Monthly Archives: January 2011

How Fascinating !

As part of the week long induction process for my new school (post about this to come soon) we were shown the following video from Ben Zander; the conductor for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.

During his talk, I took away the following points:

  • You can not learn anything without making a mistake.
    Mistakes can be fascinating and need to be celebrated as much as success.

 

  • A vision has to be for everyone. A vision is not a goal.
    Zander says that “Everyone love clasical music; they just haven’t found out about it .” Does this then mean that every child can be successful, they just haven’t worked out how ? 

 

  •  The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound.
    “He depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful.” What does this mean then for teachers ? What does this mean for school leaders ? How are we “awakening possibility” in others ? How are we making the eyes of others shine ?

 

Edublogs Teacher Challenge – Reflections so far…

Things I have learnt:

Since commencing the Edublogs Teacher Challenge I have been:

Looking at About Pages:

 I liked the humerous grumpy tone of the interview with Mrs W and her Smartboard Blog

Mrs McGriff and her poem about her vision for her classrom really inspired me. I feel like writing my own now. I can feel a future post here in the making !

I have worked with Anne Mirtschin to help present the Ultranet Share N Tell session, but had never actually made it across to her blog ! I liked how her about me page documented her work she has done in the past and how it incorporated photos. (and have now added her to my blog to my ever growing collection in Google Reader)

From the I learnt that good about pages:

  • Give a good insight into the person behind the writing.
  • Feature photos and perhaps other media.
  • Have something different – eg: written in the third person, written in the style of a poem.

I already had an about page prior to this week’s challenge but I’m hoping as more people complete this week’s challenge I’ll have more examples to draw upon and ideas for modifications to make.

Posting Comments on others blogs:

Previously I had only just read others blogs, but now realise the value of adding a comment after you have read something really inspiring. As mrsdkrebs  wrote in a comment I read “I’m realising now how fun it is when it’s a two-way conversation.”

Creating a Disclaimer page:

Given I already had an about page that didn’t really too much work I felt I was getting off a bit easy with this challenge so I thought I would add another page to my blog. I noticed a disclaimer page on Mel Cashion’s Captivating Classroom Blog and Doug Belshaw has a comments policy who based his on the policy of Michael Hyatt.

Setting up threaded comments:

I thought this was one of those things that just happened – apparently not. My blogging mentor Lois pointed out to me that I hadn’t set this up. A few quick clicks under Settings then Discussion and I was able to set this up.

Playing with Google Reader:

A few weeks ago I only discovered Google Reader and what a great tool it is to manage all your blog subscriptions. Prior to this I was subscribing to all my blogs by e-mail and my inbox would be bombarded with messages about new posts on blogs I wanted to read. Google Reader makes keeping up to date with various blogs SOOOOO much eaiser.

Setting up my RSS Feed:

I had a copy of requests from people who had been reading my blog to set this up. Again, thanks to Lois I was able to get this up and running.

Challenges I have encountered:

Adding the Live Stats Bar:

I wanted to add Feedjit Live Blog Stats bars to the sidebar of my blog but couldn’t get it to work. I was hoping it would give me some HTML code that I could insert into a text bar and it would magically appear. Instead it asked me download some zip file and then upload it to the plugins, but I couldn’t find anywhere to do this. If you’ve done this and can point me in the right direction, I’d apprecaite it. In the meantime, I’ll keep playing.

Finding time to write:

I am developing all these great ideas for potential blog posts and writing notes on my blog and saving them as drafts so they are all stored in one location, but I just need to find the time now to flesh them out. I am going to need to allocate time in my schedule for writing in addition to reading all the work of others.

Tags and Categories:

I know this is down to explore further on in the challenge, but I’d kinda like to know what these are and how they work ! Guess I’ll need to wait and all will be revealed !

What’s your paper chaos costing you ?

This post is my second task in the Edublogs “KickStart Your Blogging” Teacher Challenge

One of my (many) goals for 2011 is to keep a clean desk both at home and work this year. Whilst I’m pretty good at managing the digital sutff, it’s the offline hard copy stuff that I tend to be drowning in. Anyone who has seen my desk or pigeon hole at work will attest to this statement.

I started reading “PaperFlow” by MaryAnne Bennie and Brigitte Hinneberg. I was instantly taken with the beautiful photo at beginning the book showcase the increadiably clean desk and the the matching red, white and dark brown stationary and storage options. This image symbolised what I so wanted to achieve for myself.

Some truths about paper:

The book begins by talking about how paper flows through our lives and recognsing some truths about paper:

  1. Paper needs to earn the right to take up your space.
    Paper will only fit in the space made available for it
  2. Look after the 20%.
    80% of the paper we keep is never going to be looked at again !
  3. It’s always urgent when you can’t find it.
    You never know when you’re going to need that important document, but when you do, it’s almost always in a hurry
  4. Paper likes to be with its friends.
    Similar types of information and similar shapes and sizes wanted to be together.
  5. Your paper will tell you how it wants to be stored.
  6. Storage is a tool, not a solution
    Storage containers, files and stationary are merely toosl, and a tool without a system is just clutter.
  7. Paper will evolve.
    A good system will adapt, expand and contract. A good paperwork system preserves your past, documents your present and anticipates your future.
  8. Paper needs to flow.
    When paper doesn’t flow, we experience “office constipation”

In reflecting on the above, I was able to identify my strengths and areas of opportunity. Most of the paper I had kept was stored reasonably well; similar documents were stored together and living with their friends.

One of the tasks early on the book asks you to calculcate the cost of your paper chaos. At a rough estimate, I worked out that over a week I spend about 2 hours looking for lost documents, 45 minutes duplicating work I had already done and about 3 hours sorting and resorting documents and paperwork. The task then requires you to multiply this number by 52. I attempted to find a calculator for this task, knowing there was one on my desk, but I couldn’t find it amongst all the paper ! (I ended up using my iPhone and later found out someone in the house had borrowed my calculator!). This worked out to be 312 hours a year !!! (Now I know why I didn’t have any time to write blog posts in the past! :P)

Areas for opportunity were to develop a solution to manage the flow. So many personal and work related documents were dumped in various places. On my desk, in my bag, in my pigeon hole, on the kitchen bench, somewhere in the car….) My paper wasn’t flowing and I was getting seriously blocked up ! 😛

Decide Now!

Throughout the remainder of the book, a series of “decide now” prompts encourage you to stop and reflect or make a decision before moving on through the rest of the book. I really liked this approach as it encouraged me to stop and think about how I wanted to move forward. The book also encourages you to keep notes of your decisions as you move through the book; another task I found benificial. By the time I reached the end of each chapter I had a clear, concise list of what I had, what I needed and what was required instead of having to flick back and re-read earlier sections.

Where to now ?

I have since started to impliment the strategies suggested in PaperFlow and have documentend my journey through comments and photographs through my http://sduncan0101.posterous.com blog. I am still a long way from completing and setting up the system fully, but I am on the road to clearing the piles of paper polluting my life.

 

What strategies do you have to keep it under control ? 
What is your paper chaos costing you ?  How do you handle and manage the papers in your life ?