How to spot an idiot

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker gave a commencement speech to students at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois last year.   This link will provide you with a 2-minute excerpt of what he had to say. I’m a fan of his message.   Pritzker is an American businessman, politician, philanthropist, attorney and venture capitalist whose family owns…

Equal but Different

The partnership between home and school has never been more important, fragile or tenuous.   Around three decades now of the media highlighting only the problems between parents and schools – rather than the massive volume of positive interactions – will do that. As a result, we find ourselves seeking to encourage parents out of…

Loop that Loop

It’s true that we should all be relentless in the pursuit of improving teacher quality. What’s just as true is that we should be making it as easy as possible for teachers to teach at their highest quality.   A decent example of focusing on the conditions in which teachers work effectively is what’s called…

Mythbusting

I’ll get to the point.   There were alarmist news stories galore this week about how our schools are going “old school” when it comes to student behaviour.   We read about how we’ll be explicitly teaching a new behaviour curriculum, about red/yellow card systems, about furniture being nailed to the floor in rows and…

Academic versus intellectual progress

In my last principalship, I had the opportunity to lead a school with a distinct strategic focus on cooperative learning.   To that effect, we chose to deploy the Kagan Cooperative Learning model in conjunction with Restorative Practices, Co-Teaching and Evidence Based Programming to round out our ‘Big 4’.   It proved to be a…

Teachable kids and kayaks

I recently interviewed a dear friend and remarkable Australian, Dan Collins, for my next book.   Dan is a four-time Olympian and an Olympic medalist in kayaking. He knows a little about exemplary performance and he has a passion for young people reaching their potential too. Dan threw a rather large gauntlet at my feet…

Molly’s Mum

Let me start by saying sorry to all the lovely people called Molly out there. I see you.   However, I can reveal that my experiences with students called Molly have been subpar to my expectations of such a lovely name.   Most Mollys I’ve met have shared the inclination to race home from school…

Ten Days

You can call it an adversarial, consequential, blame-based, real-world or responsibility focused system of dealing with student conflict and wrongdoing if you’re really into faffing around with words to make an idea sound productive.   But whichever way you slice it, variations on ye olde “crime and punishment’ model have been prevalent in Australian schools…

Traffic Lights or Roundabouts?

A study of traffic in the US state of Indiana highlighted by the World Economic Forum caught my attention recently. Effectively, they’ve led the charge on installing roundabouts instead of traffic lights at busy intersections.   The upshot was that, “Overall, it has seen a 90% reduction in fatalities, 76% fewer injuries and a 30…