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Monday, November 29, 2010

Back on track

It's about time I got back up and noted some thoughts about life in general.
The last few weeks have been torrid for me, to say the least.
But all is on the bright side.
They say you have to go through the bad times to make the most of the good. Well I am excited about the time ahead and intend making my own luck in getting the good out of it.
I am getting back into something I really cherish - working with kids and making a positive difference for them.
I have made a definite pledge to change my lifestyle and I am confident this in itself will have a more positive affect on family and friends.
In all I am going to be the old true to myself Fletch again - fun, vitality and honesty.
Thanks to those who have stood by me during this challenging year - your aroha will not be forgotten.
I guess this movie clip hits the nail on the head where I am at in my next steps in life.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Joy of Teaching

I have been very fortunate of late to witness some outstanding teaching in action. This time of the year we tend to focus on the appraisal of our teachers and to look in depth at the outcomes for our students.
Our teachers are amazing in how they can be so creative, innovative and caring in their approach to the learning needs of our kids.
When the end in mind is about the kids then the result is a wonderful learning environment. I take my cap off to these teachers for their dedication and down right hard work in providing the platform for the kids of today to learn so well.
Teachers are in competition with TV, video games and the out and about activity that is so prevalent out there. Its a consumer world and so often it is targeted at the new generation.We may wonder why kids would want to do Maths and Reading? But they do!
These teachers have stepped up to the plate and have provided very engaging learning activities so the students are able to learn at their personal optimum. It's wow factor!
As an observer of the intensity teachers are subjected to in the five hours of full on student interaction in the school day you can only have admiration for their commitment. No wonder they need a break every 10 weeks. It would be easier being a taxi driver in the heart of the New York CBD?
The point I am making is that although we strive for the best possible scenario in our schools, and for our own kids, it is totally reliant on those teachers that are prepared to commit their heart and soul to the profession. Thank heavens we have these wonderful people in front of our children.
We will be coming up to some tough political times in the near future - lest we forget that our future is in the hands of our kids and the teachers that shape their learning attitude and aptitude. If that is done well then the altitude is no problem.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friends in need are true friends

I must admit I have been rather skeptical about blogging as a communication tool.I have often wondered if anybody actually reads the stuff you ramble on about.I myself do read others blogs as I find this expands my thinking and offers valuable reflection about certain issues but who would take time to read the mumbo jumbo I go on about at times?
Well I have realised that the cyberworld out there is not as cold as it may seem.
I let my true feelings leak out in my last post(a bit red of me) and low & behold several friends of the past have e-mailed/ skyped me to check up on my state of being. Wow - the power of online thinking has shown its value. These wonderful people have not only installed my faith in what matters when it comes to being an educator but also in my own belief that genuine believers in our quest for making a positive difference for kids is so important.A special thanks to those who did make contact for polishing my faith and being there when it really mattered. I feel much stronger for the encouraging words you relayed to me.
I guess this experience has presented me with another valuable realisation. We hear & read so much how our kids are into the online environment (Face book) etc and we elders(so called digital immigrants) have at times questioned the value of this. Well if they can obtain the immediate moral support and thoughtfulness I got then it has to be plus. Who needs to experience total loneliness or despair if you have others on hand at a fingertip. Maybe we are underestimating the value of this environment for future generations?
Anyway my faith in blogging has been boosted and I as a result also my faith in why I need to make sure we are strong in our resolve to bat for the kids. What we may lose today may well be a gain for them tomorrow! Thanks for the tonic my friends....

Monday, August 2, 2010

Trust in change?

I am at home at the moment feeling pretty grotty with a good dose of flu. I have had enough lying down so thought I might try and stir up the brain cells to see if that makes me feel any better.
When you have lots of time to think about the issues that surround you one seems to have more clarity. I guess when you are running on the hoof the other things spring up and cloud the depth of your thoughts.
An issue I am grappling with at the moment is dealing with change and how others react to this. Lately there has been a lot of change, not only in my personal life, but especially in my professional undertakings.
It is very interesting, and sometimes perplexing, to see how people react to change.
From the advent of the National Standards to the changing of expectations of people in contributing to the good will of the school community certain people react in strange ways.
I see some who immediately throw up their hands in horror and seek devious ways to destroy those who are responsible for making the change.
Others huddle in groups of common fear and mutter to each other hoping a ground swell will rise up and wash it all away.
Thankfully those who are reflective and have the best interests of kids learning in-hand, take time to juggle the pros & cons and then come back with possible solutions.
Its all about trust I guess.
When people see their way of life or doing things fade away then it is understandable to think they would put up a fight and that the person who is instrumental in this change is the bad guy.But unfortunately I am seeing in society that the depth in reasoning doesn't go beyond that.It's an 'about me' agenda.
We are going through an era of intense change - if we are not reflective,adaptable or willing to offer positive ideas for the good of all then we are making the fight that much more disagreeable. As it is said 'we can beg to disagree but no need to be disagreeable'
It is great to see in the next generation that will soon be the adults of today they are prepared to look at change and make it work for them. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In the meantime I guess if one wants to keep the ball rolling for the future good of most then one has to expect the odd bounce smacking you in the head!
I guess if you believe you are turning the wheel on the bus in the right direction for the good of most the journey will work out at the last stop. They may be nervous about the trip but if they trust the driver then it will be worthwhile.
Now do I feel any better for writing this?
Ok I guess - as long as I don't end up like the Eskimo fishing?
Of course I do - now what else can I go and think about....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Being in 'The Zone'

I have been reflecting of late about my own ability to help and inspire others. One thing I have felt about my self being is that I am certainly in a better place physically and psychologically than I was, a few months ago.
To be of support to anyone else you need to be in a healthy place yourself. This is being in 'the zone'. Sportspeople and high achievers often refer to this term when they know they are performing at their best. But it doesn't take much to slip just out side this positive aura.
During the months before I had my knee reconstruction I was in considerable pain and as a result felt exhausted, demotivated and intolerant of trivia. I also felt it difficult to focus my mind on the important aspects of my career and personal life. I guess I was of little value to others at this time because I was so consumed with my own challenges.
Lately this has improved. I feel a greater peace and resilience within, and am finding the will to face the harder aspects of life with greater awareness and zest.
To be able to keep in this zone for most of the time I guess is one of the secrets to effective leadership [and being a good husband & father].
My goal for the next few months is to ensure I uplift my personal health and well being so I can more readily support others as well, in their life challenges. This will be a test of my self belief, as during the past year or so I have dug myself into some unruly habits and developed some cyncial perspectives. I need to kick out of these. 
I guess I need to get on the right bus now and look around for some positive, optimistic people to journey with. Herein lies the success of my venture into the future. Don't wish me luck as I am ready to make my own but if you have a helpful hint please feel free to push it my way.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Loser or Winner

I was discussing with a group of senior students about the desire to achieve and be a successful learner. It was interesting how some of them found reasons, almost excuses,why they could not reach their true potential.
I shared this little list below with them. I was given this many years ago by a notable rugby coach and academic, I had the pleasure to be associated with in my growing years [Carwyn James].Carwyn was a great thinker and an up front bloke when it came to looking at yourself. He used to say is the problem with you or is it with what you do. If either is the case then you can do something about it!
This is the list and it was framed around being a winner which if you have any inkling of who Carwyn was - he certainly knew what it was to achieve.
Losers procrastinate
Losers see a problem in every answer
Losers make mistakes and live with them
Losers spend time on trivia
Losers grumble about the past
Losers say.. but we’ve always done it this way

Winners make commitments
Winners see an answer in every problem
Winners make mistakes and learn by them
Winners make time for the important tasks
Winners look for opportunity in the future
Winners say... there must be a better way!

So as you see - if you don't achieve then the problem may lie in your attitude.

'Attitude gives aptitude & altitude'

Monday, June 7, 2010

Common sense response to Nat Stds

I came across this video clip and it clearly sums up where my thinking is with the debate. As I have reiterated on several occasions lately we have to view the Nat Stds as part of the learning & teaching process - not as the end product. By having this approach we will surely keep focussed on what really matters - the purposeful learning for our kids.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Leadership as a servant?

Leadership is a challenging but rewarding role. I am currently working with the student school leaders at MBS (our Waveriders).
These 13 year old young adults have such wonderful potential and take on the leadership mantle with commendable thought and commitment.
We had a discussion the other day about the qualities of leadership and why it is important we do have leaders in our community.
We all agreed Leaders need courage. They should be thoughtful risk takers and have a strong belief in what they are striving to achieve. Most importantly though they must be prepared to serve the community. This was an interesting thought for them to process as they had the idea that the group, team or community should be at their beck and call.
I guess this is where many leaders do fall by the wayside. They forget that to truly lead you are the servant of your followers first and foremost.
We are sharing the book 'Peter Blake- leader' and it is a driving point in this that Peter Blake was of this ilk.

When we looked at some of our leaders within our national perspective some did not match up to this where as others it was glaringly obvious.
Incidentally we talked about Anne Tolley - she was way out of kilter. Yet John Key and Ritchie McCaw seemed to have nailed it (as the kids said)
I have taken this stance in my own Leadership during the past 5 years to be the servant of my team yet still show the ability to make the tough calls when need be.
It took an upheaval in my life to assist this shift. Before this I had fallen into the false belief because I had position I should be followed and obeyed.
Where did that come from?
I guess it could be easy to do when you have too much power and do not self reflect.
Anyway we are involved in the Red Sock day and are offering our Waverider service to the wider community. These students are learning the value of being a true leader and I am sure will prove their potential in the near future.
In the meantime Waverider 1 is certainly gaining a lot of inner satisfaction in being part of the team. check our the Waverider challenge at the Adventure Forest.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I have had several experiences during the past week where people I have been involved with - young and vintage - have made errors in their life.
It is interesting how we view the mistakes made by others especially when it affects us personally.
An attitude we try to install at MBS is that these should be viewed as mis-takes. If you stuff up then be proactive in making amends and rectifying it. But most importantly learn by the experience and try not to repeat it.
Yes, sometimes it takes us several "takes' to get it right but at least we are accepting ownership of the problem and showing an awareness that if we don't learn by it then there may be a consequence.
So often, especially with adults, we do not hear that little word "sorry" and the recognition that I will take ownership of my actions. The blame factor sets in and it must be the fault of somebody else.
That could may well be.Outside or past influences can affect your judgement or response but in the end it is you who has to deal with that and take responsibility for how you react.
When kids learn this at an early age they tend to address life in a much more positive way and develop better as future citizens.
What is important is that we give others the chance to address the issue and make good of it.
In the adult world unfortunately we are very quick to seek & destroy rather than have empathy or compassion. No wonder our young adults and high profile performers of today end up taking alternative solutions to solving the problems of their world. They were not taught to take responsibility initially, find their own solution and see if they could make good.
Hopefully the next generation coming through will deal with such things more thoughtfully and with greater resolve.
From a personal viewpoint the experiences I have had have reminded me that it is the 'man in the mirror' who is really responsible for what happens in his journey through life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Forgive an old fellas reflection ?

It is interesting the expectations others have of you.
As a son, father, Principal or even as one in the vintage years.
I have spent most of my life striving to please the expectations of others. My own parents had high expectations despite the disability I had as a youngster. Upon honest reflection it probably did me no harm other than overshadow my own thoughts & apsirations of what I really wanted as a growing individual.In their ill founded intention they probably strengthened my resolve in taking on the challenges of life.
I was fortunate to be successful in my rugby playing days but because I had the skills & determination I ended up quite often being the captain of the team. This brought on new responsibility - you just couldn't play the game you really wanted to because you had to consider others - you had to be a role model. This can affect your approach to the game & to life.
As a young Principal (at 35 years old) this was also a challenge. I am not one of those who lives by the book or to the rules of others. I believe in my own intuitive principles of life ( founded on those of a good Christian upbringing). Yes some are debatable and some not so. But I believe being yourself is the most valuable asset you can have - as long as you do not harm anyone else.
As a son & father this again can be a challenge. I have a belief that love is not conditional and that your close ones should except you for who you are. If they try to change you then that it is time to move on and make your own way.
When you are heading towards the last years of your value in society I would like to think that you can do as you please and say what you like because you have been through the mire of life. Of course without causing undue harm to others.
I certainly listen & value my elders when they kick off on a tangent. Unfortunately we are losing this right of freedom in our society. Those that have the power, influence or the money think they know it all- pity because we will all will lose out in the end.
On a positive note I spent some time talking with a few of our Year 8 's ( 12 year olds) at MBS today. Wow - no problems there. They showed respect and understanding - they were willing to learn.
So old fella - maybe the world is changing with the next generation. If I have anything to do with it - it will!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Disco moment

Sometimes it takes a simple moment of realization to plant your feet back on the ground.
Last Friday evening I ( with my wonderful team of Waveriders- our Yr8 student leaders) put on a disco for the students throughout the whole school. It was a buzz. Yes it was hard work setting it all up and the night was full on but the rewards were huge.
I am not talking about financial reward ( but this certainly helps) I am referring to the interactions I had with the students and their parents. The building of these informal bonds during an occasion like this certainly has a powerful influence in the perception others have of you.
It is far more reaching than the newsletters, assemblies or parent information evenings.
To sit and chat with the students or their parents, who dropped in to see how it was all going, gave me the opportunity to discuss a number of varied issues and thoughts. The neat thing about it is was that the environment was a totally positive one. The feel good was already established so the communication came from a positive platform.
Many parents thanked me for my hard work and thoughtfulness for the kids.This was motivating as you don't get this direct feedback very often as a Principal.
Most importantly the opportunity to cement a relationship of trust & respect with the students was on offer. I took this to the max and I know it will reap reward in the future.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Assessment of the Nat Standards ?

Had an interesting day today and it revolved around assessment. I attended the APPA breakfast meeting to hear how we as Principals are intending to bring the Government to its knees over the Nat std debacle.[ lol]
Somehow I think we have missed the boat on this one. The river is flowing too swiftly and in my humble opinion I think it would be best to get on with making them work to our benefit. Let's use our knowledge & nous as educators and shape the silver chalice so that it provides the very best for our kids.
It can be done & if we can take the initiative away from the politicians. We can then make a positive difference. No good battling against the walls & having the boiling oil poured down on us from above. Let's undermind the ivory towers and bring them to a level that we can climb over & make headway into the future. I intend to be proactive on this one not reactive. We need to get our communities behind us and then make the changes as we see fit. At the moment the Minister has the backing from parents and we are paddling against the flow.
Later in the day my curriculum leadership team & I met with colleagues from Red Beach to hear & share where we are heading with assessment & reporrting to parents. Wonderful ideas evolved and I felt really positive we are heading in a very purposeful direction. We all viewed the Nat stds as a slight add on to be considered in our own developments. We are making them work for us - not the vice versa. It was so inspiring to sit down and chew over the issues with positive, clear thinkers who had the kids in mind.It is amazing how easy it is to comprehend the value of it all & place the whole circus in perspective. Yes there are flaws in the Nat stds & our assessment tools - but if we provide clarity & honesty to the stakeholders involved then what's the issue ?
I was thinking as we worked through our session today - what a pity the MOE/ Anne Tolley/and the knockers in education couldn't sit down as we were and say " Lets make this pigs ear into a purse!"
I am looking forward to when we report to our parents using the new format( with a Nat Stds flavour). I am certain we will only enhance our our community image. How good can that be !

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back on line

It has been some time since I have added to my own blog. I have been perusing the many blogs of colleagues & educators who are out there and find when I come back to my own I have expended my thinking.
However it is worthwhile contributing to fellow learners blogs as it can reinvent your own perspective by adding a thought or two.
I have been through a challenging time during the past year and I guess due to this I have kept much of my thought & feelings internally or just shared in the good old fashion way - face to face.
I guess a major realization that has smacked me in the face during the past trying times has been how fickle people & their organisations can be when it affects them directly.
One point in case here would be the Ministry of Education. I was under the naive impression ( and those that know me may not comprehend I could be naive??) - tongue in cheek guys- Yes I was under the impression the MOE were on this planet to serve the good of education and the many schools and Principals in this country. This is not the feeling I get.
They have lost their way in a political quagmire and the least of their worries is what is best for kids and teachers. It is a great shame because not that many years ago there was a healthy relationship between schools & the MOE. Now it's a blood out of the stone situation and as a leader of dedicated learners I wonder why bother with them.
The other body I am struggling to cope with at the moment is Principal groups. Some are evolving into self minded, egotistical blowhard buddy groups that feed off each other for recognition and self satisfaction. A little bit like the MOE I guess. Again what a shame - you don't hear much about what is good for the kids at these meetings anymore. The dialogue is overshadowed by how will MY school (not our wider community) be affected - because what happens will reflect on me. Oh let's get overselves!
Ok stop there Dave - you have vented enough. Not all is bad.
There are some really amazing people out there in schools making a fabulous difference to teaching & learning - and ultimately what happens for kids. This is where my mind is now and I feel great about it.
Thanks to Luke, Sarah & Derek for your blogs that keep me level minded about what really matters as an educator.
On a lighter note I am having fun in my own sandpit at the moment - check us out- and following my knee reconstruction feel 5 years younger. So watch this space - I am buzzing!