Whiplash

I have something to confess.  This book is long overdue. What do I mean by that? I actually bought this book  in the beginning of the year but I only manage to finish reading this book now.  A very though-provoking read as it makes me think how different the world has become. I start wondering to myself: Am I doing enough for the students to prepare them for what is in store with them? I feel that I really need to move faster and get my students to embrace the exciting world. Definitely not by drilling them for PSLE of course. It is more than that. 

The world is changing and if you are not moving (and prefer to remain status quo), you are falling behind. We are living in the era of asymmetry , complexity and uncertainty. It is exciting world we are living in. Let’s embrace it and not be afraid of it.

Here are the major themes that may guide us how we can survive this exciting times:

(1) Emergence over Authority – No more control and command, pls. And definitely no executive order. 

(2) Pull over Push

(3) Compass over Maps – No more guided instructions. Just do it with a compass guiding our ways. 

(4) Risk over safety

(5) Disobedience over Compliance

(6) Practice over theroy . It is practice-theory, thinking-doing.  2 sides of the same coin. We should not be separating them

(7) Diversity over ability – The wisdom of the crowd! 

(8) Resilience over strength

(9) Systems over object

 

 

On Making Smart Decision

This book is the HBR’s 10 must read on making smart decisions.

One of the key takeaway is the hidden traps that we may fall into making decision [Article]. These include anchoring trap, status-quo trap, sunk-cost trap, confirming evidence trap , framing trap and estimating and forecasting trap.  As I look through these traps, I guess I am more prone to confirming evidence trap and sunk-cost trap. Guess I really need to be more “open” and look for dis-conforming trap. As for sunk-cost trap,  I need to learn when to let go. Just because I put in lots of efforts, that does not mean that I need to hang on to it. When it is time to let go, just let go!

Another thing that strikes me is the near misses [Link].  These misses make make us fall into the trap of thinking everything is all right. Even a small deviation might mean something terrible in the long run. There is always a need to uncover the root cause and get to the bottom of any deviation. One has to be alert and must learn to ‘smell’ such near miss

In another article on “How (Un)ethical are you”,  one has to be more aware of our unconscious biases such as implicit prejudice, in-group favoritism and overclaiming credit. I think I am more prone to over-claiming credit biases as I always think that I work the hardest. Maybe time for me to rethink this biases.

360-Degree Leader

Currently, I am also reading the 360° Leader by John Maxwell.  It is easy to read as most of the principles are ‘common-sense’. It is all about making the implicit explicit and making one more aware of the way we are doing certain things.

Okay, I admit , I am skeptical as I read the book and I go like “liddat can also write book’.  On reflection, I guess that is because I am actually demonstrating the principles almost all the time.  I am not being egoistic here but I am just being truthful. 🙂

For example, I lead up by becoming a go-to player and be prepared every time you take the leader’ time (I seldom go to my boss’s office without any possible resolution).  I lead across by being avoiding politics and put completing follow leaders ahead of them. I lead down by modelling the behaviour I desire.

Being a humble me, I still have my AFI. Here are things that I need to work on :

(1) Expand your circle of acquaintances

I am basically quite anti-social and do not really like to make small talk and make new friends. Perhaps, I should consider doing this more  . But this is not so ‘me’.  Another way I can look at this is to get to know friends who know more friends. If I need help, I just need to go to them.

 

(2) Walk slowly through the Halls

I really need to slow down! I am quick and do things fast. Hence, I can be impatient at times when things are not done and I will do it myself. This is something I *must*  stop myself. I cannot use my standard to judge other people. I really need to slow down!

 

 

Lean In By Sheryl Sandberg

Chpt 6 : Seek and Speak your Truth

  • I totally agree that there is no such thing as absolute truth. It is only my truth (point of view) and your truth (your point of view). So, with this framing, we can be more emphatic and be more mindful  when communicating with other.
  • We always say that we are open to feedback but do our actions really reflect that? That is the question that I need to constantly interrogate myself.

I always have a tendency to be defensive and try to respond to the critic when someone make a comment on my department.  I really need to step back and listen and stop myself from reacting. That is something I need to constantly remind myself. Some feedback might not be useful and just those typical complaints but I need to learn not to respond first and jump to conclusion. Hear the feedback , detach myself from the feedback (it is about the program and not me), and see if the feedback is valid.  If I do not show that I am willing to listen, how can I expect feedback?  Something for me to work on in 2018

2018 Challenge : Read a book every month

Since I have completed my thesis, I am now ‘more free’. No more writing over the weekend. So, now, I have given myself a new challenge. Read a book every month and blog about it.

For the last month of 2017, I am trying to read 4 books concurrently. So, I will try to blog about these books for Dec! Hope that I can sustain it!

 

#justoverlyattached

I have been a teacher for close to 15 years but I guess I am still a very BT at heart. What do I mean by that?

I am always very emotionally attached to my students and cannot maintain a distance away from them.

Is that good or bad? I do not really know. I know that if my students do not do well for national exam, I have a tendency to blame myself and would be affected by it.

Well, it is perhaps this #overlyattachedtomystudents keep the passion for the teachers going.

PS: Actually, I am quite affected by the release of the PSLE results yesteday and I am trying my best to “run” away from my innate feeling . By trying not to think about it and burying myself in my thesis revision. When I am alone,  I start thinking what I have not done enough for my student. If I have done more, will the results be different? Is it because of my incompetency ? Indeed, there are many self-blaming questions circulating in my mind . If only I have ….

I will get by  this. Just give me the weekend to get emo and I will be back to my normal self. For I know I have done what I can for my student.

Just gimme time …

I finished my 21st km !

I went for the GE Women’s 21 KM run today. It took me 4 hours to complete the run  and at some points, it was even raining.

I am glad that I went and completed the 21km run. Why? As this is just more than run. It allows me to show my determination to complete something if I choose to. This will encourage me to go forward and do things in the face of difficulities.

If I can complete 21 km in 4 hours (I know it is slow), I can do anything. I need to have ‘positive’ thoughts to push me through as there is 101 things on my plate now. At times, I really feel overwhelmed.  Come on, I can do it. Becasue I am 打不死的小强.  I am ever-ready ever onward Andersonian!

Go! Go ! Go!

Teaching Maths in 2017 (Part 2 – Reflecting on P6 Maths Program)

For this part of the reflection, I am going to look  at Maths Program as stipulated by the department and how that can be further strengthened and improved. Generally, I have no issue with the bold and forward-looking strategies of the department (e.g. with no use of workbook, making mathematics reasoning visible through journalling, use of technology for formative assessment).

In fact, at the beginning of the year, I was excited about this.  But, a strategy is only as good as its execution. The devil is in the details and the implementation is even more challenging in the P6 critical year. The students are not enculturated in such way of mathematics learning and may not possess the necessary dispositions and skills.

(1) No workbook

In this year, students did not buy workbooks. Students were expected to do questions (in textbook) and referred to them whenever necessary.

But, I believe that this was the first year most of the students were experiencing this. The students might not have the habit to refer to the question in one place and their answer in another place.

This might create extra cognitive load for my students as they needed to flip to the relevant page (provided they had written the page and question number) and refer to their answers. My students were already ‘put off’ by maths and this extra step was not going to make them love Maths more.

I am all for the idea of ‘no workbook’ as this allows teachers more time to create meaningful learning experience for the kids. I do not dispute that.

But, the P6s might not be ready for this as this could be their very first year experiencing this. It would be good that if this has been implemented in earlier years (say P4). So, once they are in P6, they will have the habit with doing work in the exercise book.

(2) Making mathematics thinking visible through journalling

Students were to write a journal entry explaining their mathematics reasoning. This is a very good idea. But, our P6s might not have the necessary skills and disposition for meaningful and in-depth journalling. They were likely to provide journal entries that lacks depth.

Why? Again, this could be the first year they were doing mathematics journalling and they do not have the necessary skills and dispositions for such meaningful journalling. Meaningful journalling takes time and students should be trained over the years for that. We cannot leave it to the students to ‘journal’. They need to be trained over the years.

So, it would be good that the department can come up with some consistent scaffolds for such meaningful journalling over their 6-year. These scaffolds and structures would be used consistently over the 6 years.

I am definitely all for mathematics journalling.  This why I was doing a variant: Through making their mathematics reasoning through videos.

However, my challenge was finding the common scaffolds and apply these scaffolds consistently. It would be good that the Maths Department, with their wealth of expertise, can come up with something the teacher can use.

(3) Formative Assessment using technology

I am all for this provided this is meant for assessing the simple-to-do work problems (e.g., 1-mark or 2-mark mechanical word problems). I was using the platform extensively for my class and they enjoyed it. I would even give them differentiated problems based on their results.

However, the answers in the platform might not be correct at times, which might lead to misconception in students. For example, if 3.05 is rounded off to 1 decimal place, both 3.1 and 3.10 are both accepted. It would be good that the Maths Department can set up some Google Doc for the all Mathematics teachers to input such inaccuracies. This would help further strengthen the platform in terms of mathematical accuracy.

In essence, I am all for the bold and forward-looking vision for the Maths department. The question to ask: Are our student enculturated to this type of Maths learning?

Hence, there is a need to put structures and process in places over the 6 years to ensure the vision can materialize. It might be a challenge for a P6 Maths teacher to implement the strategies in class in which students are not prepared for over their years in school.

But, I am glad that I ‘somehow’ survived the year by making meaning of the bold strategies and contextualized them appropriately in my class.

Teaching Maths in 2017 (Part 1 – Reflecting on teaching maths my way)

This is the 2nd year I am teaching the most academically-challenged maths class. It is time to take stock on what I have done and see how best I can move forward next year. It just seems that I am destined to teach such group every year. I am more than happy to take up such challenge as I love to help this group of kids to clear Maths with minimally a E!

 

(1) Addressing students’ learning gaps in fundamentals

I try to close the gaps in their fundamentals that they are facing. However, I feel that I should have done more if I have been  more daring to “ditch the syallabus” and focus on their fundamentals”. Focusing on their fundamentals has to be done in Term 1 and should feature regularly in my maths lessons.  Like for a ten-period week lessons, at least 2 periods needs to be devoted to their fundamentals.  So, starting for next year, I am most likely to drown them with lots of mechanical sums in the very start. This can be achieved thru

(2) Making their reasoning visible through video recording

This is something I will continue next year. But, I would need to put in scaffolds in place to make their reasoning visible (e.g., stating the criteria). I have tried to scaffold their learning this year but I should have been more consistent in the way I use my scaffolds. I also ought to provide more feedback to my students about their video.

In essence, making their reasoning is vital and critical. It is challenging but it needs to be done. I do think about the scaffolds but somehow, after the 101 things I need to do, I sort of lose the discipline and am not very consistent in which I apply it. This is a note to myself. I must be more consistent and disciplined next year in the use of video in providing feedback !

And , I also need to allow my students to critque their peer’s videos. This is something I have not done this year.

(3) Gamification

Gamification of Mathetmatics learning (e.g., using Kahoot) is something that I will still continue to use next year.  Making mathematics learning fun is cruicial and I need to think more ways to gamify their learning. Perhaps, I should consider using MyDojo

Seeing my students excited and learning Maths spurs me on (even it means more hardwork for me as I need to input the questions!)

(3) No WB

This year, the Maths Department goes without the WB.  I do see the value in not using WB so that teachers can spend more time creating meanignful learning for the child. There is no need to ‘rush through the WB’.. But, having gone through a year without WB, I feel that it might be better for the kids to have WB so that they can refer to the worked examples. The current textbook examples are just not enough.  For this group of kids, I will position the WB as a ‘notebook’ in which the kids will take down the worked examples and do some do-able sums on their one,

So, what is my plan next year? Yes, the kids won’t have WB officially. But, I will buy WBs for them. In this way,  I do not have the pressue of completing every single question in the WB (well, it is my money anyway) but the kids will have more worked examples to refer to. A win-win situation!!!

 

Learning from CLDC on Oct 13

After hearing the sharing by various participants yesterday, I can see two  recurring themes (guess my doctorate studies have always made me see want to do a ‘rise above’ and see what is same same but difference)

(1) Process and structures

Okay, I admit. I hate these two words for it sounds so restrained, so HQish and so the bureaucratic! You know, those typical official comments when things goes wrong. “The process and structures are put in place but ….”

It is definitely important to have process and structures but the devil in the implementation. We might have the best process in the world but all amount to nothing if it is not implemented properly. So, as leaders, we also need to work with the ground people to see that is implemented to high fidelity rate. How? Guess back to finding inner purpose and get them to see the higher meaning as to what they are doing as what I have articulated in the previous post.  [Link]

So far, I have tried that out on my technical staff after trying to convince them of the inner purpose. So far, it seems to work as they are taking more initiative (meaning, I need not chase them for jobs).

My next challenge : Getting teachers to see their inner purpose.

(2) Influencing people

You can’t get things done on your own. You need to work with people. You need to mentor people. In short, try to mentor more of “minion ” me so that I can see the change what I to see.

This is yet another challenge to myself: Mentor more people to become more like ‘minion’ me! Heart in the right place (‘for the students’)! Crazy about technology-enabled learning!

What is the best way to do it? There is no easy solution as people are different. As for me, I will think of how others have mentored me. I realize that they ask the right questions and make me think deeply in another level. And of course, I do respect and trust them as the mentor as they walk the talk.

So, this is a personal note to myself: Walk the talk and be a role model. Ask the right question when mentoring.

(3) The need to plan ahead

I do agree with that and must plan ahead. But, as a MM, there are some many firefighting and things to do. Where is the time to think deeply about issues and plan ahead?

“The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” – Eisenhower

Guess we just to find the time to be engaged in thinking-doing. as these are important but never urgent things!

Here are things that I need to do to be engaged in thinking-doing :

  • Blogging about my doing about a leader helps me to clarify my thoughts and better understand me and my response. I shall continue blogging so as to ensure that I am thinking deeply.
  • There are other timing in which I find myself engaged in thinking deeply too like while driving to walk or when I am out for my daily walking. The ‘me’ time allows me to have inner dialogue with myself!

So, challenge to myself next year: More me time to be thinking-doing. I aim to respond and not react!