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momentary lull

December 20, 2014






A new timetable travelled home with me from work on Thursday, and my intention is to transcribe this schedule along with important dates into my 2015 teacher planner as I tidy my study in stages during the summer holiday break.

Paper piles proliferating on the floor and on top of the photocopier are the first targets in sight: No mere discards, these middens trace lesson ideas/ patterns of thinking/ iterations of inquiry learning/ creative enterprise.

What settled?

  • Multiple intelligence framework for planning integrated learning tasks
  • Biography/ autobiography task rubric
  • Bloom’s planning framework
  • Cross section of the Globe Theatre
  • Representations of Australian images (colour photocopies laminated for Stage 3 English)
  • Packaged sets of optical illusions (provoke critical thinking)
  • Peer review frameworks for recording notes and documenting listening skills

Clearly, the tail end of one school year conceals looping tendrils informing the next. Either that, or there are overlapping tensions, with multiple interwoven connections, like a maze or labyrinth.


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A similar hiatus was evident from my desk at school – left cleared of its usual work-in-progress debris – and a classroom space eerily vacant due to stacked desks and chairs, the momentary lull is significant. I am savouring

  • This invitation to renewal
  • Space for sorting and enabling shift
  • Possibilities, some currently unknown



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In the sense that

every teacher is a school leader, as she or he has to lead students in their learning experience (OECD, 2001, p.55),

it is important to reflect on what serves us well in current contexts, while also directing our gaze towards the horizon.  This lull presents opportunities to take bearings:

Taking surveys to review school culture can also help to illuminate leaders’ reflective thinking about the relative health of a learning ecosystem – there is one here and another here.

According to research, context of both leadership and current school reform imperatives are important to understand since

Variables such as SES, home educational environment and school size have a clear interactive effect on leadership, the school and student outcomes (Mulford & Silins, 2003, p. 11).

Knowing your context within its global dynamic becomes essential. With community attunement,

the teachers perceive the school as having productive working relations with the community and that school’s administrators are sensitive to the community, work with community representatives and incorporate community values in the school (Mulford & Silins, 2003, p. 4).


Like my persistent attempts to capture a panorama of this sunset from Cottesloe Beach last week on my birthday, horizon gauging can be problematic: Light fades; seagulls swoop; much depends on the steady movement of your camera. So it is in the school context where the frenetic pace of learning/ assessment cycles can generate wholesale exhaustion.

Unless you stop.


Selected references

Mulford, B. & Silins, H. (2003). Leadership for organisational learning and improved student outcomes. Retrieved December 20, 2014

OECD. (2001). What works in innovation in education? New school management approaches. Centre for educational research and innovation. Retrieved December 20, 2014

Recommended reading

Browning, P. (2014). Compelling leadership. Centre for Research Innovation and Future Development. Retrieved December 20, 2014

new mode of regulation

December 13, 2014

new mode of regulation

Selected reference

Ball, S.J. (2000). Performativities and fabrications in the education economy: Towards the performative society? The Australian Educational Researcher, 27(2), pp. 1-23.

smells like team spirit

December 13, 2014


This is my attempt at a postmodern blog post written, in part, driving home last night, finessed in the garden while watering, hanging washing, recording skyshots, then captured by the repeated actions which marked sweeping floors and verandahs this morning. None of this appeared like writing.

Doubt my [written] words. Comment/ question in the space below…

Yes, this is a skeptical piece of artifice, and I want you to feel how I am feeling – discomforted.

Are we there yet?



To inflict structure:

  1. Join me in the garden this morning
  2. Shape and frame reality with Be Funky
  3. Re-fit, as required
  4. Use numbers
  5. Take bearings/ look at that sky
  6. Come step inside…





3. Nearly – not quite – ending

  • 2014 school year
  • Year 12 students through
  • Leavetaking (staff and students)
  • Performance review & reflection processes finalised



Here we both are with nowhere left to hide. You sit with me picking out letters on the keyboard which meantime appear, synchronously, on this screen.

The cursor flashes.

What do you honestly need to say/ hear?

First, resort to an old standby – illustrate from the perspective afforded by your friend’s son’s post discovered on Facebook this morning:

And I did it. Six years of hard work, determination and laughs but I finally did it. Three schools, countless friends and family’s support but I did it, I have completed primary school and I nailed it!
Next thing, high school.


Wouldn’t you love to meet him as a student in your 2015 class?

Me too.

Same with enabling colleagues [past-present, one and all] at the SmartBoard face/ in the fishtank/ staffroom/ collegiate spaces/ offices and classrooms as they share stories, revelations, feedback and strategies along with advice and insights.

How could you manage without their support?

Follow that coalseam. Let’s keep mining.

It grows dark with emotions swirling.

Murky, even.

Down here in the depths discomfort dwells. You don’t much like the sensations, but they’re real and won’t shift just by being hopeful. Take a look now – what do you [honestly] see?

  • Awareness
  • Courage
  • Trust
  • Hope
  • Compassion

All of the above despite struggles to overcome

the crisis of boredom and frustration among students and career disillusionment among teachers (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014, p.8).

Similarly, well-meaning leaders’ attempts to exert some semblance of control over complex processes of change where nothing in sight seems anywhere near as absolute as linear spreadsheets and graphs delineated by numbers, grades, milestones, targets and measurement… well, we’re all bound to feel a little disillusioned when scrutiny of indicators reveals only more uncertainty. Meanwhile, the [audit culture] system tools provided reflect problems like a hall of mirrors.


Without drawing on the smell of team spirit, these revelations are likely to erode hope while generating perplexity and stress. Especially if you’re holding tight to the certitude of what once was perceived as dear and true: your own [newly] redundant beliefs and practices.

Given that organisations

were simply never designed to change proactively and deeply—they were built for discipline and efficiency, enforced through hierarchy and routinization (Hamel & Zanini, 2014),

effective change leaders will adopt considerable shift in their approach and their thinking to prepare for a future which is clearly

unknowable and uncontrollable (Beatty, 2007, p. 2).


Selected reference

Beatty, B. (2007). Feeling the future of school leadership: Learning to lead with the emotions in mind. Leading and Managing, 13(2), pp. 44-65

Fullan, M. & Langworthy, M. (2014). A rich seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning. White paper published by Pearson. Retrieved December 12, 2014

Hamel, G. & Zanini, M. (2014). Build a change platform, not a change program. McKinsey & Company Insights & Publications. Retrieved December 10, 2014

photo credit: <a href=””>FACEBOOK(LET)</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

feeling diverted?

December 6, 2014

feeling diverted

Selected reference

Fullan, M. (2007). Change the terms for teacher learning. National Staff Development Council 28(3), pp. 35-36. Retrieved December 6, 2014

surprising discoveries

December 6, 2014


Sunrise through the gum trees at our place yesterday captured a sense of breakthrough.

Weeks of marking and moderating exam papers leaves me feeling hyper-sensitive to visible strengths, gaps, directions and insights to learning. Here’s the final bundle in progress:


Continuing conversations with students during walkthroughs and feedback sessions also conveyed a sense of shift. Maybe it’s the time of year. I was surprised by some of their reflective comments:

We need to read more.

Can you help with spelling?

There needs to be more practice.

How can I write 300 words?

I need to expand my writing and give more evidence.

I didn’t like the room (desks in rows).

As a backtrack – since I’m starting at the end of this cycle – it’s worthwhile to look at the summative task we designed for our Year 7s:

By breaking the structure into responding and composing (analytical vs. creative), we aligned the expectations with thinking underpinning the new WACE exam brief previously mentioned here. Key differences?

  • Brevity was flagged in word counts. 300 words proved a surprising stretch.
  • Scaffolding was supplied to prompt engagement. Many still asked what ‘conventions’ meant.
  • Intertextual links were invited. Sometimes ignored/ overlooked. Misunderstood?
  • Text prompts were deliberately uncomplicated. Wave image proved confounding for a few.

What I loved were the flights of fancy in newspaper headlines/ poetry/ narratives about skateboarding nuns. Comic characters proved well-loved, and most elected to disagree with the statement. My favourite reading experience overall was the honest evaluation of their (relatively) new experience of high school. Like this example:

I always wanted to be in high school because I am one step closer to being an adult and this is the main reason for education in school. We are becoming old, and it is close to finishing school, and then I am getting a job I want to do and learn more about life. I am learning how to spell better because I am not so good at that, and our reading and maths skills will help at work and at the shops. I am getting closer to being a full adult and I will get my licence and drive around. When I finish school I will go live in the real world, get a job I will love and enjoy doing every day.

Getting out of school will be good for you, so you can still learn. You will be prepared. Life is full on at all times – you are always doing something. That is what school is for. To get us ready to live in the big world.


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Great hearing what they think about purpose. Useful springboard, too, for taking learning into planning outlines for Year 8s in 2015. Final quotable moment: When one of my Year 7s remarked

You remind me of my Nanna.

He is on to me (birthday soon; surprise of growing older). And that feedback I took as a compliment.

world changing social mission

November 29, 2014

world changing social mission

Selected reference

Hargreaves, A. (2003). Teaching in the knowledge society: Education in the age of insecurity. New York: Teachers College Press.

one step beyond

November 24, 2014

While I recall an evening spent with Madness playing live mid-1980s at the Perth Concert Hall and nothing the bouncers attempted could stop skinheads from tearing up chairs in the front rows, this is more of a statement of gratitude than a review.

The song’s exuberance captures a sense of the anticipation I felt last Tuesday as I caught a train to Shenton Park instead of undertaking my usual drive.

Our purpose as a group of English teachers flocking to Shenton College – a teacher development school – was to converse. Ideas shared were based on new WACE English courses, particularly the exam brief which flags changes ahead.


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What follows is taken from my notes on the day’s conversations.

Examinable content from 2016 asks our students to

  • Compare texts from similar/ different genres
  • Compare & contrast distinctive features
  • Analyse & critically appraise conventions
  • Create a range of texts
  • Reflect on texts
  • That is, understand relationships.

There will be shifts in what we will have to do in our classes.

Thus: Intense analysis of short pieces of text.

We look at language features rather than whole texts/ ideas & thinking. Year 7 writing will be our starting point; renewed focus will attend to writing well.


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Text sharing marked the passage of workshop sessions:

Blackfish. Perks of Being a Wallflower. Zusak’s The Messenger. Persepolis. Z For Zachariah. Prius, Diesel and Red Bull ads. Tomb Raider. Resident Evil. Into the Wild. Megadeth song lyrics. Time Magazine covers. Even a Supertramp album cover.

Representation continues to rule along with identity, culture and ideology.


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Reflection spiralled through our discussions on return to school even as exam marking continued. Prompts, markers and signposts all serve to shape the shift we experience as future-becoming.
What I witness is how we come to be one step beyond.

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