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The Dialogic Learning Weekly #154

As the term concludes for many schools in this part of the world - it often coincides with a feverish
The Dialogic Learning Weekly
The Dialogic Learning Weekly #154
By Tom Barrett • Issue #154 • View online
As the term concludes for many schools in this part of the world - it often coincides with a feverish rush to the final day of term. This week I want to share some ideas and thinking about mental wellbeing.

Active Presenteeism
I strive to be more present.
Think of those moments when you are in conversation with others and they look passed you, constantly seem distracted and are simply waiting their turn to talk. These are not just poor conversational habits but they signal poor thinking and mental habits.
In a post about mentally strong people, Ryan Holiday explains that:
You could call it being in the zone, you can call it whatever you want, but the idea is that if you’re focused exclusively on one thing in front of you, you’re not bringing baggage to that situation and you’re considering only the variables that matter.
Being calm, present and focused is a clear indicator of your mental wellbeing. We can make choices about the way we approach meetings and our time working with others that instills powerful habits.
Empathic listening is something we can all get better at. I know I have from continual practice – centre on the speaker, active presenteeism, use their words back to them.
How to Build Better Relationships
Cognitive Workload of Teaching
Education must reinvent itself as a sustainable undertaking.
A few years ago I shared the article below by Lesley Murrihy, the Principal at Amesbury School in Wellington, New Zealand. Lesley explains how the demands on teaching staff have shifted:
The demand to personalise learning and meet the needs of every student requires much higher cognitive functioning than previously; yet the high teaching workload, continual interruptions, multitasking and collaboration make it impossible to find the “space” to function effectively at the cognitively higher level. All of this is causing cognitive overload.
We can use a mental model or two here to help us reflect on the “high teaching workload”. After listing the diverse activities and tasks we can sort them into an IMPACT vs EFFORT matrix. Reflecting on the type of impact we want as a group of educators and the impact our communities need, is a powerful provocation for dialogue.
Invariably we will filter our “workload” into those actions and commitments that have most of the impact. This is the Pareto Principle in action - otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. 80% of the impact comes from 20% of the action.
Once we have reflected and captured a clear sense of the status quo, it takes courageous decision making to shift the habits away from low impact items on the workload list.
A Sustainable Future in Education
Report Writing Season
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
When I am working with teachers and school leaders at this time of year, we inevitably talk about report writing. reporting twice a year is mandatory in Australia, but the impact of the process on teacher wellbeing is not sustainable.
How long can we keep repeating the same problems? Do we see it as a necessary evil? The wellbeing hit as just collateral damage for something we just have to do?
In 2008 I was exploring this problem and developed a proposal for using Google Docs for ongoing reporting to parents.
According to Jim Knight, the UK Schools Minister at the time:
Real time reporting will deepen the school-parent relations and is not a substitute for regular personal contact with teachers. Effective technology systems can actually significantly cut the staff workloads – but it has to be to be manageable for individual schools and meaningful for parents. (Jan 2008)
Nearly 12 years later what has changed? (Drop me a note if you have shifted this at your organisation.) I continue to see the impact of poorly managed and unreasonable expectations on teachers.
When we put the teachers, parents and students at the centre what would we design instead of the current reporting systems?
Thanks for reading!
I am going in for some minor surgery on Monday - nothing to worry about - so hopefully my recovery works out as planned and I will be well enough for another Dialogic Learning Weekly before the end of 2019.
Look after yourself - see you next time.
~ Tom 
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Tom Barrett

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