Day 64 (of 189) testing the teachers?

Day 64 (of 189) testing the teachers?



Ontario wanted to see math learning improve. So much so they want a return to “back to basics” mindsets (which ironically reduces the creativity hat sparks the amazing ness of math and reinforces math as a dreaded subject that we “have to” do instead of the amazing subject that we “get to” do – and I believe that mindset matters; especially when I see math still being used as a threat – and I confess, I may have done that early in my career, but that is because the fun of math had been killed in me long ago, only to be resurrected relatively recently – bunch of years now that it’s beauty has let me see beyond the repeated sets of questions that made me wonder how and why mathematicians got paid for doing mad minutes….

Math is beautiful and so little of it can be seen via a test. And a test about pedagogy as well…? Hard to describe PBL and descriptive feedback on a multiple choice test (us “other literacy” people’s would refer to that as irony.





But Ontario is having all new teachers pass a math test:

Which reinforces the mindset that the test IS the thing that is most important. And 70% is the new “pass” – which I don’t mind discussing since more and more I think 50 is as ridiculous as any other predetermined number and likely should be more subjective for each individual….. but that may be another blog.



But ALL new teachers need to score 70% on the the test.  Why? Well, from the Ontario College of Teachers FAQ about the Math Proficiency Test Certificate Requirement ( )

Why do teachers of all subjects and grades have to take the test?

Math content knowledge is critical. The math questions will include concepts taught in both the elementary and secondary grades. The pedagogical questions will focus on teachers’ foundational understanding of math assessment, planning, and facilitating student learning specific to mathematics. This approach builds confidence that teachers are well prepared for teaching the mathematics curriculum, regardless of the grade assigned.



I agree that math knowledge is critical. But even my son began a reflection piece with a bit of a profanity laced rant: 

Math is Stressful. It helps make good stuff like technology But if you don’t plan on doing anything that needs major math s*** then why the f*** is it necessary, we could stop learning after division since when the f*** is the average person going to need to know most of this bullsh*** (and he didn’t use *s). 


So I wonder, is it the content knowledge that is important, or the stretches that occur when you get to play with the content. I worry because I have heard arguments that to be a good poet you need to read more poetry and repeat what you read. While there is an argument for the reading – writing connection, it is not just “that easy” – I have written a lot of poetry (most of it garbage, some of it not too bad) and it is not because of what I read, though it definitely influenced me, it is because of the writing I did. And I did NOT write the same sonnet 23 times or just repeat the rhyme schemes a bunch of times as practice. I had to play with the entire piece – much like working on repeated algorithms is not a good way to become a mathematician, but a great way to hate the maths. 


And I chuckle at the answer to the question:

Why was the test introduced?

On August 20, 2019 two regulations were filed: Regulation 271/19, Proficiency in Mathematics, under the Ontario College of Teachers Act, and Regulation 272/19, Objects of the Office under the Education Quality and Accountability Office Act, 1996. As a result certification requirements were updated to ensure that Ontario teachers are prepared for the modern demands of a changing society and increasingly dynamic learning environment.


Do we need to talk about he importance of content knowledge in this changing society and increasingly dynamic learning environment? Not sure how many “dynamic work environments” set up multiple choice tests for their employees to monitor their content knowledge….



And should educators be more confident and knowledgeable about the maths? Sure – I often ask the question about how many elementary teachers went into the profession because of their love of numbers. When it comes to ” literacy love” , it’s not even close to as many hands that go up for ” love of reading” or 2nd places “love of writing”. But you can’t test passion into people….and in an era where “common testing” is losing its usefulness in an era of personalization…I know my rekindled passion for math did NOT come from any tests or repetitive questions in a workbook. It came from the thinking and ideas that the maths enable. It brought me joy.



And I have wonders:


What will be on the test?

The Mathematics Proficiency Test shall be composed of multiple-choice questions and will have two sections:

  1. The mathematics content section will include concepts taught in both the elementary and secondary grades, which shall comprise at least 70 per cent of the test.

Does this mean it will be “easier” for teachers to shift between elementary and secondary? I ask because I was an educator who has migrated from Kindy to English 12. Does this math content then better prepare educators for working with and helping and teaching learners of all ages? Because I’m wondering how Investigating the Optimal Values of Measurements of Rectangles is going to pay off when Im working with my grade 2 class in the library…. because books are rectangles…?

  1. The pedagogy section, which shall comprise the remainder of the test.

 So…are some pedagogies right and others wrong? Or is it more a defence of why you are going to do what you do…is it okay to change after you do the test? Or does what you say on the test become your schema and no deviation is allowed?

Or is it about the key parts of the mathematical process?

  • problem solving
  • reasoning and proving
  • reflecting
  • selecting tools and computational strategies
  • connecting
  • representing
  • communicating


But I guess…if it’s good enough for the students, it’s good for the teachers? Pro-D via textbook for those who use that strategy too? Sigh.  Math should be better than another tool to separate who can and cannot teach….


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Day 63 (of 189) wash your hands

Day 63 (of 189) wash your hands

Should be easy enough to remember, but on the first school day of December, we got slammed by sick days – not by the adults (yet) though one of our “never gets sick” did get sick – a harbinger of what was to come….

At our 9 am attendance check we were at the 10% absent sick/unknown that means I get to send an email to our nurse contact with Coastal Health.

But we weren’t done yet. Fevers. Upset stomachs. Lots of phone calls to parents and relatives meant we quickly reached 15% (the math actually said 16…) and when you counted the kids that were away for “known/other” reasons, the classrooms felt rather empty (we are almost all at max size, so not really empty, but a noticeable difference when a class and a half are away). And that meant a cc email updating coastal health and the board office.

Which also complicates it when some of the “anxiety” kids start coming in saying they feel sick. They feel sick most days….but….do you take the risk? Especially when my wife was told to not bother coming to work since so many kids at her daycare we’re likewise away….. Do you let them call home sick or push it?

In the meantime keep those hands washed and it’s a good time to use that 99.9% bacterial soaps – usually I say a bit of bacteria keeps us healthy – not right now though! Get those defences in for the final weeks before the winter break!

PS – even the nfl has been hit by illness….it is “that time of year”…

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Day 62 (of 189) Adapt vs Modify vs Inclusion (a prethink for our #bcedchat on sunday Dec 1 7pm pst on Inclusion)

Day 62 (of 189) Adapt vs Modify vs Inclusion (a prethink for our #bcedchat on sunday Dec 1 7pm pst on Inclusion)



Recently I have heard some discussion over when to modify, what “adaption” means and one of my current phrases (as it links to my #oneword) graduation with dignity. So, to keep it simple:


We modify when we know the child will not graduate and walk across the stage.

That is about it. Everything else is an adaption.


One of the current rants I’ve been overhearing is about the “overuse or overneed” of the I report – for us that is an Incomplete letter that indicates a letter grade cannot be assigned for the student. Here is my rant: is the “I” about the tasks not being done or the Big Idea not being met?



For example, in a discussion we talked about how a student that is very likely to be modified (and kinda is already) could experience adaptions: if the Big Idea from Science 6 is: The solar system is part of the Milky Way, which is one of billions of galaxies. We could do a sort/match/connection activity which will enable him to demonstrate that he understands what the solar system is, what the milky way is and that there are many galaxies. He will not be able to fill in a worksheet on the amazing Bill Nye video; nor will he necessarily be successful to complete a report – traditionally or tech-supported. But those are the “add on services” that often make it into the grade book that don’t actually necessarily mean much to the “Big Idea” (which the BC curriculum is based on). Again, this student example is working on a heavily adapted/slightly modified plan because the parents are fully aware that his graduation will look and be different from the majority of students – and not just in the way that a grad class had a “silent” part of the ceremony for an autistic classmate


But c’mon – the Physics 11 Big Idea of: Mechanical waves transfer energy but not matter can be answered in many ways. Some explorations naturally needed, but does the “assessment” have to include a check on reading? questions and answers to a textbook section or handout? notes from a video viewing? can it be different for each learner

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Day 61 (of 189) let me ‘mansplain’ something about reading from my privileged high horse: reading at home

Day 61 (of 189) let me ‘mansplain’ something about reading from my privileged high horse: reading at home



I know that my point of view of this will make sense to many and be frustrating to others. But reading is important. Reading at home even more so. Today we had a PALS session (Parents As Literacy Supporters) and in my welcome I got to remind parents that they get to do something I wish I still could: read to and with their children. My teens awhile ago “passed” on our nightly reading tradition (even though I think I can still recite Chicken Pox verbatim) after going through a series of Dr Seuss, Robert Munsch, JK Rowling and many points in between. My kids saw and see me read and even when I am on my screen, much of the time I am diving into an ebook, not just youtube disney+ or the other reams of visual entertainment meant to keep us from being bored.  And I loved that we had a parent for every child in our kindergarten class spend part of their day with us today! It shows that there is value! But I’m going to get on my high horse (mindful that I grew up in a household where reading was demonstrated as valuable and there was time for me to read….)



I am mindful that as a full-time teacher, the ” homework” I used to regularly assign: 15 minutes of reading each night; comes from a middle class mindset where my own parents had time to read to me (no shift wok) and enabled me to do the same (sometimes busy nights, but again, my work hours enabled me to shift my times around so I could always find time to read). And my own passion for books has meant I have always had way too many books for reading at all ages – can’t be a librarian without IAN is one of my bad teases.




And I know that for many, assigned reading homework is bad because:

  1. it is homework
  2. it makes reading a task


I want reading to be something we get to do, not something we have to do. Which is why my “homework list” of 15 minutes of reading, 10 minus of writing and 10 minutes of math games were more guidelines than actual rules.




I also found it timely that one of my favourite morning comics to read, “Betty” also had a reading theme

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.39.14 AM.png

Finding the magic in reading is important – having a role model to show that reading is valuable (and entertaining) even more so. Again “white middle class male” point of view here because I have always found reading easy, been able to afford books AND have the means to get to a public library, not to mention that my work schedule does allow me time to read for professional growth and for regulation and for entertainment. I know not everyone finds reading easy, fun or particularly worthwhile.



And if reading on the iPad….sheesh – Ive had some in-law moments where I get a “tsk tsk on the device again” and then point out that I’m doing the same as they are: reading. Just differently (which is triggering me when teachers get angry because of a distraction “caused by a screen” but react so differently if they are reading a paper tablet instead of paying attention – same distraction, different reaction.  Sorry, I’ll regulate myself now)

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.39.05 AM.png



So we already have different approaches to varied literacies – we are much more accepting of people saying I hate/can’t do math than we are I hate/can’t read – so how do we “make a difference?   and I worry that shares such as recent ones by @pernilleripp  misuse technology as a way to “improve” reading scores without improving the love of reading – decoding words rather than having the words become pictures. I love reading on my tablet – but it is not non sequiturs based on my reading level but choices made based on interest level; and I regularly pop between “independent texts”, instructional and frustrating tomes – either due to word choice or idea pushing…. but I make the choice to start….to stop… to intermingle….?



But do I have that choice because I am a white-ish male? I have been/am enabled to say “no thank you” to some things (maybe without such polite language) including my thoughts on literacies? I use tech books (eg epic) for students to have choice of a variety of books where they are (sometimes even going to the library can be angst inducing) but I promote CHOICE in this, not having an algorithm decide what I should read, but having internal debates over what I want to read – and trusting to serendipity; which is why I’m putting Range by David Epstein higher on my reading pile… but again, I have the time and ability to know that I will have time to read all the books on my stack – not every body or every family is so enabled.

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 3.01.23 PM.png


So, I think I need to continue to support the word and works of my #PLN role models and continue to promote for:

  • diversity of books available – let the kids see themselves in the books they read, even though October usually means it is time for Stone Fox (published in 1980…40 years ago….)
  • reading to kids; at all ages; using picture books at all grade levels
  • a variety of voices to be heard and images to be seen via the texts they have
  • promote others (not the white male that is me) to champion the reading process – so that it is not just an “at school” activity, but something we get to do “at home” too!\
  • finding the joy in literacy and passing it forward


But more so than that – I used the terms ‘mansplaining’ and my own “privileged” position to hopefully get some other eyes on this to give some other ideas and strategies to help keep reading an important skill – for learning and for enjoyment.  Because I know that having a principal father benefited me seeing a value in reading. I know that being a white male has benefitted me in ways I am not fully aware of just because how so many of our formal systems have been set up – my struggles are not the same as others and I know that. Which is why I have pivoted from my “homework” assignment (reading writing math for enjoyment) to being suggestions knowing that peoples lives are  complex; and “we” cannot put our value system on other families. Parents are not missing meetings because they don’t care about their kids. Families are not choosing not to read because they don’t agree it is important…but conversations are being held – a dad who admitted that he can’t read – not that he doesn’t want to; so many others that are painful to hear….but valuable to listen to.



Read. Read those stories that help turn the words into pictures. Read when it brings you joy. If the book is boring…put it down and put it away, but don’t give up – just like netflix, sometimes you pick something that should check all the boxes….but it doesn’t.  But reading can be informative and entertaining….honest…. but if you don’t have time…don’t feel guilty – even I don’t have time to read every day….I mean I have time, but I choose not to on some days…. awkward…. so read – read blogs…tweets…the prose and poetry of this millennium. Don’t dismiss any reading – magazines and comics (I try not to buy into the graphic novel name-calling; but comics made me the reader I am today) online newspapers and short stories.



From my privileged position (because as a white male I do not have ‘the’ answers): find times to read for joy. It will make a difference.

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Day 60 (of 189) the stress of drills…. #emergencyalert

Day 60 (of 189) the stress of drills….



So, Wednesday ended up being a test of the emergency system on cell phones. I only knew because I saw it trending online as it moved from the east coast to the west. And then I forgot about it.


Until it happened.



Then it was a bit of chaos – as I had a few learners in my office for various reasons and the sound of a siren suddenly coming from a few devices around the school. Now the point of the drill is important – can an emergency announcement reach the people it needs to reach in a  timely manner – because it is not likely everyone will be listening to the same radio station or watching one of the same TV channels as it was once upon a time ago…



But when I tweeted a little comment about how it surprised some students in my office, I got a lot of affirmations of similar “moments” around the #PLN – with one indicating her son had been stressing quite significantly leading up to the alarm going off. And its not as if it was a particularly ear piercing sound – the fire alarm bell in our school in much more annoying – but it was unusual.




And I am an advocate for why we do drills.  Well, most drills. I know the “shooter present drill” my niece went through a number of weeks ago south of the Canadian border cost her a lot of sleep for quite awhile. But I do want to make sure that if/when the fire alarm goes off everyone knows how to exit the building quickly and safely (that means if it is cold outside, unless the flames are right there, grab your jacket – you don’t know how long you will be outside for!) and if an earthquake we know to Stop Drop and Cover and not head for the doorframes….




But I do wonder if our culture is making even more reasons for anxiety to be more prevalent. I will continue to argue/advocate that “it” has always been with us – based on the number of adults who I encounter who share their own medical supports (prescription or self-prescribed….) to maintain their own anxiousness.  And as I point out in my tedxtalk – there is a range; being worried is not the same as anxiety; but depression is a very close cousin. Are “we” adding to it by pointing out the “big things” that we can be anxious about and there is nothing we can do about it:


  • climate change crisis – big changes to the world, not much that an individual can do…maybe – Greta is changing my view on what an individual may be able to do…
  • school shootings; even though we live in the most peaceful time the world has ever known, the news media does not always make it seem so…
  • another possible global financial depression being predicted
  • housing prices impacting rental prices impacting where people can live
  • can’t forget that on “slow news days” we will get reminders that we are overdue for an earthquake or the yellowstone super volcano



This is on top of any generalized anxiety or other diagnosed issue. Which of course enables the brain to think about the all time #1:

  • death. what comes next.


And most of our drills and alarms and tests for emergency put that right out in front of us: a fire could kill us. a lockdown drill is because we might die. and earthquake could kill – and if it doesn’t what about the tsunami that’s on its way?



My view on anxiety is that it strikes when there is a myriad of thoughts that overwhelms the brain when there is no sense of choice. Which is why when lives are so organized by play dates and after school programs (and no time to authentically be bored – especially with the Disney+ catalogue!!)  the sense of fear that can grip when an emergency alert is broadcast (even as a practice drill) is very real: what do you do when so much of life is already organized for you/us… as my “class motto” used to be on display in the front of our room: What do you do when you don’t know what to do? the quick answer is: do something without fear that it may be wrong – but be mindful in what you do – don’t cause chaos or create cruelty – always remember @theweirdteacher classroom rule: Be Cool.





So yes, I am mindful that anytime I have to do a drill, there will be fallout – I get it from my own son whenever he does not have a heads up and the piercing sounds fill the air; often the middle finger emoji comes my way…. several times….. But we do need to practice….right? How frequent is the wonder…. In my district we do one earthquake, one lockdown and four fire drills each year (and yes, I do try to get one “bad weather” one to enforce the ‘be prepared for outside weather’ plan – and sorry if you’re in the gym or music portable or library – you might be cold outside; which is why I am putting some blankets into our “go bag”)



Be prepared….Be stressed.  Goal Achieved!

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Day 59 (of 189) last mobro check in for November with a #mobro chat tonight at 7:30 pst Tuesday “Movember” 26

Day 59 (of 189) last mobro check in for November with a #mobro chat tonight at 7:30 pst Tuesday “Movember” 26


As you know, I’ve been participating in Movember for the past month. I am focused on having conversations about men’s health, not raising money, but a big THANK YOU to those who helped me exceed my (low but symbolic) goal!

The reason why I’m participating in Movember is because i have lost too many people to men’s health issues – both physical AND mental. Movember is the leading men’s health organization focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention (and I have lost people both before teenage years and into middle age range). Did you know that 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, that testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men, and that 3 out of 4 suicides are men? These statistics are startling.

This is why I need your support. Movember is a campaign built on donations of $20 here and there; anything you can contribute will truly make a difference.

Here’s the link to my Mo Space:

And my Questions for a short #mobro chat tonight (7:30 pm pst) – and questions that don’t even need to be chatted about online, but just thinking about them works well too!

1. Which is the men’s health issue most important to you?

Heart disease and anxiety have hit closest to my family.

2. Why are men’s health issues hard to talk about?

There has definitely been a stigma about talking about men’s health – possibly fuelled by the ‘jokes’ about “man colds”

3. Who can we look to for inspiration/resources?

I love the work and shares of @heylandsberg – the TSN host and @hattiegladwell because even though she’s a girl…she still gets it and inspired me significantly!

Mo love,


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Day 58 (of 189) #Nuance by @michaelfullan1 – does it live up to its hype?

Day 58 (of 189) Nuance by @michaelfullan1 – does it live up to its hype?

“Students are natural change agents – if 65% are not engaged now….what if we reduced that to 20%?” Use the group to change the group and all will benefit. <— I read this near the end of the book but felt it deserved to be at the start….

I finally got to Nuance on my reading list. A joint publication by the @bcpvpa (BC Principals and Vice Principals) @OPcouncil (Ontario Principals) and the subject of a few book clubs I was optimistic to catch up to.

So I will be sharing pieces “live (for me) and asynchronous (for you)”:

And with an opening declaration that society in general is worsening and education is less effective in its role of producing citizens – and a purpose of the book is to identify the characteristics of leaders who can leverage deep change for the better – nuanced leaders… I’m intrigued, because the data shows that this is the safest time to be alive (despite what it may feel like when watching cnn…) and I am increasingly impressed with my kids (and their peers) connection to the larger world community. Awareness of our climate and environment is much more aware of the details than when I was a student, and there is a greater acceptance of people (no matter how unique) than when I was in school. So I’m curious to see where he goes….

I had noticed one summary (when I was looking into the book) that was intriguing: nuanced leadership embraces complexity and integrates competing forces in ways that foster deep understanding, collaborative learning and accountability, and sustainable rather than superficial solutions.

And I like the challenge: how do leaders become clearer as complexity increases. Or as a former BCPVPA leader put it on a t-shirt: volume + complexity = volexity (a few of us liked it but not enough for it to go viral 😜)

And ironically (perhaps) the day I started nuance an article by Alfie Kohn on “presentations” has me making some wonders:

Chapter 1 thoughts:

Points out that what works for one person to be successful may not for another – and difference may be nuance (and I’m thinking the same for larger learning communities…) – and turning the page confirmed this: don’t seek the obvious; seek meaning with your people.

Oh yeah, and regarding nuance: if you have to define it, you don’t have it. Ouch – but gotta see the patterns below the surface (one of the skills I believe is essential in any educational leader: synthesize the “stuff” going on – more than just collecting data – but also more than just seeking qualitative data too…

And an interesting look at the “deceptive closeness” we have – the irony that I have noticed when I felt closer to a group of principals in Arkansas than I did to the educators down the highway; the tools are there to continue the 10,000 year pursuit of “connections” yet our feelings are making it harder to engage or accommodate different points of view (me: because we don’t have to – I’ve got a team of likeminded education disrupters on my PLN that I can DM at a moments notice…. yet I know @theweirdteacher points out that many social media educators will block or ignore rather than engage in dialogue/critiques about a claim/statement/tweet – the tools are not doing all they can).

Is it: if you try to make me think harder, I’ll think more superficially? <— this definitely makes me connect to my work around descriptive feedback: work smarter not harder! is not helpful!

And (ouch!) conventional school is boring at best and we are doing obsolete things better than ever before!

Key characteristics:

1. Joint determinism (unity and purpose is action)

2. Adaptability (adjust and pivot as needed)

3. Cultural based accountability (commitment and responsibility through trust and interaction

Why we need the habit of da Vinci’s detail: living within the process of change.

Some sticky phrases:

For each:

Jointly determined change: be right at the end of the meeting

Adaptability: learn and lead in equal measure

Culture based accountability: trust and interact

Chapter 2 (jointly determined change) thoughts:

Love the notion that leadership is fluid because it is always a process.

Neat share on Mary Parker Follett from the 1920s who focused on “obeying the law of the situation” where the particular details matter.

Also a neat look at single loop vs double loop looking at be have our and underlying beliefs.

And great case study showing the necessity of unity of purpose and action to make progress….

Chapter 3 (adaptability) thoughts:

“The ability of leaders to change their minds when a strategy is not working is not as prevalent as we might wish”. How often do “we” stick with an under performing plan/strategy?

Have a mindset that “doesn’t laminate your improvement process and create a poster because it might be changed next month” (and one lesson that could be taught in a masters program could be spending hours to create a ‘thing’ that gets put/thrown away. Because the thinking is still valuable for later considerations even if it’s not right for “now” (or what the original intention was).

Book referral: Shattering Inequities by Robin Avelar La Salle and Ruth Johnson

Addressing inequity is a confounding issue that requires both bluntness and flexibility.

The ouch reference: there is no reason for the majority of students to take conventional learning – in reference to why deep learning matters…. as it can benefit disconnected students (which I love as a reference because I have seen that too as I invested in doing more PBL work and assessing via descriptive feedback in efolios…!)

From 2018 DL book: engage the world change the world

⁃ students as change agents

⁃ the equity hypothesis

⁃ the mater of catalytic Cs (competencies)

⁃ theme of “engage the world”

Nuance in this chapter: deliberately seeking insight from not so obvious places…. shifting course based on what you are learning.

Chapter 4 thoughts (culture based accountability)

Interesting that as I was diving into this chapter I was also listening to Howard Stern talk about the Presidents Physical Fitness Test/Contest and how that changed the culture of gym and how gym teachers were being looked at based on how their students did on the “test portion” – led to a conversation how it changed the culture of what the focus of gym classes were, including how humiliation was used as a strategy to get pull-up successes. Just made me pause to consider how quickly a culture can change (and how easy it is for humiliation and fear to come to the forefront)

An observation from Tim Brighouse (Birmingham CEO who sued his minister of education when caught on an open mike wondering why “that nutter” was hired) was the importance of communication (as nuance) because of the need to “affect” climate at every level (including sometimes being an umbrella of protection from outside storms)

Viviane Robinson reminds us of the history of the isolation of classrooms that tends to lead to “parallel play” rather than joint accountability.

Interventions may make matters worse while leaving things alone may lead to stagnation and no improvement….

The flip side of nuance in the face of complex issues is failure.

Book referral: the Testing Charade (Daniel Koretz)

Performance appraisals….”dangerous half truths and total nonsense”

Performance appraisal is episodic, very few are good at it, and, above all, it is an extremely weak intervention for changing people’s behaviour.

Book referral: How Performance Management is killing performance (Tamra Chandler)

And does PD change belief and practice?

Even a look at PLCs which range in success (I have been part of deep change focus ones and as hoc quick fix ones as mentioned here….)

Probable because no amount of external (and top down) accountability will be effective in the absence of internal account (very true in my best PLC experiences)

Sticky Change Phrases

1. Use the group to change the group

2. Precision over prescription

3. Feedback: collaboration, cantor and autonomy

4. Trust and interact vs trust but verify

5. See the forest and the trees

6. accountability as a culture

1. The opposite of nuance is directness. When we participate as a learner, the factors associated with increased student achievement become clear: leading, teaching, learning and development.

2. Nuance leaders are famous for resolving dilemmas; to get at precision without imposition.

3. good feedback is the cornerstone of individual and group growth; and humans want feedback in general, but not specific (unless it is praise) – and a reminder: autonomy is not isolation.

4. Trust is a verb before it becomes a state.

5. When plugged in , you see he big picture, little picture and interconnections…the patterns

6. external accountability (on its own) has a poor track record; when we de-privatize our practices, we get to authentic accountability

whether a thunderbolt of disruption or other, the common solution is: Improve from inside


Chapter 5 (nuanced leaders and the world)

Education needs to be in its proper position with the role of serving all students not just some, and not just some that we would prefer to work with —> nuanced leaders are saviours in this equation of “attacking inequity”.

Okay, I like a good conflict: fullan here says if we leave “it” to machines, we will end up with bad/misleading data. Yet Gladwell in talking with strangers points out that in legal situations machines make better decisions… and sure, humans + computers trump either one alone….I guess….😜

So it is nice as we enter this final section that Fullan & friends still believe education can reclaim a role as individual and societal saviour (on a night where my daughter shared her own frustration of school because her teachers are having a meeting to discuss if they are lowering standards for students or if the work they are being asked to do does not link up to the big ideas of the curriculum…. weighty questions….) nor does our traditional education carry relevance to true learning (beyond the boring memorizing and regurgitating of factoids – as my youngest said, if I need to know something about queen Elizabeth, I’ll check my phone – and yes, we had a discussion where she agreed that memorizing facts that had relevance and meaning was different, because it can be differentiated…)

And so good to see fullan start the discussion of the hidden and not so hidden barriers connected to economics and race… we have to acknowledge that individuals (minority and at risk especially) will not just “figure it out” – grit ain’t enough!

And this resonated strongly with my kiddo:


Along with her wonder as to why she should be doing a test on the Competencies (6Cs) or if that wasn’t yet another 🙄

With a powerful wonder: are the inequities of racism poverty gender and sexual preference too deeply rooted in our current model to change?

And I agree with (one of) his hypothesis that by making disconnected students a priority we reach other non-learners as well!

And a wonderful diatribe about “canary children” on page 109 – well worth a couple rereads.

And a great connection to the perennial success of the All Blacks- their focus on the challenge… and acknowledging time is too brief…. and their themes:





Learning ability

Whanau (Maori term for extended family ❤️







Whakapapa (interdependence on our past present & future)

and Legacy.

And how about this quote from Polanyi: an unbridled lucidity can destroy our understanding of complex matters

Also Polanyi: it is not by looking at things but by dwelling in them that we understand their joint meaning.

Leonardo: my subjects require experience rather than the words of others (which is why as I read Isaacsons bio on da Vinci it was as if within his paintings he painted the bones and muscles et all before the final layer)

Start with practice, journey to theory.

Which is why Fulham recreates Isaacsons list of factors to learn from Leo and are pure nuance:

Be curious, relentlessly curious

See knowledge for its own sake

Retain a childlike sense of wonder


Start with details

See things unseen

Go down rabbit holes

Get distracted

Respect facts


Let the perfect be the enemy of the good

Think visually

Avoid silos

Let your reach exceed your grasp

Indulge fantasy

Create for yourself not for patrons


Make lists

Take notes (on paper)

Be open to mystery

(Me: what a curriculum!!)

Leo saw three classes of people:

Those who see

Those who see when they are shown

Those who do not see.

Nuanced leaders do not wake up one day saying “I can see!” …..

Over time leaders become more nuanced.

Even as a callback to Gladwell – a note that his 10,000 hour rule is not just about the quantity of hours but quality of purposeful practice:

1. Well defined goals

2. Focused

3. Involves feedback

4. Requires getting out of ones comfort zone

And wow. As I had many takeways from Isaacsons book on da Vinci, especially focusing on the journey over the finished projects (and deadlines) I am happy that Fullan linked his work on being a nuanced leader to the teachings from 500 years ago. It is a fabulous time to be an educator – change is needed…change is here… so much more still to do!!

And as to my first wonder – does Nuance (with a myriad of book clubs popping up everywhere) live up to the hype? I gotta say this is inspired writing. Pushed my thinking. Made me re-read and re-read. Made me make connections. Got my daughter (g9) agreeing that change is needed and that she wants to love learning at school…maybe we can get there! I have always liked Fullans writing, but wow. This is his best (so far…)

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