“No Shame”

Wednesday, November 06, 2013
This week instead of the usual Energiser, I’d like to bring you up to date on a project I’m involved with at Walgett.

You may have seen some of the recent bad press about the town. It’s an easy target for a biased press during a slow news week. I reckon it’s the name - a bit like Dubbo in this way - sort of easy to pick on. Like Bogan and Dapto.

But I’m proud to be from Dubbo. It’s a great place to live. And I’m proud to work in Walgett.  

This week the Walgett Community School is involved in the production of a music video based around a song competition the High school band - well named  “No Shame”  - won. The kids, assisted by all staff and led by music teacher Vanessa Schep, wrote and performed the song for the Enviro Song competition. It’s only a “little” song competition run by Red Hill Environmental School and promoted by teacher Mark Heaney.

But it has had some success :

Last year I was lucky enough to get the job of producing the video clip for  the school that won the Primary school section of the same competition - Brewarrina Central School. As  a result one of the singers in this clip is being featured in a documentary - recently shot by ABC and now in editing - about a choir that was formed from some of the talent identified by the  competition. The group, and the documentary, which will air early in the New Year is called The Outback Choir. Please have a look at the video that set the spark.

Who knows the positive impact it will have on the kids at  Walgett. At the very least we’ll have some fun making the clip and learn a few things on the way.

A spark can start a whole bushfire, but it can also create a steady warming glow.


Strong Teams Better Futures.

Thursday, May 02, 2013
I've read a couple of articles in recent weeks about very different topics, but which I think share a common thread. 
  • The first being about the Chinese Air Force realising they need to let pilots take risks under pressure and learn from them
  • The second was about Australian schools creating policies to manage “helicopter” parents
Bourke Staff Development
The Chinese Air Force has realised that needs to let pilots take risks under pressure and learn from them, if they are to become a credible defence force in the modern era. Apparently, the pilots rarely actually fly their planes as the paperwork, managed by officials with no military or air force training, is overwhelming.

The article quoted world military experts saying that a crucial measure of military preparedness and efficiency is the number of peacetime accidents. Wait for it….the higher the better! Apparently accidents indicate that training is realistic with the pressure, unpredictability and danger necessary to build real strength.

The second article about Australian schools creating policies to manage “helicopter” parents was built around the idea that schools need to be given the space to do the job of teaching students to be respectful, resilient individuals who take responsibility for their own actions.

I've just returned from Bourke, where I was privileged to present staff development training to the teachers of Bourke Public School. On the one hand, Bourke has been in the news recently for its’ high crime rate. On the other hand I found it brilliant to observe the happy pursuit of learning going on in the school, empowered by a dedicated team of teachers led by a committed, competent Principal. They are excited to teach because they have a common vision and fair, consistent policies in place to manage their diverse clientèle. They all realise that good teams are built on identifying problems and finding positive solutions, as well as recognising, celebrating and building on their strengths. And importantly, giving people the opportunity to develop as responsible members of the team, whoever they are.

They have shared values and expectations that are encouraged and enforced. How inspiring to be in a school with 99% of its students in uniform and with wonderful manners. Well done Bourke Public!! The future will be better.

Great teams, like happy families, healthy businesses and strong countries have the balance right. They have strong guidelines to live by, but with the space to fail and learn and improve. 

Great teams led by great leaders recognise this.