Outclassed Podcast: Episode 7 – Leading in a crisis

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In this Episode:

In this week’s OutClassed Podcast, Mike and Blake discuss How to lead in a crisis

*Why Blake decided to download the Covid tracing App
* The Opportunity to lean into the leadership challenge and see great results
* How to communicate with your staff
* How Mike has set up the UTB team and the opportunity for schools to re look at they way they work (how his staff find leaving teaching and working in this new way).

To see all the OutClassed episodes go to utb.fyi/outclassed

Podcast Episode Highlights:

1:47 Blake decided to download the covid tracking app. Here is why
11:20 Why you feel so tired after zoom meetings. See the link in show notes to the article
13:50 Why you need to manage your energy not your time
15:00 How Mike manages the Using Technology Better team and the opportunities for school to do things differently
21:50 How to call the most out of your team
28:10 Leading in a crisis – what not to do
33:20 How to communicate with your team
38:05 A teachers reflection of remote professional development
42:40 Fortnite supermode – is this the future of entertainment? See show notes for the link
47:00 Google’s Microsoft, Apples offer of free PD
48:15 Blake was disappointed with the new Macbook Pro specs

Resources mentioned:

Article: Why Zoom chats are so tiring!

Daniel Pink Book: Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us


Australian Govt releases tracking app – will you be downloading it? Legislation introduced in May? Data only available to a state public health professional (not you)

Fornite Concerts See example here and here 


Mike Reading 00:00
All right, good afternoon, Blake, great to be back on the class podcast and looking forward to digging into some real leadership topics today something that we’ve been working on over the last week or two just really trying to help principals dig into leading in a crisis. So I thought we’d unpack that topic. But before we get to that, and how’s things going in the beautiful city of Melbourne?

Blake 00:20
Great! Yes, very good. We’re still on sort of pseudo lockdown, not full lockdown, but we’re doing our own at the moment. I’m now COVID safe. I know, we spoke about the COVID Australian government app, the COVID safe app. And we’re sort of having an should we get it should we not and finally taking the plunge. So we’ll see how that goes. Whether I need to install it next week rapidly, but so far, you know, I’m thinking it’s a good decision. But you know, we’ll see how we go.

Mike Reading 00:49
Excellent. Yeah, it’s definitely an opportunity. Lots of things in change happening at the moment. We’re just out for a walk with my wife before I jumped on to record this and snows coming in and it’s cold as heck outside. Say it’s just one of those things where you’re quite aware of change and new seasons. And this definitely feels like a New Seasons about the crack open. So hopefully, it’s a it’s a good season for us.

Blake 01:11
Yeah, it’s cool. It’s cooling off in Melbourne as well, but not as not as cold as over there in New Zealand. Some dusting on the mountains, I’m sure

Mike Reading 01:19
we’ve got more than a dust up there late last night. So it was good. Hopefully this ski season’s going to open. So I’m interested in your decision making around getting the COVID app on and logging in. I’ve done a little bit of writing on it this week. Obviously, in New Zealand, we don’t have it. So I’ve been just looking at some of our friends in in Australia, what their decision makings been some of the adamant for it, some adamant against it. So, you know, quite interested in what your thinking was in terms of, you know, security, privacy, the need to feel protected that community side of things.

Blake 01:52
Yeah, I think there’s a few pieces to it. One is that, you know, a lot of privacy discussion is philosophical in a sense. It’s often You know, ideologically based not necessarily pragmatically based and I think it is ever time to be pragmatic is during a an international pandemic, you know, an unprecedented pandemic. So that’s probably the biggest driver and also that the government has done a pretty good job in trying to be open and kind of have it reviewed like there’s been a peer huge PIA written. I know we talked about, for those who don’t know, privacy impact assessments in schools. You know, we do a lot of this stuff with apps that we use in software that we use data that we store the season things and that’s probably a whole topic for another episode Mike but the PIA that they did on this app, they had it done by independent body, I think it was 78 or 68 pages long or something. So if you ever want to see an in depth PA, this is a, this is a good sort of master class for that. And it was done by an independent body and every sort of recommendation or issue or question that was raised in that PIA, Every single one of those was addressed to Further, even longer document that the government replied back to. And so I thought that was pretty rigorous. And I think in this situation, we have to give some benefit of the doubt. I mean, I’m not saying we need to hand over everything and liberty. For anyone who knows me, that’s definitely not the case. But I do think we need to, you know, have some trust in our institutions, because this is their job to navigate us through these kind of situations. And not, you know, it’s, it’s perhaps the time for the debate will come? I’m sure it will. But at the moment, I think they’ve made good assurances that back those really well, look, is it perfect? No. Could it have been done better? Of course, could the process have been better, of course, but I think at the moment, you know, we’ve got to just sit in the middle and do the right thing for our, you know, for our communities in our country. So,

Mike Reading 03:51
so did you read the page?

Blake 03:54
Not all 68 pages on the mic, but I went to the meat of it, some of the big questions that I was concerned about like that. How the government could leverage that data and under what circumstances Could it be accessed? And how is it going to be removed, deleted, etc? And what recourse would they have in terms of if I remove that app, it’s gone. So while they may be able to track me for a short amount of time, it’s still in my I could still my decision, my choice to remove that app? And, yeah, like, Is it going to get used for law enforcement? those kind of questions, they were really, I think, quite clear on that stuff. And, and I know, of course, they can use it for anything. You never know what’s going to happen in the future. But I do think, writing that down in the way they have and making it so, clear, it’s going to make that very difficult for them to sort of renege and backtrack on it. So we’ll see. We’ll see. But I think in a time like this is when we need it. And if we have any chance, my view is if we have any chance of returning back to a, you know, a decent economy before a vaccine, we have to do something like this. Listening, you know, my wife’s an ICU nurse and listening to what they’re talking about. They’re sort of saying, well, how’s this going? Go back to normal. I mean, if we will just start reopening the economy again, what’s the what’s the difference between that and when the pandemic came to the country, there’s no difference, it’s still going to spread really rapidly. It’s still it’s still the same virus. We don’t have herd immunity or anything like that. So we’re still stuck on those with those same problems. So the only real way is that real rigorous contact tracing and testing, they want to do that. Well, I think they have to have a critical mass of people being tracked and you know, being able to know that if they’ve been contacted, go get a test in those kind of things.

Mike Reading 05:32
Yeah. And so have you done any testing with it? I’ve one of my friends in Canberra said he turned off all location services on his phone, and it didn’t interfere with the app at all. So do you know if it’s using location services, or just the peer to peer Bluetooth?

Blake 05:48
Yeah, so it, it has the two modes. I’m not I haven’t played a lot. I just download it last night, but it puts a notification on the on the phone saying Hey, your COVID safe You know, you’re being monitored right now, if this notification disappears restart your phone, which is kind of an antiquated way of, of keeping the app running in the background all the time. But I think you know, like when you when you sign into apps now it says use Do you want to allow the location or only or while I’m using the app or never allow it there’s no option to allow it all the time that app has to actually inject that itself. So that’s what it’s done by keeping that notification up and you know, keeps live basically keeps coming back alive and checking in. But you know, I think he can turn location off and does the Bluetooth stuff but ultimately, like I think that undermines the principle if we were going to trust this has been written in a responsible way that’s effective. We want to you know, use it to its full effect. I think, I don’t want to have some watered down version that kind of half works and half the people get notified the other half don’t so we’ll see. It’s, it’s working. Okay, so far. It stayed in my notification tray there, but I think it’d be the other question was it is it safe For people, you know, who don’t know much about technology, like my mum downloading it, she’ll go, yep. Oh, allow that or all might just click don’t allow, and then they don’t have any tracking on you because you didn’t click Allow. So there’s a chance and the opportunity for that to happen as well. So we’ll see how it goes.

Mike Reading 07:18
Yeah, I’m sort of looking at this conversation that’s happening between Australia and New Zealand at the moment about trying to create an international bubble, where the citizens of both countries can fly between each other and not need any quarantine or immigration as such. And so I’m wondering if they’re going to force an app like that I know, different countries are looking at what other countries have done. I saw Hong Kong have issued a bit of a band. And the way it was described was it’s kind of like a home arrest band just activates when you leave the house so and pings the government or whoever’s watching, where you’ve been when you went there and so on. So, yeah, there’s different technologies out there and different ways of approach. It, I sent a message to some friends I’ve got living in Hong Kong and just ask them, you know, how they what they were doing, but they haven’t responded yet. So I might have an update on that one for next week as well in terms of how Hong Kong’s dealing with it.

Blake 08:15
And then there’s the there’s the antibody, that’s the new sexy thing that the government’s are into, is testing for antibodies and saying, okay, you’re in the immune group. So you can go, yeah. And I think for a policy making point of view that looks really attractive, but from a technical point of view, like what the nurses are saying is, those tests are only 70% efficient. So you might, you know, you’d have 30%, you were getting denied and 30% who are allowed to travel, we’ve got a positive for the anybody who actually don’t have it, or have it in Australian that’s not relevant, those kind of things. So it gets quite I think it’s easy for us to over simplify when we’re not, you know, like in the edtech space, we kind of know that. We’re talking about the medical space. It’s easy to oversimplify things, I think,

Mike Reading 08:56
yeah. And then you’ve got, especially when you start talking vaccines and so on, I had to come People ask me what I think about Bill Gates and his, his, I guess, mission or mandate to globalize a vaccine and put tracking systems in people and, and all of this sort of thing. And you know, some of the conspiracy theory stuff coming out around, Bill, you know, this is part of Bill Gates massive plan to get a whole world to get everyone vaccinated, but there’s always the anti-vaxxers out there now. So, you know, good luck to them. But, yeah, it’s interesting when you start talking about this kind of technology that can you know, where they start to infiltrate technology into human biomes and things like that, as well. And the interesting whether this is like a cut, you know, death by 1000 lashes, or, you know, one step at a time. Now, where are we heading with all of this?

Blake 09:49
You know, we’re not going to live in the same world we did before. But I think in regards to Bill Gates, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s not trying to implant everyone with tracking devices. I’m not sure how you go from a CEO of a software company to a evil villain, but we’ll see. I mean, some of them are on their way. I think Mark Zuckerberg is doing a pretty good job of, of heading down that path of, you know, with his whole free speech stuff and pushed back on any kind of regulation to their platforms, which they clearly need given all the issues arising from, especially in our context teenagers and social media and the kind of things that pushing through them and stuff. So we’ll see, huh?

Mike Reading 10:30
Yeah, it certainly opens up a bit of a Pandora’s box when you go down that path and start digging into some of those topics with a couple of wines under your belt that can be can be a fun Friday night discussion. Maybe we should do a conspiracy theory episode later on in the series.

Blake 10:46
I’ll be terrible at that. I think I believe in any conspiracy theories at all.

Mike Reading 10:54
We should definitely do it then.

Blake 10:55
you could be the ying to my yang.

Mike Reading 10:58
it’s quite good. Just looking at what we’ve got in the news, what’s caught your eye this week in terms of what’s doing the rounds in the news, as of late?

Blake 11:08
Well, the biggest one that has been coming around, it’s this bit old now. I think it’s a couple of weeks old now, but it’s around zoom video chats or just video conferencing, when you’re doing it all day, how exhausting it is, and you come off thinking, ah, feel so exhausted, but I haven’t gone anywhere. I haven’t hopped in my car, gone to the office, but I just feel exhausted from sitting at my desk in five video calls throughout the day. And it’s certainly a real thing and the BBC have done a bit of an expose day and I think Mike, you can pop this in the show notes. But yeah, it’s a great article, it just really unpacks you know, what circumstances contribute to the stress in terms of, you know, is it that you’re just having to sit still all the time, but it’s also about having multiple aspects to think about, you know, when there’s delay, it kind of makes you read things in in your own kind of higher load, like super alert when you when you’re in these calls, and it can just kind of you know, it’s like that High Intensity all the time sort of problems. So I think that’s something that we all need to kind of get our head around is this new normal variety if we’re going to be in video calls all day, and watching other people on video, you know, how do we how do we get used to this new normal? And we spoke about this before where you were me, Mike, we’ve been on calls a lot. And we’ve kind of developed our own practices around you know, how to interact with video when to pause when to let people talk those kind of things, but, but for someone coming new to and then being slammed into six a day, like, yeah, That’s hard. That’s really hard.

Mike Reading 12:37
Yeah, I think this is what we’ve talked about over the last couple of weeks to is that we’ve seen a real pattern of this where teachers go hard at the beginning, and then they mellow out a little bit. And they realise that they just can’t do lessons as normal and this is part of it right? It takes a lot of energy to herd all those cats so to speak, and keep everyone in line and not only that do it on video calls as well. So, yeah, hundred percent would agree with that, that does take a different kind of energy. One of the things we talk about as a company all the time is that we don’t manage our time we manage our energy. That’s one of our core values, as a company in terms of how we work and operate as a team. And so, quite early on in the COVID, outbreak of the pandemic, one of the things we discussed as a team was the fact that this isn’t new. For us, it’s a new type of energy, that we will get tired faster. So to manage our calendars a little bit more tightly than we would. It’s even different, you know, like we can, we can be in a school or a business, train all day, raced to the airport, Late Night Flight, get to the next city, do it all over again the next day. And it’s a different kind of energy just sitting in a chair, or standing at a stand up desk and having a zoom meeting. It’s quite phenomenal.

Blake 13:48
Managing your energy. That’s really interesting. So does that mean you pay people by the kilo joule? Oh,

Mike Reading 13:56
we talk about output actually so I don’t care so long as you’re getting stuff done, I don’t care if you do it at one o’clock in the morning or you do it. You know, one o’clock in the afternoon whenever you’re feeling inspired and energetic and I don’t care. When you, you know, if you log on Late in the morning and log out early in the afternoon, it doesn’t worry me. So, so long as you’re getting your stuff done, then it’s good for me. So we don’t have start times or finish times or any of that sort of stuff.

Blake 14:21
Yeah, this is a space that really interests me because you think about trying to disrupt schools and we think about the so called, you know, broken system and all this stuff and it needs revitalisation. But ironically, teachers have kind of been doing that forever. They work at night, they work on weekends, they work in the holidays, some of them do have a holiday but there’s an interesting dichotomy there. Were we paying we’re paying teachers by the hour, you know, if you were three days a week, you only get paid three days a week, etc. But really, that’s not what’s happening. If you work three days a week, you’re getting paid for three days a week load of classes, really. So that’s something that’s kind of been interesting. in teaching and also in my business, and I’m sure in your business, you don’t want to pay someone to be a bum on the seat. You know, I used to work in that job at Cosmo where you come in every day and you’d be at your desk on call for those hours, and you’re expected to be on the phone, in, in, you know, in a call helping someone for the entire time you were sitting at the desk, because they could then equate that and, and analyse that and predict and forecast and do all those things. And that’s, that’s sort of those jobs where that’s like the factory worker job, the, the, you know, working on the production line, where you’re not really being treated as a human, you’re not expected to be creative. In fact, if you’re being creative and doing different problem solving, that’s actually a negative. And, and that’s not the kind of work that we have in schools, we have knowledge workers in schools, we need creativity, we need engagement, those kind of things. So the managing your energy stuffs great I really like that idea and that kind of instrument to think about performance in an organisation because right now you know, performance, pay performance, all that stuff. Very interesting place for him with that I don’t think there is a good solution. But I certainly don’t think paying people by the hour is the right solution either we need people that are feeling good about coming to work, want to come to work that are self motivated with autonomy, mastery and purpose. We talked about Dan pink is a good one, if anyone’s read drive, great book about how to kind of motivate people and keep them motivated, self motivated, rather than us having to use extrinsic motivators like money and pay and those kind of things.

Mike Reading 16:31
Yeah, that’s a great book, I remember that. I get like, I talked to teachers about this. And they’re like, Oh, this is like an ideal world. And yet, we totally agree with it, but we can’t do it because of the constraints. Like anything’s possible. So constraints breed innovation, right? So, you know, sometimes I’ll be saying things like, we need to be at school at 8am because we’ve got students there or got timetable classes and, and so on. I’m like, okay, so deconstruct a timetable. Let’s have a look at that. And I think this is one of the interesting things when we talk about asynchronous learning, especially in remote learning at the moment, that we are able to provide students that opportunity to maybe sleep in a bit to work a bit later at night to work on the weekends and not on a Friday and have a whole day off. Those sorts of things start to start to become available to, to those students. So yeah, I think there’s definitely ways to do it. And I think the whole concept of an a, you know, everyone talks about the whole work life balance, I think it’s a myth. When you’re in balance, you’re not actually moving. So, and it’s one of those real onboarding processes that we need to go through because we hire teachers, as trainers, they come out of school where they, you know, the bell rings, and they’re ready to go. And so we’ve got to train them out of that mindset, that the value doesn’t come from being available from eight to five or whenever the value comes in terms of how they’re serving people, how they’re helping people, how they’re adding value. Those sorts of things are the things that start to matter. So I think if you Step back, and you look at your school and go, here’s our values. And here’s what we want to achieve. You don’t necessarily achieve that in that 40 minutes slot. So how else could we reconstruct that?

Blake 18:10
And I think as well, there’s a big, I see this a lot. And especially, you know, when, when I was consulting quite heavily, where there’s a difference, in my view between leadership and management. And I can see in schools, a lot of leaders in schools have managers, that they’re worried about the small macro management of how things are working, you know, have they got oversight on this? Do they understand that what that person’s job is and how they’re doing it? And all those kind of things, rather than looking at Well, what is the overarching success for the, for the school and for the organisation? And how do we get there. And, you know, none of us like to be managed, but we all like to be led. We all want to work for people that inspire us and that in some way, you know, doing things that we admire, and I think that’s the critical path for principals. is not to undermine your staff and take away their autonomy, but to actually deliver some real, real vision for the organisation and start to kind of work with, with your staff rather than over the top of them. And one of the big distinctions I found and this is something that I’ve wrestled with for a long time, you know, I’ve been managing teams for almost 12 years, and technical teams, which is just kind of has its own challenges, but in that process, finding, you know, out how to do it, what works, what doesn’t, is I realised that I actually work for my staff, they don’t work for me. It’s my job to remove their barriers to make them successful to improve their capabilities and their skill sets rather than for me to say I need this piece of the puzzle. I don’t have that yet. I need to slot by slot, buy someone and slot them in there and, you know, make them work. That’s that Industrial Age thinking that’s not knowledge worker 21st century thinking. So, we really want to make sure we’re, well I want to make sure that when I’m hiring people I’m looking at their growth. And I’m saying, Well, if you’re in the same place you were 12 months ago, I’m not okay with that. I need you to be growing, I need you to be constantly challenged, I need you to be breaking new ground in your skill sets and reaching outside, not just servicing the same thing you know how to do, that’s good, you need to keep doing that need to keep sharpening that, but you also need to find new things that your level zero, start building that up, let you know, through the levels over the next few years. So it’s, um, it’s a big challenge for them. A lot of people aren’t used to that. And some people thrive in that environment. Some people don’t. And they you know, there are sort of procedure monkeys that love to sit down and you give me the procedure, and I will repeat it a million times. I’ll be so happy with that. And I’ll leave on the dot and arrive on the dot every day. And there are jobs where that’s a critical skill. And that’s a you know, that’s an advantageous kind of attitude. But I don’t think those jobs going forward are going to be the ones that that people will be doing. Lin a large part due to automation.

Mike Reading 20:56
Yep. And I think like you’ve got to balance everything out. Right. So for us We one of our core values is we before me. So we’re it’s not a selfish thing where you go, I’m managing my time and the rest of the team can go get stuffed. If there is deadlines waiting, well, it doesn’t suit me. So it’s figuring out how do we balance that? How do we prefer one another? In terms of, you know, someone’s got a course that needs to be done, or I’m too busy, and I need somebody to run a day for me, or Can someone jump out on this task? And so we’ve just managing our energy happens quite, quite in a fluid way. And I think one of the great things about leadership and we dig into this a lot with our school transformation days that we run with school leaders is how to how to call the most out of somebody, how do you get the best out of your team, and you don’t lead everyone the same? That’s just vanilla. That’s management, but understanding local strengths and what does that teach your brain and what do they need and how can we relate them to do more of that and when I reflect on my time in school, one of the biggest issues I had as a teacher was I was just bored, not challenged. And that was teaching in like a really tough school with behaviour management issues. But once you figured out your behaviour management style, and generally speaking, the students are pretty well behaved. And then you got your teaching program set, like I get bored real fast. So no one was there spurring me on calling me out, like giving me more responsibilities. I needed some projects to get my teeth stuck into.

Blake 22:24
So you’re being managed, you’re being managed, like, you know, write the reports, get your attendance done by the end of the period. Do your PDB’s online Like that’s the, that’s kind of the management side, which look, there’s value in that. But I think if that’s all you’re doing, you’re not really adding value you’re getting in people’s way. And those good people who want to want to go above and beyond are going to struggle. There’s a great book, actually by the HR manager at Google. And you can imagine trying to trying to be the HR manager at a company as big as Google. You have to do some interesting things. And in his book, he talks about paying unfairly managing people unfairly. So there’s no such thing as fairness in HR, you can’t, you can’t just pay people the same wage because they’re theoretically doing the same job. Some one person in the job might be producing 400% of the person next to them. So you have to reward people for the actual value they’re imparting on the organisation to create a culture that expects excellence, and that will reward excellence. So that was I thought that was interesting. It’s an interesting read Laszlo Bock I think his name is I think it’s called work rules or something like that. Can’t remember the name, but we’ll put it in the show notes.

Mike Reading 23:31
Yeah. I mean, this is different, right? Because we’re talking about for profit companies versus not for profit education or essentially not for profit education. Yeah. It’s the same thing right? Without saying I’ll say I’ve never once and nor will I ever offer a pay rise to somebody and people don’t. The whole notion that you get a pay rise every year and this happens in teaching, you progress your way through the ranks every year. You get a pay rise just because you’ve been there the longest, to me is a ridiculous notion and I get it again in education of being realistic, I understand the constraints that you you’re in a system where it’s not pay for performance and how do you value somebody and how do you rank someone and it’s hard. But the whole notion that so long as I just stay for another year, I’m going to get a pay rise is to me just retarded. So for our guys, I’ve always said, You’ll never see me ever coming off your pay rise, you’ve got to come to me and say, well, I’ve added X amount of value and so I deserve an X amount pay rise, and we have a discussion around that. So again, you want people to step up and be led and be willing to, to put their best foot forward and Oh, absolutely pay on that. So again, it’s kind of mindset, right?

Blake 24:40
There’s Yeah, there’s two kind of schools of thought there because in the corporate world, a friend of mine who worked at Coles in like the inventory coordination, which is effectively a an unskilled job, an unqualified job where you just go in and your at a desk and you do spreadsheets all day of stock levels at stores and move stock around. And what they would do is they give you $1,000 extra every year, you were there. And you think, what’s the point in that that doesn’t make sense. Like what you know, you’re in the same job, you haven’t moved up, you haven’t done anything different. What the point was, is that they were awarding you the kind of business knowledge that you accrue over that year. And so what you found was a culture of unhappiness in 10 to 20 years, the people who were there for 20 years are earning $20,000 more there and say, you know, $90,000 or $100,000 in an entry level, unqualified, library job effectively, that well they’re going to do they can’t move, they can’t go down the road to beat who pay them 60,000 a year. They can’t go get a job at the milk bars. They kind of stuck so I think that was it. That was a method of them, trying to reduce, I guess, risk in the business of people leaving and upsetting the culture so that I thought that that was an interesting approach. But what this byproduct was terrible culture. People hate their job, don’t want to be there. Need a new start? have no way of getting that new stuff. Can’t leave got kids got a home lone. I’ve over invested in my home because I’m on 90 grand a year, how do I get back to 60 into a job that I love. And a lot of my friends have had to go do that. And it’s extremely humbling and difficult for them, especially their families. But then on the flip side, you got to look at, okay, well, we’ve got an enormous amount of, you know, people wanting pay rises and no kind of structure for them to achieve those or attain those in schools and you know, your entry level teacher and you just get a range review and you keep going up and up and up. And it’s sort of doing the same thing. It’s paying you for that familiarity with the with the system and you’re more efficient and you understand we don’t have to train you so we’re not spending money on you anymore and those kind of things but, but again, I think it does contribute to a kind of system of mediocrity, in a sense that I want to say that was a mediocre, but I’m saying it can contribute to a culture of that in in a school that isn’t perhaps already doing good things with their culture. But also on the other side is you see that same thing of I’ve been here the longest I should be promoted. So who’s going to get the AP job, the guy who’s been at his desk every day for 20 years gets the senior school coordinator or the assistant principal job, not the best person for the job. And I think that’s changed a lot. I think most hopefully most leaders in the country now recognise you should award jobs on merit, not on seniority, but it does still happen, especially, especially in places where that’s that culture is ingrained, and no one’s shaking it up yet. Yeah,

Mike Reading 27:30
it’s not easily solved. But there’s so many different ways you can reward staff for going above and beyond. I often used to joke you should be paying your brand new teachers the most, because they’re the ones that are working the hardest. They’re trying to figure themselves out. They’re trying to build curriculum, they’re trying to deal with students, and they haven’t got the experience yet. And then, you know, in theory, it should get a little bit easier as you go on. So that I mean, this is the whole thing, right? We said we wanted to dig into this concept of leading in a crisis and leading through change and I think this whole concept of Like right now we’ve got an opportunity to make a massive difference in our education system, we just need some leaders who will stand up and step into that awkwardness and into the mess and say, let’s see what we can do right now, given the constraints, given the fact that teachers are freaking out, overwhelmed, and so on. And we’ve even had conversations this week with principals where they’re saying, like, I feel right now, what I need to do is just pull everything back, and not hold anybody accountable. And just let everybody sort of just mellow a bit. And I’m like, well, that’s the opposite of what you should be doing right now. You should be waking up every morning thinking to yourself, what’s my priority? And the answer to that probably is what can I do to reduce overwhelm? And that to reduce overwhelm is not to stop teachers from you know, learning new skills or, you know, finding better ways to do things. I think there’s a perfect opportunity for school leader to look at their team understand where teachers are struggling and say, right Let me give you the training that you need right now. Let me switch things up in your calendar right now. Like, what can I do? Like you were saying before with your team, what can I barriers? Can I remove from you? What support Can I give you? And I think in a manager mindset, the I guess it’s the default is go to the lowest common denominator, or as I think we’re a litas should be taking this as going, Okay, how do we take this next mountain, despite the circumstances right now, and my big fear is that there’s going to be schools that will look back at this time and regret that they didn’t lean into it a little bit more.

Blake 29:32
I agree. And you’ve also got to go where the demand is, so if you’ve got staff that are currently needing to use tools online, you don’t want to pull back into our, we’ll just settle down and you know, we will just give you the bare minimum, we don’t overwhelm you. You want to say I’ll give you everything you need. Here’s a chance for you to upskill and we’ve seen that in our numbers writing PDR in our first online PD this week, and we had 45 people show up to A voluntary PD over lunch. So it was a half hour thing over lunch 45 people now, I can’t remember the last time we got 45 people to an afternoon pd 45 staff. So, you know, the appetites there. So we’re going to strike while the iron is hot, because we’re basically mass upskilling staff in a voluntary kind of self directed, driven way. That doesn’t require me to, you know, drive this big train and get everyone on board. They’re already on board. All the hard works done. Now, I’ve just got to deliver it. I’ve just got to do the last bit and upskill. So I completely agree with that. I think the only thing is like what became hear from your, your ideas or like, what does that look like? Like So what are some things that schools can do? You’re saying they shouldn’t be standing back, they should be leaning in? What does that look like? Does that mean you know, thinking about what happens when you come back? Does that mean changing up the way you deliver training to staff and performance review staff or is staff like what does it look like?

Mike Reading 30:59
I think it’s a range of different things, I think it’s that individual leadership. So checking in with your staff and finding out what they need and then providing it to them. Not assuming that the fact that they’re overwhelmed means don’t provide extra training opportunities, but at least give them a chance to, like you’re saying opt in. So we said you had this conversation with a school in South Australia this at the end of last week for training that was coming up this week. And the principal wanted to pull the pin. And I was like, why don’t you just put it as an opt in, if nobody shows up, that doesn’t cost you a cent. And if they show up and there’s value, then you know, we’ve delivered value, let’s just see what happens. And he had 97% of his staff show up, opt in wanting it. So what would have happened was that he would have said, oh, we’re all overwhelmed and I don’t want to put this on my staff and they see this expectation. Whereas he just said he’s a learning opportunity dive in if you want or don’t if you don’t, and they all went for it. So

Blake 31:54
in terms of overwhelm, so we have you know, a very common thing in our school is email overwhelmed. Where we’re sending whatever it is email or teams or slack or whatever, we’re sending a lot of information to staff to digest every day, there’s new information about our we’ve had this problem, there’s now policy here or the department have communicated this to us. Now we’re look like we’re going to be, you know, leaving school early, like the end of last term. And we need to make these arrangements and there’s just constantly communications going out and things that people need to digest. And my wife was saying the same hospital system that, okay, she might be having, you know, in some ways, an easier time in the hospital because all the elective surgeries are out and all the other stuffs out. And it’s just kind of one strand of medicine that she’s having to practice but, but at the same time, on the other end of it, she’s having to do 45 to an hour’s worth of reading every day, about all the latest updates and all the things that have changed and new discoveries, what’s the hospitals are doing, what other hospitals are doing, what their responses to media problems and all that kind of stuff. So how to how to like I was saying overwhelmed More broadly, but in terms of communication, when should you? What should commit a an email out? And what should be something that we say, okay, that’s probably not the thing we want to send now, or we just send everything and we have the floodgates open. And we, we let people, you know, kind of consume it as they may.

Mike Reading 33:16
Yeah. So I think what you do as you go back to episode six last week, where we talked about different types of chat channels, and how we just have bad internal email, and you organise all of your communications into different channels, and then the staff set up their notifications according to what they need, and they pull what they need when they need it, and they can search for things if they need to, as well. So,

Blake 33:39
do you think it’s a challenge of digestion, it’s not actually a challenge of filtering, it’s actually a digestion problem. You should usually intake everything, figure out how to digest it rather than filter what’s actually being sent out or summarise and boil that down.

Mike Reading 33:54
I think there’s a lot of FYI stuff. So you just file that away. And if you need to search for it, you search for us, if I, if I see an update I, okay, I’m going to need that later or that could be good information. I’ll just save that. So you can just save your messages start, yeah, start, save it, and then use your search on that as well. So just having a good system to manage that, I think works well. And so as a leader, you know, I think you need to be thinking, what, what do I need to do here? And it’s not necessarily just vomit information on all your staff all the time and feel like you’re doing a good job because you’ve communicated. But you need to be thinking about what do I need to communicate right now. And I think the one that you need to communicate above and beyond anything, is not information and trends and changes. It’s inspiration, and it’s what can I do to support and letting people feel like they’re encouraged and they’re part of a team and they’re, you know, we’re all in this together. And, you know, that’s row the boat, and though the sort of messages that I’d want to be having land on my team rather than here’s the latest newspaper article. He’s just parent complaint or They did a better job here. Just have those one on one conversations where you need to have them and yeah, cc everyone into an email

Blake 35:06
and use groups and channels. And that’s something that schools traditionally do poorly where like the, the staff at group becomes everything goes there. Oh, this is for teachers of year seven history, blah, blah, blah. It’s like, Okay, so that’s five teachers, why don’t you just group those five teachers in an email, rather than sending that the one thing to everyone to distract everyone. And I think that’s going to become like a cardinal sin in organisations, especially as we become more and more kind of info heavy in schools, when we communicate, I think we’ve got to have some standards around and that’s the thing that I’m kind of trying to figure out. Now as I move towards Slack, as we spoke about in the last few episodes about how we think about doing that, well, I’ve got to think about what channels exist now and what channels need to exist that don’t exist now. And how we move to move out communications into those channels so that we’re not just having a free for all email frenzy of the channels or actually used in a really? What’s the word like a concentrated way, a very purposeful way. That’s been a long day. Yeah. very purposeful, way where people can get the information they need, and they can switch off channels, but also communicating and saying, you know, this channel, you don’t need this to notify. This one’s there for information, you come and get it when you’re ready. At the end of the day, or you know, the start in the morning, you can go and digest all that information, rather than it pinging you and interrupting you and breaking your focus in your flow state. I think there’s a bit of kind of thinking that has to be done around that as well.

Mike Reading 36:34
Yeah. And I understand this I, you know, I said that, I think every day a leader should be thinking, What’s my priority today? That’s exactly what you’re talking about, like, what is it that I need to communicate what roadblocks Do we need to push through what decisions do we need to make and just leave the rest of the things on there? And one of the sayings that I’ve really come to like is if I prepare today, I’d have to repair tomorrow. And so for everyone who’s like, oh, we’ll deal with that. I will deal with that later, we’ll deal with that later, like later is going to suck. So why didn’t today didn’t just prepare for it today? Get it done today and then move on tomorrow?

Blake 37:10
Yeah, what is it one hour of planning saves 10 hours of doing something. I can’t remember that quote. But

Mike Reading 37:18
all statistics are made up. So that sounds about right.

Blake 37:23
Now, it’s definitely true. I see it even in big projects, the ones that have to get rushed out, and we don’t fully plan and we think all we just need to do it. So we’ll be right, they end up coming back to bite us and we spend more time on them. Whereas the ones you fully plan out, not only do they cost you less time, but you also feel more comfortable and confident that there’s not going to be hold nothing to things that are going to come back to you later. It reduces the anxiety level of you and your staff as well, which I think is important, especially in an environment like this.

Mike Reading 37:48
Yeah, I think it’s super important. I’ll just read you a quick note that we got from a teacher overnight, just to sort of sum up what we’re trying to say. Again, we’re not saying schools are doing a bad Java, we’re not saying the latest sock, we’re just saying this is a real opportunity to lead and you should really be thinking about it. But this teacher said at the last session, talking about a session that she just did online, I wasn’t sure if remote PD was the way to go. But I’ve had a change of mind, having time to play between sessions is fantastic. And put it all in capital letters, allows you to become not overwhelmed and take a little bit of learning, apply it, practice it and become a little bit more confident personally. So she’s saying, like, I really enjoyed being pushed out of my comfort zone and being forced into the pit. And that’s the learning pit, if anyone’s ever heard of that phrase. And now at the other side, so this whole thing about being willing to wade into the uncertainty, the overwhelm, getting in that learning pit and just taking it for what it is, then coming out the other side and saying, Okay, this is a new, new skill, a new mindset, a new learning opportunity. And, again, my biggest fear is that teachers aren’t going to be given the opportunity to wade into the conversations to look at how to change things up to innovate in the midst of constraints, because leaders are saying that they’re their main goal is to remove that overwhelm where I’m saying, we’ll lean into it and see what you can come up with.

Blake 39:15
Yeah, That’s exactly what I was saying before. It’s the leaders leaning into managing the situation where the staff feel managed. In the same way we feel managed as citizens rather than informed about, you know, COVID-19. We feel like we’re being managed. And we’re getting information when it’s appropriate from the government rather than us being an informed populace, which I think is a much more powerful way to work, especially inside of organisations where you can actually give people information to make decisions, good flows back again, to me talking about re professionalising teachers. Why do we put them through all the schooling if then we’re just going to put an overlay on them and say, you’re going to be managed in this way and expected to behave like a cog in the wheel. We want people to be free thinkers. To make the machines not to be a cog within the machine. So if you want that if you want to build small, you know, I guess, small faculties of leadership inside of your school and have your school, you know, be a leadership machine that builds people up, start thinking about how do we stop managing and stop kind of overlaying information and putting models and frameworks and too many barriers in place, but actually saying, Well, okay, well how would give you the bottom up approach give you all the tools and the resources and everything you need. And then when things go wrong or whatever, that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to support you in those processes not to support you by putting you in a cage and saying you have to you have to work within the confines of these rules.

Mike Reading 40:43
Yeah, and I think we need to be clear to the leadership is not because you’ve got a title, anyone can be a leader. So you can just be a teacher on staff but you’re looking at the staff that are in your staff room or in your faculty. You can be leading them you can be in supporting them and encouraging them and having coffee with them and so on, this is not necessarily a conversation just for principals or acting principals or, you know, AP’s and DP’s and so on this is this is for anyone who can step up and have a bit of an influential ride

Blake 41:11
some ownership. Yeah, and everyone can take ownership over something. If you’re over, you’re getting to school on time every day or ownership, ownership on your students. I mean, every teacher is a leader of 30 students in the classroom, six periods a day and if we think about what the quality should look like, it’s not that dissimilar to how you lead a school. It’s very similar good leaders will typically be good teachers because they inspire kids to be motivated. You know, you might be able to put a strict lesson you know, classroom management plan in the classroom, but if you can’t get them to go home and study if you can’t get them to be excited about your topic and want to learn it and want to ingest it and understand it and have it sink in and think about it, then you’re only going to get mediocre results. So or all the results within an expected band but if you want exceptional results, you have to Do things that are the exception that that are different and provide people that opportunity to grow.

Mike Reading 42:06
Yeah, totally. And I could talk about this stuff all night. I love it. We got a whole school transformation session we do where we just ask questions and dig into that love to unpack some of those elements as we go on throughout the podcast, but maybe we should just switch tack a little bit and talk about wins and fails for this week.

Blake 42:25
wins and fails. Yes, wins are going to interesting win this week. I was floating around online and someone linked to me the Travis Scott concert now if you don’t know Travis Scott is I think he’s a US musical artist. I’m not sure if he’s a rapper or r&b or something like that. Geez, I’m going to get crucified for that. But Travis Scott did a concert inside of fortnight. The game for those of you aren’t familiar with fortnight you probably are familiar with fortnight because you kids are addicted to it. You would have I’m sure heard of it, but it’s, it’s basically a huge online multiplayer game where you go in With like 100 people and you’re trying, you don’t have these battle arenas and you try and be the last one standing, but they have all these other modes of like party modes and creative modes and all this other stuff you can do and the latest is that the super events and they had one A while back where dead mouse performed inside of the game. And then the most recent one is Travis Scott. And I just watched the video on this and we will link it because anyone who is interested in where the future of entertainment is going, this is it. This is transcending what the idea of a video game is you know that very kind of fixed mindset of a video game this is that really thinking outside the box doing something really interesting where they have a concept inside the game you go in as yourself 100 other people your experience the concept with you going with your team with up to four people that you know, and then everyone else is a random like it is at a concert in an arena. And this guy you know he’s in front of you and he blows up to 50 times life size and he’s walking around the map. He’s Got his whole sets there, you think about all the set design and stuff all that’s happening inside the game virtually, and the lighting shows and everything else. It’s just something to behold. And I think the interesting thing is this is by far and away the place where these crossovers are working the best is that entertainment, you know, music, performing artists mixing with gaming, so it’s mutually beneficial. So works from a, from a business point of view really well, but it really, like works really well for the viewers as well because they’re getting that authentic experience alongside their friends like they’re at a concert. And it all happens at the same time. It’s live at this particular time and millions of people go in and watch the concert you know, live it’s think it’s think it’s incredible. It’s interesting, and it’s you know, not only in this time, but it’s been happening before everyone’s in lockdown. But is this the future for entertainment is fortnight and these games and these platforms becoming kind of super apps in a way that they’re not just games, they’re also music concerts, they’re also creative Have outlets for building things and, and simulating things and getting to know people building community, all that sort of stuff as well. I’m interested to see where this kind of ends up, particularly with something like fortnight that’s so popular and so many kids are into.

Mike Reading 45:17
Yeah, I think everyone’s looking for that community aspect. Hey, I saw a quick video on Twitter today of a rave, I think in Germany, but everyone drove up into their cars. And then they had this rave where everyone was in the cars with all their lights flashing and horns going. And it was, um, it was quite funny from there too. Yeah, I mean, put that fortnight and then put like an AR lens across the top of it when you’re doing VR, and all of a sudden, you’ve got a pretty cool concept right where you’re in. And you’re, you’re doing some cool stuff and it’s quite virtual and interactive.

Blake 45:49
But even just the concept itself like that, you know, one song, the next song Come on, and then all of a sudden they dropped the ground out from under you and you’re all underwater floating around and then the next one, you bounced You know, every time you touch the ground, you bounce like 100 meters in the air and you’re 100 people bouncing around the you know, the map, which is like the stadium and then you’ve got Travis Scott’s avatar, you like even walking around? And I don’t know, I just thought like, this is something that, you know, we couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago. It’s not only become a reality, but it’s almost becoming the norm. Like, there was another one in their party mode. Diplo hosted Major Lazer in their party mode as well, recently, and it was just becoming the norm. Now people are expecting it, you know, dial in at this time, jump on server and off you go. Yeah, it’s interesting. So interesting.

Mike Reading 46:35
Yeah. I think one of the wins for me this week. I guess this comes down to that theme that we’re sort of talking about is just leaning in. Right now. There’s so much support out there from different apps and platforms. And I know Google have just released the help desk and remote learning platform. I’ll link all of that up, all across the world. They’ve got localised services where anyone can dial in a school leader can Eileen and speak to an expert about, you know anything to do with technology and leadership around Google. an admin, one, which were supporting one of our trainers is running a four hour Help Desk every day where IT admins can come in and just ask their questions and get support. It’s all 100%, free Microsoft are doing a whole lot of stuff serving schools, Apple have got their a pls doing free drop in consults. So right now is the perfect time as a school to lean in and just grab what you can in terms of free PD, this is a perfect opportunity for that. I’m loving the way that I’m seeing these companies come in and just start to serve the school communities again, and offer all this free stuff. Whereas before, quite often, it would be very much tied to a sales campaign or you know, there’s a direct result of needing to sell x product, but right now it’s just about how do we survive and thrive in this environment. So I’d be jumping on that. And we’ll link up different places in the show notes where you can access some of this information.

Blake 47:59
Yeah. That’s a really good one. Yeah, I got I got a little quick file as well as I was very disappointed to see the MacBook Pro announced this morning on the on the US that was overnight and I was looking forward to this mac book I was hoping it was going to be a 14 inch MacBook with some higher end processes but they’ve just like done a standard refresh with a new keyboard because I’m hanging out for a new MacBook so disappointed in that kind of under powered they haven’t really done much I’m chassis and everything else. So waiting for that that 14 inch MacBook I hope they move to away from Intel processors to AMD new 4000 series, low power, high performance. So you know I can actually use one of those devices is just too under powered for me at the moment.

Mike Reading 48:42
Right. There you go geeking out I didn’t understand half of that, but I’m glad you did.

Blake 48:47
one packet mixed up so

Mike Reading 48:50
give us a full review. Yeah, might just have to switch over to a real nice PC or something. Hey, see.

Blake 48:57
Are you the PC right? No, no people who will give me give me crap. On my MacBook, but other gaming PC at home that my kids play on and I use a bit. And, you know, I’m not anti windows, I just I just liked the Mac ecosystem like the reliability of it. And the reliability of the vendor as well as you know, dealing with hp and Lenovo having an apple store. It’s pretty great. Being able to walk into an apple store or anywhere in the world and get you get your Mac fixed or get your issues into especially for people who aren’t tech savvy, that need that extra support. They need the handheld when things go wrong. It’s pretty hard to beat.

Mike Reading 49:30
Yep, I don’t really have a file this week been too busy being positive. To be honest, I haven’t really seen much file anywhere around the place. But yeah, I just want to, I guess finish off and just remind people to make sure they take a bit of time out there. We talked about zoom fatigue and we talked about changing overwhelm. So make sure you’re looking after yourself. Make sure you’re managing your calendar well. Make sure you’re doing something that recharges the batteries and fills the tanks and spending time with family and those that you love as well.

Blake 50:00
It’s always important. What do you do Mike to recharge the batteries? What’s your favourite? relaxation?

Mike Reading 50:06
Yeah, well depends on the season so we’re between seasons at the moment. So when it was summer I was like out on the lake jet ski water, you know, water sports, wakeboarding, and paddle boarding and things like that. When the ski season opens, we’ll all ski snowboard most days where we can get up there. Again, it’s all about being flexible for us so snowboard for a few hours and then come down and do some work. So those sort of things charge at the moment it’s walks with the wife and it’s you know, fun conversations and playing board games with the kids and on the weekend just mostly they just reading and relaxing in front of the fire which was great. So yeah, well,

Blake 50:46
my favourite pastime is to light a candle and put on a great podcast called outclassed

Mike Reading 50:55
Good, I could do that with a nice whiskey or

Blake 50:58
red wine. I’ll drink to that.

Mike Reading 51:00
Yeah, maybe what we could do is just get everyone to take a photo of where they are listening to this and then share it on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook and use the hashtag outclassed and we’ll, we’ll pick it up and

Blake 51:13
yeah, outclassed podcast

Mike Reading 51:16
That’d be great. Yeah, usually use the hashtag the outclassed podcast and, and we might even flick you out some, some free gifts or something for doing it. Stay tuned. Next time. I’ll talk to you next week.

Blake 51:30
Yep, looking forward to it. See you guys. Bye.


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