Management is like a bar of soap


Management is like a bar of soap


If you hold it at one end, it slips out the other.


If you adjust and hold it at the other end, it slips out of the first.


If you squeeze it too hard, you just destroy it.


If you scrub too vigorously, you use it up too quickly and it becomes expensive.


Yet if you hold it just right, it does a perfectly adequate job and nobody really talks about it.


Management is about skill before effort. It is about doing the job and ignoring the glory. And you may have to drop the soap a few times before you learn to get it right.

Google Search Training

It’s not much time to give up – half an hour. But in that time at Paganel we have just honed up our search skills not only to save us hours of time planning and preparing lessons, but also to improve the quality of what we teach.


This is what the staff meeting looked like:


Here’s some places to go for safe searches:
 – a website with vetted pages.
On Google, remember to use:
  • Wonderwheel
  • Timeline
  • Picture filters
  • Custom Search
Here’s one of my custom searches: Paganel Space Search


Short and simple.


The first few links to Sweetsearch and IPL are links to vetted searches – ace for primary schools where an un-monitored Google search can lead to unmitigated disaster, or at least embarrassing conversations with parents and/or senior managers, even if the safesearch is set to strict. The image search for ‘copyright free’ images is an interesting one for us. In the past we’ve not considered this very much and have used pictures willy-nilly whatever their copyright might say. Now, as educated, law-abiding members of the 21st Century, Paganel staff will only use images that are copyright free.


The second section – guidance on wonderwheel and timeline – should help staff get to the information they need quickly when preparing lessons. And the fact that you can search for images down to wanting a red line-drawing of a pirate is quite remarkable.


Finally we finished the meeting by looking at a Google Custom Search that I had made – ‘Paganel Space Search’ (above). I had used sites found at the IPL (also found above). Each member of staff had to then make their own custom search for a forthcoming topic (which range from Rainforests to the Victorians).


As members of the 21st Century we have to teach our children to use search safely and efficiently to find the information they need. Teachers need to be able to search for information quickly and also teach how to use search within the curriculum.


Which is why I concluded the meeting by showing the staff the Interesting Ways series for the first time. The Interesting Ways on Search was particularly interesting.

What is Maths?

This is my definition of maths.

Maths is elegant. It is graceful and swift.

However my favourite is by my MaST colleague Matthew Cham who worked with his children on the definition. Together they came up with:

Mathematics –
a spoonful of numbers,
a sprinkling of symbols,
200g of quantity,
100g of measurement,
All mixed together and moulded into the 
shape of your choice!

MaST stands for Mathematics Specialist Teacher. It's a Master's level study designed to help us primary school teachers be a bit more clued up on the big picture of maths. We all had to come up with our definitions of maths, but they're all hidden away on the universities Blackboard system.

So did the exercise with my children on this wallwisher.

Please respond to this post with your own definition of maths or post on the Wallwisher (although as I write, wallwisher does seem to be misbehaving a little at the moment – bizarrely I find it works best on IE8)

Vagueness, Titles and an Inability to get to the Point.

Please take this post in the manner it was written – with a generous pinch of sugar and probably a substantial spoonful of sugar too.


Have you noticed the recent trend for titles of blog posts. There seem to be a plethora of posts written with this three subject pattern: “Blah blah, Blah blah and Blah-bla-blah Blah


On my reader at the moment there’s three such articles I’m yet to read:



At least 3 or 4 more have passed me by on Tweetdeck today.


And then to my shock I notice one on my own blog:
And I suppose that’s kind of what blogging is. It’s exploring ideas, linking them, reflecting on what you do using the written word to do so. So there’s probably a natural inability to get to the point (and if you’ve ever read many of my posts you’ll definitely agree). That’s because bloggers are explorers, not journalists. We connect things, we don’t define them.


But I still think there’s a call on me as an educator to use words precisely. While I jokingly reflect on blog titles, I rail against the inaccurate use of words in pairs. You hear them all the time in schools – ‘leadership and management‘; ‘monitoring and evaluation‘. I always check myself when I hear myself say such things because I know that when I do I’m being vague.


Why use two words when you could use one?


Maybe sometimes we’re just filling up the space.


Oh dear, is this what I’ve just done. Being ‘meta’ or navel-gazing. It’s the same difference.

Are you a hub or a connector?


Hubs are where many connections converge. Like the spider at the centre of a web, many strands come from that one point.


A connector is just the end of a wire. A simple bit of metal and plastic that plugs into something.


The temptation is to want to be a hub. You can be at the centre. Many different connections come into you. People are focused on you – you cannot be ignored. I feel that sometimes.


But connectors are important too. When I worked in automotive engineering (which admittedly was a few years ago) it was true that the second greatest cause of all break downs in cars were due to connector failure (the first was human error). Connectors don’t look too much, but you really notice them when they don’t work properly.


In my role as a primary school deputy headteacher, it is tempting to want to become a hub. But it would take me away from my core purpose. My core purpose is to connect families and especially children with sources of learning. With teachers, peers, educators across the world. It is to give the power of learning over to the children, not to keep it for myself. My core purpose is to give hope to children, not keep it for myself.


There’s that old adage describing over-management – “too many hubs and not enough connectors.” At least I think it goes something like that.


I could spend my time creating marvellous resources, honing them to perfection, making connections point to me. I could become a hub.


But those resources already exist. There are many storehouses of marvellous resources. Here are just two for teachers that I’ve been looking at in the past half an hour:


So as I ask myself the question, ‘are you a hub or a connector?‘, I must remind myself what my core purpose is. Who exactly am I serving?

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