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December 27, 2014


So you’ve crafted a tribute to the thieving parrots, finished bearing witness to brutality on the Burma railroad fictionalised in Richard Flanagan’s Man Booker prizewinner which sat waiting for here&now on a bookshelf since November and, through this first week of summer-holiday-break, neighbours have steadily readied their caravan, now hooked to its companion Toyota 4WD.

Departure seems imminent.

Feels like closure, as well as a potential start-point.

Anything is possible.


Until you scoured reflection prompts cached on Pinterest for just this opportunity: Invitation of the blank screen.

  • Wheatley’s Fearless Questions initially held sway [in the end, though, too abstract]
  • 10 Questions to assist in improving teacher craft is more practical [felt this is too-regularly mined as weekly territory rather than warranting annual soul-search]
  • Second questions seemed more promising… how to avoid both types of pitfalls whilst still ensuring the wriggle against a pin [yes, just right].

You opt for a Q/A format.

Direct and less likelihood of evasion. Closer attention to specifics. Edgy.



  1. How are you changing because of what you’re learning? Rewiring self and focus by practicing mindfulness. Maintains attention to details. Important ones. Like feedback/ learning/ wellbeing/ process. Slows you down. Optimizes.
  2. What’s important to you about that? Centred. Supportive. Observant. Calm as distinct from scattered.
  3. How are you solving problems? Seeing them – really seeing by noticing as they arise and asking/ including others as you check bearings. Responding to problems, when necessary, as they arise from within that patterned centre of calm. Counter-intuitive: Sometimes no reaction is the best solution. Minimising reactivity/ ensuring de-escalation.
  4. How are you solving your frustrations? Blogging. Photography. Reading. Exercise. Poetry and perspective. Consolations of all the above.
  5. What have you done to produce success? Turned up. Unrelenting effort to persist with practice. Collaborated with others. Shared. Monitored context. Asked questions. Listened. Resisted status quo/misguided paths as likely solutions.



What might be achieved by adopting the second question habit? You wonder at this additional question, un-numbered and deliberately left dangling like an appendix, some kind of tantalising afterthought. Reminder of the hibiscus you photographed last week, then re-imagined/modified/ outfitted to illustrate these words.


  • Less likelihood that time will be spent churning on the what/ isness of situations;
  • Sleep and wake feeling rested;
  • Refinement seems assured [within constraints].



You envisage that continuing practice will grow

beyond what some critics call “misery research” on all that is wrong with schools and school systems towards an appreciative inquiry into what seems to be working well… if a succinct way can be found to explain what a system does well, it is easier for others to learn to apply the core principles behind it in their own way (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009. pp. 49).

So what are we advised to lean towards? Fears and signals to change. According to research,

leaders of change know that developing the courage for being present to and making explicit the inevitability of emotional discomfort – their own and others’ – is the place to start (Beatty, 2006, p. 24).


Selected references

Beatty, B. (2006). Leaning into our fears: A new masters course prepares principals to engage with the emotions of leadership. Paper presented at the AARE annual conference: Adelaide.

Hargreaves, A. & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


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