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from FE Labyrinth

The Business of Business Planning

When I attended my first PGCE lecture, the head of programme offered us a warning.  “Teaching,” she said, “is no longer a vocation.  It is a business.”  It was a fair point.  After all, I had not left a lower paid job entirely out of the goodness of my heart.  Nevertheless, I became accustomed over the years to working with people who valued what they did for its own sake, and being managed by leaders who had spent years in the classroom and still felt affection for it.  Whether I worked in a local authority school, an academy or a faith school, I understood what everyone else’s job was, and they understood mine.  When I moved to a new school, I used to observe with interest what I thought of as the “teaching high watermark.”  That is: the least senior position at which teaching no longer occurs, even for cover. 

In my first school, everyone except the head and deputy had timetabled classes.  When that school went through a radical transformation (for the better), even the head picked up half an hour a day.  When I came to college, one of the first things I noticed was how low that watermark was.  It stops not far above the position of lecturer.  There are layers upon layers of managers who do not set foot in a classroom all year, and whole departments that have nothing to do with teaching.  In the upper strata they have almost no contact with students, or even lecturers.  At the very top sits, not a head teacher, but a “CEO.” Three months after joining the college, one member of my team did not yet know who this was.  I have never seen such clear blue water between teaching staff and a leadership team.   I am told by colleagues who have worked elsewhere that this is common.

Before looking at why I think this has happened, let me outline one reason this distance between teachers and leaders is a problem, although there are many.  Anyone who has attended an education conference will be able to visualise the following scene.  A funky looking expert, with glasses from the Matrix and a beard from Lord of the Rings takes the podium for his slot.  He extols a system of marking that involves group discussion, two pen colours, a box of stamps and an iPhone app.  It will empower your learners and motivate them, he says... IF it is applied properly. Whilst he talks, you wonder how to apply this properly with your sports class, right after they come in from a gym session.  What happens when the internet goes down?  What happens when they lose their pens and highlighter?  How long will this take?  That the speaker is intelligent and well-intentioned (and probably good company on a pub crawl) are not in doubt.  But years of comfortable inexperience stand between his ideas and the smell of twenty-five bodies packed into a hot room at the end of June.  Teaching a class acts as a sanity check against policies which are harmful, or simply a waste of time.  Those who teach regularly, seldom insist that every lesson needs to have a written plan.  Those who do not teach have a much harder time distinguishing between good pedagogical advice and passing fads, and if they are the decision makers in their schools and colleges, disenchantment and cynicism can set in. 

Now, it would be both lazy and unfair to claim that senior leaders are not working hard.  That is far from the truth.  My immediate line manager (who is just at the edge of the teaching watermark), works constantly through the evenings and the weekend.  Other managers at her level are under the same pressure, and most of them are willing to step in and do cover when necessary (although this is unheard of at the next level up).  I assume the managers above her are busy also.  However, “What exactly are they doing?” is a common question among new recruits, particularly those from secondary school, accustomed to seeing their head teacher and deputies on the corridors and in the classroom, keeping in touch with staff on the ground and working with them on behaviour and culture setting. 

So what exactly are they doing?  The answer seems to be:  business planning.  Colleges are businesses.  In fact, since 1992, they have been corporations.  The government funding model, which attempts to imitate free market conditions, generates an enormous amount of bureaucracy.  Teams must be employed and managed to handle this.  They must look for loopholes.  They must work with local businesses.  They must look for every opportunity to leverage money out of their premises.  They must keep an eye on their competitors, more so than schools.  Advertising needs attention.  In my previous school, the “marketing,” was handled by an old geography teacher who enjoyed photography – in college the marketing department employs as many staff as the engineering team.  All this results in a slick outward appearance, and that is necessary in this sector, but what is being missed? 

I won’t solely blame senior leadership teams – I think it has much to do with how colleges are funded and the sector managed.  The pressures to maintain a cash flow are real and it is no wonder they see that as their primary responsibility.  However, whilst recognising the time demands that SLT face, I would suggest popping the following activities (commonplace in schools) into the business plan.    – Take ten minutes in the morning to meet and greet students and staff.  - Spend an hour (or more!) a week walking round the college and dropping in to lessons. Ask lecturers, secretaries and caretakers how things are going. If this is a business, teaching is the product, and shouldn't the CEO want to see the finished product? - Use a CPD day to sit down with working committees of teaching staff.  Consult your own in-house experts.  Given a chance to voice their views and understanding, they may impress you.

Perhaps these practices are commonplace in other institutions.  Where this is so, I expect they are successful colleges and I would be interested to hear about them.  Even if FE is a business, it should be the business of education, not the business of business planning. 


from ESO Moments

#ESO #TESO #Morrowind #SeydaNeen

Old memories of playing TES III Morrowind came back when I first arrived in the beautiful little village Seyda Neen.

Seyda Neen by Night


from excerpts

Any complex organism, or machine for that matter, requires a period of rest. The rest is a way to reset the build-up of system stressors that result from incoming information overload and physical energy loss or entropy. The heart accumulates these stressors from the perceptual lens of the mind and body throughout the waking period. These stressors add density to the heart region, which, like fog, can obscure the heart's vision of understanding, and thus, its expression of compassion — that most cherished of all qualities.

The heart is a processing center of the mind-body. It absorbs the stressors and densities of human emotion, but over time, it needs to reset itself. It needs to reclaim its clarity, coherence and compassion. The heart both accumulates and stores energies, and it also transmits them through an electromagnetic field that is not bound by linear spacetime.

The best technique to reset the heart is to allow neutrality to flow in all spaces of your presence. 

This is how you do it.

Close your eyes. Take a few deep, centering breaths and as you breathe imagine that the space that cradles your heart becomes active. You can feel warmth in that region. You can place your hands over your heart. However you are led, feel this warmth as a cleansing energy, and hold it for as long as you can, even if only for a moment in time. If you can, give this warmth the color of a vibrant green — the kind you see in deep, primeval forests.

Now, as you feel this green, warm energy, allow it to drift upwards into your head, and then open your eyes and see the world through your heart. See it as if your were looking with your heart and not merely your eye-brain system. This is the reset. This is how you know when you have been successful, for you will see the exterior of your world as though is were a mirror of compassion.



The more I start to dig into business analytics and intelligence and instrumenting services for that, the more I realize how similar it is to distributed tracing and instrumenting services for that. This similarity extends so deep I think it might actually be the same problem that we've been applying multiple expressions to this whole time. I am not an expert in UI tracing, but what I do understand is backend services and how they are implemented. I propose creating something that combines the two by creating “views” into the data that will show it either from a distributed tracing standpoint or from a business intelligence standpoint.


from Positive Thoughts

Today is the first day of my first ebook launch! I'm very excited to have a website up and running. My goal is to make other people happy by sharing what I know! One of my dreams since I was little is to become an author. The next step for me is to come out with another ebook for poems. I can't wait to keep you guys updated and share my personal poems.

Here's a link to my website:


from tm

if i didn't have such a busy day...

....then i would probably try to do Problem set 1 or 2 or whateverthefuck tonight, but i am still (mentally) exhausted. But nevertheless, i feel good and i am having coffee and i am having a nicotine lozenge (and have since decided to get more enthusiastic about them), and just overall feeling v chill.

I am going to go ahead and make my To-Do list for tomorrow and see what all i have to do around the apartment + w/ CS50x etc. I am also going to minimize a little bit, i think. I don't have very much to get rid of, tbh. But there may be a couple little things to get rid of. idk.

I know tht my shoes are going in the trash next month after i buy a new pair of Chuck Taylors (which are the exact same shoe only in baby blue). Chucks last me about 8 months, i discovered.

I am also going to make the purchases that i need next month (EdX certificate payment, app domain name, etc etc etc. So, good times.

I am going to set a goal, right now, to have this EdX certification done by October 15, 2018! Making this a very REAL goal and i gotta meet it. #GoodShit

be back soon


from tm

I need to make some decisions

about weight loss. i have covered this issue several times before on this blog, but i seriously need to buckle-down and do something about it. when i do get into the working out bit again, i am not going to do any “FitBit”, high-tech, life hack type of tricks to keep myself on-point. I am just going to go all the way and do it as oldschool as possible so i do not have to worry about #tech frustrating me or standing in my way. #FuckExerciseTech

What i WILL do is go at it every. single. day. Just like when i was living in #STL (midtown STL). I think this means i am going to have to find some place to live next to a park (if i can) or at least a place with a decent gym. I can accomplish this soon because my lease is about done at this apartment complex but i would have to do it (find a place) within a month.

more on this later


from tm

Now I am just writing for the sake of writing

Intentional #writing, i suppose. i said yesterday that i was going to get some writing done sometime soon here even though i am bogged down w/ #CS50x coursework these days (which is true), but, i figured this could be my little blog post of relevance (or irrelevance) for the time being.

Dad's hand:

It was filleted open like a fish today and they did all kinds of hideous and gross stuff to it in an attempt to make it disease-free, but at the end of the day the (very blunt) doctor said that he may end up going to a rehab facility across the street for his treatments bc of A) the length of the hospital stay, and B) they have more resources over there. The idea of him going there really upsets a lot of people because that building sort of has a reputation of killing my relatives bc we have had several go in and not come out. Fucked up operation they got going over there.

All this means he will miss out on the family reunion that is in September and also my cousins wedding, also in September. I am looking forward to both of these things, but then again, looking forward to both of them being over with because i would reallllly like to get my FACE tattoo relatively soon. It is going to be on the side of my head/sideburn area (right side). I am v much so looking forward to it.

Anyway, be back in a little while


from Sweet nothings

Pre-Monday Pep Talk:

And so it begins ... Again. It's okay. You got this. You've been through this before. You can handle it again. You're an old hand and this ain't your first rodeo. It's easy as fuckin' pie.

They're going to start at it again - Let them. They're so worried about you bringing down the entire company... Don't worry about it. You have no desire to do such a thing. They're doing it themselves. They're creating their own demise, creating their own karma. You just sit back and watch it all play out.

They're going to start in with the nasty comments again – hardcore. Be ready for it. The mean jabs, the cutting innuendos, the loud jokes meant to break your confidence. Let them.

Superman's going to start in again with his pacing, with his headset. He says some of the harshest things. He laughs at you the hardest, likes to let you know how big of an idiot he thinks you are. Likes to let you know how little respect he has for you. He's pissed that he's attracted to you, and that he's so reliant on you to achieve his profit.

Of course you'll get it from all the girls. They're girls. It's what girls do. It's what they're best at.

Boss Lady is going to be the worst. She has some of the biggest issues, some of the worst demons that she's fighting and she likes to take them out on you. She's also the one who's fucked up the most. She's the one who's been single-handedly setting the company up for failure each and every day.

Her favorite technique is using behind-the-back coersion. It lets her build a case against you without letting you defend yourself. It lets her build a loyal army of soldiers to fight for her cause of destroying your reputation and credibility. She's their committed boss, she's on their side, and she's unified them to team up against you. She's made you the villain that they will all hate and laugh at, and she's made herself the righteous leader helping them fight against you.

Why do her areas have so much turnover? Maybe it's exactly like she says, that the high turnover is actually a good thing. That the people who are leaving are better off gone. Every? Single? One? I've lost count since I've started. But there've been a LOT. We have two new ones starting on Monday to fill in the gaps for two others that left, both without giving a two-week notice.

Orrrrrrr maybe it's because she's cray cray.

The hardest part is going to be holding your shit together when the girls you're training lash out at you and stop respecting you. If they do that, just give them projects to work on independently, and do the rest of the work yourself. Put your headphones in, crank up the music, and get to work. Don't waste your time on them if they aren't going to take you seriously. Even if it's the boss's boss's daughter. Especially if it's her. Fuck her. You owe her nothing. If she's been brought in to screw you over, she can learn from someone else. If you get called out for not training her, ask to relinquish your training duties. You don't have time to waste on this stupid, petty bullshit. You have work to do and you're no fool. Let the boss's boss's daughter learn from Diva, or maybe from Envy. You do not have to go along with Boss Lady's master plan.

Fuck her. Fuck them.

If you get fired, then it's probably for the best. They're probably better off without you. You're probably better off getting out of that pit of misery, anyway.


from tm

Much Needed Rest

After spending 3.5 hours at the hospital sitting in one spot, waiting for dad to get out of surgery (that went well), i was exhausted from simply not being at home, so shortly after getting back here i went to sleep. I needed it!

Anyway, i am going to do (start) Problem Set 1, or 2 (so confusing, why didn't they call Week 0 Week 1?!) and when finished, i will update accordingly here. I look forward to it.

Be back in a bit!


from Marlon's Blog

More than necessary, treat other people with kindness. More than necessary, show them love. More than necessary, make them feel that you care. More than necessary, be sincerely generous. Not because you need to, but because you can.



from tm

Dad's hand is fucked

but that is another story for another time. Maybe.

Right now i just want to get the smell of the hospital off of my clothes.

i also switched back to Safari bc i have no use for Google Chrome. I want to delete my Google acct in the future but i need to make sure i can do so safely w/o fucking myself over as far as tethering and whatnot bc i have to have a paid-for version of FoxFi in order to be able to tether uninterrupted to the Mac.

that's all for now


from bleak and pretty

Hypersomnia is real. I've just been lying down, napping intermittently, procrastinating (now I just told my assistant editor that I'm not writing those 8 blogs due in 10 days), and getting lost in contemplation. I'm not sure if this is just a much needed rest or if I'm in an official slump.

I'm failing my goalkeeping and time tracking oh so badly; something needs to change.

I looked up stuff relating to procrastination and laziness to get some perspective. One article I read mentioned that laziness didn't exist; there were merely situational blockers that inhibit or make productivity impossible.

In my situation, it makes total sense. I'm going through a break up and I am physically exhausted after working 9-hour shifts for the past 6 nights. I could probably use some rest or some peace.

Some things I still did

I sketched some stuff in order to get my mind hooked on a bit of art production. I also looked at my boss' art pieces for inspiration (they're exquisitely beautiful).

I'm writing this as an attempt to pull my shit together and to stop moping. I'm looking for some sort of happiness. To me there's always some sort of joy when I'm writing something, even if it's as banal as a writing like this. It helps me rewire somehow.

So apart from all that I also went outside to buy food. A large rat crawled on my foot while I was eating at a street corner. It was surprising but I really didn't mind the poor thing.

Later I'll go to a bookstore to buy craft materials; I'm making my mom and myself a birthday card. I'll probably buy a notebook too as yet another symbolic attempt at starting a new life.



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