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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Relationships, Love and Memories


A friend shared this Meme on Facebook, and it struck a chord.  Initially I was a little tongue in cheek and my first smart mouth reaction was "what if they came to the car with me...", but all jokes aside, it left me thinking.

I imagine its your loved ones and your memories that you will cherish the most.

I try to remind myself this when I'm over invested with what I'm doing (especially in terms of the time and angst I expend) for work.

At the end of the day, it is not those people who will care - they will move on and you will be replaced in an instant.  Life will go on for them and when you go, time will erase your imprint faster than you can blink.  For them, they are not as invested as family and close friends.  Others will fill your shoes and that is the way of our world.

Life is short.

There is no guarantee that any of us will wake up in the morning. There is no guarantee that our twilight years will come, or that we will spend it with the person we love.  Either of us could be gone in an instant.

I know I am useless at living in the moment despite my fancy words, but I do reflect on it often.  Not to be maudlin but to remind myself.

Nurture your close relationships.   Make memories.  These are the things that shape us.

Finally, love who you are with, love what you do, and make love whenever you can - because love as a living being is fleeting, unknown and not something we can put a time frame around.

Make it your non negotiable!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Educational Coaching as a Resilience Builder


Working within an educational context is not the most cushy job one could choose.   It is fraught with tensions that are often counter intuitive to what it is to be an 'educator'.  The constant juggle of competing expectations (societal, parental, political) and the ongoing changes in education,  can take its toll on even the most resilient person.

Given the complexities of the job in relation to the ever increasing demands on accountability, educational leaders' are often on the look out for processes that streamline these demands in an authentic and practical way.  Administrators need to be assured that the accountability measures they employ are robust.  Whilst teachers' are not opposed to accountability, they are looking for an approach that grows them as educators.  They are after a process that assists them to handle change with resilience, where they are active partners in control of where they are going, not participants in a 'done to' model where they are unable to thrive.  Ideally, they want an approach that does not add to their workload and cause further workplace stress.

On the face of it, this would seem like a tall task.

Enter educational coaching.  (see my infographic on what educational coaching is)

A coaching framework has the power to assist educators to face change and difficult situations, both personally and professionally, with resilience, so that they are more able to bounce forward whenever they encounter setbacks.

Heres How Coaching Facilitates Resiliency:


Coaching is solutions focussed.  This means coachees' do not dwell on the negatives, but look forward, are proactive and are always seeking solutions from a positive mindset.

Coaching is goal orientated.  Setting a goal is about looking towards the future, and because it has measurable outcomes that are action orientated, it is motivating, rewarding and affirming.

Coaching improves performance and productivity.  When an educator (or anyone for that matter) experiences growth and success in their job, confidence is lifted and feelings of satisfaction are increased.  Feeling successful in your job is a key resiliency factor.

Coaching encourages individual and collective professional efficacy.  This gives teachers' an opportunity to foster collaboration, share successes and feel part of a team.

Coaching is supportive and it is a partnership.  It is a high trust model and confidential.  Teachers'  resiliency levels rise when they know they are supported and trusted to take ownership of their professional development.   It empowers them to rise to challenges and to take responsibility for their professional behaviour and learning.

Coaching encourages self regulation.  At our place, we use the Growth model of coaching, where the t and h refer to tactics and habits.  Knowing how to use tactics and habits to help you achieve your goals are great resiliency tools that cross over into  your personal life success, and have obvious positive ramifications for classroom practice.

Coaching is strengths based.  It taps into the potential of the coachee, and assists them to use their strengths and to find their hidden strengths.  Knowing what these are is a big resiliency bonus.

Coaching is about feedback.  Receiving feedback about your success and progress towards your goals in a constructive and positive manner increases your resiliency.

Coaching is purposeful.  Teachers are busy people who are often being asked to do more 'add ons' and at times, it can feel like there are never any 'take aways'.  Workload pressures seem to increase.  Coaching is not a chore, but an invigorating process that can give teachers the opportunity to see the 'woods for the trees', reflect, focus and because it is all about them, this 'me time' can be the highlight of personal development.

Coaching is authentic.  As a collaborative conversation, it is a process that is 'done with' someone, not 'done to'.  There is no-one telling you what to do, rather, the coach assists the coachee to work out for themselves what they will do and how they will do it.


Helping our staff develop and strengthen their resiliency is something that can assist our organisations culture, our teams wellbeing and it can increase the success of our schools.  As an educational leader, I can certainly say that coaching is an excellent tool to build resilience.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Life is Short - Don't Buy a Nana Car



I have been busy.

I know, I know, that sounds like something I always say, but this time, its not 'work' busy, but 'personally' busy.   I have had to replace my car.  I have been putting off replacing my car for quite some time.

Some people say buying a new car (and let me clarify that by new, I mean new to you) is fun.

Rubbish.

I don't think its fun.  I think it is stressful and fraught with issues.  Furthermore, it is time-consuming, expensive and despite the fact it is the the twenty-first century, there seems to still be an awful lot of misogynists floating around car yards.  (Ok, misogynist might be a bit harsh, but my most recent experiences have not left me feeling like things have changed much since men started selling cars back in the 'olden days,' as they still assume it is my other half that is buying, not me)

I didn't want to replace my Subaru, although I was toying with the eventuality because as much as I loved her, she wasn't getting any younger, and in recent years, we have had the odd 'love hate' moment.

Then she died.

Granted, it was a battery issue, but it wasn't the first time, and it cemented my decision that, finally, after a decade of being together, it was time to part ways.  A decade is a long time in a relationship.  I know people whose marriages have lasted less than that.

So, I started looking, thinking and 'wondering'.  Initially, I felt bad, like I was having an affair and being unfaithful to my car.  In hindsight, I realise that is a little bit ridiculous, but I reiterate, ten years is a long time.

Researching cars is a also a bit of a drag.  Initially, it is interesting and full of possibilities.  Then it becomes tedious and time consuming.   Tedious for me, because essentially, I have champagne tastes on a boutique beer budget.  All the 'flash as' cars and SUVs with low milage that are also newish or  late model, and that had the power I wanted, seemed a million miles away from what I wanted to spend.

I was also facing a bit of a quandary.  Like the Subaru, I am not getting any younger either.  I wrestled with the notion of practical versus impractical.  Should I be grown up, sensible, and buy safe, sedate and BORING, or, buy what gives me joy?

The first car I drove was a disappointment.   Another Subaru, late model, and a bit pricey.  I expected it to really 'snot' (go fast and go fast with power), and it was just 'ok'.  When I got back into my Subaru, despite the fact she was at least ten years older, she was far more responsive and just seemed to fit me like a well worn pair of favourite high heels.  The other car, well, she was just 'ok'.  It felt like a compromise.  I nearly gave up at this point.  Then it was Christmas and I didn't need to worry about it anymore.  Problem solved, for the time being.

Long story shorter, we found the replacement (I think I shall call her Nissy, short for Nismo, which is a Nissan thing, if you know your cars) the old fashioned way and quite by accident.  Friends had Squirt with them, which freed us up to go look around at car yards.  On a whim, we decided to drive up a road we didn't know well, or realise was a car sales mecca.

Techno Man found Nissy first.  I thought she was going to be well outside my sphere of spending power, but figured, no reason we can't go over to the yard and see what else they might have.  Then we noticed someone else was driving out the gate in her, and assumed that was it.  Over before it began.  Here is where the salesman came into play.  He had noticed that I had noticed Nissy, and before we could blink we were following him down the road to the other car yard, where Nissy was directed to meet us.

The moment I took her for that first test drive, I knew she was the one.  Superb handling, responsive, powerful and something quite special.  It wasn't just 'ok', it was outstanding!   I did however, play my cards close to my chest, and pretended that it was just 'ok'.  No point letting the salesman see how smitten I was.  I made sure Techno Man had a quick test drive as well - being able to compare notes is critical when you find 'the one'.

Later, over coffee, we planned where to next.  Bringing Nissy home wasn't as simple as just going back to the sales yard.  We needed to research the model, find out a bit more and we needed to get through New Years.  The bonus was the yard was closed for New Years, so we had time to do some research and to think about it a bit more.  Impulse buying a car is never a smart idea - no matter how much you might like it.  Always do your research.  The New Years break meant I had time to imagine myself being the new owner, and picture her being my new car 'relationship', and to break it off with the Subaru.

There is a lesson here, if you are open to it.  I could have gone the sensible car way.   I could have bought mundane, everyday, small car, big city practical.  But I would not have been happy.

Buying a car is a big purchase.  It is important to do your research and cover your bases.  I do not endorse not looking at all the pros and cons, especially things like insurance, repairs, and running costs.  But if you have done this, as I had, and you have factored in the additional costs of sensible vs not so practical, and your soul is the kind of soul that sings best when it has a bit of power, then go for it.   I am a woman who loves the V8 Supercars (think Nascar and Daytona).  The sound of a big powerful motor, and the feel of a responsive car is one of those things in life that brings me pleasure.  I don't need to drive fast everywhere I go - in fact - I don't.  But I love having the power at my disposal.

The lesson is we live once.  If you can, let your soul sing.  When you are faced with practical vs fun, have done the research and its within your means to do so, do it.  If you are unsure, ask yourself, will this be the car that got away?  Will you regret not buying it when you are 89?  If so, buy it.

So, as you can see, I have been busy.