Showing posts from 2016

Learning how our amazing the brain works can help teachers learn to unlock their children's potential.

Our brains are growing and changing all the time.
I have just watched the two TED videos on Doctor Lara Boyd's discussion of how amazing our brain is. In her informative and entertaining talks that I have attached below, Dr Lara Boyd will make anybody excited about the unlimited potential our brains have to change and how our behaviour shapes the extent to which our brain changes. Our brains are super plastic, amazingly adaptable and just waiting for us to reach great heights.

Our brains want us to work hard to become super-charged. But, therein lies the rub: we have to do the work. Although our brains are super plastic and amazingly adaptable, we are responsible to develop our brains. We need to put in the long, hard hours to turn us into the brilliant writer, sportsman, scientist, musician, teacher, artist - anything we desire. The only thing standing between ourselves and our learning is whether we are motivated sufficiently to achieve our dreams. What ever you do, the brain w…

The launch of Child Protection and Youth Month at Metro South EducationDistrict.

The Social Worker component at our education district launched our Child Protection and Youth Month campaign.

The sad reality is that our children are extremely vulnerable and they are subjected to all forms of abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. We were reminded that our children are entrusted to us; that it is our legal and moral responsibility to protect our children against all forms of abuse.

Our district director, Glen van Harte, said, "We need to recommit and reenergize ourselves to look after our children. We have to watch our language. Language has the ability to leave scars that are often far more damaging than physical scars. We have to mediate the language we use with one another and with children. We need to be mindful of the relationships we have with one another and with our teachers. It is also important to look after ourselves so that we can look after our children."

Lucinda Pelston, our Senior Social worker and Head of the Social Work unit at the district, de…

Dalin Oliver provides laughter therapy for teachers at our district today.

As I have explained, our education district, Metro South Education District (MSED) has started our MSED Talks. Our director, Glen van Harte, has a nickname for the talks, MSED FLs. Before your minds race to wonderfully, crazy never lands, FL stands for Friday Lectures.

Today we had #Dalin Oliver, a vibrant comedian, ex-teacher and a sports presenter on Goodhope FM radio station.

The attendance was fantastic too. Many of our schools joined us and we had a large group of Metro Central district colleagues in the house as well.

Dalin''s talk was entitled, I came. I taught. I left, a title drawn from his popular comedy show. Dilan's rapport with the large crowd was brilliant. Despite his youth, he knows how to engage a rather mature audience.

Daily took the audience on a humorous trip to his experiences in the classroom ( for a whopping five months) his colourful memories of growing  up in the Retreat community and his experiences as a cricket coach for tween and teenagers.


Aspiring principals attend CTLI course

I am always full of admiration for teachers who attend holiday courses. Today I loved engaging a group of mainly deputy principals who are putting up their hands and saying: i want to lead a school and make an impact."
If you create an environment for people to learn from peers, they share freely. During our session today, participants eagerly shared tried and tested strategies on how to build school libraries, how to manage safety and security at schools and so forth. 
What I pick up during these presentations is that schools don't provide enough opportunities for SMT members to engage financial management issues at schools. Another oversight is that SMTs don't really study circulars and share their insights with the staff and themselves. 

If we want to cultivate well informed principals and senior management staff, we need to expose them to the high level organizational and management structures and systems. This is what mentorship and sposorship are all about.
I hope that …

Every South African should have the opportunity to visit the Iziko Slave Lodge.

Every Capetonian, in fact, every South African, should visit the Iziko Slave Lodge near the Cape Town Company Gardens. Today, our education district, accompanied by learners from Aloe Secondary School, commemorated Human Rights Day by touring the Slave Lodge.

Be warned. The experience can be emotional as you confront our history from the the Cape's role in the Indian slave trade route to the bitter struggle to free South Africa from the clutches of Apartheid.

Our tour guides, coordinated by Nadjwa Damon, the Social History Educator at Iziko museums, ensured that the experience of our heritage was soul-enriching. Nadjwa narrated our slave history sensitively,  enhancing our knowledge of our rich past and acknowledging those experiences which we have shared in our lifetime.

We were given time to absorb the information and to reflect on the journey into our past. We slipped into the world of our slave forefathers via the many original prison documents, birth certificates, private let…

We need more women in top leadership positions in companies and at schools.

Cape Winelands Education District hosted a Leadership Conference for Deputy Principals on Saturday.  I chose to focus on the role female leaders can play to eradicate the gender prejudice with its manifestations of gross violence, injustice and abuse against women.

Here is a snapshot of my talk that was entitled: Women in Leadership: It is time to bring gender balance in the top leadership structures in organizations.

My argument was premised on the following three key points:

1.    We need women with positional power and influence in organizations to   advance the human rights of women.  
Globally, women are progressively being subjected to extreme forms of violence and abuse in all areas of their lives.

In this past week, we had two young women violently raped and brutally murdered. The one victim, Fransziska Blochliger, went for a jog in Tokai forest and within hours,  she was a badly-battered corpse. The other victim, Sinoxolo Mafevuka, of Khayelitsha, was found dead, half naked, …

The SGB Forum in the Retreat-Lavender Hill area is going to be a powerful community structure.

The SGB Forum in the Retreat-Lavender Hill-Steenberg area is going to be a powerful community structure. Today the EXCO of the SGB forum had a development and training session on Interpersonal Skills and Communication and on Drafting their constitution.

We were reminded again how important it is for leaders to have a high degree of self-awareness to enable them to become great relational people. Leaders need a high level of interpersonal skills and be aware that that they must first seek to understand others before they want to influence others.

Our icebreaker word-building game helped the participants to see that collaborative work is far more rewarding because of the access to more brains, higher energy and better success. It was fascinating to see how the group moved from wanting to build their own individual words from a limited number of letter tiles to constructing an elaborate stream of words when they teamed up their efforts.

As a forerunner to constructing their vision and …

We launched our MSED Talk Series 2016 in our education district today.

Today was the day our education district, Metro South, launched its lunchtime talk series. We are super excited about the possibilities of this talk platform to energise our conversations in the district.
The idea is to invite speakers from education, other industries and all walks of life to share their stories with us. Through the exchange of ideas, we want to share research, knowledge, advice and wisdom with real people who like us, are striving to live a purposeful life, especially in our country.

Our first speaker was Lorenzo Davids, the CEO of Community Chest. Lorenzo's talk " A country imagined - challenges born of hope", oozed with authenticity.

" Stories of who we are, are getting lost, " said Lorenzo. " Everybody must tell their stories so that we can build inclusive spaces.  Dialogue must lead to inclusivity. We need to build relationships, play by the rules and live a values-based life. This is what responsible citizens will do."

Our di…

Spine Road High School is a standard bearer in the Mitchell's Plain community.

Spine Road High School in Mitchell's Plain is a standard bearer  in the Mitchell's Plain community. The report card of this remarkable school belies the fact that it is situated in an impoverished area where there are all the social ills of gangsterism, unemployment and broken homes. Let's have a peek at the school's learner performance, the standard by which schools are measured.

Academic profile of Spine Road High School
In the 2014 National Senior Certificate examination, Spine Road High School made history: they were the first school to achieve a 100% pass rate in the history of Mitchell's Plain. In the 2015 NSC Final examination 280 matriculants sat for the examination. The school achieved a 99,3% pass rate and an 80% Bachelors pass rate.

In the Systemic Test 2015, the grade 9's achieved an 84% pass rate in Mathematics and 96% in English. The national pass rate for Grade 9 Maths is about 22%.

The school attracts about 2000 applications for enrollment at…

Poor learner performance means there are serious systems issues at the school.

A new school year marks joy or agony for schools
Another school year has begun. Again, school heads and their leadership teams confront the question: how can they lead and manage their schools so that they have inspired, committed staff that will deliver superior classroom teaching.

Schools that are delivering excellent learner results,  will obviously look at ways to raise their game even more so.  However, there will be poor performing schools that may repeat history if they do not take stock of their own reality.  Poor learner performance means there are serious  systems issues at the school.

Leave the children out of the equation to get to the deep systemic issues at school.

Many  school heads and their SMTs that are quietly questioning why their school performance is poor when compared with schools with similar contexts as theirs, are already starting on the wrong foot.  Everybody at the school knows deep down what the real problems are, but they are afraid to acknowledge their…