Leading in uncertainty

“It is the absolute duty of educators to look forward in an informed and balanced way to a future very different from the past; one that, though they may not themselves experience it fully, their students undoubtedly will.” Valerie Hannon and Anthony McKay, 2021 in Five Signposts for the Future of Educational Leadership I received quite a bit of feedback after my previous post about how we prepare for and respond to disruption in our education system. Some were appreciative of the perspectives I shared and the links provided, while a few expressed skepticism about what they felt I was … Continue reading Leading in uncertainty


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Druker The announcement of the closure of the Ministry of Education’s head office in Wellington, Mātauranga House, due to earthquake risk came as a big surprise to everyone – in particular, the 1000 employees for whom that is their regular place of work. They were given just a few days to retrieve what they need and prepare to work from home for an unspecified period of time. Déjà vu the 2020 lockdown! We all remember the sudden changes in our lives … Continue reading Pivot

Copy and Paste

There’s something very appealing about taking something we see and admire and then copying it for ourselves, expecting it to look the same on us or have the same impact on our lives or context. This is a pattern of how we operate in so many areas of life – it is how changes in fashion are perpetuated, or the latest craze on tik tok or in home decorating etc. None of us is immune from the influences of the ‘copy and paste’ behaviour. There are some downsides to this however. Like the time I bought a jacket because I … Continue reading Copy and Paste

Connectivity and devices

In a recent webinar with a group of school leaders I was discussing their approaches to hybrid learning. At one point the issue of digital equity was raised, with one principal asking what was being done at a national level here in NZ to provision students with digital devices and internet connectivity. She went on to explain that in her school many of the students don’t have access to a device, and that she simply doesn’t have the funds available to support them – or to invest in some of the digital applications that may be helpful to support their … Continue reading Connectivity and devices

Give a S***!

I am in the habit of riding my bike along the local river trail as regularly as I can. It’s a shared trail that is used by other cyclists, walkers, runners and those walking their dogs – everyone appreciating the opportunity this great community asset provides. Cycling is one of those activities that provides me with thinking time. This morning my thoughts were on the many dogs I pass on this trail each time I ride it, the different types there are, and the different owners I observe. This morning I was reflecting on the inevitability of these animals taking … Continue reading Give a S***!

Designing an effective experimental PLD approach

Over the past few months I’ve spoken with a number of educational leaders who are looking at how they can best implement some of the changes they believe should be happening in their schools as a result of COVID-19 and the introduction of hybrid learning approaches. The start point for such efforts must be on working with staff to include them fully in the process and to ensure they have the appropriate level of support and access to professional learning and development to enable them to participate. Building, sustaining and leveraging the capability of staff should be high priority for … Continue reading Designing an effective experimental PLD approach

Learner engagement

When my students know that I care about them as a person, far beyond what score they get on a reading test, they see themselves through my eyes and my eyes see endless possibilities. Middle School Teacher, US – quoted in GoGuardian Report Learner engagement is one of the ten areas of teacher practice that are the focus of a recent paper I published titled Codifying Teacher Practice. In that paper I write, “All students need to be engaged in learning—not just the interested students, not just the ones who are obedient. In our familiar in-person settings we are apt … Continue reading Learner engagement

Building the capacity for change

“When a wise man points at the moon the foolish man examines the finger.” Confucius It’s becoming cliched now to say that we’re living in times of unprecedented change – but it’s true. Some of the most difficult changes to understand and adjust to are the ones that are unexpected and out of our control – a recession, a global pandemic or a major disaster, for example.  Change of this nature may force us into new roles and new ways of It may challenge us to give up established and valued ways of functioning. Many of us find our sense of identity … Continue reading Building the capacity for change

Thinking long

“Successful long term planning is vital if society is going to survive and flourish, rather than collapse”. Jared Diamond; Collapse (p.523) Over the summer break I sat with a close friend having coffee and reflecting on more than five decades of knowing each other. As we sat in conversation, we reflected a lot on the extent to which our modern society has become focused on the short term, and not the long game. It’s very much about ‘me’ and less about ‘we’ and of instant, personal gratification over sacrifice for longer-term, communal benefits. Decades of being told we can do … Continue reading Thinking long