Interim reports

Education Learning Log

Back to school

The best bit about a week off for me is the chance to do some reading. Have particularly enjoyed Carol Dweck’s book mindset the new psychology of success. Got it after being really impressed by her talk at SLFO9. Worth reading and reflecting on. Doug Belshaw has pulled together a variety of bits off you tube here very handily!

Also found a couple of hours at the LTS Optima offices listening to Greg Whitby very inspiring. Lots of other who attended are much more conscientious then me and have written about what he said, in particular Neil Winton.

Still almost squeaking with excitement after my phone upgrade was due and I got an iPhone. I said it’d opened up a whole new world for me, Ollie Bray says its a way of life… Anyway the best thing is I can now twitter whilst at work. I’ve only been playing with twitter for a wee while but have already found its providing me with huge amounts of CPD activies, for instance… trying to play about a bit with Google Wave, thanks to Dave Terron for invite and thanks also for his update on the e-assessment conference in Dundee which you’ll find on his blog. Have a look at his wiki  Bold Girls which is a great example of what you can do with wikis using a bit of imagination. I pledged at teachmeet at SLF09 to get some more twitter starters in the Rutherglen Cambuslang Area, so I’m going to push for this using my pester power over the next wee while

Got a good week ahead, particularly looking forward to visiting Loch Primary for a day to visit classes and observe writing lessons. PT/Faculty Head drop in session this week is on coaching and mentoring and Barbara Lyndsay HT at West Coats PS will lead this. Looking forward to pubmeet on Tuesday and hearing more great practice.

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Books, Coaching, education, learning | , , , , | Leave a comment

My task for this week

It is genuinely difficult for me to listen carefully when I’m coaching someone without making judgements on an issue during the conversation in my own head. The tendency then for me  is to give advice and solutions for whatever issue they may have. I know I do this all the time not just when working on coaching. I’ve tried allsorts of strategies – doodling, holding my hand over my mouth etc which is all fairly pathetic. And I really do know that telling someone what to do to solve something really isn’t that helpful a lot of the time! It’s downright annoying a lot of the time as my sons never tire of explaining to me….

Anyway I found a useful activity in Julie Starr’s “The Coaching Manual” called meditation for non judgement on page 34. The idea is that by doing this activity it helps us to practise letting go judgements we make about others and clears our heads. The obvious reasons for this is to have a clearer mind when listening, become more objective and relate more closely to people. The activity involves you spending time just observing someone without interruption and possibly taking notes. Keeping relaxed while doing this and noticing what you’re thinking  – e.g. are you agreeing/disagreeing with what they are doing/saying, do you think they remind you of someone, do you like/not like etc. Trying to look at the thoughts you are having in a detached way as if you were watching yourself watching the person. Then as you acknowledge the thoughts letting them go. The next step is to refocus your thoughts from the judgemental ones to really thinking about what the person is saying, what they feel about it and what they are committed to.

I think I may have months of trying this ahead of me before I can listen better!


April 30, 2008 Posted by | Coaching | , , | Leave a comment

More on the coaching

Further to today’s coaching session. I am genuinely amazed at how helpful and empowering I am finding this process. From the point of view of me coaching someone else I find it a time when I can really listen and take time to hear what is being said – the amount I personally learn when listening to someone else in a similar kind of role is fascinating, as is really having the time to watch someone’s thought processes as they reflect. It’s very much a two way learning process, although I’m the listener. Maybe it’s just the seeing how someone moves through the thinking process in a more heightened way.

When I am being coached I find myself thinking hard and being amazed at what’s in my own head when I concentrate and can’t believe what some carefully worded questions pull out of me. I wish I’d come to this field of learning earlier.

Today I came away again with a clear idea in my head of my current progress and where I intend to focus next in my role. I’m finding the clarity it gives me extremely useful. I also feel very energised after a session as the fogginess of my thinking processes becomes clearer through discussion

This is a transformational development for me which is hitting me unexpectedly. Someone at the intitial training said they were finding it life changing. I think that now I’m actually moving through the coaching process itself I would have to agree. I’m also finding it remarkable how quickly it is affecting my thinking.

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Coaching | , | Leave a comment

A good day

I attended the SLC HT curriculum conference today for the morning. There was a wonderful display of good practice stalls set up for us to visit, highlighting good practice from across the authority. Lots to see and I heard someone say she wished she wasn’t retiring soon as it’s such an exciting time to be involved in teaching and she’d love to be just starting out! Says it all really.

There was also a section on Glow – where we are, examples of good practice in our schools and where we might go next. In the primary section a teacher from Woodside and Caroline from Castlefield gave presentations with some of the pupils from their classes. I felt like Caroline’s Mum watching her up there, I was pretting much bursting with pride. Their input and that of the children let people really see what a useful tool it is for learning and teaching. Some of the pupils from my previous school of Castlefield made me laugh with their insightful remarks. There are no flies on them, as it were, when making truthful comments, and if they didn’t find Glow useful we’d have known about it! Feedback from the secondary input from Jaye was also very good and I spotted her pupils outside looking pretty proud of themselves afterwards.

Later I went for my coaching session. I was looking out the window, near the lift in the faculty of education, off Woodlands Road, waiting on my coach to retrieve his car keys. I became aware of the lift doors banging open and shut, as I must have been making them open automatically from where I was standing, and within a man desperately pressing buttons. Anyway keeking in, who did I spy but Jack McConnell. Not one to miss an opportunity….Malawi – the very man – I thought -as I thrust my arm into the lift to stop him escaping. So he’s now more aware of the Duncanrig Learning Community Rich Task linked to Malawi…. He’d previously taken the time to send a letter to one of the classes involved (at Southpark Primary, I think). I did notice my coach’s shoulders jiggling in the corner of the lift as he hooted about my brass neck and cheek! Anyway  my main, very politically incorrect observation, is that in close up view he is much more handsome than he is on the telly!

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Coaching, ICT, Rich tasks | , , , , | 1 Comment

Developing Coaching

What with moving jobs and so on, I’ve not been able to get round to completing the 12 hours coaching I need to do to complete my coaching diploma. However now I’m settling into things, I’m about to begin this work with someone and I’m looking forward to it.

In education we tend to spend an awful lot of time being very task oriented and I’m a big offender in this. When you’ve been conditioned into this way of working over time, for whatever reason, it takes a concerted effort to really reflect. This all ties into my role of quality assurance and how I see the whole of this. If I can’t be a fully reflective practitioner and “lead learner” then how can I expect that to be seen in all those I work with?

It comes back to the notion of being fully present for others. So I’m hoping that as I develop my skills in this area I can myself be much more reflective and a more developed listener!

LTS coaching and leadership pages

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Coaching | , | Leave a comment

Edublog awards

Ewan MacIntosh and Don Ledingham have both been nominated for best individual blog at the Edublog awards. You can vote for them here. Don’t bother trying it more than once…Cos it won’t work! Not that I would have tried that of course. I remember when you could vote lots of times- remember when Belle and Sebastian won the Brit award, after a spot of enterprise by the good people of Glasgow? Or so I’ve heard…

I think both are deserving of many votes. I find it fascinating and inspiring to read Don’s blog, particularly as an insight into how his thought processes work. Every time I read it I find a little gem which sparks off some thought or reflection or research on my part. Ewan is  inspiring teachers with his enthusiasm and drive to revolutionise learning and teaching and is someone who is just “doing it”. A lot of us talk, pilot etc etc but he just seems to get it done! Our school song/anthem is a song written by Karine Polwart. Our children learned it when she visited and wrote extra lyrics etc. They put it on our school cd too. Anyway, here are the lyrics, sums up what Don and Ewan and teachers in general are trying to get children to believe. That we can do it all if we try

I’m Gonna Do It All
Words: Karine Polwart (Bay Songs Ltd)
Music: Karine Polwart (Bay Songs Ltd) & Steven Polwart (MCPS/PRS)
I’m gonna sail right out on the Atlantic
I’m gonna catch me a fish that’s bigger than gigantic
I’m gonna cook up a fine fish tea
It will be like some kind of Galilee
I’m gonna do it all some day

I’m gonna do it all some day
I’m gonna do it all some day
You may not believe a word I say
But I tell you I’m gonna do it all some day

I’m gonna climb way over that old mountain
I’m gonna shout in a place where no-one hears me shouting
I’m gonna shout so loud
I’ll strip the silver lining from a cloud
I’m gonna do it all some day


I’m gonna fly in a silver winged space rocket
I’m gonna pick out the stars and put them in my pocket
I’m gonna bring those stars back down
So I can spread celestial light around
I’m gonna do it all some day


“I’m gonna do it all” OUTRO

So go on get voting for the edublog awards.

We’ve had a rocky time this session with some traumatic and serious illnesses amongst some of our staff. What could have been a very difficult time for the school has been remarkably smooth. The quality of staff  we have at the moment who have just finished their probation has been excellent. They have come on board in difficult circumstances, mucked in, asked for help if needed, worked as a team with our existing staff and come back out fighting after any knock backs. A teacher asked me today if she was doing ok settling in (she knows who she is and she’s a star!) and I was really angry with myself that I hadn’t ensured she knew how well I thought she was doing. I’ve been really busy as has our DHT coping with changes and doing a spot of crisis management at times. But we should never be too busy to praise and be present to our staff. If people don’t know what they need to do and are expected to do and how well they are doing it then motivation and well being  can slip. So this week I’m on a mission to make time to let staff know how I feel about their  good work.

November 27, 2007 Posted by | Coaching, ICT | , | 1 Comment

Formal Coaching, donkeys and owls

Here are some photos from trip to Motherwell Heritage Centre.

Here are some photos from our Malawi/Scotland day.

Yaaasss! I’ve passed my coaching assignment so I’m ready to start formal coaching with a colleague. I’ve to keep a diary and log of this for the completion of my coaching diploma. This approach fits very much with a notion of working together with staff to steward leadership growth in a school.

My trainer is very insightful and I have learned a great deal from him and from my current reading about coaching. For anyone just about to embark on this there’s a great wee pocket book which has everything in a concise form. 

Here’s an interesting metaphor we discussed. Thinking about political awareness and values/integrity maybe we can imagine people as some of the following animals –

  • foxes have high political awareness but no values or integrity, they’re a wee bit sneaky and tend to be teflon coated
  • Lambs have low political awareness but have high integrity and values – they tend to be nice people but a bit naive, but as time moves on eg after being heidie for a while their beliefs shift a bit as they become better leaders
  • Owls have a high level of integrity and well defined values (lambs often become owls) they are very politically aware. They are wise, they fight the good fight, but if pushed they kill if neccessary…
  • Donkeys – well…..

Metaphors and stories are very powerful when having conversations with anyone about change, shifting beliefs etc. That’s one reason why I found this a useful way of thinking about leadership.

I find myself increasingly using stories and I suppose myth making when working within school. This is a real building brick for moving a school forward- telling/talking about  the best of what has gone before and building a buzz around this helps create an era of hope for improvement tomorrow.

In addition I’m overcome with excitement having sat down long enough to use properly – sitting down for a while is a good idea!

October 28, 2007 Posted by | Coaching, leadership | , , , | Leave a comment


As part of a diploma in coaching mentoring, I’m just about to start formal coaching sessions. My trainer is called Steve Hurst and he sends out regular e-zines with useful advice. The latest one was about playing to people’s strengths. I’m a great beleiver in finding out what people are best at and helping find ways, with them, of how they can become even better at that. Here’s Steve’s advice on how to do this. Changing how you approach conversations with staff helps motivation and helps us improve that thing we’re all in the game of – improving authentic learning and teaching, where we are fully present for those children, parents, staff we work alongside.

“A good ‘one to one’ can be measured on what your employees feel at the end of it. Do they feel, depleted, anxious, confused, under valued, stressed and insufficient? If they only felt some of these things, think of the impact on their morale, performance and your profit margin! How many days sick do your people take off with nothing more life threatening than apathy and what’s this costing your business?

We’re back to that ‘positive energy’ again, a.k.a. motivation. How can you focus the one to one so that you allow your employees to feel, valued, energised, confident and capable?

Here’s how; simply hold the conversation around four questions:

  1. What are they enjoying at work?
  2. What have they done well?
  3. What could they do even better?
  4. How can you help?

Don’t go over the “yes I know that was good but you didn’t fill out the report on a regular basis, you need to be more regular”. Then you write, development area is to ‘fill out reports regularly’, come on!

What are the 2 or 3 things this person could be even better at, if only they were given the chance? “Even better” isn’t that the crux of it? Rather than focus on all they’re useless at, focus on what they could be even better at and what could truly add value to their overall performance and your bottom line.

Change the nature of the conversation then you naturally change the outcome and wouldn’t it be great if it were more positive, up beat and based on strengths rather than perceived weaknesses?”

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Coaching | , , | Leave a comment


I’ve been waiting three weeks for my coaching and mentoring assignment to be assessed. I’m so used now to instant feedback I’m feeling antsy! It’s just impatience to get started on doing formal coaching sessions as I need to be assessed in my understanding before I can do that.

One of the areas I’ve been trying to improve in the meantime is how I give feedback. Which makes me wonder if the way I have been approaching forward plan feedback has been a bit awry. We collect in the Forward Plans, write up a 2 page feedback form linked to HGIOS, give back the folders and feedback sheet to teachers, then set aside time to meet and discuss the Forward Plans.

I wonder how much of this process has been driven by my needing evidence that I am monitoring what is going on within classrooms, rather than being driven by an impetus for real feedback . Its something I need to revisit. Effective feedback should be something which encourages reflection, helps people set new action plans, motivates and gives accurate information which lets insight occur. I don’t think I have been making this forward plan feedback process as effective as it could be.

September 23, 2007 Posted by | Coaching | , | Leave a comment