Virtual School Meanderings

May 2, 2016

Your Newsletter From The Ethos Online Community – April 2016

One for my Kiwi readers as they end their day…

Your newsletter from the Ethos Online Community – April 2016


Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings,


We’ve all been through change. Personally, I enjoy it…well, usually!! Sometimes I find it really uncomfortable especially if I can’t see the overarching purpose, or the underpinning values behind the change don’t feel as though they align with mine. Then I’m faced with decisions, that occasionally include moving on and out of the change environment.


Greg Carroll, in his post When to Shoot…, offers a provocative take on leading change, observing that there is “the dance between the carrot and the stick”. Also, as leaders “we are often plied with ideas from near and far about how to best go about getting people on-board and all heading in ‘the right direction’” (e.g. Six aspects to leading change).


One of the key questions Greg asks is about when the right time is  “to pose the question and put in front of someone the provocation about whether their fit in the culture and direction of the school may not be a good one” (while Greg is talking specifically about schools, you can substitute the word ‘organisation’ for a more general take). Other questions Greg poses are: “How can you challenge hard, find the edges and limits of people’s thinking, and still maintain the working relationships?”, and “How can you create a climate of positive discomfort to get things moving if this is not a normal state of being?”. Needless to say, these has led to a really good discussion!


There is part of me that says ‘never leave anyone behind’, everyone can change. However, wrapped in with this is something Greg touches on: are those people who are finding the change in a particular context, at a particular time, so very uncomfortable actually doing a disservice to themselves…while also impacting others negatively? From a practical stance, with limited resources (funding, time, people, infrastructure, etc), I can see there may be a point in time when we have to support a person (who could be stuck in shock, disbelief, and self-doubt – see diagram of seven stages of change) to change their focus, location and / or context. From a professional stance I would say that this could be achieved partly through coaching / mentoring conversations that open up the person’s awareness of other opportunities and alternatives. From my experience, some people will leave teaching, others will leave for another school, and yet others will make the shift into acceptance, and start making the steps to contributing positively to the change.


Greg responded in our discussion by offering an additional perspective indicating that in order for people “to be their best there needs to be a degree of comfort and alignment with the place they work and the ethos of the …[organisation]” – but that “lack of fit is not the same as competence”. He goes on to suggest that “cognitive dissonance … needs to come from a place of comfort” to avoid it being overwhelming. As such, the role of leaders is to help people “find somewhere more steady to stand”, and “that could be a role within our schools or centres, or within others”.


What are your thoughts about this topic? What have your experiences been (good, bad, and ugly)? Please jump in and be part of the discussion.


Welcome to new members – April 2016

The Ethos Online Community now has 397 members. Hope you will all give a warm haere mai (welcome) to April’s new members to the community:

  • From across the ditch in NSW, Australia, we welcome Kate White. Kate is a community manager with 25 years experience as a teacher. Kate hopes the Ethos Online Community can aid her in collaborating with others, learning and sharing ideas. We hope to learn from your wide experience, Kate :-)

  • Another member joins us from Australia this month. Based in Queensland, and working in marketing, Vikas Rana joins us. Vikas is interested in growing his knowledge base and sharing some ideas.

  • Tess Connell is a secondary teacher, based in Auckland. Tess is extremely interested in how we can use technology to enhance teaching and learning, especially in the worlds of adolescents. She is curious in the role that social media plays in potentially changing the attitudes and beliefs (around gender and sexualities for example) of adolescents. Very interesting stuff – I hope we get to hear more about this.

  • We also welcome a specialist in the field. ELearning expert, Richard Jones, joins us from Cambridge, Waikato. Richard is particularly interested in Learning Management System administration, management, development, course design for blended and online learning, change strategies and Bring Your Own Device programs. You can find out more about Richard via his blog;


Know anyone who would like to join an international Online Community that’s all about learning – across all education sectors, business & ITOs: Please invite them :)

Member Blog Posts and discussions

In this newsletter, as always we have some great posts. Please jump into the conversations and feel free to ask questions.


  • The Ethos featured blogger for April is Josie Evans. Josie looks into goals. Reaching a goal is difficult. There are generally a number of factors and psychosocial barriers prohibiting this from being a simple task, so a person needs to set a target that needs to be strategically worked towards. In her post, Josie uses fitness as a model to demonstrate how to approach altering long-term behavioural habits. Enjoy the fruits of your labour: Mind, body and soul gives tips on how programmes and support can help address and overcome these barriers. Josie gives advice on how to select a successful programme, and how to make it work for you. All great suggestions – both in regards to upping your exercise regime, and achieving goals in general.

  • Does being an educator influence who you are as a parent – and vice versa? Monika Kern looks into how having a background in education may effect our expectations of the schools and teachers responsible for our children’s learning (and maybe even their expectations of parents in education, and their children). Could it potentially also mean we expect more of our own children academically, given that we know what other children are capable of, and what is ‘expected’ at each age. Does the busyness of parenthood also dull one’s enthusiasm for teaching, or make it seem less important in comparison? These are the thought provoking questions Monika ponders in Lehrer’s Kinder, Pfarrer’s Vieh, gedeihen selten oder nie! (translated to A teacher’s children and a priest’s cattle will rarely turn out well, if ever). What do other parents and teacher thing about these ponderings? Has parenthood changed you as a teacher, and teaching changed you as a parent?

  • What Remains? is a thought piece from John S. Oliver on what we may change, influence and leave behind through writing. Why are some pieces of writing so well remembered and constantly referred to, even years after their publication, and other just plain forgettable? The power of words can’t be denied.  But do they have the influence to change the world? And how does the author go about creating something that will remain in the head of his reader?

  • SCORM in Moodle – is it really worth it? – well this post looks into just that! Richard Jones has found through experience that Moodle can stand alone, and is, in fact, a much simpler format without SCORM objects. Richard works closely with both Moodle course design and Articulate Storyline development. He has been considering lately what a client may really need, as opposed to what they think they need. Running runs through some pros and cons to both, he concludes that the questions should always be considered; can I achieve my learning objectives with Moodle activities only? If not, why not? And what is it about SCORM that makes it the compelling choice?

  • This month, we are lucky enough to experience the personal learning journey of Anne Kenneally. Anne has had a rollercoaster educational experience. She talks of teachers who have both set strict boundaries and filled her with fear, and those that have opened her eyes to true hands on learning, triggering a thirst for knowledge. Although there has been daunting setbacks in this journey, Anne remained resilient and eventually found that her love for learning translated into a love for teaching – her profession. It is so interesting to hear others experiences with education, and how this has shaped their lives. Anne’s is particularly interesting and informative. Please do take a look and feel free to share any thoughts you may have – ….and this is my story.


Also recommended

As always you have contributed a superb variety of posts this month. Thank you. Here are some of the posts and topics that you may find of interest:

  • From dreamers to critics: Making sure everyone has a voice introduces a way of thinking called the Disney method. This method, used by Walt Disney with his creative team, focuses on looking at every idea from 3 different perspectives; the dreamer, the realist and the critic. This stops people from immediately ruling out idea that could be just right, as well as looking at them in a logical and strategical manner. This post discusses the method in further detail, explaining how and why it is used. Has anyone used this method previously?

  • This great little infographic provides statistics (based on US data) on the most important issue for both students and parents when it comes to satisfaction with higher education. It also incorporates tips on how to deal with some of these issues. Take a look and share your thoughts: What are the most important issues for students and parents when it comes to satisfaction with higher education?

  • Smartphones – the majority of people in the first world have them now. Although they enable many positive things, they also leave us open to potential security and privacy threats. The ten worst things you are doing with your smartphone looks at an article that points out the common mistakes that may get people in hot water and why. Something all us modern-age smartphone addicts could probably use!

  • EducationWeek NZ: Arts special report looks at this fabulous newsletter dedicated to the area of arts education. The report has pieces about professional development, the future or the arts, and how your young learners can access more arts opportunities – no matter where they are located. And, excitingly, features articles from two of our own Ethos members; Rachel Whalley (Virtual Learning Network Primary), and Merryn Dunmill (CORE Education).

  • Over the last 3 years there has been more change in the commercial and government context than we have seen in the last 15 years. Phil Garing (Synapsys) has been working across sectors and has explored the different contexts, and so is in an informed place to draw the commonalities across them. These are explained and analysed in Learning and development in a commercial context – making the connections.

  • The Virtual Learning Network primary (VLNP) started in 2005, and the key was to make sure that students who are in remote, rural schools in New Zealand have access to a wide range of subjects. The teacher comes on for an hour-long session per week, and then the students work in the WeLearn space (which is halfway between Facebook and Moodle). This is an awesome concept, however, it has ran into a few road blocks. Difficulties such as lost passwords/URL’s, students not attending sessions and not completing homework have presented themselves. Rick Whalley’s research identified that much of the existing research was to support adult learners rather than young learners. He has been working to develop a model that will assist the schools, and complement the existing policies and protocols. This looks at supporting students and schools alike. Read more about how Rick plans on going about this in Supporting young learners to learn in an online environment.

  • Flipped learning is an ongoing subject of interest and discussing, hence why this in depth webinar on the topic is so exciting. The webinar, given by Leigh Hynes earlier this month (now available to view as a presentation), draws on Leigh’s own vast experience with flipped learning, including meeting one of the founders on the first flipped classroom. Leigh was able to visit April Gunrath and her students on their first day of school for the year, at Discovery Canyon School. The whole of the English department at the school has flipped, along with other teachers (for example, a science teacher). From her findings during this experience, Leigh has put together a paper and a Wordle. The Wordle interestingly reveals one of the keywords identified by students, to be ‘video’. Leigh explores this element a little further, looking into Wimp as a video resource, as well as encouraging the audience to further their thinking with a video based task. Leigh also provides some fantastic resources in the subject and examples from her own experiences. A very useful read for anyone interested in flipped learning – Flipping: Leigh shares some experiences from the coal face as well as ‘top tips’.

  • Coaching is generally used as a method to aid a coachee is attaining a desired outcome. In order to do this a coach needs to enable their coachee in setting effective goals to work towards – helping them on the path to achievement. There are several characteristics that help a goal in being effective. These characteristics, as well as common mistakes, are discussed in How great goal-setting can help turn your dreams in to reality.


Recommended videos

From the ever growing repository of videos (1,285 in total – thanks as always to John S Oliver for his awesome contributions), these are a just few of the highlights.

  • Find out three ways to start a presentation and capture your participants from the get go in Three ways to start a presentation!

  • Generation Me. Trophy Kids. Generation Stuck. Whatever they’re called, Millennial Generation is changing the way people think and work. They’re poised to be the most educated generation in American history. They integrate technology into daily life and push the boundaries. Surely that is worth finding out about more – Generation Y – Who they are

  • At Charles R. Drew Charter School, third-grade students use project based learning to prepare for the next Snowpocalypse – STEAM + Project Based Learning: Real solutions from driving questions

  • Inviting community members into the classroom to share their expertise can help bring lessons and learning to life for students, as Crellin Elementary School demonstrates in Learning partners: Co-teaching with community experts.

  • Every day, a sea of decisions stretches before us, and it’s impossible to make a perfect choice every time. But there are many ways to improve our chances — and one particularly effective technique is critical thinking. Samantha Agoos describes a 5-step process that may help you with any number of problems; 5 tips to improve your critical thinking.

  • This short video shows how you can make a screencast video with Snagit for Google Chrome, and then attach that capture as a new assignment in Google Classroom.

  • In Six aspects to leading change, Dr. Patricia Zigarmi is a Senior Consulting Partner for The Ken Blanchard Companies. In this video she talks through the six main stages of concern people have around change. Coincidentally (or not so much) these are also the six reasons change both fails and succeeds, depending on how they are approached. Zigarmi guides us through a model that helps approach each stage in a productive manner, aiming for a constructive journey through changes.

  • Understanding the Global generations – How the generations are named and defined is a video by Mccrindle research that explains each generation’s demographics, psychographics and stereotypes (starting from the Baby Boomers).

  • How do creative people come up with inspired ideas? Organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk (The surprising habits of original thinkers), learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”

  • Logical paradoxes – very confusing and very interesting / thought provoking – let this video explain it better; 4 logical paradoxes.




What’s on?

Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities) including  The 2016 ICBTS International Social Sciences and Education Research Conference in Dubai.


Please feel free to add events to share them, or just let me know and I’ll add them :-)



Much gratitude to Charlotte Caines for doing the lion’s share of work putting this monthly newsletter together. Please keep your posts (including cross-posts), comments and recommendations coming :-)


Nāku iti nei, faafetai lava, and warm regards


Hazel Owen

Education consultant / Director

Ethos Consultancy NZ Ltd

PO Box 90391, Victoria Street West,

Auckland 1142

Phone +64 (0)9 9738027 / +64 (0)9 5750206

Mobile +64 (0)21 2273777

Web site:


Email addresses: /

Skype: hazelowendmc

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