Monday, January 26, 2009

Before school goes back

I have been so fortunate to have a four month break from teaching by taking one term of long service leave that led into the long summer holidays. Looking back I know I really needed the break. I learnt so much during my time off, through my PLN, but the main thing has been the time to indulge in activities that add balance to my life. Being able to go to the gym more often, starting to go bushwalking and since January 1, the participation in the 365 photo project have been so important. My participation in the project was inspired by Bud Hunt and Dean Shareski, who talked about “seeing mindfully” and “I know I shoot way better photos, look for great lighting, interesting angles and simply appreciate the world around me”. I see that happening to me too.
I have started a blog, 365 Countdown, to record this.

I spent heaps of time cleaning up after years of ignoring the state of my house and not realizing how important it is to my mental wellbeing to have a clean and tidy house. I have loved getting to know about Flylady as a way of approaching managing my house and seeing how important it is not to let work get in the way of this. I know that in setting goals and ideals we often try to be really idealistic, and my children look at the clean house and the menu for the week posted on the fridge and knowingly say to each other “it won’t last”, but I feel I’m in a much better place than I have been in the past, whatever happens.

Last night I was fortunate enough to listen to a few sessions of Educon 21 and heard a discussion moderated by Chris Lehmann on “Building Systems And Structures Around What You Believe”
. The description of the session is: “The myth of the single teacher, bucking the odds to be that one great teacher in a school may make for a great Hollywood movie, but it rarely -- if ever -- leads to lasting, effective change. We must examine the manner in which our schools and classrooms are set up so that the greatest number of students, teachers and even principals can thrive and learn and feel valued. This session is focused on looking at institutional change, so that attendees can explore what they value and then examine the systems in their districts, schools and classrooms that must change to reflect those values.” Chris asked: What are the values you would want to be embedded in your classroom and/or school? The collated responses are here.

It made me realize that as part of a new school (only two years old) I will have a chance to have some influence on what the values might be for the school. One of the gifts I take away from my previous school is the knowledge of the Learner profile of the International Baccalaureate Organisation. This learner profile “provides a long-term vision of education. It is a set of ideals that can inspire, motivate and focus the work of schools and teachers, uniting them in a common purpose.”
The Learner Profile states that IB learners strive to be:
  • Inquirers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Open-minded
  • Caring
  • Risk-takers
  • Balanced
  • Reflective
I think this is a great description of the values that I would like to see embedded in my classroom and hopefully the school. I must say that I am looking forward immensely to starting at my new school and to continuing my learning journey with my PLN on twitter, plurk and flickr to name a few. I am looking forward to a return visit to NECC in Washington DC in June. I am so grateful for so many opportunities, and look forward to a great 2009.

Image credit: 'Tree toss1'


  1. I'm going to check out flylady Jo. Think I need better organisation on the home front to make me feel more in command of things. You sound very at ease in this post. I'm hoping to get to NECC too - would be lovely to see you there.

  2. I'm glad that flylady is working for you as well, Jo.

    Carolyn (my wife) got onto it a while back and it really has changed the way we manage the house.

    All the best with the first day tomorrow. I hope it is a good start for you.

  3. Hi Jo,
    Best wishes for your first week at a new school - I'm sure it will be a special time.
    Earlier today I was reading this post where David Hamilton also talks about the IB Learner Profile. You may have read it already as it was mentioned on Twitter.

  4. It is clear that your time off gave you the opportunity to focus on things of importance. So often we get bogged down by daily work that we lose sight of our goals and what we could be. Thanks for sharing your experience - it is an inspiration to me to relook at my own situation.

  5. Hopefully we can spend some time together at NECC.

  6. Hi Jo
    I wish I'd met flylady at the start of the holidays. I've been decluttering too but I don't think flylady does the shed or the garage.
    I hope you have a great year in your new school. It is exciting starting in a new place.

  7. What a wonderfully self-reflective post Jo. You certainly seem to have got a lot out of your Long Service Leave. Thanks for the link to the Flylady - I am going to check it out as I am constantly overwhelmed by the disorganisation in my house, especially during term time.

    Hope you have a great return to school.

  8. It is clear that your time off gave you the opportunity to focus on things of importance. So often we get bogged down by daily work that we lose sight of our goals and what we could be.

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  10. Sounds like Flylady has really helped you out. Maybe I will need to check it out to get some management for myself. The Learner Profile it sounds like it could be very effective on the common ground at schools, to get them inspired and motivate the schools.