Archive for the 'inspiration' Category

Seven Reasons Why Teachers Need To Be Outstanding!

Hot PersonalitiesWe’ve had the Seven Dwarves, the Magnificent Seven, the Seven Intelligences and the Seven Habits. Perhaps you remember hearing about the Seven Heavenly Virtues; or even the Seven Deadly Sins. So while we’re on the Seven theme, let’s have a look at Seven of the Reasons why teachers need to be outstanding.

1. Their students learn more effectively. Yes, it’s pretty obvious, yet it still needs to be listed here. When teachers are outstanding, they get results. And they’re the type of results that really count. Not just academic (which are obviously important), but sociological, and even spiritual.

2. Teachers develop strong foundations for future learning. If children receive a quality education in their 1st 3 years of school, they are much more likely to succeed all through their further education. And, firm ‘n fair guidance in their final years of schooling can accomplish the same results for their future careers. Outstanding teachers provide those strong foundations for a student’s learning and life.

3. The power of a teacher’s words changes lives. We need assured and responsible people in teaching who choose their words with care. Every word that a teacher says can influence a young person for life. For Life! The ripple effect of seemingly innocuous comments can instil hope in young hearts, and change their lives forever. Kids need hope for a good life up ahead, and it can come from the inspiring words they hear each day.

4. Teachers provide exemplary modelling. Young people need to spend time with adults who demonstrate what it means to live an awesome life. Otherwise, they will wonder whether it’s worth even getting to adulthood. Given the amount of time that teachers spend with children, there is no other choice. We need some Hot Personalities in teaching who are vibrant about life.

5. Their own learning determines their quality of teaching. If teachers are helping others to learn, then they need to be obsessive learners themselves. This keeps them at the forefront of their field of expertise, and they can then best support their students with their extensive knowledge and wisdom. Teachers who are great learners are great teachers.

6. Their rapport with students will determine how well those students learn. Teaching is a ‘relationship’ profession.  When students feel that they belong to a supportive community of learners, their brain engages more effectively. These safe classrooms are created by teachers who steadily build up rapport and trust with their classes every day. Outstanding teachers work continuously on developing those relationships with every student, without exception.

7. Because it’s personal for each and every one of us. One day, you might be teaching my child / grandchild / niece / nephew. I want each of them to live an extraordinary life. And if teachers are outstanding, then it gives those young people a better chance to fulfil that destiny. Could they have done it without great teachers? Perhaps. Are they more likely to achieve this amazing life when teachers support them? Absolutely.


The very future of life on this planet is determined strongly by the collective quality of teachers everywhere. Do whatever you can to support teachers to be outstanding.


Gypsy fortune-tellers are fascinating. I saw one hard at work when I was about 8 years old. Beautiful to watch. The theatrics, the swirling clothing, the crystal ball, all created a sense of wonder in me.

I’m just as fascinated today with those who again claim they can predict the future. Only this time, some of them are dressed up in a charlatan outfit, they’re plastered all over the social media, and they’re peddling fear and unease about our collective lives up ahead.

And why?

To sell some deceitful program that will allay our fears, or require us to trust their fool-proof system for storing our hard-earned cash. Or perhaps to encourage us to live in a bomb-proof shelter somewhere in the middle of the Nevada desert.


Here’s a reality check for you. No-one can accurately predict the future. Oh, we can generalise with a series of trends, and we can determine some probable futures by analysing present patterns of behaviour. We can calculate how many 10-year olds there will be in 5 years from now. Just count how many 5 year-olds we have right now.

But can we accurately predict the share market movements through this year, or whether a major accident will occur in 3 months from now, or whether you will win lots of money in a lottery? No we can’t.

Naturally, most of us would prefer to have some degree of certainty about our future, which is why we keep hoping that the fortune-tellers will be accurate. But they basically won’t be. So here’s the next best option: Future-proof yourself.

And what does that mean? Well…. It means that you adopt a series of strategies and mindsets that will give you the best possible chance of thriving through whatever happens up ahead.

For now, here are some suggestions on future-proofing your life, your family, your work, your school, your workplace:

  1. Focus on what you CAN control, rather than on what you can’t. If you keep thinking about things that you can’t influence, you’re wasting your energy. Do some in-control things like saving some money, or establishing some consistent everyday patterns (such as exercising), or doing some charity work. Then you’re in control of your world.
  2. Fight back on the fear factor. There are some in the media who consistently resort to doomsday scenarios (note the Dec 21 2012 end-of-world scenarios being portrayed right now). Watch how a highly negative news report makes you feel. Then read a positive article about what lies up ahead, and again note your response. Become aware of your responses. It’s the 1st stage in turning your emotions around.
  3. Do some in-depth study. Having strong knowledge gives you greater confidence about what lies up ahead. If you want to know what’s going on, then make the effort to study up on the topic. Go and listen to some respected experts in the field. Find some valid online information. Remember that ignorance is rarely bliss.
  4. Watch the trends. While they’re not foolproof, trends can give some indications on what lies up ahead. If you’re in business today, you may be struggling. Yet, there are some obvious trends taking place. Examples? People want to save, not spend. And technology is having a strong impact on how customers purchase goods.
  5. Let go on certainty. Accept that, to live an inspiring life, you may need to embrace uncertainty. Not Knowing can end up being a welcome part of your life, rather than something to be avoided. So, be an ongoing adventurer who relishes the opportunity to be challenged by unforeseen circumstances.

    And lastly, if you’re involved with kids in any way (as a parent, a teacher, a relative), I beg of you to not scare the heck out of them about the future. I’m not sure why some adults do it. Maybe it’s a power thing, like: “It’s all gonna be awful, but I’ll save you.”

    Oh please. Get over it. If you push too hard with that negative line, they’re hardly going to feel positive about their world up ahead. And even worse, they might not even bother to help create that better world up ahead.

    Look at the last 50 years of world history. There have been so many pending calamities (world starvation; millennium bugs), and yet somehow we get through them intact.

    Inspire kids about the possibilities with their lives, and of the planet in general. And then we’re more likely to see a future that is beneficial for us all, because they’ll help to create it.

    My Favourite Christmas Jokes

    Had a long year? Then maybe it’s time to have a laugh. Here are some of my favourite Christmas jokes.


    “I once bought my kids batteries for Christmas with a note saying, toys not included.” (Bernard Manning).


    The four stages of life – You believe in Santa Claus – You don’t believe in Santa Claus – You become Santa Claus – You look like Santa Claus.


    Why would you invite a mushroom to a Christmas party?

    He’s a fun guy to be with.


    Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates.

    ‘In honour of this holy season’, Saint Peter said,  ‘You must each possess something that symbolises Christmas to get into heaven.’

    The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. ‘It represents a candle’, he said.

    ‘Okay, you may pass through the Pearly Gates’, Saint Peter said.

    The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, ‘They’re bells.’

    Saint Peter said,  ‘You may pass through the Pearly Gates’.

    The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women’s panties.

    St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked,  ‘And just what do those symbolise?’

    The man replied, ‘These are Carols.”


    One particular Christmas season a long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip, but there were problems everywhere. Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her mom was coming to visit. This stressed Santa even more.

    When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More stress.

    Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked, and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys. So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum.

    When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hidden the liquor, and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider pot, and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw end of the broom.

    Just then the doorbell rang, and irritable Santa trudged to the door. He opened the door, and there was a little angel with a great Christmas tree.

    The angel said, very cheerfully, “Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn’t it a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?”

    Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.


    The Brutal Reality Of Christmas:

    1) No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

    2) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

    Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

    This means that Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second – a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

    3) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

    On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that ‘flying reindeer’ (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

    We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload – not even counting the weight of the sleigh – to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison – this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

    4) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance – this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

    In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.

    Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

    In conclusion – If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now.


    What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney?


    Two blondes decided that this Christmas they wanted to cut down their own Christmas tree. So they drove two hours into the country and walked deep into the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree. They had planned the trip well, especially considering that they were blond. They were dressed warmly with boots, warm coats and hats. They had a chain saw, hatchet, a bag to protect the tree and rope to drag it back to their car. Every detail was covered.

    They searched and searched. They had gone to all this trouble, nothing but the prefect tree would do. They searched for hours through knee deep snow and biting wind. Finally, five hours later with the sun beginning to go down, one blonde says to the other, “I can’t take this anymore. I give up! There are hundreds of beautiful trees out here. Let’s just pick one whether it’s decorated or not!”


    And my favourite:

    Be naughty – save Santa the trip.


    Innovation Forum

    michaelHad a fantastic couple of days recently, MC-ing an Innovation Forum in Brisbane. Organised by Independent Schools Qld. In total, six different speakers from all over the world, who offered six varying perspectives on innovative practice. Loved every one of them, partly because I’m finding myself becoming more and more obsessed with this tenuous concept of ‘innovation’. My gut feeling is that those who most emphatically embrace whatever the heck innovation means will be those who best cope (and even thrive) through the Second Decade. And it’s hardly as though I’m alone with this belief.

    For those who weren’t lucky enough to be at this Forum, here are some links and bits of info:

    DAY ONE:

    * Canadian Michael Furdyk (pictured) was deeply impressive. He’s a Gen Y, and has accomplished more than many others who are significantly more advanced in years. Why is it that certain gifted individuals manage to achieve in this way?? More on Michael here at For me, his most impressive work has been with Taking IT Global. Possibly the most advanced social justice site on the planet. At

    * For a scientist (and specifically a nanotechnologist) Dr Kristin Alford explored some alluring and insightful concepts. One was that of the Presencing Institute, and Otto Scharmer’s U-Theory concept. If you’re easily inspired by near-future human possibilities, it’s worth having a look at

    * Greg Gebhart is an excellent speaker. First met him at the U-Learn conference in Christchurch in 08. He was third up on Day 1 of this B’bane session, and is the lead consultant with the Aussie Govt’s CyberSafe program.  Have a look at Greg placed some of his conference material at Lots of great resources.

    DAY TWO.

    * Aucklander Graham Hart was a magic example of someone who lives in the creative spirit. His contribution to the Lonely Dog concept just captivated the audience. Ponder this for a moment. With his colleagues, he has developed a book worth $60,000. And they’ve sold 70 of them! I lingered through the example that he had brought with him; and I must admit, it was a deeply impressive work of art!

    * Next up was the principal of Crescent Girls School in Singapore. Eugenia Lim is quite obviously a high achiever, and has contributed a significant degree to her country’s advancement in recent times. I worked in Singapore last November, and was fascinated by the country’s perspective on creativity. Very logical-sequential, and yet highly effective.

    * Sydney-sider Nigel Collin was your classic end-of-conference high energy keynoter. I actually referred to him as Mr Berocca. Download some of his articles, and you’ll see that he has some upfront ideas about creative practice. The short video that was developed by his young son was priceless, and demonstrated that creative capacity can begin at a very early stage.

    What Teachers Make

    Slam poet Taylor Mali spends 3 mins convincing you that teachers make a difference. If you’re a teacher attending a party, and you’ve ever been asked “What do you make?” then here are some hints on how you can respond.