Hacking my PD

(Disclaimer: there could be typos and I could be wrong 🙂 )

The other day the topic of PD came up on twitter….

So what’s my background?

I’ve been teaching for about 7 years now, and still at my first school, so my professional experience of PD is relatively limited. Usually the PD I undertake was organised by the school, with little or no input from me. Our PD, I believe, links into our schools strategic plan. A couple of years ago a local group set up a wonderful PD system, where the school would pay a price for each teacher, which entitled us to 2 or 3 sessions of about 1 ½ hrs after school. All the PD’s in this system were scheduled and we would nominate the PD’s we wanted to attend. We also had the option to apply to any other session, without cost, and if there were spaces we could attend them.

What I really liked about this was that I could choose if I wanted to do more PD, and I could choose the day and topics I wanted. I think this system ran for about a year and then slipped away.

Since then we’ve gone back to whole school staff PD. The school leadership also forward emails onto, all of the staff, these sessions are a mix of free and paid PD, online & offsite during school hours or after school.  Some sessions are attended by multiple staff members and others not.

It’s an odd system, without clarity as far as to who’s doing what or why, there also doesn’t seem to be clarity as to what budget teachers or areas are allocated. We put our expression of interest (for the paid PD) into our PD coordinator and await approval.

We have recently included PD on the agenda for our weekly staff meetings. It’s an opportunity for anyone to feedback on any PD that they have undertaken.

While this ‘system’ is fairly ad hoc it allows for the teachers to choose and tailor their PD.

And then….   someone told me about twitter…..

……and because I’m not an early responder I didn’t do anything……not till a bit later 🙂


Twitter (as a information collection agency)

Twitter and internet have opened up the information that is available to me. Twitter in particular, because through the people I follow I can fossick through their posts and find nuggets of goodness, things that I can use. It’s like google search but better. Google is great but it lacks the human touch.

I know I can look at someone’s posts and I know they have posted things that appeal to them, that tie in with their nature, it’s another search dimension, not just words or terms. Each person I follow is another individual entity, with their own unique style and interest and like a magnet they gather and source information I can use. Hopefully I’m doing the same for someone and not confounding them too much 🙂

Hacking, Piaget and Frankl

So where to from here. I think the following concepts are critical.

Hacking is the breaking down or a part of something and finding a way to make it more of what you want. Hacking is flexible and opportunistic, it never loses sight of your goals. It is a mindset not a system.

I think Logan LePlante says it best during his TED talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY

Piaget was a theorist whose work resonates with me the concepts of assimilation and accommodation. The idea that we construct our understanding of the world, take in new information and assimilate it into our understanding or modify our ideas/theories so we can accommodate this new information.

Viktor Frankl wrote a book that I didn’t read until a few years back, a book called, “Mans search for meaning” (it’s the hyper linked). This book is connects to Piaget’s theory, in the way we accommodate and assimilate information, we also ascribe meaning, we all do it in our own way ,which is why we can view things in infinite uniqueness. Sometimes it’s black and white, other times the differences are minute hues.

My View (one possibility that might be ok)

I believe that schools have an obligation to their strategic plan, I believe that the school has an obligation to ensure their staff have the knowledge and skills to successfully fulfil their strategic plan.

I also believe that we are not victims, that we can take action and develop into the teachers we want to be.
We ask our students to take responsibility for their learning, to set goals and reflect on them. I believe that we need to do the same for ourselves.

I believe that I need to hack my own PD.
I need to articulate to myself what it is I want to achieve. What sort of a teacher do I want to be? What do I need to know? The information is out there, through videos, through blogs, through conversations and shared resources, there is no reason why I can’t gather the things I need to become the teacher I want to be.

Two questions………

Who do I want to be?

What do I need to do to achieve that?

And off I go 🙂


Ps:          check out the hashtags #ISTE2015 #modelschools and any other conferences going on, brilliant information!
& this might help….https://t.co/Vk4s6690De ……hmm probably not J

(Another time I want to talk about how PD is not about just about content, it’s much more.)


Let me tell you of a little story about a fish…..

Let me tell you of a little story about a fish…..

Wasn’t that long ago when I was out the front of the school, saying goodbye to the students and families as they continued upon their lives for the rest of the day.
I kind of like watching the faces, seeing the students, calling out to them; instead of telling them to stop running and eat in the right areas.
It’s a relaxed, friendly time, a chance to smile or speak to parents I might not get to see, to let them know their child is being looked after and matters.

Anyway, this afternoon one of the girls had been waiting, I’d said hi, as others buzzed past us.
It was some time later when the others had gone that I saw her and her mum coming out to the school. I could hear her before I saw the tears and realised something had changed.
It’s one of those moments when you wonder: Do I say something? Or do I let them carry on their way?
I’ve got places to be, meeting to have and maybe mum doesn’t want my nose or my involvement.
But if you know me, you’d know I rarely let it go.

So I quietly asked her what had happened, and she told me about her fish, her special fish, who had died while she was at school. She told me its name and how long she had had it and how she cared for it. We talked about death and how sad it makes us feel, the loss of something special. Mum patiently waited as I talked with her daughter and we moved along that grief/acceptance stage.
I don’t think I did or said anything special, and I’m sure she would have worked through it in her own way.
But what I do know is that every time she sees me she smiles and says “hi”. I know her mum was grateful with her thanks and smile.

And me? Well, I know I shared a moment and a connection where I was able to let them both know that they matter, that they are connected to me, to the school, to our community. That they have value.
To me this is important, a crucial part of teaching.

This is why I teach.

Eric, leadership and me

Where to start? What to write?

Thoughts keep swirling around inside my head.

Before they were so clear and now? Well now I get the sense of something significant just dancing outside in the shadows.

All the time I keep thinking, “What am I doing?” I know I said I’d blog, I know I said I’d block out the excuses and just do it, and yet, I tweeted, I replied to emails, saved links and downloaded. I think I was worried about what I should do, and not wanting to lose any of what I was thinking and what I was feeling.

Get rid of the excuses.…..    Leadership is about action not position……    We need to promote ourselves…..   We need to believe we are ok.

I find it amazing where my mind goes. The memory of that young boy who posted a video on how to post videos just comes to me. Did he think he wasn’t good enough? Did he think no one would notice? Did he care? Too often I lose myself to those thoughts, stifling, stunting thoughts, that prevent me from sharing, from giving and yet the choice is mine, who do I want to be?

Often I consider my faults are something to be cured and once I’ve done that then I can be who I want to be, but there isn’t any obvious cure and all I have  is here and now.

So what to do?

I guess I think I have value, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be trying to teach. So if I believe it enough to do that, then I should place that same faith in putting myself out there for others.

I’ve got to say, I was very impressed with Eric and his presentation. It was everything I was hoping it would be.  I loved the confident and easy way he related to his audience, a small group of approximately 35 teachers and educational professionals. Everything about Eric felt genuine and natural.

I’d love to be able to share all that I heard but I don’t want to take anything away from the experience other participants might have when they listen to Eric talk.

I thought about the word ‘participants’ and used it deliberately as I’ve come to realise that PD for Professional Development in isolation is a bit of a furphy, because unless it’s about personal development then I figure it was just content. I don’t believe you can develop as a professional without it impacting on you personally. (Sounds like the distinction between entertained/engaged vs learning/engaged).

So how do I apply Eric’s talk to my life, to my teaching?

I still need to sort out how I take my class and my school to where I think it should be, to where I think it’s best for our students. I believe that the students in our school need firm boundaries, need consequences and need guidance. But I’m more aware that my knowledge that they will try to break the rules has been slowly lowering my expectation for them. I think I have to work steadfastly at positively expecting more from them and praising their successes while silently risk managing. I need to give them opportunities to rise to the challenge, to trust them and not be down on them when they don’t.

Sounds like the saying; what you give attention (or energy) to grows.

I say I need to do these things. I’m not in an official leadership position, but I am in leadership. I have influence, I can take action and I have a choice. I want to be the teacher I think I can be for these students and so I need to be resolved in what I see is best for them and work towards that.

I need to find out what would make my students want to be at school. I know they are hugely motivated by the social connection, I believe they want increased levels of self-esteem, and they want success, they also want the freedom to choose what they want. I need to turn the attitude towards school around while still covering all of the requirements we are required to. Maybe as they complete the requirements more they can have freedom to choose.

The priority after getting them to want to be at school should be about the curriculum (so they can continue to access our education system) and the skills they will need to get on in life. They will need problem solving and creative skills. They will need interpersonal skills of communication, collaboration and resilience all of which can be learnt alongside the curriculum.

I believe there are huge advantages to be gained by incorporating Web2.0 tools into everyday practices, providing that it is the most appropriate way of gaining the knowledge and skills they need. Pedagogy must come before tech, and tech most definitely can’t be a pacifier.

One of the skills that my students need to learn is how to be an effective, responsible digital citizens and I believe this can only be achieved through structured immersion in the digital world.

To get to this position I have a lot of work to do. I need to have a working knowledge of the products I might want the students to use. I need to be prepared that the tools we use will be dynamic and evolving. I need to get the parents on board so that we can gain their permission. I need to demonstrate measurable improvements in student behaviour and outcomes, so that I can encourage other teachers and classes within the school to start on this path.

I need to promote myself, my teaching and my student’s successes.

I can’t gain any traction if I don’t and if I truly believe in this course of action, then I need to plan, work at it and make it happen.

Post script…..

I should have links to either cute things or highly intelligent educational material……..

The It Crowd J https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GIjzndYF5A

Sometimes talking tech is like this J https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDNmyyrEZho

7 Pillars Of Digital Leadership In Education          @E_Sheninger

I guess I stuck with it, probably writing slower and more muddled than many other people, but I think that’s the trouble, I can’t truly compare myself with others, I don’t have all their information and ultimately were all very different. This is me now.

I’ll re-read it in the morning, fix any glaring mistakes that I happen to see and send it on its way, perfectly imperfect. (Thanks Jenaia )

You know a wise man repeated what my father used to say (he probably still does)

“We all have the same 24 hours”

So I need to post this, send it out and get on with the other hours of this day. I need to value my time, knowing that every day spent is one more than I had before and one less than I’m going to have. I need to spend it wisely doing what I love before it’s gone.

Thanks Eric, I greatly appreciate your time, words and energy.


Tiptoeing is for cowards. Say what you feel. It it’s not reciprocated, you can move along.

“Tiptoeing is for cowards. Say what you feel. It it’s not reciprocated, you can move along.”

I read this post recently on twitter and had a fairly quick reaction to it.
I guess like anything we experience there is a moment, or more, of interpreting, decoding the message. I wonder if I decode it twice, once trying to understand what the author of it was saying and the second time as I try to see what I think about it, what does it mean to me.

I believe that we all have the potential to interpret things differently, like jigsaw pieces that can slide intro position so easily, or others that don’t sit well with what we can see at the moment. Either piece has the ability to help me understand more about myself. Why is that?

I think we all feel that we are normal, (apart from that part of us that believes that no one would ever understand us) that how we are is essentially how everyone one is. Without effort to understand and be aware I think we slide back into being ‘normal’, just us; not unlike my old toy Mr Stretch, from the Fantastic Four. Sitting heavy and static, he holds his shape, never really knowing who or what he is, until the pressure is applied. A little force is applied and his arms and legs lengthen, stretching.

I think we are like that. knowing more about our muscles when they are sore and tired, knowing more about what hurts us and what’s important to us when its gone. I believe that our feelings and our hurts tell us about us, what we hold dear, what moves us and who we are.

Like Mr Stretch we forget as the pressure lessens. We slowly move back into our resting form, the feeling of comfort, of peace, but at the same time lulled back into forgetting the things that stir us as ‘normality’ blankets us.

“Tiptoeing is for cowards. Say what you feel…….”

At first glance I could see that Tiptoeing is about being careful, about not upsetting, about keeping everything normal.

But, I see tiptoeing as stepping carefully through a situation, respecting others and feeling your way.
I think we all have differences, we all have had different experiences and then interpreted those experiences differently. I could bombastically say my piece and not care for the consequences, and sometimes, we need to say what we say in spite of how others may feel. But I think I want a world where we are all respected, where our differences aren’t viewed as wrong but just as different. I want a world where people give me the same respect I offer them.

I think through respecting the differences, by talking and tiptoeing other worlds of how to ‘be’ are opened to us.

To me the above post is saying ‘be you and if others don’t like it, don’t care, move on’.
I agree with being yourself, we all need to be us, authentic and genuine. But if we aren’t caring to others, if we don’t listen and appreciate their differences, then I think we miss out on opportunities for us to be the best us we can be.

What about learning about us through the ‘prickly’ uncomfortable stuff? Well, I think life gives us enough of those without forcing them on others, just being us can push enough buttons. I think If we want to learn about ourselves then we can choose to have more experiences that place us in that position.

Lets be the best people we can be, while living a life that respects and accepts others without causing undue pain.

Peace 🙂

“Law abiding citizens have never changed the world”

“Law abiding citizens have never changed the world”

Some rambling thoughts that followed….

When I read this line I was struck with the implication that to change the world you need to break the law. Well, it’s not like I haven’t broken laws before, I’m pretty sure there have been times where I have driven faster than the designated speed limit and I know I’ve walked across an intersection that was flashing “don’t walk”.

This line above isn’t talking to me about these types of legal transgressions, this line calls to me of something much more significant. What sort of law would one have to not abide by to change the world? What is it to change the world?

Actually when I start thinking about this line I start asking more and more questions, all of which I could probably ramble on ad nauseam. (I love that ad nauseam actually means to go on till I make you feel nauseous. Yep I can do that J)

I think the main point I want to explore, before you have to stop reading, is the notion of encouraging or giving our personal approval for others to break the law; that the change we are making is of greater moral imperative than complying with our civic legal responsibilities.

Actually I think people could read that line with an antiestablishment understanding and not really contemplate the balancing of all factors.

So what’s my problem?

I think my first main problem is the exclusivity of ‘never’. If you want to change the world…..what does that actually mean? – ‘change the world’ I’m sure it’s not static, that if just me, by being me, isn’t changing the world them I’m more disempowered and ineffectual than I thought.
So the first thing I take away from the statement is “If I’m abiding by the laws, I’m not changing or impacting the world”.

The second concern I have, how do I expect the ‘world changers’ to decide what rules to break, what rules not to break, or is it open slather on whatever they like. What is our obligation to abide by the rules?

If I believe that it is all open then the bombings, school shootings and victimisation of minority groups, so long as it’s in the name of social change, of world change, have also been given some sort of approval. It’s a confusing situation.

How do we encourage people to stand up and make changes, to speak out and act, to do what they believe is right, when that very action or belief could be directly oppositional to our core beliefs.

I often hear people say “just be you”, “follow your dreams”, and “each to their own” (as in live and let live, if that’s what they like then that’s fine). Ideally that sounds great, to be given that blessing. But where’s the end point, where is the guidance? Often it will come through with a caveat of so long as you don’t hurt anyone. Physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, through action or through inaction?

If only we all, treated each other with consideration, respect and caring. If only we thought they all meant the same thing, maybe it’s a good thing we don’t.

So my second take away point form the line, is “It’s ok for me to break the laws to change world”. I guess I get to decide which laws.

As a teacher I feel I have an obligation to encourage my students to make society better, but I think it would be negligent to encourage them to break the law. I think if I encourage critical thinking, awareness and a sense of empowerment then they can choose carefully their actions from there.

Who are we? And/or Who am I?

I had an amazing chat with a friend on ‘the’ twitter last night, which has left me with lots of things to think and lots of unpacking if I want to, or if my remembering is strong.
Jack Kerouac had a writing style that just flowed from one thing to another, as experiences and thoughts occurred, he wrote them. A rather odd and unstructured style that seems to be something that I have an affinity to.

I’m not sure how to go about writing any of my thoughts down, I’m not even sure why I need to, but maybe it’s the act of processing them and unpacking them. I think its coupled with the thought that I have something of benefit to contribute, something that people might read and respond to, not as a conversation but respond in the sense of think and reflect if anything calls to them.

Why do I tweet?
For some reason, and I’m not sure why, I feel the need to comment on other peoples tweets. I think I believe I have something to add, something that might make a difference, either as a confirmation of what they’ve said, ‘Hey I think so too’, or to provoke more thoughts, or lastly, because I think something is missing. When a tweet comes across all negative, attacking a person, then I can ignore it, but well actually most of the time I can’t, I find it incredibly hard to ignore it.
Oh, I also tweet because I see it as part of my development, increasing my knowledge and understanding and to learn through the interaction and connection with other people.

I believe that who we are is the culmination (at least to this point) of genetic material, with many programmed characteristics, significantly influenced by upbringing and then further influenced by how we have continually interpret and accommodate new information and experiences. We are a work in progress, never finished, never the same, like the stream you can’t step in twice.

‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’

And so, if I don’t comment I’m allowing the negative or what I perceive as being incorrect a space to influence and grow, luckily I don’t chase down every instance, but I think it’s why I do what I do.

Maybe I need to be confident that the people don’t consume others opinions without thinking for themselves, but my sceptical self just sniggered, so I’m not sure.

What I appreciated about the chat last night was the honest and open willingness to talk to a complete stranger, to share and be vulnerable in spite of being hurt in previous experiences. The information shared was important but to me more important was the sharing of how to be.

I think, contrary to how I behave, I believe that the gentler and understanding way to behave is to ‘be’. Through our words, and actions, through the things that are said and not said, who we are can show through. I could have easily missed this subtle and generous person if I was too focused on my message, or indeed if they weren’t open to listening to me too.


I guess I end with a thank you to all the people in my life that have been honest and willing to engage and share with me. Whether you are bombastic, confrontational, gentle or diplomatic and we all have our preferred style of listening and talking, thank you for taking the time to share yourself with me and helping me attempt to reach the potential that I aspire to.


Today while reading my twitter feed I saw a hashtag I hadn’t seen before “#whiteproverbs”. Within a short amount of time I  was receiving lots of comments with this hashtag. I was only seeing the feed from the people that I follow. And this to me is how things began.

Through the choice of words I have constructed and with the way others have reacted to my words I now find myself concerned that many ppl have seen my comments and viewed them in a negative light.

When I saw the #whiteproverbs I picked up more than simple airing of experiences and I felt it was propagating a paradigm of negativity. (Is that the right word?)

I did a quick search of the #whiteproverbs and I thought it had an international base as well, it was after this that I posted my post, or tweeted my tweet.

“Mr C@whosanktheboat                  

 I know ur doing ur thing, but im sensing a gen negativity with #whiteproverbs , not feeling its really lifegiving”

I understand that I am involving myself in something that others are posting, people that I don’t follow and people, who may not want my involvement. But, this Twitter thing is a public forum and I feel that if my input can add something then I have a responsibility/choice to involve myself.


1) I didn’t intend any disrespect to anyone.

2) I don’t pretend to understand what its like to be of a different race other than my own (white overweight older man) and as such I have no real understanding of what its like to be Croatian or Serbian and have 400yrs of familial conflict, nor 200yrs of European/English/White racism.

3) I do believe that we all have something to offer each other.

4) If I choose/chose  to not involve myself, then I’m not learning and I’m denying others the thoughts that my involvement might generate.

5) The more I am involved, the more informed I am the more I can learn and better inform the people I have contact with, the better person I can be.

I’m not sure that I have covered things properly for the people involved on twitter, but I hope you understand that I was not being disrespectful, but wanting to encourage an experience that was encouraging the values of understanding, growth and learning.

Please comment or tweet as you wish,


Mr C