If directing a production was like coaching a sport.

Sometimes directors seem stressed. We are. We love it, but yes, it is stressful.

Sometimes people say “I understand, it’s like that for a sports final.”
It’s not. Here is the job if this were a sport:


  1. Have a team of approximately 35 members … in some schools 80+ !
  2. Include some members of the team because it is good for them only because they need to socially to connect with others.
  3. Have a team whose abilities include absolute beginners and those who have been working in this since 4 yrs old. But they must all appear to be at the same level in the game.
  4. Practise for approximately 8 hours per week. You will not be given any equivalency to Winter Tournament Sports week, nor will students be keeping fit during the school day – all of this must occur in your own time.
  5. Never have the team all together for practise– not even once – before the big game.
  6. Have at least 2 sports uniforms specifically made and tailored to fit each individual. Make some of these from fabrics that mean they cannot be easily laundered overnight. Be the person who will launder some of these after each game.
  7. Be ‘nearly expert’ in technical matters for light and sound requirements of a night game. Practise the game with all the technical elements needed. If these are running well for your practise your practise will need to run over time.
  8. Ensure all players must are seen n the light, have every word heard through mics, look fantastic and run precisely what was practised.
  9. Much of the game must be played in time to live music.  Ensure you have adequate practise time with the musicians and the players.
  10. Note: The final games – may or may not be on a pitch the same size as the one you have practised on. (And new pitch may slightly change the rules of play.


  1. All games are played at night.  All games will be approximately 120 minutes.  You will need to start warm up at least 3 hours before the game, and be the person to shut down, lock up and ensure the feild is secure before leaving  – so expect to be present from 4pm – 9.30pm.
  2. Have all 35 of the team in the locker room, where they many no eat or drink in their uniform and they MUST be extremely quiet throughout the 120minutes of game time when not on the field.
  3. Usually 4-6 consecutive final games are played. Each one must be exactly the same.
  4. At EACH of the those games, EVERY student must score a try, shoot a goal, do things brilliantly as this is the ONLY time their families will see their development.
  5. Have your ability as the coach judged solely on how well the team does at the finals only – not on the progression made. There are no MVPs, no player of the day each week

Of course, this doesn’t even begin to cover the hours spent designing (sometimes sewing) the uniform, designing and sometimes building playing field, organise the ticketing, the budget, the advertising … so many other aspects that need to be either completed by you, or overseen in detail and signed off.

You see, this is why we feel the pressure. We want each individual to do brilliantly, just as a coach does. However, in sports, parents can come along and see the development of their child week to week. In a sports final, an audience understands that sometimes things don’t go well, there are things beyond your control as a coach or manager.

But in performance, our audience, the student’s parents see the final product. An audience expects the same excellent result every single time.

Because of all of this … we may seem a little more stressed at times – but this is only because most of the factors are in our control. We are doing our very best to eliminate all possible hiccups and get every one of the 35+ team members to be working at their best and to retain a modicum of sanity at the end.  We love this work. It is engaging and rewarding …. but it is nothing like the sports teams I have coached.

Dear 14 yr old …

Dear 14 year old….

It is that time of year. You must choose your subjects for the following year.  At just 14 years old you must choose a pathway that will lead to university and a career. Never mind if you don’t want to go to university, you haven’t figured out what you like, if you chose subjects to be with a specific friend or because you heard the teacher sets no homework or worse – you heard from a well-meaning family member that you will be able to “use” this in “real life”.   Choose. Now. But check that your choice follows through to year 13. Choose now – despite the fact that some subjects are privileged as being more important and therefore compulsory and this limits your other choices. Choose despite the fact that your current interests aren’t catered for. Choose. Now. Quickly you are year 10 after all.

Do not worry if you have not yet been exposed to the wide range of possibilities for learning.  Choose. Now. You, at 14, must already know what you intend to become after leaving school.

Choose, but be aware some subjects are seen as soft options – you will be judged for your choices.

Choose. Be afraid of all the messages that say, “If you don’t take this (insert subject) you won’t be able to (insert possible courses at university) – even if you don’t know if university is what you want.

Choose.  Mock those that choose subjects for interest and passion. Choose for a job that you may not decide to have.

Choose. Now. Quickly.

Sweet 14 year old, please ignore those stories of people who discovered a new passion at 16, 18 or 24,  those that had one teacher who changed their outlook, those that discovered they were good at something after another year, those that loved turning up to classes because they loved their choices.

Please listen to everyone who reminds you to constantly to be afraid of the future, to be afraid of not being enough, of not having the right subject/mark/course.  Try to become indoctrinated into the idea that everyone needs all of these subjects. Don’t point out to your parents that they have said numerous times they never used Pythagoras or read another piece of Shakespeare out of school. Your parents had to endure this and they turned out OK, so you must also endure this so that you can encourage your own children to take subjects as a “just in case”.

So choose now, dear 14 year old.  English, Math and Science are decided. In some schools you must also do PE even though you dance for 8 hours a week outside of school. That way you only have to choose two or three more subjects to decide your career – becuase that is the message you are learning.  Take Economics in case you go into business, take a second science because you may need it, take geography and history and  – no, wait, you can only choose one of those now. Never mind your interest in photography- for that is a hobby. You can turn up to a music lesson once a week – so you don’t need to take that as a subject, oh, and don’t take Japanese as you aren’t going to live in Japan, besides, someone can vaguely recall a media reported that Mandarin was the new language to take.  And don’t take Food – just watch a few seasons of Masterchef, don’t take Drama because you won’t be an actor, or Classics because you aren’t a historian or Media Studies because you aren’t a filmaker or Geography if you aren’t going to be Town Planner.

Listen to all the advice dear 14 yr old. And Choose! Now!  And pay attention to the message that these choices will decide your future and will affect the next three years of your life, your univerity degree and the job you will inevitably have. Because after all, that is the only reason we educate – for the job you will have.

  • Disclaimer: the cynical nature of this rant is from the frustration watching the decision making. 

Sexist dress code?

It is gorgeous walking to school today. 9am, 20°C already… forecast to hit 31°C by lunch time.  Summer!  I can wear sandals and a sun dress, the students are in summer uniform, short sleeves, shorts, skirts and in some schools, open sandals an option for all.  There is a skip in their step.

I must spare a thought for my colleagues who, due to a sexist dress code,  will be required to wear a suit, tie, socks and shoes. This is for men only.  Why?

• Do schools provide air conditioning in each teaching space?
• Does a suit make men better teachers?  The PE staff would disagree as they can be great teachers in shorts and t-shirt.

I would argue being in a suit makes teaching worse. Being overheated and uncomfortable in the classroom can make for irritated, grumpy, fuzzy brained people – students and teachers. The PPTA even has guidelines for temperature in classrooms.  How we dress contributes to our perception of the temperature.

I understand that schools set a standard of professional dress  – particularly for formal occasions. I understand that the culture in different schools give variance different dress code.  I know that when you sign up to a school, you sign up to their dress code.  I realise that in the world of fashion and business there are accepted ways of dressing to signal “professional” and “successful”.

So today, my suited male colleagues,  I will understand if you have rolled up your sleeves, loosened your tie and are huffing and sighing at the heat and are sitting in the coolest place in the school you can find.

Surely in the interests of equality and sensibility, there must be a different option of dress for male staff who wish to dress to the conditions hot days like these.
Some men may not mind … but what about those that do?
How do we change this?
What does your school do?

This was my wondering on the way to school.


Genuine Decisions – Part 1

A Friday in November

A little girl, five, hair in long plaits, swings back and forth in her dress grinning away at her mother. “Number eleven and twenty two,” she beams.
Her mother smiles. “You can only choose one. Pick the one that you like the most.”
The little girls skips back into an exhibition of artworks and returns still skipping. “Six,” she announces proudly. Her mother smiles, “Great. Let’s see what you have chosen.”

This occurred at the Muka Print exhibition, unique in that it applies a strict ‘children only’ policy. In order to purchase a limited edition lithograph, children go into the exhibit and can chose from 40 prints. The choice is genuinely theirs. There is no parent body language to read, no adult pointing out the finer points of one over another. Just the child and their eye for an artwork.

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Watching this, it made me wonder;
• How often do students make genuine decisions in the classroom? Decisions where they are fully in charge without influence from adults?
• And, if they do, are the decisions they make important to them?

During my the last few years I have spent time helping with this exhibition I noticed a range of responses from children suddenly charged with the role of the decider. Most responses fit into three broad catergories.

The Excited
Children bursting with the idea or previous experience of being completely allowed to trust their own judgment and choose an artwork that they love. They are proud of their decision, particularly as the curators explain the significance of each print and artist.

The Undecided
Sometimes a child so excited they wanted more than one – good learning as they had to trust their decision to choose only one.
Sometimes a child is overwhelmed with the possibility of making a poor choice they can’t decide – but are learning to trust their decisions. Sometimes they don’t like any – which is also a valid choice.

The Worried
The child that appears excited but upon seeing their parent says, “I don’t know”, ”I think it will be OK” … you can see them watch the adult response carefully. If there is a hint of disapproval or surprise from the parent a child is suddenly less sure and often goes in and our several times.

The parent role is crucial in a child’s ability to trust their decisions. While most parents enjoy the idea of the exhibition, some struggle with a place that is child only. They question why they can’t go and have a look. They challenge the staff, with all kinds of excuses why they should go in. When their child appears with a choice there seem to be broadly three types of parents.

The Empowering
“ Great. You’ve decided.”
“If you like it, it is the right one.”
“You’ve chosen well before”
“I’m sure you will have chosen the one you like.”
“You must really love this”

The Surprised
“Oh? You like this?”
“Well, that is certainly different”
“I didn’t know you liked those colours/shapes/lines”
The Cause of Self-Doubt
Are you sure? Did you look at every one”
“Do you like it more than any others?”
“Is it like other ones you have?”
“Have you just chosen that because your brother/sister/friend liked it?”
“Really? You actually like that?”

And the worst experience (I’ve only observed once in 5 years)
“I’m not paying for it if I haven’t seen it first.”

Some of these responses break down the trust between a child and their parent . The parent is essentially saying, ‘I don’t trust your ability to choose something you like”. This is a heartbreaking thing to see, and worse, it teaches children that they need to check their choices.

As a parent and teacher, I know that I can heavily influence the decisions of children. I know I have – especially when I am in a hurry. You may know the sorts of decisions we pretend to let children make … whether it be what they wear, to what they pack to take away to what is for dinner.

Decision making is a huge thing to learn. The above examples are within a parent/child context but these sorts of scenes also play out in classrooms every day.  Being part of this very special exhibition made me wonder;

  • How often in class are students making genuine decisions?
  • Do they get to make decisions that matter to them?
  • Do they get to make decisions that are theirs alone? Collectively and individually?

Not surprisingly,  I have some thoughts about this. That will be in part two.
I would be interested in where others see genuine decisions made by students.

Playing Better

Space to breathe and space to think – I love having a weekend away – mostly because it gives me a chance to think about other things with a fresh brain. In the weekend I went away with friends and with a group of children present we of course had time to play.

Play is how we learn. Play is crucial to enjoyment of learning no matter how old we are. Play is central to all work in drama. And of course, play is fun.

With some time away I had time to pay attention to the play of the children I was with. I love what they can teach me about my practice.
I was particularly interested in the play of the youngest member of the group.

We played a game called “Cops” which was essentially about the capture, jailing and escape of a “robber” – who in fact did not need to do anything criminal. This was a story-based game of tag that was played for a sustained period. This had all the basic elements of theatre; A focus on roles in time and space with action and tension. Yet it required no exposition, development or even much conclusion.

Within the group, this delightful 6yr old led much of the development of the game. He has a sense of play that had some significant features:

  • highly physical play
  • assigned roles for the game – that were fluid / changeable
  • joy in the repetition of a couple of narrative sequences
  • simple story line
  • quick and easy changes between stories
  • any new ideas were quickly woven in and repeated
  • no need for instruction from adults
  • lots of laughing
  • tension in the story that doesn’t need to make total sense.
  • questions and solutions were asked/solved in situ

Guess what?
We didn’t need to ‘sit on a mat’ and listen to a teacher explain it, the other children negotiated the “rules” or ‘frame’ as we call it in drama. The kids didn’t need someone over-explaining what was happening or point out all the potential problems.

This observation of play posed a number of questions for me as a teacher:

  • Is my drama classroom physical enough?
  • Do I give enough time for repetition of story?
  • Are the students leading the work in the drama class?
  • Do I get ‘in the way” of the stories we co-create?
  • Do I still pace the class to reflect natural play?

Despite having taught drama all of my teaching life, like all teachers, I can get stuck in a cycle of what appears to be working and forget to check if there is a way I can still do it better.

So back in class on Monday I did a check on my play basics….
★The drama work was physical but I changed the tasks to be more physical in the building belief phase of work.
★Although we often re-play in drama as part of developing work, I did this in a deliberate way.
★I stepped ‘out of the play’ in the planning and even with twenty five of them all discussing the way the story would play out – they came to a consensus – without teacher intervention. Although I wouldn’t do this always as I know some voices were silenced in a shared negotiation process, but I observed some interesting strategies that the students employed to ensure that they got what they wanted or negotiated their way into and around the work.
★I set up more whole group role work – which sits in natural play more easily.

The result was a better paced session. Drama is generally enjoyed by the students but I think the levels of engagement were higher from a wider group of students and for longer when better thinking through the basics. I had more time observing the process and this created space for me to think more carefully about the possible drama tasks to drive the story (if it was required.)

Not only did the weekend away provide an important part of life for me as a person, but also for me as a teacher. Thanks for playing everyone.

Some days…

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I was talking to a delightful 8yr old today. She was telling me what was really bothering her with friends, with school, with sisters with what she sees as being unjust. To be fair, at her age, many things lack fairness as she comes to realise that the world doesn’t operate with her within her frame of sensibilities.

She has mentioned one exchange that happened over a term ago that she can’t let go. As she was explaining everything, I realised she didn’t want advice, solutions, options … she just wanted someone to know.

Much like us in teaching, some days we simply want someone to listen to the fact that our job is hard;

  • parents are sometimes unreasonable,
  • administrators are sometimes unrealistic,
  • education is sometimes simultaneously awesome and falling apart,
  • I can be the best teacher ever sometimes and other days I don’t meet my own standards.
  • We have days when everything gets on top of us as it can do.

I had a day like that today. The crazy thing is, we sign up to a certain amount of pressure working in teaching. We know it will happen. We accept it will happen and most days we are great with it. Just like the 8yr old I spoke to.

Then some days, something is said and you can’t let go. It nags away in your brain and interrupts your day. This is sort of day when you need someone who understands the demands of teaching.

That’s why in teaching I think we need to have colleagues who are friends in a number of different ways.

  • We need critical friends – who challenge us, discuss and think further about our practice
  • We need inspirational friends – who engage us, plan and act on wild imaginings.
  • We need organized friends – who remember details and make sure we turn up on time in the right place.
  • We need solving friend who help us find a pathway through the madness.

Some days though, we need a fully present friend

– who is not attached to a device, or rushing to the next thing, or waiting for a pause to ask you to do something. A person who will listen. A person who will take joy in your successes or will listen to complain while you talk yourself ‘out of your tree’. Someone to be fully committed to waiting for you to be finished speaking.

If you are lucky you will have a teacher-friend who can be all of these things.
The hardest to find is someone fully present.

So, these are my thoughts after my discussion this morning with an 8yr old.

If you are a fully present friend

Ask: Is there anything you want me to do to help?

Accept no as an answer.

Remember sometimes kids just want someone to listen not solve things.
So do adults.

Make sure you thank your fully present go-to friend. Now is good

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Modern Practice or Environment?

Modern : Contemporary, latest, present, up-to-date
Learning: Knowledge, skills and understanding through experience and investigation
Environment: Surroundings and conditions

‘MLE’ has become yet another education acronym that can mean a hundred different things. It can be interpreted by parents as the new way forward or the latest fad that will fail children. It seems with every school upgrade there is a tendency to jump on the MLE band wagon. The failure of the space alone to change the experience and achievement of the child means parents and some teachers are quick to dismiss MLEs as useless. In reality the problem most likely occurs when some MLEs are put in place before (or without) the MLP Modern Learning Practice.

Many people will remember the dreadful “computer labs” of the 90s which were “modern” in equipment but by virtue of the way were set up, had no current (of the time) research to support their use. Teachers were often untrained in ways to use computers meaningfully, students didn’t collaborate and too often students experienced a glorified coloured typing sessions.  (Not where I was teaching at the time thankfully!  @dnzkiwi).   It has long been evident that simply having a “modern environment” doesn’t necessarily change practice.

After a stimulating discussion a couple of weeks ago with #edchatnz community, it would seem I am not alone in my opinion that teacher practice is key to the success of learning environment. In fact, some teams of teachers limited by single cell classes have fantastic practice and some fantastic environments have less than brilliant teaching. The reality is there should be continual shaping of the relationship between great practice and environment.
I have seen a really great example of the weaving of practice and environment in my own school. This is the work of @learningideasnz

• started with practice – teacher sees the need for greater music technology in school while    making the most of what was available.
• led to environment – better recording equipment and software.
• led to practice – changes in what students can opt in to for their music course.
– more students see music as a relevant and real option
– teacher develops ways around the limitations of the environment
• led to environment
– the need for greater range of equipment to support courses
– wider school systems accommodate more students
• led to practice
– greater range of students taking music therefore more individuals being catered for.             – students create individual programmes according to strengths and interests in music.
– his creates greater workload for the teacher and great success for students.
• led to environment
– when opportunity to refurbish the rooms happened vision to add  a new recording studio
which is (I think) the best one in high schools in NZ.
• led to practice
– the development of project based learning, collaborative projects, and more students making use of the greater number of spaces for creating and recording music.

Some may say this is because the teacher has a particular strength in the area of music technology. Although this is true it didn’t necessarily mean a change in practice. The practice has changed because the teacher believes that the learning environments that students can access outside of “school” should be able to be accessed inside school to both motivate and stimulate students in their learning.

Because of learner need, the changes in practice has led the change to the environment not the other way around. The new environment hasn’t been a pretty end point or something to show people on tours of the school. Instead, it has become a place of high demand for students learning their craft.
You can find more about the exciting work happening here:
This is an exciting spiral of increasing spiral where the learners are at the centre and changes in learning practice influence the environmental changes in turn will help the learning. My hope is that more schools will start with the learners and wonder what practice will help them best and then make changes to the environments to inspire and motivate exciting learning for everyone working in the space.

Digital Manners. Part One

My year 10 group and I have been discussing digital manners. As happens with teaching, I become hyper-aware of connecting in class learning with my own life.
I have no problem having a no-phone rule with good friends. However, I have been more aware of phone use (mostly social media)  in many situations.


If my past month of coffees catch ups were woven in to one fictitious 30 mins. This is what I would write:


It was great catching up today, escaping the madness of the working day.

I did laugh when the barista thought you were picking her up as you were on the phone to your partner while ordering your latte.

I love the filters you used on the Instrgram photo of our coffees. Posting the pic to Facebook was great to. Meant that those people we haven’t spoken to in person since university could see that we purchase coffee.

You must be frustrated that you always have to answer the phone calls from work. At least it was important – imagine if your office staff had to wait another hour before sending the minutes from the meeting you had this morning.

I hope you enjoyed the movie that you arranged to see while we talked – the reviews you read aloud sound good.

How lucky that the story about having my cat put down reminded you to make a quick note to pick up your special clothes from the dry cleaners. I’m sure the wedding you need it for at the end of the month will be lovely.

We are fortunate that you got that meeting alert for 3 hours time. Made sure we kept to our plan to be back to work before the end of lunch break.

You must be exhausted from the constantly juggling your conversations and people who require you to compulsively check in. Perhaps mediation would help – oh wait,  you have a Mindfulness App to take care of that.

Great catch up. I hope your cellphone and I can do it again sometime.



Honestly, put your phone away and pay attention to the real life person.

(constantly switched on is for on-call in midwifery
or emergency services of some kind. )

The Baby and the Bathwater

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”. When I was little my Aunt’s expression used to confuse me. As if that could happen.
This expression came to mind today when I read this post from @ReidTeachnz :

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Turns out there is (once again ) debate about how best to teach maths.

The article entitled: Back to Basics call on Maths. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11459426

This kind of article always worries me. I think it signals the chance of a bizarre lurch to something “new” without considering the learners in the room. As many of you have, I’ve seen these changes happen before – more than once. I’ve seen not only the bathwater but the idea of bathing the baby thrown out and replaced with another good idea.

You see, I trained in the “olden days”. We had a system called Wellington Maths. It wasn’t perfect, but it explained teaching maths in bite sized pieces that involved both drilling basics, developing strategies, the bizarrely titled “social application” – which involved maths games and problem solving to reinforce skill development. Imperfect, yes, but it did give balance – and taught me how to explain things I “just knew”.

Suddenly …. Dum-da-dum-dum… The first of the “new” ideas arrived in the form of a burgundy coloured NZ Maths Curriculum. The PD that surrounded this in my first setting was about coverage – ie. the strands needed to be equally covered, all Achievement Objectives met by the end of the year. It was madness not to mention odd to spend so much time on geometry.

In the second setting I encountered PD in Mats the message was Number and Algebra are important the rest get a bit of a look in each term. Suddenly we were expected to teach broad AOs that were not broken into steps and new teachers often struggled to know how to teach this. I was grateful that I had Joan Pask teach me Wellington Maths . I kept the best parts of what I knew worked and made it fit the “new”.

More ‘recently’ by education standards, we have had the Numeracy Project – hailed as way to raise student achievement in Maths. In many ways it formalized what good teachers were already doing. But I have had conversations with teachers who are frustrated with the system and I always wonder why they don’t simply add what they know works to the mix.

Here’s a big part of the problem: Professional Development

I have taken a lot of PD for teachers. I fully understand that the intention of the presenter is not always what the teacher takes away. I also understand that some teachers want a quick fix and some want to keep doing what they have always done.

I realise that PD is often delivered to teachers at the end of a day or for half a day and suddenly they are expected to run a new system. Two things happen:

Either – there is cherry picking and a focus on one aspect of what the “trainer” said. Or they are so busy developing the new ideas they leave behind what was working really well for their learners.

Too often the something “new” doesn’t come with critical professional discussions about what does and doesn’t work for specific learners. In turn, students are short changed by good intentions, new systems and the next “new thing”.

There isn’t a “new” fix. What we need is:

  • teachers with Growth Mindset,
  • teachers who have daily/ frequent conversations with learners
  • teachers who know their learners
  • teachers with critical friends to challenge their ideas
  • teachers who can trust their instincts
  • teachers who can take new ideas and weave them with what they know works
  • teachers who understand the true art of teaching.

Finally, we need teachers who won’t throw out the good “baby” with the old bathwater – but aren’t afraid to top up the bath water with some fresh new ideas, aren’t afraid to change the size and shape of the bath but hold dear the great work they do every day.


Mind Set and Stress

I generally back myself to have a Growth Mind set. I love learning and used a growth  model of MI in the olden days.  I love a challenge and I am self taught in many areas and I seek expert help whenever I can to expand my understanding of everything I like to do.

This week has taught me an interesting lesson about Growth Mindset; There has to be room in your head for growth.  Right now, for me, there isn’t any extra head space. Due to things beyond my control I am well behind schedule in the work I am doing for a production with 200 students. I am working significant hours out of school to make it work. I do this willingly for the students but it involves significant mental gymnastics.

At the same time the rest of my working brain space is used up sorting out my house situation. After a reasonably long (3 yr) discussion with earthquake insurance we are finally moving forward – albeit slowly and not in the direction I would like to be. So my stress levels are higher than usual.

Thankfully I have some systems for working and resources I have designed in the past that I can tweak and recycle for my current project.  I keep notes on students in a specific way that makes moving between 14 different classes easy to manage. I am a responsive teacher so these resrouces are used when required.  Teaching drama means the tools I will use on any particular day to help students develop  can’t be planned for weeks in advance.  I use these tools every day.  Well I did.

This week my lovely PA and keeper of things – my MacBook-  died 🙁 . As in will never recover.  I have an old PC that is used for staff when things go wrong and it is driving me nuts.  Ordinarily I would spend time figuring out how to do things, reading forums and generally enjoying the process of solving a tricky situation.  But I have discovered that a growth mindset is really difficult under stress.

Fortunately I was able to get a delightful person to retrieve most of my data.  But I have lost my music, my calendar, my numerous desktop notes and transfering some files from Mac to PC  adds time and brain space – neither of which I have enough of at the moment.

My last three days have been about different layouts, different versions of software, opening a doc and finding it is formatted differently, different shortcuts …. everything frustratingly different. It is slowing me down at a time of high stress,  which in turn drains my energy and brain space for a growth mind set.

Of course I need to talk myself out of my tree. I need to harden up because that’s what we do as professionals.  But this week has reminded me the importance of knowing my students well. I am glad that I take the time every day to find out where my students are up to in their heads.  It helps me know who I can push and who I can’t on a particular day.  Knowing students as people with full lives outside of the 6 hours means it makes me a better teacher because some days, like me at the moment, one more change, one more “growth mindset” might just be one too many.