Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Let's review week 1 (Sunday 3rd January)

This post starts a new habit I am trying to form, where I review my week at the end of each week throughout the year. Its part of a productivity push and in response to many readings where a weekly review is recommended. You can read more about that through a web search. So my plan is to reflect at the end of each week. These reflections will be posted here, simply for a place to store them and review over time. Feel free to read and comment if you can be bothered spending the time doing so.

Week 1:

Significant events - Lifesaving patrol 6 hours Saturday, Surf club (nippers) meeting 2 hours Thursday. Significant events are noted as they will either occupy a significant amount of time or result in tasks to be completed. Noting the significant events is a double up from my calendar but has allowed me to be realistic in what I can achieve during the week.

Goals achieved - Fix something. The fix for the week was a system to stop our dogs from pushing their food bowls off their "tables" when they eat. We use a raised surface to take strain off their necks while eating. This fix will hopefully result in less mess on the floor when they eat.

Goals not achieved - daily yoga (once), 4 cardio sessions (3), 2 strength sessions (none), 2 guitar sessions (none), reading for leisure daily (twice), learn something.

Insights - Having the plan has certainly enabled the review. I remember reading the reviews of another blogger a few years back and trying to implement a similar approach. What I had missed was the plan. The plan I am using has been developed from advice by my supervisors at work. Its an adaptation of a requirement for our faculty plans. If you have any interest you can see the plan template here.

I have been trying to break my dependence on coffee this week. I have done this successfully a couple of years ago so this time around the headaches are not as bad. It has affected my mood, with periods of feeling grumpy.

I also re-started tracking my nutrition for both energy balance and nutrient analysis. Not enough information here to see if there is any impact on my week yet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blogging as an exam - I deem it successful.

Each year, our Year 12 Health Education course completes a blog as an exam. The process is;

  1. I provide a stimulus statement.
  2. They respond to the statement.
  3. They read each other's posts and challenge the arguments of their peers.
  4. They choose one challenge on their post, and respond to that challenge.

Each year I am astounded by the work that they produce, and the engagement they show with the assessment process. Initially the public presentation of an assessment response causes some hesitation (and extra care) in their writing. However once we move to the phase where they can read each other's work and challenge their peers, the intellect really comes to the fore. The requirement to understand the argument of a peer and then challenge them on that argument can only occur through extensive knowledge of the concepts represented in the stimulus statement and the health theories studied throughout the course.

The stimulus statement: The development of independent thinking skills for impaired students in a supported learning environment is significantly more important than the development of self efficacy.

An excerpt of a student response (below) contains reference to a number of health theories as well as the two concepts represented in the stimulus statement.

Independent thinking skills teaches intellectually impaired students how to think rather than what to think (Institute of Education Sciences, 2014). Independent thinking skills help students create meaning, gain an understanding, and therefore enables them to make judgements, good decisions and choices about a task or an issue. Additionally in consequence it is more likely that they would be able to effectively complete the task or solve the issue. The lack of critical thinking skills utilized within the classroom greatly diminishes the students’ chance for success (Irfaner, 2006). Independent thinking skills are one of the hardest things to teach intellectually impaired students as they have deficits in learning, communication, deduction and reasoning skills, decision making and information retrieval. However the development of these independent thinking skills is important as it enables the students to apply their individual knowledge and skills to a new or old task, and therefore to progress to the next level and reach their full potential. This is important as it will enable them to think for themselves and not heavily rely on their support networks for every aspect in their lives.

And a challenge posed to this student was;

You mention that independent thinking skills are needed in order for the students to overcome possible barriers to our failures of tasks but having high self-efficacy assists in overcoming barriers. isn't it more likely that developing self-efficacy is more important than independent thinking skills initially as without it the students could view the challenge as difficulties and change their attitudes towards the task when considering their outcome expectation?

I truly believe the students could not have demonstrated this level of cognition or understanding of theory in a standard exam (single response to a stimulus). And by assessing the quality of the challenges they post as well as the response to the stimulus, then quality challenges result.

Have you tried, or would you be willing, to try a blog as an exam?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Enabling productivity - a selection of tips and tricks

I recently posted about a daily self management strategy I would be trialing. One of the critical aspects was identifying the Most Important Tasks for the day. Recently I lead a collaborative discussion on the challenges faced by HPE Leaders in Leading a department. One of the ideas I shared in the discussion on time management was the concept of the number of most important tasks being equal to or less than the number of spare lessons I had on that day. (Both of these posts are linked below for your reference).

This post will explore more specifically how I decide which tasks become the most important tasks for the day.

Ultimately, I use Evernote to manage two separate task lists, and all the relevant information for the tasks on these lists. I selected Evernote (premium subscription) due to its cross platform capabilities and limitations within my corporate network. Inside my Evernote, I have a notebook entitled "!Actions" that holds the "job list" and "!Today" notes. "Job List" holds every task that is currently required of me. I only access this note to add new tasks or at the end of the day when I complete a daily reflection. "!Actions" holds a checklist of the most important tasks for the day.

To get from "Job List" to "!Actions" is a specific process. I would not be alone in admitting the difficulty that can arise by attempting to prioritise an extensive list into the most important tasks. To achieve this I follow the following processes;

  1. Begin with the end in mind

    This is habit 2 of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Within this habit Covey encourages the development of a personal mission statement (or philosophy or creed). An important step in this is the recognition of the various roles we hold within our lives. My "Job List" categorises tasks into these roles that I hold. For reference I use three roles to categorise my professional life, two roles to categorise community or voluntary contributions, family, and a "special interest" that can hold items that don't fit these categories.

  2. Build a detailed calendar

    Decisions on how many tasks make the most important tasks are easier when all commitments are outlined. These commitments include the commitments of other family members. We each have a shared Google calendar so our commitments are seen by all, however my work calendar is private as the other family members don't need to see my commitments during work hours. As an example a snapshot of Mondays is below. (red = my work, blue = my other, yellow = oldest son)
    I will lose at least 90 minutes to travelling to and from work each day, leaving approximately 4 hours on a Monday to complete tasks off the "Job List" (assuming I get to work at 8am and don't have lunch).

  3. Schedule planning / strategic time

    Too often we prioritise other duties over our own preparation and planning. Have dedicated sessions in your weekly calendar. Personally I don't include any on Mondays as I have found generally I need to proactive in setting faculty processes and procedures in place at the beginning of the week.

  4. Use the "Prioritizer"


    This web tool asks you to enter all the tasks you see as important, then essentially plays them off against each other. It is much easier to determine the more important task out of two options, than a number of options. What results is a list in order of priority. I use this to determine the most important tasks for each day.
What results for me is a succint list that becomes the most important tasks on the "!Today" note. At the end of each day, the "!Today" note becomes a note titled with the date in my "!Completed" notebook. Keeping a scoreboard (acknowledging what you have completed) is just as important as managing the task list focus.

Blog post: Daily self management strategy
Blog post: Leading a department

Saturday, August 16, 2014

ACHPER conference 15 August: Leading a department

The table below is a record of a collaborative discussion on the challenges HPE leaders face in their jobs. Thank you to the group for contributing ideas and discussion around these important issues. It would be interesting to see what any readers think through comments to this post.

Resistant staff - T&L change
provide a solution with the problem
(constructive insubordination)
staff allocation
Contributing to faculty goals
buy in

time to meet
starting with some evidence or policy, then working with group to specify it to your workgroup

lobby admin for strategic time. Think offline options. Google docs, OneNote

open contribution never ends
filtering policy into faculty relevant

specific timelines
Working with staffStrengths based approach (how they contribute)perceptions?(who told you?)
Leadership approach

Know when to stop and recognise successes.

Acknowledging success will have greater results than acknowledging weakness
Professional vs. personal (feedback on performance)you acknowledge the strengths, ask them to acknowledge their opportunities for improvement

Think of a continuum, always room for improvement
Performance feedbacksetting scene

appointments set as "their time" not as a report from a supervisor
Timelimiting tasks per day


delegating (role based, team meetings)

work life balance conceptneed a buy in, they need to see the same purpose / vision

seeing can't instead of don't want to

master job list vs. most important tasks
Preparationupcoming unit materials shared and partner checked before the start of the unit (not HOD check)

Inbox zerofit emails onto one screen
allocated times for emails
Self rewardingdon't focus on the rest of the list, give yourself some sort of reward

think of term timelines in this also, use your holidays as holidays

Rewards available and accessed

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ACHPER conference workshop 14 August

The purpose of this post is to host resources for a workshop on "P-10 Physical Performance Assessment" at the 2014 ACHPER conference.

Workshop handout - https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7GAksV-G0MBWUxHZ0tBTUYtWGM/edit?usp=sharing

Easytag cheat sheet - https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7GAksV-G0MBWVN5UDdhcGdNZW8/edit?usp=sharing

Coach's Eye cheat sheet - https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7GAksV-G0MBbGU4ME1JMDF4WEk/edit?usp=sharing

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Contributing to the profession

In previous posts I have mentioned the concept of Stephen Covey's "true north" principle - that goal or desire held by a person and the alignment of their daily actions to deliver on that goal. One of my true north principles is providing students with quality feedback on their performance. I am fortunate that I can use my association with ACHPER to deliver this message beyond the boundaries of my own school.

However it is my attendance at events coordinated and conducted by other teachers that continues to inform me on my personal practice. Granted not everything I hear will be implemented and become a part of my toolkit, but as the old saying goes "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got." Improvement can only come from trialling new things. I am a busy man, so I only want to trial new things other teachers have already found successful.

In the near future, I will have the opportunity to share some ideas with existing teachers and students studying an education degree. For me, this is an important role that deserves time and attention. I don't expect that anyone will take my ideas and use them, but if I can help just one person provide better feedback to students each time I present (share) then I have been successful.

Negotiation with my principal and own ethics in regards to classroom contact time is a consistent challenge. It is not fair on my students that I do not attend class in favour of sharing with other teachers. When I can the presentations (sharing sessions) are held outside of school hours. At times this is not possible, but it does minimise impact on my own classes.

I urge you, regardless of your intent, find opportunities to listen to other teachers share and find opportunities to share your ideas with others.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Leading statewide curriculum teams.

I am very fortunate to currently be the State Review Panel Chair for Health Education in Queensland. This position allows me to work closely with 5 State Review Panelists and 6 District Review Panel Chairs. My intent since being selected for the role has been to lead the development of our curriculum by informing schools and teachers. This is quite a difficult task and one I don't think has achieved its full potential yet. To achieve this goal, there has been specific strategies put into place and supported by the Senior Education Officer (who is essentially my co-leader in this role).

  1. Recognising two distinct roles

    The members of the State Review Panel and District Review Panel Chairs are expert teachers who apply their craft with diligence and precision. Their official role as panelists is to moderate the implementation of the syllabus. However as expert teachers I believe they can offer advice on interpretation of the syllabus, which will inform their implementation and in the long run better prepare them for external moderation.

  2. Communication pathways

    Review panelists have official communication pathways to schools and teachers centred around external moderation processes.

    Opening communication between these expert teachers and schools is critical in changing the perception of the panel members as only "external assessors." Current members on the State Review Panel are intelligent and innovative teachers that can assist other teachers in developing both their programs and their craft. An email discussion list was created by a retired State Panel member, and slowly but surely we are spreading the word this is an effective place to both receive and ask for information.

    At the most recent conference for State Review Panel and District Review Panel Chairs we decided to utilise the email discussion list to distribute pertinent information from the group, informing schools and teachers prior to the external moderation of school based assessment.

  3. Collaborative development of resources

    Generally the agenda of our conferences are tightly managed. I am fortunate that the 2 Senior Education Officers who I have worked with have been flexible in the use of conference time. We tend to get a 90 minute session to work collaboratively as a group on the development of resources. These resources will be progressively communicated through the email discussion list.
This will fundamentally change the communication pathways from current perceptions of the State and District Review Panel members, which will need to be carefully managed itself. My focus on this new communication pathway will be to foster advice for schools on interpretation of the syllabus to inform their implementation before moderation points in time. The significant difference is expert teachers will offer advice before moderation, whereas panel members will offer advice at moderation. Considering this advice may come from the same physical person, managing this effectively is my most significant challenge.