Of course the best thing about being a Director of Studies is that you get to sit – mostly undisturbed – at the top of a majestic tower (mine is made of ivory). Occasionally a faceless teacher will scratch pathetically at the heavy wooden door- Ha! The fools! My manservant quickly escorts them away and I am left alone to contemplate ideas worthy of the loftiness of my office. Yes, indeed. It’s tough at the top.

Anyway… back to the real world. When I became DoS I realised one thing about teachers – there’s just no escaping them. I’ve tried many a cunning ruse to avoid them. For example, coming in before dawn and sitting in my office with the lights out  – but there’s always someone who pops their head round the door – “Morning, Mike! have you got a minute?” One week I dressed up as Batman and any time anyone came into my office asking me where I’d hidden the workbook for Headway Intermediate, I’d reply ‘I’m not Mike. I’m Batman.” –  “Yes, Mike. And I’m Robin. Now – where’s the workbook?” – Tunnels; secret passageways; time machines. I’ve tried them all – but the teachers still manage to find me.

Of course that’s the point, isn’t it? For even as I want to yell out ‘I don’t have time!’ whenever a teacher asks me something, the key thing I’ve forgotten is –

It’s all about them.

At the moment I’m reading The Little Big Things by Tom Peters. I can’t help picturing Tom frothing at the mouth and waving his hammer round in the wilderness of management (in a good way, Tom!). The thing is he has an uncanny knack of hitting the nail on the head. Not far into the book’s introduction he underlines the importance of spending time with your team…and the importance of listening attentively to what they say.

Oh My God, Tom! Do you really want me to listen attentively to my team? Isn’t that a bit nutty? I have forms to file and reports to write, dammit!

But – of course -he’s right. And he’s not being soft. Think about it. I might speak to a new student for 10 minutes. The teacher, however, is going to spend 60 hours with that student – that client. That’s 360 times the amount of time I will spend with the client. All that time to make an impact. Who do you think is more important to the student?

The teachers are the talent. It’s vital that we listen to them. Attentively. It makes good business sense if nothing else.

‘I don’t have time’ is a thought we often have – but remember that figure – 360! – We’d better find the time to listen to that teacher. We can’t afford not too.

So now I leave the Batman costume to the weekends.

For more on Tom Peters check out tompeters! website

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Here’s a link to the blog post I’ve written for International House – http://ihteachers.com/?p=61

 

What great fun we had last week in Greenwich at the International House DOS (Directors of Studies) conference! Thanks to everyone at IHWO for being so wonderful.

As promised, here are the resources I mentioned during my presentation  – Sorry for the delay in getting them posted –

Tip 1 – Set up a Tickler File!

Tip 2 – Write Everything Down – Decide on your three Most Important Tasks – Do a Weekly Review
Tip 3 – Learn to Say NO!
Tip 4 – Learn to Apologise
Tip 5 – Make respecting the school’s values as important as classroom performance
Tip 6  – It’s Your Ship!
  • Be Positive – Give Positive Feedback – Create a Recognition list and check it every week
  • Fight for your Team – Remove obstacles – Keep Things Simple – Keep them focused
  • Show them you care – Set up a blog – Give them Cake! – one-to-ones
  • Watch what you say
  • Enoy it!

Resources

The video might be posted on the IHWO web soon…

Do you want to get organised? Do you want to be successful? Do you want to be both those things whilst actually working less? Do you want to do all those things with the help of zombies and Oreo ice-cream cake? Well Stever Robbins is at hand with a great new book – Get-it-Done Guy’s 9 steps to Work Less and Do More

You might know Stever Robbins as the Get-it-Done guy from the Quick and Dirty tips Podcast. His book, Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More,  is a playful, yet serious guide to working less and doing more. In other words, creating a more productive life. It lays out nine skills that apply anywhere you want to get greater results with less work.

Stever was kind enough to agree to do an interview for this blog – Hope you enjoy it – Don’t forget to subscribe to Stever’s great podcast at http://getitdone.quickanddirtytips.com/

…and why not buy all of your friends a copy of Stever’s book for Christmas? Why not buy each of your friends 10 copies?…Stever asked me to say that. I’m not on commission…honest.

Interview

Welcome to the blog, Stever – Just in case there’s anyone out there who hasn’t come across you yet, could you give us a brief description of who you are and what you’re passionate about?

I’m a serial entrepreneur and self-professed personal organization geek who helps people get things done with humor and fun. At the moment, I help people streamline their lives and increase their personal productivity. What I really do is help them become better at creating the whole life they want, not just at work.
I’m currently working on my 10th startup, which is oriented around helping people create a life that works for them.
My fantasy career involves more communications work. I’m quite good at making complex things simple to understand and communicating them well. My favorite side project is a one-man musical based on my book, which I’m co-writing for me to perform. It will have all the information, tips, and excitement of a normal business keynote, but with singing, drama, zombies, and Oreo ice cream cake.

Book me tickets for the Milan show! Your Get-It-Done-Guy podcast has really helped me work less and do more – which of the many episodes are you most proud of?

For some reason, I’m extremely fond of one of my first episodes, “How to Say No.”It’s a skill I’m not very good at, and I had a woman who’s a master at the skill do a demo. I still listen to that episode so I can practice the skill myself.

Now, as well as the podcast you have a new book out – The Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps To Work Less and Do More. What’s in there to help make life easier for people – like me – working in educational management?

The nine steps are designed to cover the major areas I’ve seen people work without getting results. Working on Purpose is good for keeping your work oriented towards what’s most important. Step 5: Staying Organized is probably especially helpful in education management since you have events that repeat and are coordinating programs that may involve hundreds of students, instructors, and classes all having similar issues. It covers how to organize your thinking and keep straight lots of little details. I wrote it when working at Babson College and several of the tips in it came from systems I developed to help manage student teams. Step 7: Optimize is also especially well-suited for educational management, since it details how to create systems that learn as you use them.

That sounds great. Stever, I know how much you love meetings… – any tips for anyone out there struggling to run effective meetings?

Think long and hard about what a given meeting is trying to accomplish: share information, make decisions, build morale, etc. Then brainstorm for any other way to accomplish the same goal. If you must have a meeting, have a clear goal, an agenda, a time keeper, and a “parking lot” for issues that come up that are tangential but should be addressed later. Then stick to the agenda as if your life depended on it. End promptly at the stated finishing time.

Just one last question – This blog is for people working in education – Who have you learnt most from in your life?

My book is dedicated to seven people who have taught me life-changing lessons, whether through lifelong relationships or through one-time comments that were exactly what I needed to hear at pivotal moments in my life. Three have been ongoing influences in my life. First and foremost is my college professor, field study advisor, boss, friend, and now President of Babson College, Len Schlesinger. He’s one of the sharpest business minds I’ve ever met, as well as one of the most approachable. He also dreams big. Very, very big. I like that. Other big influences include Richard Bandler, who taught me ways of understanding interpersonal behavior, and my friend Tamin Pechet, who is one of the best brainstorming partners I’ve had; I can barely keep up with his good ideas and insights.

I’d like to thank Stever for taking the time to do the interview – I’m sure you’ll all buy the book – http://www.steverrobbins.com/the-book/ I’d love to know which tips you find most useful – please leave a comment!

Anyone who has ever worked with me speaks fondly of my love of story-telling. There’s nothing my colleagues like more than hearing me reminisce. They often beg me to tell them one of my long, meandering, carefully crafted jokes. Well, actually that’s not entirely true. People have been known to wrestle me to the ground and punch me until I surrender my desire to share my jolly tales.

Some people just have no taste.

I am, however, convinced of the power of the story as a tool for teaching and helping people learn. Some stories just arouse curiosity and interest  – E.g., here’s a  true story from my own school –

Last week I popped into the staffroom in the vain hope that someone might want to buy me a coffee, when I was greeted with an unusual sight – two teachers were lying on the floor under the table. One of them was holding  a glass of water. The other – a roll of masking tape. And between them both sat a small, slightly worried lizard. Now, I’m not  going to tell you why they were there – believe me, you don’t want to know. But you have to admit it  – you’re curious, aren’t you?

Good managers should be story-tellers. People are inspired by stories. Inspired by narrative. Not by statistics. Not by procedures. I am sometimes asked to give trainee teachers tips on how to behave in interviews. Instead of giving them a list of dos-and-don’ts , I prefer to tell them true tales of nightmare interviews I have sat through – E.g., the teacher who told me she loved everything about teaching except ‘those bits in the classroom.’ Just as we all – thanks to Little Red Riding Hood – learnt not to trust grandmothers with snouts and whiskers, so they too can learn what not to say in an interview thanks to the power of the story.

Next time you have a teachers’ meeting, try inspiring the troops with great stories rather than dry facts or procedures.

Speaking of stories, the Reinvention Summit  – a two-week virtual conference focusing on best practices for creating and delivering stories that can help individuals and organisations to reinvent – is currently underway. It’s a gathering of a new tribe of storytellers: change-makers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and creatives who see storytelling as critical to their work and mission.

There’s a star-studded line-up of 25+ speakers with diverse backgrounds to lead teleseminars, interviews, and panel discussions that relate to the future of storytelling as our world goes through reinvention. All sessions are recorded for playback. The online summit includes lots of social networking, collaboration, and crowd-sourcing for those who feel inspired to play. Entry-level pricing starts at just $11.11. To learn more: visit www.reinventionsummit.com

  • As a reader of this blog, www.getstoried.com – the organisers of the Reinvention summit –  are kindly offering you two great deals
  • – A coupon for $25 OFF an Activators or Explorers Pass. Use code: REINVENTION
  • “Believe Me: a Storytelling Manifesto for Change-makers and Innovators”. An 88-page gift to you! Complimentary download is available at http://www.believemethebook.com

Enjoy the summit and keep telling stories!

Former head of curriculum at the QCA, Mick Waters, gives a talk to teachers about how they teach and how children learn.

Watch the full video at teachers. tv

http://www.teachers.tv/videos/mick-waters-making-learning-irresistible

The George Lucas Educational Foundation was created to address the failure of education systems to keep abreast of changes in the way we all interact. Their vision of a new way of learning is called Edutopia.

The Edutopia.org website is a great collection of best practices and classroom tips. The site also contains a fantastic education and learning video library.

Explore the site here – http://www.edutopia.org/