Thursday, August 22, 2013

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday He who thinks he knows doesn't know. He, who knows that he doesn't know, knows. True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents. I use always use my full power and talents to have a Happy Friday! Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. You never need to hunt for the meaning of having a Happy Friday! Eleven Ways to be Happy Hugs may not be on this list, but they should be. Especially for certain staff! Spend money on other people. Studies show "the happiest people were the biggest givers, no matter what they earned." Count your blessings. A study proved that people who wrote down three good things that happened to them every night were significantly happier than control group who did not. Try something new. People who try new experiences are generally happier, research has shown. Delay gratification. Anticipating happiness actually makes you happy. Studies have shown that it's human nature to forestall an enjoyable event. Expose yourself to more blue. Researchers showed that exposing yourself to the colour blue sent "self-confidence soaring, cut stress, and boosts happiness." Set goals for yourself. Psychologist Jonathan Freedman claims that people who set objectives for themselves are happier than those who don't. Go to church. In a study, people who attended church regularly responded that they were happier and more satisfied with their lives than people who were not religious. Sleep at least six hours every night. Six hours and 15 minutes a night of un-interrupted sleep makes for the happiest people, a study found. Make sure you have at least 10 good friends. Adults who said they had 10 good friends were happier than those who could count five or less close friends. Fake it 'til you make it. Several studies have shown that just the act of smiling can cause people to experience happy feelings. Have a romantic relationship. People in relationships were generally found to be happier than other people, and spouses have the highest sense of well-being whether they are happily married or not, according to a study. Of course, listening to "Don't Worry, Be Happy" always makes me smile. When I wake up, my premature optimism is always rewarded, especially when I have a Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Courage in the Classroom

Good morning, e-friendly staff. Curro Century City, like all schools, is a unique social environment. This year could be the very best year in your life; imagine that. This could be your year. You could be what you dream to be. You could achieve your patronising goals, and people around you could see you at your best. You have that capacity – but it’s going to take a little work on your part and a whole lot of courage. And I’d like to talk about courage a little this morning, because it can be confused with bravado and ego and posturing – and that’s as far away from real courage as wisdom is from foolishness. Courage, we can recognize, is derived from the same Latin root that gives us the French word, “coeur”– which means heart. In its simplest form, then, when we do what our hearts tell us to be right and good and true, we are acting courageously, and I think that that’s the purest definition of true, moral courage – and it’s so incredibly rare. We admire it in others when we see it, we often pray for a little bit of it at difficult moments in our lives, and we are very thankful at those rare instances when we exhibit for ourselves and others true moral courage. We will be all faced, at times in our lives when we need to be courageous, especially when those around us have lost their way. I started this note this morning with the idea that each day is a new start. Let me start the day by asking ask you to add courage in your heart, because without courage we will never dare to act on our core values of Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Compassion. Without courage, those will be reduced to merely words on a wall and abstract ideas in your brain - and nothing else. You must hold the core values in your heart and have the courage to act on them in those moments in your life when they are called into question. Today, tomorrow and every day following, have the courage to be your best self. We all know what the right thing is to do; We aren’t perfect, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to become better each and every day. In closing I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to dare to be your best self. Listen to your heart, and dare to be courageous. Thank you for the work you do, and have a super weekend. Sean

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Open Door Policy (what does it really mean?)

Open Door Policy (what does it really mean?) Open door: Everyone in Curro Century City should have access to my time. I welcome your input. I keep my door open for a reason, and when someone walks through it, no matter who you are, you are welcome. Open mind: Brilliant ideas can come from anywhere. I will listen carefully, welcome off-the-wall suggestions. If we stretch our mind – like a muscle, it will grow stronger. More muscle, the stronger we are. Open laptop: Grasp the power and necessity of engaging and enabling online. We must find ways to integrate educational topics on social media, using networks, videos, forums, and blogging. This is where everyone lives nowadays – we must join them. Open standards: Our mission is clear, but more importantly we must live it. You have to treat everyone by the same rules. And when a challenge arrives, keep people everyone informed. Nothing undermines morale more than whispers and unanswered questions. Open heart: We must reach each other on an emotional level. We must touch each child on some part in their heart and/or soul. I’m not talking about turning Curro into a group therapy session, or saying you have to dispense hugs (though hugs can be a very effective if done in a way that makes sense), but don’t be afraid to show some heart. Let us all work with sincerity and follow-through. Paying lip service is worse than doing nothing. It’s hollow and people see right through it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Building School Character 2

Building a school’s character 2 Have you ever wondered why so many people have so little confidence in themselves - especially since they have so many skills and talents? Most self-doubt accumulates over a number of years, because as children we are criticized for our perceived weaknesses rather than applauded for our strengths. If you start counting all the negatives a child experiences in a day, year or lifetime, it's no wonder that many lack confidence in themselves. The bad things, the mistakes, the big red X’s are often given more attention." When you as a teacher see good things, beauty and potential in children, and make their strengths "psychologically visible" to them, it’s like magic. They grow to see it in themselves. Whether we're coaching, parenting, supporting a teammate or just being a friend, there is no substitute for genuine compliments. Kids are so starved for compliments they'll do just about anything for one. In fact that's the definition of the word "encouragement" - to "give courage to". The best teachers give out compliments a lot, without even thinking. That's why we will be creating a sense of self-confidence in every student by igniting hope and belief in them every single hour of each day through compliments here at Curro Century City. I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor. - Oliver Wendel Holmes

Building School Character 3

I believe children will flourish if we challenge them. At Curro Century City they must be educated, not to count up the cost of their burger and fries at McDonalds, but to own their own McDonalds. An old story is told of a curious little boy who constantly questioned his grandfather about many things in life. On one particular day he asked his weary grandfather, “What makes the glow worm light up at night?” The grandfather was not sure of the scientific explanation, so his response was simple, “It is the stuff inside of it.” Today’s research explains that glow worms are referred to as fireflies and its unique characteristic is due to the chemical luciferin and the enzyme lucrifase located inside of the insect’s abdomen. So, that grandfather was absolutely correct- The stuff inside of the glow worm caused it to light up! There is a connection we can make from the firefly illustration for our students and ourselves. We have great potential, possibility, and purpose inside of us that needs to come to light. As a school family, we have made great progress in the areas of achievement, the curriculum, and our extra-curricular activities. Our next major focus must centre on developing and nurturing our students’ interests, attitudes, and values. As a school family, we, too share the parents’ responsibility of leaving the right attitudes, values, and qualities. We must recognize the need to light up and stir up the good that is inside of our students. We are moving in the right direction although it may not always seem so. Yet, we need more than solid teaching to ensure our students become responsible as individuals. Our emphasis must be upon character and values, we will have the right stuff to shape positive attitudes and illuminate their total essence. You have the attitudes, you have the values, and you have the light. For those older than any McDonalds in South Africa, remember the words from the song “Shine a little light on me”.

Angry Birds

EVER PLAYED ANGRY BIRDS? All teachers and principals must deal with angry parents from time to time. In those times of heated passions, our responses carry great weight. A miscalculated response can backfire; it can fan the flames of a parent's upset and even burn bridges we've worked hard to build between school and home. That's why experienced principals use techniques aimed at extinguishing fires before they develop into full-fledged infernos. The key to controlling the blaze, most principals agree, is listening. LISTEN, AND THEN LISTEN SOME MORE The first thing when confronted by an upset parent is to smile and extend your hand. Invite the parent into an office and offer a seat. Doing that helps make the parent feel respected, and it communicates that I am willing to listen and try to find a solution to whatever is on their mind. As you are making the upset parent feel welcomed, also reminding yourself that the parent is usually not angry with you. Instead, the parent is usually upset by an event or something else in their life -- and it's your job to listen. Listening intently can go a long way toward resolving most problems. AND THEN LISTEN SOME MORE There is nothing worse than a parent who is upset and yelling in the halls where they are in earshot of students, teachers, and other parents. Almost always, parents calm down once they know that you are willing to listen and assist them. Empathy goes a long way in finding a solution to any problem we may be facing. Show genuine concern about a parent's feelings. Remain calm and offer the parent compassion. They need to let it out, and doing that will make them feel better. If you become angry or defensive, it becomes a power play -- and they feel helpless and lash out. It is better to show that you understand how they feel... even if their complaints might be out of your control. PUT YOURSELF IN THE PARENT'S SHOES "I just tell myself never to take a parent's upset personally," "That helps me remain calm, professional, and consistent."

Education, looking in all the wrong places

The story is told of a boy who was seen searching frantically for a coin he had lost. It was dark. The boy was down on his hands and knees beneath the corner street light looking for his coin. He was very intent. A man happened by and asked the boy what he was looking for. It went like this: Boy: "I dropped a coin and I'm trying to find it." Man: "Where did you drop the coin?" Boy: "Oh, I dropped it over there," as he pointed to a spot well beyond the area illuminated by the street light. Man: "If you dropped the coin over there, why are you looking for it over here?" Boy: "Because it's lighter over here." Like that little boy, the education decision makers of South Africa, over the centuries, have spent their time and energies - wasted their time and energies - looking in all the wrong places for the answers to education's most compelling and perplexing problems. Rather than looking for answers where the problems are, that is, in the classroom where education takes place, they have been looking elsewhere. In fact, they have been looking almost everywhere else. With what effect? Nothing of substance has changed. That is, the process of teaching children has not changed nor improved systemically in any measurable way. This is a centuries-old dilemma with which education has just never come to grips.