Brought to Tears

August 21, 2017 at 6:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As I looked around at the school’s staff members in the room they were all welling up. We were closing in on the end of the half day program experience that I was facilitating and one of the Stage 2 boys had just shared a connection. This last big challenge they were undertaking was very playful and had the students moving right around the open space. I had just brought all the participants back in to reflect before they’d have some more time to experiment and play.

“Teaching is more than imparting knowledge, it is inspiring change. Learning is more than absorbing facts, it is acquiring understanding.” – William Arthur Ward

‘You wouldn’t believe how far we’ve come with him’, is what some of the teachers and support staff emotionally shared after. His connection was to do with his challenges of being very sensitive, but through support he has become more comfortable over time with being him and completing his learning. The boy had been so engaged throughout the whole session, contributing significantly through his thoughts, words and actions. This honest reflection though had brought these educators to the brink of tears.

“When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.” – Dalai Lama

Like all of our client schools, we believe strongly in the potential of each of the individuals in their care. We understand the amazing commitment schools and educators have for the welfare and educational opportunities offered to their students as they progress through their school years. Education is a complex and interdependent journey, with many important pieces of a puzzle supporting students, staff and school communities to achieve the best outcomes for each individual. It is a privilege to be able to support and enrich the learning, social and emotional growth and development, and leadership journeys of all the participants that we’re lucky enough to work with.

“Education is transformational. It changes lives.” – Condoleezza Rice

Thank you to all the passionate educators out there who are making such a difference in the lives of students each and every day. It definitely isn’t a sprint, but your ongoing efforts, in diverse and challenging environments, really is transformational. We’d all remember important ‘teachers’ in our own journeys of potential. Those individuals who believed in us (even when maybe we didn’t believe in ourselves), challenged us (even when maybe we didn’t want to be challenged) and walked beside us as we together explored the possibilities, discovered potential and acted authentically. I consider myself very fortunate to be living the saying, ‘It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together’. And more importantly, getting to share it with such inspiring students, staff and school communities.

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” – Leo Buscaglia

Can you give me an example?

August 14, 2017 at 4:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love listening to the lived experience of leaders. It’s definitely an adventure when we purposefully use our daily thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives. It’s so inspiring to hear about all the ripples being created through a particular individuals and/or groups efforts. And of course hear about what passion, energy and courage lies beneath all of that.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what type of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

The other week I got to spend a day facilitating at a new client school. What was really fun was that the Assistant Principal had organised for this years elected leaders (Year 6) to learn beside the whole Year 5 cohort (105 students) on the day. This opened up the privilege of chatting to the elected leaders about their experiences so far this year. What they shared at different times throughout the day summed up beautifully the full spectrum of our learning and leadership journeys.

“It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.” – Jillian Michaels

Many spoke about how at the beginning of the year leading things like assemblies was challenging, but as they did it more often and realised they could support each other it got easier. One girl spoke about how a challenge was other peoples expectations of them as they navigated the year, like if they made a mistake another student might remark, ‘Aren’t you meant to be a leader?’ Others shared how much of their time they had to commit to meeting, planning and preparing for various roles and responsibilities that they had, but overall they were glad they were doing it. But it was one boy’s story in particular that became a powerful connection on the day about how we can bring about change wherever we may find ourselves.

“I want to make a difference with people who want to make a difference, doing something that makes a difference.” – John C. Maxwell

This Year 6 boy is ranked highly in Australia in skateboarding and was so clearly passionate about it as he spoke. He started thinking at the beginning of the year that others might enjoy and get something out of the activity as well, so he took the time to research it further so he could take a proposal to the school. He was able to, through negotiation, have skateboarding added to the list of sports the school does, with the response being really positive so far from both students and teachers. It was a powerful reminder to himself, and others, that if you care about something deeply, and the ripples created by your efforts will make a difference in your own and others journeys of potential, then the daily thoughts, words and actions involved to bring about change are most definitely worth it.

“Leadership is no longer about your position. It’s now more about your passion for excellence and making a difference. You can lead without a title.” – Robin Sharma

This boy, just like the other elected leaders at the school, didn’t need a badge to be able to lead. The position may open up opportunities but it’s what we do that brings leadership to life (‘leadership is action, not position’ – Donald H McGannon). This is why I love being involved in the development of leadership potential within Primary School settings. It’s inspiring how many school communities are looking at how they can empower their student cohorts through exploring, practicing and celebrating the purposeful skills, attitudes and behaviours of being a leader. Below is the feedback we received from the Assistant Principal on that day. Thank you for the opportunity to help make leadership real at your school, we look forward to again supporting you soon.

“From the moment Cameron started the program our students were engaged. He shared a clear message about what it takes to be a leader and showed our students that they all have the potential to lead. Thanks for a fantastic day!”

 

Anybody Got Feedback?

August 7, 2017 at 3:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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During the past week I got to spend two days training 40 Year 6 students who are taking on the role of Ambassadors within their school community. It’s the start of a brand new program that I’m helping the school develop, and what an inspiring two days it turned out to be. I had worked with the whole Year 6 cohort at the beginning of the year (our L.E.A.D. with Courage™: Stage 3 Leaders Program), then reconnected with their 12 elected leaders a couple of weeks after for a day, but now I was back to support those courageous students who had put their hand up to be a part of this brand new school initiative.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

There were so many highlights that came out of the experience but one particular aspect of the process really shone through as vitally important. Giving and receiving feedback are skills that need to be practiced. Being open to and filtering feedback are also skills that need to be practiced. Carving out time for and then using the constructive feedback we receive are again also skills that need to be practiced. This list could keep going on and on but as the quote above suggests, the reason for this type of practice is that feedback is vital if we are serious about wanting to improve in anything. And these students, and the client school, and us at Explore Discover Act, are definitely serious about continual growth and development.

“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.” – Jim Trinka and Les Wallace

Many times throughout the two days the teachers and I were left in awe by the way these Ambassadors stepped out of their comfort zones and made real a piece/s of feedback that they, other individuals or the group as a whole received. They themselves were the catalyst for most of the valuable, compassionate and explicit feedback that was being shared, either through informal or formal opportunities within the program, or through our living walls that were being filled up with questions, ideas and connections. I can’t wait to hear all about the incredible contributions that these students will continue to make within their school community as Ambassadors, purposefully using their thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in their own and others journeys of potential.

“One of the things that I’ve learned is to be receptive of feedback.” – Ben Silbermann

I’d just like to leave you with the reflections of one the teachers who I had the pleasure of working with closely throughout this process, and over the past few years. Her commitment, and the schools, to providing the students with engaging, challenging and inovative learning opportunities continues to energise and inspire me. What a privilege it is to get to do what we get to do!

‘WOW!  What an amazing 2 days. I have walked away feeling energised and inspired, as I know the students have as well (their body language said it all). On behalf on Emma and myself, I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work you did with our students, your professionalism and expertise to get the most out of them was wonderful to witness.

Over the 2 days I reflected on the students responses and engagement and felt proud that they were able to articulate all the passions they have for our school. It was satisfying to hear them talk, discuss and have a valued voice to share what they believe our school to be on such a deep level. It demonstrated that the aspects we have been putting into programs is truly making them confident young people.

Thank you so much again for an engaging 2 days.’ – Year 6 Teacher/Assistant Principal

How often?

July 31, 2017 at 7:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” – Brené Brown

It’s Saturday afternoon as I’m writing this. I’ve just finished facilitating the July session of our year long Let’s L.E.A.D. Program with SCARF Youth here in the Illawarra (Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families). I’m feeling so inspired (again). But also reflective. So much of what came up within the session today, plus what a Year 5 girl said during one of our program days a week ago, keeps bouncing around my head.

“Leadership’s not a title. It’s a behaviour. Live it!” – Robin Sharma

As you know I’m passionate about leadership. I love learning more about it. I love talking about it. I love noticing it. But I guess what’s even more important than all that is how often do I embody it and make it real through my thoughts, words and actions? As the Year 5 girl remarked so wisely within our program day last week, if leadership was a form of transport I’d choose a boat, they’re popular but how often do we use them?

“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own example.” – John Wooden

The challenge of leading inspires me (the purposeful use of my thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in my own and others lives). I love that the Year 5 girl’s comment, the work being undertaken by the participants involved in our year long Let’s L.E.A.D. group and my own reflections on those above are not mired in judgement, but rather are a part of the process of staying curious, compassionate and purposefully aligned (and continuing to realign) along the leadership journey. It’s definitely not about perfection. I’ll take progress and creating ripples over that each and every day.

“Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” – Vince Lombardi

Mind the Gap

July 17, 2017 at 3:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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With school going back this week after the winter break we are excitedly getting ready to engage, challenge and inspire again. A break is always a good time to recharge the batteries, but it’s also a great time to see what comes up creatively as well. I had many inspiring interactions and conversations during the past two weeks, with one theme in particular coming up a lot as I now reflect. The theme had a lot to do with a certain phrase that I fondly remember hearing in the early 2000’s as I got on and off the tube while living and teaching in London.

“The greatest gap in the world is the gap between knowing and doing.” – John Maxwell

The message is iconic, and oh so politely delivered. ‘Mind the gap’ can be heard ringing out right across the tube network of stations as trains roll in and out. It’s also purposeful. Even though we as individuals and groups know that the train and platform don’t line up completely (if we’ve walked on or off a train before), if we’re not being mindful in the moment then a missed step can occur. We can’t ever eliminate risk. But if we are to take full advantage of the opportunities to be ripple makers in our own and others lives then not being ‘stuck between the train and the platform’ might make it easier for us to act.

“I am participating in the evolution of inspired action.” – Steve Maraboli

So as we at Explore Discover Act prepare to assist in the development of leadership potential within our client schools again this term, we will also again prepare to ‘Mind the Gap’. Our own. As well as empowering those we have the pleasure of supporting to do the same. The gap will always be there. The challenge then is in how we choose to navigate it (both as individual and groups). We’re just so grateful to be on this journey with all the inspiring students, teachers and school communities who courageously are choosing to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with us.

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson

Journeying Beside

June 26, 2017 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As schools around NSW prepare to break up this week for the winter holidays I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on something I think regularly about. I love language. How it sounds. How it connects. What it means (or doesn’t mean). But I also love digging deeper into where it has come from.

“All assessment is a perpetual work in progress.” – Linda Suskie

‘Assess’ is definitely one of those words that is used a lot in educational settings. So as students take home their half yearly reports this week they will include results, observations and findings gathered through a wide range of assessments. Some will have fallen within the general category of formal assessments. While others would of been gathered informally. Putting these categories aside for a minute though, the origin of the word ‘assess’ can really assist us as we navigate its purpose and practical applications.

“Origin and Etymology of assess. Middle English, probably from Medieval Latin assessus, past participle of assidēre, from Latin, to sit beside.” – www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assess

I absolutely love the phrase, ‘to sit beside’. It immediately fills me with pictures in my mind of the most powerful assessment tools that I’ve used myself or witnessed others using over the years. We are all learners. So we’d all know the feelings of when assessment is used to engage, empower and guide the most effective navigation of our individual and shared learning journeys. Unfortunately though, assessment can sometimes feel like a weapon being used to judge, separate and stifle. Reflecting on this original meaning regularly reminds me of the purposeful thoughts, words and actions that make the biggest difference in our own and others lives.

“For teachers, as for students, the most effective evaluation comes from someone who sits beside us and helps us grow.” – Carol Ann Tomlinson

Thank you to all those incredible teachers, students and school communities who have courageously chosen progress over perfection during this first half of the 2017 school year. Enjoy your upcoming holiday break, and we look forward to continuing to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically with you as Term 3 kicks off in a few weeks time.

In Partnership With

May 1, 2017 at 7:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Last Friday we woke up to the most beautiful blue skies. We set up for our Camp Adventure Day experience at the most beautiful sea side park location. And we welcomed the most beautiful Year 3 and 4 students into an action packed program that explored the role of resilience in our journeys of potential. What a great day it was! The photo above is of some of the participants from the red group challenging themselves and having so much fun on the rock climbing wall.

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” – James Cash Penney

As the day progressed I started thinking about how being in partnership with multiple individuals and groups made the day even more special. The rock climbing wall is from a company who we are able to partner with if one of our client schools wants to add this to the experience. Council are always so accomodating with the use of public spaces that support the requirements and outcomes of a particular program day. And of course working in partnership with the client school and participants fosters the incredible relationships we enjoy with them.

“We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together.” – Bill Richardson

We are just so privileged to be able to explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically together with those who we are in partnership with. The feedback the accompanying teachers on the day left us with (below) highlights this interconnectedness best. Whether it’s school, home, local community or us as external providers, we all want the same thing. To see that the students have the opportunity to be engaged, challenged and inspired so that they can continue to grow, learn and make a difference.

“This always proves to be an excellent character building program. It is very well received and appreciated by parents. The local community find the program interesting and we get many positive comments on the day. Great job Cameron – we always love working with you and your team.” – Stage 2 Teacher

L.E.A.D. with me

April 10, 2017 at 9:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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What would you say is a key to success when navigating a challenge as a group? There’d be many that would come to mind I assuming, especially when you consider all the different situations, complexities, who’s involved and circumstances that could be thrown in to spice up the types of problem solving required. Context definitely matters. But…

“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.” – Warren Bennis

A few weeks ago, when posed with a similar question, a Year 6 student responded in this way: “A key to success is giving space for others to lead”. It was at the beginning of the day and we’d just completed our first small groups challenge (approximately 8 students in each group). This girl shared this connection as she unpacked the journey her team had just been on: excitement, preparation, planning, experimentation, distraction, failure, experimentation again, near success, failure, disappointment, regrouping, refocussing, experimentation again, achieving success, celebrating, regrouping, refocussing, attempting the next level of the challenge, and so it goes on.

“The great leaders are like the best conductors – they reach beyond the notes to reach the magic in the players.” – Blaine Lee

So I wonder, what individual and collective thoughts, words and actions help us create space for others to L.E.A.D. with me?

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

A Celebration Of…

April 3, 2017 at 8:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As we near the end of first term I know there are a lot of students and teachers who are looking forward to a refreshing holiday break. What a term it’s been! It’s been a wet one (thinking of all those students and teachers who’ve been stuck inside a lot). It’s been a busy one (so many fantastic school communities to support). It’s been an interesting one (plenty of incredible individual and collective examples of exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically). There’s always so much to celebrate!

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it everyday.” – Anonymous

As I reflect back on the past ten weeks I am reminded of feedback I received last year from an accompanying teacher. The comment read, ‘thank you for celebrating their quirkiness’. It made us smile at the time but also remember that as we engage, challenge and inspire the groups we have the pleasure of supporting, we are also celebrating the uniqueness, wisdom and contributions of each individual. Thanks to all those courageous students who inspire us each and every day.

“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.” – Mia Hamm

I hope all students, staff and school communities are enjoying the opportunity to celebrate … , as they navigate the final few days of this term. Stay safe over the break and we look forward to all that second term will bring.

 

A Question To Reflect On

March 27, 2017 at 6:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The other week I was asked a particular question that’s had me thinking. It’s one of the joys of working with kids, there’s definitely plenty of curiosity bouncing around. I had worked with the whole Year 6 cohort two weeks before. Then on this particular day I was back supporting the Year 6 elected leaders who were preparing to implement a new Ambassador Program within their school community.

“Never lose a holy curiosity.” – Albert Einstein

During one conversation I was asked, why are you so passionate about other people’s learning? The list of things that I’ve been asked over the years is diverse, but this questions directness, and the context of what we were discussing at the time, made me stop. I immediately thanked him for the question. I was then flooded with memories of the gratitude I feel for the way my family, teachers and others have shown up for me within my learning and leadership journey. Then really importantly I was reminded of why.

“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John C. Maxwell

Why our vision, fostering ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’. Why our mission, ‘provide experiences and ongoing communication that promote exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically’. Why influence, not control, as the way we lead and make a difference. And above all else, why I am so privileged to do what I do.

“Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration.” – Robin S. Sharma

The context of what we were discussing was how this boy wanted to make other Year 6 students feel when he shares activities with them as the program is rolled out. He made a connection to how he had felt two weeks before, and then on this day as well. As founder and lead facilitator of Explore Discover Act, I am proud to offer programs and experiences that reflect our deep belief in the potential of each individual. I can’t wait to hear about the ripples created by these courageous leaders thoughts, words and actions as the year goes on.

“Human potential is the only limitless resource we have in this world.” – Carly Fiorina

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