Sunday, 8 January 2012

Resolve To Make A Difference

With the new year comes the urge to accomplish all the things that were meant to be done the year before and set new unrealistic goals, and it often starts with long to-do lists.

Perhaps we need to keep it simple, such as Johnny Cash's hand written to-do list by, which was sold for $6400 by Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California.

Rather than a create a set of dreams and wishes, I have compiled a list of quotes from writers and speakers who have caused pause and influenced my dispositional stance on teaching, learning, and living. The list is a guide for my mind-set and functioning in 2012 - a way to move ahead and to improve leadership by focusing on a small number of key dimensions.


1. Act with a moral purpose by making a positive difference in the lives of students, educators, and society as a whole (Fullan, 2010). Confront problems that have never yet been fully addressed by ensuring work involves powerful change rather than an efficient completion of tasks. Leadership and management overlap, but are not synonymous. Leaders challenge educators to face complex problems, paradoxes, and dilemmas for which there are no simple, painless solutions, and require us to learn in new ways.

2. Continue to wonder. Matthew Fox writes that we are in need of "wisdom schools, " as opposed to "knowledge factories". " A wisdom school would honour the heart and body, the right brain of awe and wonder...We must educate about awe - awe of our universe, awe of our planet, and its eighteen-billion-year story, awe of the creatures with whom we share this planet" (1995, 170, 173).

3. Think critically and creatively. Cultivate the restless mind and spirit by creating conditions where students and teachers embody powers of innovation to navigate their complex learning environment. "Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. To realize our true creative creative potential - in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities - we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative."(Sir Ken Robinson, 2011).

4. Listen intently. Silence is as revealing as chatter. There are different approaches and stances learners take when confronted with dissonance or the novel, we must students and teacher to clamor to express oneself and then be afforded the attention of the answer. "It is the province of knowledge to speak And it is the privilege of wisdom to listen" (Oliver Wendell Holmes). Take a deliberate stance toward engaging affectively and cognitively. Experience and understand things from another lens by inquiring, pondering, discussing, and loving.

5. Prune dead wood in your social and professional life (Christakis and Fowler, 2011) Behaviour is contagious, including being happy, thinking positively, and even risk taking. Limit time and energy expended on people whose behaviour and values are contrary to what you are striving to accomplish.

6. Celebrate the enthusiasm and joy of others embracing new strategies for engaging their students. "You learn at your best when you have something you care about and can get pleasure in being engaged in" (Gardner, 2010).

7. Revel in the complete joy of being lost in a great book. "My proper education consisted of the liberty to read whatever I cared to. I read indiscriminately and all the time with my eyes handing out..." (Dylan Thomas). The art of reading involves an engagement with literature that shapes our essence  - to feel things, know things, imagine things, hope for things, become people they never would have dreamed without the transforming power of books (Atwell, 2007).

8. Think of learning as verb rather than a noun (Prensky, 2008). Instead of teaching content or technology in terms of "things" (Twitter, Riel Rebellion) and instead think in terms of verbs (presenting, sharing, and communicating). Teach lifelong skills and habits rather than the trivial.

9. Learn more, work less. Do not lose yourself in the myriad of tasks.

10. Kiss my family everyday - a nugget stolen from Johnny Cash's to-do-list.

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