of the perennial difficulties that […]

Mar
25

Now

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. Anyone who knows me even a little bit will be able to tell you that I love music. And I love lyrics. Both talk to me in a way that most things don’t. And when I grow up I want to be a rock star. I’ve been waiting to grow up for a very […]

Mar
18

A Sense of Waiting

By | Blog

Photo by Aren Nagulyan It’s been another interesting week to be a 40 Hour Principal. And as usual, the challenge is partly around the doing, and partly around the mental load of juggling too many balls at the same time. But there’s also another challenge that is becoming more and more evident in conversation with […]

Mar
11

The Mask

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. Now that our lives seem so dependent on wearing a mask every day and in almost every location, it got me thinking about the many masks, metaphorically, that we wear in our role. A mask is something that is there to protect and hide. Covid N95 masks protect us from the dreaded lurgy and […]

Mar
04

Perspective Changes Everything

By | Blog

Photo by Nadine Shaabana (For those who would rather listen to this post, the 4 minute podcast is below.) It’s been a hell of a week for troubling news. Floods, war, pestilence – it seems everyone on the planet is experiencing some sort of disaster. At least that’s what you’d think if you skimmed the […]

Feb
25

Doing the Unstuck

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.  Today we have a guest post from Danny Nicholls of Te Matauru School in Canterbury. Some of you might know him for the awesome mahi he does helping administer the NZ Principals’ Facebook page. This week Danny is offering up some very inciteful and timely suggestions for how to move past the present inertia […]

Feb
18

The Uberthinker

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. Save your eyes – instead, try listening to this post at the bottom of this page. Mmmm, so the other day, as I worked through my Business Continuity Plan for the seventeenth time: adding more, making things clearer for the reader/readers, colouring in the blank spaces left by the Ministry’s faint lines …. Trying […]

Feb
11

The Don’t Do List

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. Last week Steve gave you a nice positive To Do List. A week after considering this excellent advice I’m going to give you another way to stay healthy, happy, and hopefully sane. I’m going to call out some things that you shouldn’t do – my plan could well be titled The Don’t Do List. […]

Feb
04

The Lime Thickshake Plan

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. Welcome back everyone! (And before you read another word, you can scroll to the bottom and listen to the post if you prefer.) By the time you read this you will (if you’re reading this in New Zealand) have just about navigated your way through the first week of term. Congratulations! Well done! You’ve […]

Dec
10

Shutting The Door on 2021

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Photo by Lucas Davies   The Forty Hour Project is all about encouraging school leaders to think (and do) differently. To challenge the status quo and to provoke as much “what if” thinking as possible. Well, 2021 didn’t need much provocation. .   .   . Recently, I looked out my office window at the children playing […]

Dec
03

Eight Things You Should Read During The Holidays

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  . Eight things that you should read during the holidays: 1. Everything is F@#ked by Mark Manson …. This is the follow up to his much easier to read, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@#K. It’s a bit of a gruesome read from time to time and there’ll be times when you […]

Nov
26

Deloading is Important

By | Blog

  . Even a hardcore, intentional ‘40 Hour Principal’, is likely to be fully stretched at this time of the year – particularly in this year! We’re in the sprint to the end with a deadline for everything and a lot of other people’s urgency crowding our days. There’s stuff that just simply has to […]

Nov
19

Which Kurī Are You Feeding?

By | Blog

. Woah! I don’t know about you, but recently it has been a bit of a challenge. Ok, so I’m underselling that – it’s been a nightmare. Recently I found myself working with a boy who needed a hand. He had two “go-to” emotions that underpinned all of his own challenges. He was either angry; […]

Nov
12

Humanity Can Be Tricky

By | Blog

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP From a 40 Hour Principal perspective, school leaders in New Zealand are currently operating right out near the middle of a very long tightrope and someone or something keeps giving it a playful shake. We’re not so much ‘leaders of learning’ but rather amateur psychologists with a side specialty in clairvoyance. And […]

Nov
05

Oblique Strategies

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. Last Friday when David published his awesomely simple “The Positivity Button” blog, I found myself with something that hasn’t happened in months. An empty calendar. It was hard to believe.  An empty calendar. Don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty to do, but an empty calendar is pretty rare these days. Unheard of […]

Oct
29

The Positivity Button

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Photo by Moises de Paula Right now we all need a positivity button. In New Zealand, the shifting sand of managing this pandemic is taking its toll. The ‘rules’ change frequently, unpredictably, and quickly. Good people (that’s you) turn themselves inside out trying to lead their schools well in this climate. Lay over the top […]

Oct
22

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

By | Blog

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?

By | Blog

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

By | Blog

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?

By | Blog

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

By | Blog

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

By | Blog

. 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

By | Blog

. “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

By | Blog

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 […]