Some flames scar and others allow me to bask in their warmth.

Lana often reminds us that “from fire comes light” and I find this reassuring when voicing an opinion that is different to some of the dominant voices. Knowing it’s okay to question and disagree is like having a fire extinguisher on hand when the flames get too fierce. But sometimes I feel burned by that fire and this makes me question my role and my ideas in both positive and negative ways. Sometimes the burn is a first degree and I recover quickly. But some burns are third degree which leave lifelong scars. Some scars have changed me for the better. Some scars have made me feel unsafe around fire.

Some fires are so fast moving they leave little time to prepare and respond, consuming everything in it’s path, from which some never fully recover.
Other fires are slow burning and productive, clearing out the undergrowth, making space for regeneration.

My wonderings this week are:
How do I respond to the flames that give 3rd degree burns?
How do I respond to the toxic smoke that I feel is choking me at times?
Do I distance myself from the fire completely?
How do I develop fire resistant skin?
Am I too sensitive? Should I care less?
What’s my role when the fires are burning?

Some fire-starters think I’m trying to put the fire out. That’s not my intention at all. My instinct is to assess the ferocity of the flames and prevent third degree burns for myself and others. I know sometimes I do bring too big an extinguisher and then I realise the fire is being contained in other ways and put it away.

Some flames scar and others allow me to bask in their warmth.

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Big Ideas People

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Big Ideas People

“The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway” The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr KM Keith

I came across this quote the other morning and a part of me cringed and another part of me smiled in acknowledgment. At times in my professional life I have been a woman with a small minded approach.

I collaborate with a variety of colleagues who are more big idea thinkers than I am. I also come across big ideas people in my PLN. I no longer shoot down big ideas. If the big idea seems too big for our context/ circumstances I now look for a way to take the essence of the big idea and adapt it to the context.
Big ideas now excite me. Big ideas have led to many interesting, sometimes surprising discoveries and great moments in my teaching and in my students’ learning.

I have always been a reflective person but I am even more so now. Because of the insights and successes I have had from taking the time to notice and reflect and then take action from this, I am learning more and more and more.

Tuesday is a unit planning session – bring on the big ideas!

Drama is powerful for learning…

On Friday, we were lucky to have a drama expert come in and run workshops with each class. The aim of these sessions was to introduce and explore the concept of “systems”, provoke thinking, develop understanding and to have fun.

“What did you notice about the different systems you made today?”

Following the drama session, we had a quick chat about what they had noticed. I was blown away by the depth of their understanding of systems that resulted from the different tasks.

On Monday I decided to try a new thinking routine “One word, phrase and sentence” to assess individual understanding of systems following Friday’s drama provocation. Once we had clarified the difference between a phrase and a sentence they got on with it. Wow! Drama is definitely a great way to explore concepts and build conceptual understanding!!

This is how a few different students responded to the thinking routine:
Max
Word: systems
Phrase: parts rely on each other
Sentence: The parts rely on each other to make the system work.

Jake M
Word:Systems
Phrase:need parts to work other things
Sentence:A system needs parts to work with other parts to make something.

Lara:
Word: systems
Phrase: connected parts
Sentence: All the parts connect and then they work all together.

Cassie:
Word: system
Phrase: depending on each other
Sentence: Every part of a system relies on each other to be able to work properly.

I rarely use drama as I feel “unqualified” to run a session, but after observing and participating in this session I have realised the power that drama has for promoting learning. I also realised that not using drama is depriving learners who learn in this way of an opportunity to build conceptual understanding. Finally, I also realised that I don’t need to be an expert. All I need to be able to do is give clear instructions and hand over to the kids.

7 Reasons I’m not as successful as I could be… food for thought.

7 Reasons You’re not as Successful as you could be.

I came across a link to this post on Twitter and reading the 7 reasons, I was able to reflect on each and acknowledge which had held me back in the past and which are still holding me back in some areas of my professional life at present (personal too).

1. You do a lot of thinking without acting.
Thinking is good but I’ve realised many, many times, that’s not enough. I regularly remind my students,
“Thinking about what you need to do or should do is not the same as taking action/ doing it”. However, action without thought is not ideal either (unless you are in a life or death moment and instinct takes over). Enough thinking is important before one acts – knowing and understanding helps one to find an appropriate plan of action that takes into account all the stakeholders, the logistics and the purpose.

2. Your creative mind is completely unfocused.
“Often self-imposed constraints or boundaries force you to think differently about challenges.” Now this might seem like a contradiction but it’s not. Marc points out that “complete freedom makes the possibilities endless, but keeps your efforts scattered and unfocused.” I have observed this occasionally in planning a unit – free thinking is good initially as some wonderful ideas enter the discussion, but eventually we have to establish the scope of the inquiry and limit creativity to fall within that scope or the inquiry becomes unmanageable within the time frame. Marc explains that “boundaries force one to get creative inside the box” – thinking outside the box is not always the way to come up with creative solutions.

3. You are focusing too much on fears and defeats.
I still struggle with this one. The discomfort, embarrassment, tension and emotions of a previous
“failure” or upsetting interaction can be triggered and this holds me back for a while. I have to work through the emotion, see the learning in it and set up a plan of action for managing it should it arise again.

4. Your expectations are crushing you.
I can relate to this one big time! People have stated that I am a perfectionist – I disagree. What I am is, committed to doing everything I choose to do to the best of my ability within a reasonable time frame.I feel that if you are going to do something, it’s worth doing well. I also live my life believing that if you commit to doing something, then you do it or you inform the other people concerned that it’s not possible. You don’t pretend to do it or forget about it. My problem is that sometimes I choose to do too much – I set too many goals or take on too much in addition to what is already expected of me (my own and other people’s expectations) –sometimes because I’m interested in doing it and sometimes because I’m asked/ told.

5. You are distracted from your core goals.
See number 4. I can get distracted because others require me to focus on something else as part of my role as Learning Team Leader, or because I feel obliged to focus on something else or I feel I should be focusing on something else or life happens.

6. You are playing it too safe.
I am guilty of this one too, partly because I think it will be too hard or I don’t think I will be successful and partly because I can’t visualise it and so have no idea how to proceed. Fear and defeat sometimes play a role in deciding what’s possible too. But I have learned from experience that I don’t always need to know how to proceed – others will and I can tag along till I do know.

7. You have been resisting forgiveness.
This has been one of the hardest for me to overcome – at times I have been misunderstood, misjudged and and presumed guilty before being given a chance to explain my perspective on a situation. My assertiveness has been mistaken for aggression, my questioning has been interpreted as negativity, my knowledge has made people feel threatened and my strength has been used against me to protect the “innocent”. When people make major assumptions about me that are not true, when colleagues view current actions through the lens of the past – that is devastating for me. I find myself thinking that the only way I can get away from this limited, out of date perception of me is to take everything I have learned about myself and put into action in my professional life and start fresh. Then people will see me for whom I have become – the person I am today.

Forgiving people who treat me in this way is not easy because the trust has been broken. I have managed to forgive some but have a way to go with others. I am hoping I will be able to forgive them as I hope they will be able to forgive any transgressions on my part. Trusting people and feeling safe in a team is much preferred and is essential for happiness in the workplace. Forgiveness, Marc describes, is “the process of acceptance and understanding that allows you to let go of a situation that’s over so you can move on”. When I have forgiven it has been very empowering and has created room for a new improved, more enjoyable working relationship to develop.

I am a work in progress and am mostly enjoying the journey of discovering myself professionally.