Archive for August, 2010

Thesis complete!

Today I took my finished PhD thesis to the printer to get bound for examination ūüėÄ

This is an awesome, wonderful, terrific day!

Big hugs and love to everyone who supported me in finishing the beast.  I could never have done it alone xo



Thesis-ing (final days)

I just want to put it out there, for anyone who was wondering:

Writing a PhD thesis is hard.

(like, seriously, fcuking hard.)

I have just 2 days left until I have to take this puppy to get printed and bound for examination.

I feel like my brain is going to explode.

Far out,¬†I’d better turn out to be seriously smart after this!

See you on the dark side of the moon, people xx




Tee hehe…had a giggle at this, especially after having explained this very concept to a class yesterday ūüėČ

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This tweet caught my eye today:

It caught my eye because I have been musing on this observation made by Jan, a high school Principal on Twitter last week:

We work within a system. Of course there are systemic priorities. That is the reality of any workplace IMHO.

I wanted to flag this because I think both of these tweets are right, but this is a problematic standpoint as ‘working within a system’ and ‘being insubordinate’ are tricky agendas to keep in balance.

There has been much promotion recently amongst NSW DET leaders of adopting a ‘Tight-Loose-Tight’ model of working in schools. ¬†It’s a model I support, and I think it provides a really terrific framework for teachers and school leaders (and system¬†bureaucrats) to work on common ground without constantly arguing about, say, NAPLAN. ¬†By accepting policy and product requirements we can get on with developing the ‘Loose’ area – the bit where we actually teach in the classroom using different and divergent strategies that are relevant and engaging and meet the needs of our personal teaching style, our individual students and our local school context.

However, recently I have definitely felt that critical comments made by teachers about ‘the system’ are being taken personally by leaders who are higher up the chain and see this as either a personal attack or an undermining of their innovative work in planning their school. ¬†A few weeks ago I wondered if the answer is that we need a more realistic paradigm for collaborating with the people who ultimately are our ‘boss’. ¬†But to tell you the truth, I find that idea quite¬†dispiriting. I hate having to mind my p’s and q’s…it’s why I decided NOT to go into politics!

I don’t have much to say about this today, but perhaps you do?

How can we show our leaders the love (and our commitment to common goals) while maintaining a healthy level of insubordination?

NB: I’m talking very NSWDET here, but I’ve found a similar conundrum working with people on development of the National Curriculum…it’s tough to authentically engage in developing something so prescribed-from-above when your gut reaction is to kick against the pricks. Conversely, it’s tough to promote engagement with the resulting best-case-scenario product to people that I in turn lead when they want to fight against it too!

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Student Choice

An interesting TED talk by Sheena Iyengar on The Art of Choosing:

After talking with some pre-service teachers today about what ‘choice and voice’ means in the classroom, I thought it was very timely to record these points made by Sheena:

It is a mistake to assume that everyone thrives under the pressure of choosing alone.

In reality, many choices are between things that are not that much different. The value of choicedepends on our ability to perceive differencesbetween the options.

When someone can’t see how one choice is unlike another, or when there are too many choices to compare and contrast, the process of choosing can beconfusing and frustrating. Instead of making better choices, webecome overwhelmed by choice,sometimes even afraid of it. Choice no longer offers opportunities, but imposes constraints. It’s not a marker of liberation, but of suffocation by meaningless minutiae. In other words, choice can develop into the very opposite of everything it represents in America when it is thrust upon thosewho are insufficiently prepared for it.

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Speaking and Writing

I found this excellent quote to describe the different processes of speaking and writing, and the importance of engaging in talk.  Check it out:

Since talking, listening, and reading are all easier than writing, you should use them to prepare for writing.  It is much harder to decide how to say something before you have said it.  And it is definitely harder to decide how to say something in writing that you have never said in conversation.  Talk to people about what you believe.  Test your ideas in the faster, less permanent medium of speech before you try to set them down in the slower, more permanent medium of writing.  Read all you can about what you want to write about, and then talk to someone about it.  Remember that you will have no chance to see how people react when you are writing to them, but you do have a chance to see how they react when you are talking to them.

The full article Thinking About Writing is at

This kind of explanation could be really valuable for teachers and students to discuss.  It is also a great reminder about the importance of structuring class work that gives everyone an opportunity to talk meaningfully, and with purpose.

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