Post image for Questioning, connecting, and something else???

We’ve been challenged to think about a leadership headline or mantra. Leadership needs different things according to the circumstances and skills of the leader, so the idea is to try to distill what you are trying to achieve.

The first part of mine is easy – I think one of the most important things I do is questioning. Why are we doing things this way? What are you trying to get out of this? What is causing the problem here? Have you thought about?

And I think the best answers come from connections. This might be connecting people who are working on similar things, or information that comes from different places, or projects that become richer or more efficient when they are brought together.

But the last one has me stumped. I know exactly what I want it to be, but can’t think of the way to encapsulate it.

One of the things I’ve seen over and over again is having too much knowledge resting with one person. When they leave, no-one can find anything on the server, or remember how to organise the sports carnival, or what the process is for a student who needs an individual behaviour plan.

Then there are the things we all do over and over again, like programming, data analysis or contacting parents.

If you start from scratch every time, think of all the creative energy you use having to think of what to do Every. Single. Time. This is why I am an enormous believer in processes and structures. Some people think they are rigid, but I see the opposite – by taking care of the what, they let me spend all my creativity and imagination on how, and still be confident that I’ve included all the important things.

I feel one of the most important roles of a leader is to give their people this structure and boundaries. Let your imaginations run wild and be the best you can be, so long as you stay within these walls. You will always be sure of what I am asking for, because it is all on this list and the same every time. (Except of course when we refine it together.)

So I know exactly what it is, but it’s hard to boil it down to one word. ‘Structuring’ doesn’t quite cut it, or ‘giving boundaries.’ For the moment, I’m stuck with

Questioning, connecting, and something else.


Post image for Project – Finding a topic

One of the things we have to do for the strategic leadership course is an ongoing project. I think this is great, I love projects as a way of tying things together for long term practice and experiential learning. But what to do? Projects are my bread and butter – Project Manager is right there in my job title. If I’m going to learn and develop my leadership through this it can’t be one of my normal projects.

Funneling the mess mass

It needs to:

  • develop my leadership – something that is for my unit or the schools I am working with.
  • be a natural part of my position
  • use my strengths
  • contribute to sustainability, through well being and distribution of leadership.

I was originally thinking of doing something on how we work with outside stakeholders and contractors, as that was an area I was new in at the time.

I knew I wanted to do something on how we work as a unit – I love creating processes and structures. I see it as giving people the freedom to be creative, if they don’t have to go back to the beginning all the time and waste energy thinking of what to do. All they have to do is follow the process and they can go wild with how to do it. It plays to all my critical thinking, learning and analytical strengths.

Thinking time

I find it really necessary to mull over things in the background, it allows me to tie everything together and find the connections, in this case between my work and what the course is trying to achieve. It also allows time for serendipity to turn up, which it did on schedule.

My work unit has had some staffing changes and my Director took the opportunity to do some group strategic development, reviewing our ways of working.

The topic

This  has made my topic bigger, but at the same time given it more coherence – rather than looking at one part of our work in isolation, it is firmly centred in our priorities.

As part of our re-organisation and ongoing improvement as a unit we are capturing our ways of working and developing some internal policies. We are trying to build our corporate knowledge and capacity, rather than being dependent on individuals.

My project is to capture some of our procedures and tie together project management theory, the experience of people in our unit, and the needs and culture of our workplace. Then review and refine these procedures as we use them, so we end up with a responsive system that gives us the structure to be free.



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I‘ve been lucky enough to be accepted for a strategic leadership professional development course. It seems to be a good opportunity to get back to blogging, which I’ve been away from since I’ve been working, and have a regular space to reflect on what I’m learning and how it relates to my work. One of […]

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Australian Curriculum: Science 2 – structure of the curriculum

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Before we get into the next installment, I want you to go to AC: Science and have a little play, if you haven’t already. One of the things I love about this curriculum has nothing to do with the pedagogy or science and everything to do with the presentation. Those little symbols up the top that […]

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Australian Curriculum: Science 1 – who does what


This is a response to the #onsci twitter chat on the 9th of August about the Australian Curriculum (AC) that I think might be useful generally. Judging from the chat there seem to be a few broad themes of concerns, some of which I’m placed to explain or discuss. This seems the appropriate time to […]

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Thou Shalt Not Teach Thine Own Opinions


This is not some technical detail. It’s the basis of the entire mass education system, the social contract of teaching. In the past, wealthy people hired a tutor or governor, someone they could oversee and be sure exactly what their children were being taught. Poor people were grateful for whatever they got. With mass education, […]

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Top Down vs Bottom Up in the Classroom

Classroom Management
Thumbnail image for Top Down vs Bottom Up in the Classroom

I‘ve been in a few conversations lately that have made me think about my way of viewing classroom problems. Top down and bottom up aren’t quite right, but I suppose it’s such a common metaphor that I’m finding it difficult to break free of it. The top and bottom in this case are not people […]

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Self-motivated, Collaborative, Creative, Edited, Technological Literacy FTW!

Thumbnail image for Self-motivated, Collaborative, Creative, Edited, Technological Literacy FTW!

It’s holidays, and the girls (almost 4 and 6) are miserable with a cold. So they asked if they could work on their book. They are snuggled together in my bed: Using a book (Animalia) to get ideas for each letter. 6 yr old is telling 4 yr old how to type the words into […]

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A Standing Desk

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My desk is currently covered in boxes, and I’m loving it. I work at a little table that fits in the space between the window and the bookcase, opposite the lovely large table with the sewing machines on it. I use a laptop that sits directly on the desk and a cheap office chair. It’s […]

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App Review: WordFoto

Thumbnail image for App Review: WordFoto

Another app I love. It’s designed for iPhone but works on iPad and I think some iPods too. It’s very simple, but beautiful things can be done. All you do is open a picture in the app and choose or add a set of words. Then you get the fun bit, changing fonts, styles and […]

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