Child Safeguarding

So last weekend we hosted an international child safeguarding conference here at ASP, with over 150 participants representing 24 countries from all around the world, and you know what…it was really, really heavy. It was run by the committed and inspiring leaders of CIS (Council of International Schools), who hit us all very hard over the four days with the “why” behind this non-negotiable reality…that we need to make child safeguarding the top priority of international schools around the globe.

As a school, we arranged a half day release for our students so each and every english speaking faculty and staff member could go through specific sessions and keynotes, and we all left forever changed. The opening keynote began with the promise that “there is life before this conference, and life after this conference”, suggesting that the participants would be profoundly impacted as a result of what they learned…and they were right. It was intense, disrupting, and ultimately incredibly inspiring to know that we have embraced this initiative as a community to better protect our kids…what could be more important than that?

I came away from the deep dive session on Saturday evening feeling validated that we have a really strong safeguarding foundation in place as a school, but also a little overwhelmed by the work that we have left to do to become a leading school internationally in this area. As the designated child safeguarding lead for ASP, I am personally passionate about this work, and excited to engage with all of our stakeholders to ensure that we have put all measures in place to protect our kids from every possible angle.

Historically, International Schools have not done a good enough job of protecting our children from physical and sexual abuse and neglect, and we haven’t been great at identifying and reporting low level concerns…that needs to change. CIS is taking the lead as a organization, and as only the 2nd international school from around the world to take part in the CIS Child Protection Conference training, we need international school leaders to get in front of this right away…every school is affected by this in one way or another, even if they don’t know it yet, and the statistics and stories that were shared throughout the conference opened up our eyes to the urgency of this work…please go down this road as a school if you haven’t already…it’s a responsibility that cannot be ignored any longer.

Over the next several weeks we will be training our coaches, our French speaking faculty and staff, and looking for ways to ensure that every adult that comes in contact with our children (volunteers, interns, parents) has the proper safeguarding training, as well as a deep understanding of the “why” behind the work. We will also be meeting with an outside consultant to audit our facility spaces, to make sure that we haven’t left any stone unturned. I’m proud of our school for taking this on, and even though it will take an incredible amount of time and effort and resources, it will be worth every second and every penny. To save even one child from harm in the future will make this work worthwhile, but I have a strong feeling that it’s going to save many more than just one.

Thank you CIS for leading this out for our international world, and thank you in advance to the international schools who will bring a safeguarding conference to their community in the near future…don’t wait…your children’s safety is at stake. Here is a beautiful poem that speaks to the importance of rallying as a community so we are all in this together. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Whose Child Is This?

‘Whose child is this? ‘ I asked one day
Seeing a little one out at play
‘Mine’, said the parent with a tender smile
‘Mine to keep a little while
To bathe her hands and comb her hair
To tell her what she is to wear
To prepare her that she may always be good
And each day do the things she should’

‘Whose child is this? ‘ I asked again
As the door opened and someone came in
‘Mine’, said the teacher with the same tender smile
‘Mine, to keep just for a little while
To teach her how to be gentle and kind
To train and direct her dear little mind
To help her live by every rule
And get the best she can from school’

‘Whose child is this? ‘ I ask once more
Just as the little one entered the door
‘Ours’ said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
And each took the hand of the little child
‘Ours to love and train together
Ours this blessed task forever.’

– Jessie Girl Rivera


Quote of the Week…

Every child you encounter is a divine appointment 

– Wess Stafford


Inspiring Videos –

Some Gifts Are More Thank Just a Gift

Children’s Reactions

Become a Better Person(TED Talk)

Find Your Nearest Mom


Articles and Websites –

Council of International Schools Resources

Keep Kids Safe

Safety Rules

Posted in Daniel Kerr | Leave a comment

Stop the Downturn: Data for Student Support

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

For many years I have been involved in student support planning. As an EdTech professional, I am heavily involved in managing and using student data. Student assessment data is normally used to make lists of students that need support.

The ideal scenario, is that students get the help they need BEFORE the grade falls below the recovery level. There is normally a point in the term where the grade cannot be recovered. The mean will be too low. If the school uses a few final exams to determine the final grade, the situation is even more dire for students who have early downturns.

Here are some recommendations for making certain that you are using student data correctly, and promptly, to support those who are beginning to have unfavorable results.

Set the Bar High

I start my trend analysis at the C+ level, or “average”, level. I look for students who have a C+, and see if they had a C+ the week before. This can be done fairly quickly in a spreadsheet with live data sets.

Students who have moved from a C+ to a C, a C- to a D, etc., would all need a weekly review.

This seems tedious, but I firmly believe interventions need to happen as early as possible in the process.

Do not Assume Students are Lazy

I am often guilty of assuming a student is simply not trying hard enough, or not paying attention. I think this is a very common initial reaction to falling grades.

Every student deserves to have the benefit of the doubt. Take the time to look at least 1-2 weeks back in the grading. Look for courses they are not struggling in, and see how the assessments differ.

Most importantly, take time to engage the student. Ask them about the situation, and listen for clues. Many times teenagers seems cagey, but they simply may not be able to articulate the problem.

Check the Class Average

Class averages often hold insight into student issues. If you have a class, and the average is 80%, and the grade distribution is on a normal curve, then prepare to have many students struggling.

That bottom group of students is going to be fighting all term for a low B or high C (80%-76%). This does not mean they need extra support, but it does mean that they need to be using their time very efficiently. The margin for error, and laziness, is very low.

Also, do not jump to make the class easier. Some topics are tough, and they should be.

Convert Standards Grades to Numbers

This is an internal process. Students and parents will not see the conversion. This is not about creating a 100 point scale. This is simply a better way for administrators to quickly review data. You can use any scale you wish.

If you have only three standard’s indicators, and you are only grading against four standards, you would generate 12 data points, per student, per assessment. That is 216 data points per 18 students, per assignment.

Assigning numbers to letters, using a simple find-and-replace function, would make it possible to run common mathematical analysis.

Require Regular Comments

End of term comments are nice, but they are useless for a true support intervention process. Teachers need to be required to tag assignments at the student level when those assignments indicate a downturn.

Many administrators are often sitting in a room without the teacher trying to understand the data. Simple comments bring clarity to assessment data. This is true even in standards-based environments.

I would even argue semester and trimester comments are useless. Action needs to be swift, and data needs to be updated weekly.

Require Teachers to Update Grades Often

Obviously, without data, no action can transpire. Data needs to be updated every 5-10 school days. If a teachers gives 4 significant assessments in a month, and updates their grades only once every 4-6 weeks, how far will the grade(s) fall before an intervention can happen?

Keep in mind there is a gap between the time the issue is discovered, and the engagement with the student(s). Every day matters. Make a point to be the annoying administrator who is sending “gentle reminders” about grading and data updates.





Posted in Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Confronting fascism in the classroom

What do we do when confronted with a student who says he admires the ideology of Mussolini? Or when a student asks, “Aren’t Jews generally more rich?”

These and other interactions have been happening in my classroom recently as I teach authoritarianism (first Mussolini, now Hitler, later, Stalin and Castro) in IB History. A few years ago, I think I would be much more alarmed by these kind of statements, but now, although I am still somewhat alarmed, I like to think I have more patience in responding. I take my role as an adult mentor seriously. The students need to know that expressing admiration for fascism and repeating anti-Semitic stereotypes might be condemned in many social situations. But they also need to know why.

I’m a history teacher. But I don’t care much about whether my students remember the exact date of Indian independence or the name of the terrorist who inadvertently started World War One. I do like it when they know these, and it is helpful to their understanding of context and their internalizing a timeline of events- but I believe that facts should be learned only in service to thinking about ideas. It’s much more important to me that my students understand the conditions of British imperialism in India (and imperialism elsewhere) and the Indians’ urge towards sovereignty than it is that they know the date (18 July 1947) India was declared independent. It’s more important that they ponder through the tangled web of events that began World War One, and consider how nationalism and rivalries played a role, then focus on memorizing the name of Gavrilo Princip. Therefore, I organize my history classes around concepts (imperialism, power) rather than content. After all, we can’t teach everything. A case study (British imperialism in India) can illuminate a concept when we study it in depth, and other case studies (French imperialism in West Africa, British imperialism in China, Belgian imperialism in the Congo) can add more breadth to a student’s understanding. Then we can circle back the concepts we began with.

So when a student asks a provocative question, I need to remember that they are a student. My IB History kids are 16 and 17 years old, and many of them are encountering this material in-depth for the first time. They haven’t previously read ‘What is Fascism’ by Benito Mussolini or ever actually seen a video of Hitler giving a speech. I want to hear their natural curiosities instead of shutting them down. They need to work through the attraction of Hitler’s nationalism to Germans of the time, and the appeal of Mussolini’s open-ended ideology. I don’t want my students to pay lip service to the ideals of democracy and republicanism and world peace; I’d rather they arrived to these ideals after thinking through, even briefly empathizing with, the alternatives. 15 years of experience teaching has helped me arrive at a working solution. I am explicit about explaining how such ideas may be received in social and academic contexts today. I also invite them to reflect more on their own thinking: “What do you admire about Mussolini? Why do think others might have admired him (or admire him today)? Why might others condemn him?” Last week I showed a news clip of neo-fascists in Italy. I wanted the students to see how neo-fascists present themselves and how others respond in the real world today. I encouraged my student asking about Jews to talk to her Jewish friends: “How do you think they might answer when you express that idea about Jews being rich? What would you say if you heard someone say all members of your religion are rich, or middle-class, or poor?”

If I want my students to take their ideas seriously, then I need to take them seriously too. If we don’t listen to our young people and give them space to work out (challenge) their ideas, they will be even more in danger of extreme ideologies- because immunity comes from knowledge, not ignorance.

Posted in Allison Poirot | Leave a comment

Tis the Season, A 2019 Job Seeking Primer

Sorry I haven’t written in awhile. Been super busy transitioning to a new amazing team of educators in a very special country.

No matter how much I write about the unique experience of seeking a job in international schools, I always learn something new that has helped me and hopefully will help you as you venture into this perilous (and exciting) phase of your learning journey.

So, here’s my job seeking primer for 2018. Good luck. And remember, you WILL get a job.

1) The fairs are done before they start. I think you know this by now, but most jobs are filled by January and the top schools are done by Oct./Nov. You should have built a relationship with a school prior to the fair. By the time the fair rolls around, meeting people is usually a formality.

2) Design a clean, clutter free CV that tells a story, not just a list of mundane tasks like everyone else. More text with 10 font is not a better story. There’s no reason you can’t organize your experience by headings such as “Innovation,” “Experiential ed,” or “Personalized Learning,” that matches the mission of the school instead of something that looks like a common app. It takes more work, but if you really want to work at a certain school, they will be impressed to see the alignment of your experiences with what the school values.

3) Check the school web sites that you’re interested in, not just the search agencies. Desirable places like the UWC network and some of the other top schools don’t bother to advertise.

4) Non profit vs. For profit: There’s an expression that the difference between profit and non is that one is resource rich and community poor and the other is the opposite. That’s a pretty good analogy as for profits can be ruthless when it comes to the bottom line, but that doesn’t mean that non-profits are perfect. Make sure you understand the culture of the organization you are joining before you jump in. Speaking to current employees (not just managers) usually is a good indicator.

5) Job jumping=low rating. Yes, there are a lot of teachers that are in it for the travel. From a recruiters’ perspective, a string of 2 and 3 year gigs (or less) is not a good sign no matter your excuse. You should build up a solid foundation of several 4-5 year gigs or longer to establish yourself as a desirable candidate.

6) Social media matters: We all know this by now, but keep an eye on your digital footprint and make sure that it’s compatible for working in schools. Child safeguarding is job #1 of professional school environments and they check.

7) Always give your direct supervisors as references, even if it’s hard. Good schools are going to call the Director or Head even if you didn’t list them as a reference. It’s a red flag when your only references are colleagues, past directors, or department heads. Have the hard conversations if you have to, but list the direct managers.

8) No surprises: Be up front with anything that might be an issue. If you have a child with disabilities, a partner to whom you’re not married, or anything that could be an obstacle for securing a work permit or a job, be up front even if it may cost you the offer. There’s nothing worse for an employer than finding out deal breaker issues after you’re at the contract stage.

9) Visit schools during your holidays just to say “hello” and introduce yourself, even if there’s not a job. As a Principal, I love it when traveling teachers want to visit and see what we’re all about and have a chat over coffee about their experience. Some of my best ‘interviews’ have been with folks on their holiday. They’re real.

10) Be willing to take a pass. Don’t be desperate. Watch for the signs of a bad deal. If a manager gives you five hours to think about an offer or if they don’t let you speak to current employees or are vague about the health insurance, etc. then wait. If you’re good, you WILL get a job. Trust me, it somehow works out, especially if you love what you do and want to make the world a better place. God only knows we need you.

Good luck. I’ve been on both sides of the table and it’s humbling. Keep your friends close, be yourself, don’t be afraid to turn down something if it doesn’t feel right, and don’t ever, ever give up.

Posted in Stephen Dexter | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bring Me To Tears

So a couple of weeks ago, as part of my usual classroom walk through routine, I stopped by a K1 (4 year old) class and sat down to watch. The kids were all seated on the rug and counting out loud the number of days that we had been in school so far this year, and of course it was super cute. As part of the lesson they were also learning how to draw the numbers on small square pieces of blue paper, and one lucky child was asked to put their own number drawing up on the display calendar for the class to see. Well, this little one was struggling a bit to form the numbers with her pencil so one of the teachers brought her to the table where I was sitting to practice…she was very excited.

The child tried a couple of times to write out the number 24 but it simply came out as squiggly little lines, so the teacher held the child’s hand and helped her write it down. After a few of these practices together, the teacher then let the child trace the numbers individually several times on her own until she felt confident enough to try again without any help. The whole time I was watching, I was amazed by the sheer determination and tremendous effort on the part of the child to learn, and I was inspired by the teacher’s encouragement and willingness to let the child struggle without coming to her rescue. Every few seconds the child would stop and look up at me and smile, giving me a look of “I got this” before putting her head back down and getting on with the learning at hand. Finally, after many tries and lots of struggle, the child took a brand new piece of paper and drew a beautiful number 24 on the little blue square and ran to go hang in up on the chart for all the world to see…and then it happened…for whatever reason, I burst into tears.

As I got up and left the room to compose myself, and to find some tissues, I began thinking about why that experience got me so emotional. I guess I just simply got overwhelmed in that moment…not just by the natural beauty of a young child so authentically learning, but also by how fortunate I am to be an educator. To be able to witness moments like that in life is such a tremendous gift, and as I wiped the tears away I felt my heart swelling up with joy knowing that magical moments like that are available to me behind each and every classroom door, each and every day of the year…how lucky am I? I guess my message this week for all of us is to keep our eyes wide open for those light bulb moments with kids, and to purposely search them out and celebrate them when you see them happen. Moments where hard work and struggle and effort and joy turn into life changing experiences for children…and for educators.

That little girl’s experience may be something that over time she won’t remember, but it will surely have a lasting effect on her relationship with learning and with school and on her life. The life lesson that we all need to learn early on, that if you work hard and practice and learn to find comfort in the struggle then eventually you’ll find some success. Those light bulb moments happen every day in schools and in all grade levels, so search them out and share them with others…share them with me! I’ll always remember that moment and that little girl, and for that I am grateful…I’m also grateful to have chosen this vocation because true magic is happening every minute of the day, and as educators we are able to be a part of it…magic that will literally bring you to tears. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.


Quote of the Week…

Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best

– Bob Talbert


Related Articles – 

The Joy of Learning

The Joys of Teaching

Recognizing Student Success

Happy Students


Interesting TED Talks – 

Building a Better Future

On Being Wrong

Teaching for Mastery

Where Joy Hides

Ice Cold Water


Beautiful Videos – (These will make your day)

Unlikely Hero

Squirrel Rescue 

Real Life Cinderella 

Posted in Daniel Kerr | Leave a comment

We Went Viral!: Celebrating Teachers Makes Good TV


Follow Me on Twitter @msmeadowstweets

Choir kids will relate: our beloved music teacher from high school is battling cancer, and we wanted to show our support. She wasn’t up for lots of visits, so we pulled together to create a video of us singing one of her favourite songs: “Seasons of Love” from Rent. It was a simple gesture, but one we hoped would cheer and comfort a person who’s impacted so many.

Turns out, not only choir kids can relate: shortly after sharing it with the school district (who shared it on Facebook), Good Morning America featured us on their website. Next, the story got picked up by Ashton Kutcher’s media company, A Plus. Then, the local National Public Radio station did a piece on us. After that, the newspaper printed an article. The story gained so much traction that Good Morning America decided to feature it on their national broadcast. They flew Mama Lu, as we affectionately refer her, out to New York for an interview. More than 40 of Mama Lu’s former students also made it to NYC (most paying their own way), and surprised her on set, along with original Rent stars Tracie Thoms and Anthony Rapp, who traveled from England and LA to be there. The video clip of the performance, posted online, has almost 400,000 views already, and hundreds of touching comments.

Mama Lu has been interviewed for each of these stories, and continues to emphasize how touched she is that we took time from our personal lives for her. Fellow educators will not be surprised to hear that Mama Lu gave countless weekends, evenings, and weekend evenings to us – rehearsing, performing, and making music together. Time from our personal lives? This is nothing compared to what she invested in her students over the course of a dedicated career.

Every child should have the opportunity to learn from educators whose positive impact sticks with them for years.  

A quote from Mama Lu: “I think it proves that with teaching you really don’t know what kind of an influence you’re going to have 20 years later. So, you just do your best.”

A reminder that what you do, as educators, matters.

For a little feel-good boost today, enjoy this uplifting, suitable-for-work story.


What makes an educator influential?  

Posted in Emily Meadows | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I Love My Phone

So as much as I try to deny it, and for as much as I try to justify it, there’s just no getting around it anymore…I’m addicted to my iPhone. I guess I really started to think deeply about it a couple of weeks ago when I was planning a parent workshop on the dangers of screen time and children. That, coupled with a great book that I just finished reading titled, The Big Disconnect, got me thinking about my own relationship with screens, particularly my phone, and the changes that I need to make to get to a healthier place in my life. It took a while but I guess it finally hit me…I need to do a better job of modeling a healthy screen time relationship not just for my own sake, but for my kids and my colleagues as well. The other thing is this…I’m not alone, and I bet if you think about it you’ll see that we’re all in this same boat together.

As educators we often discuss and debate the place that screens have in schools, and obviously these are really important conversations in this day and age. Actually, with all the research now out about how our brains are changing due to the excessive use of technology, these might just be the most important discussions that we can be having in schools…but you know what, it’s hard and really, really tricky to get it right and to find that healthy balance. One of my favorite quotes from the aforementioned book states that technology has been “designed to serve us, please us, inform us, entertain us, and connect us, and now our digital devices have come to define us”, and it’s true…we don’t just love our devices, we’re addicted to them. I’m worried about our society honestly, and how chained we are to technology and social media, and I’m wondering where it’s going to take us…will it get worse before it finally gets so bad that it wakes us all up and then gets better, or will it simply just get worse.

The thing that I’ve realized in my own life is this…it’s on me. With all the concern that I have about my own children and how much time they are spending on their devices both in school and out, the best way forward is to change my own habits and to lead by example. You see, my son loves the word “hypocrite”, and enjoys using it whenever I ask him to get off his iPad, and you know what, he’s right when he says it. Just last week he texted me from the same room and told me to get off my phone so I could come over and watch a video that he wanted to show me…unbelievable…but that was the final straw. So we finally came together as a family and created a family tech plan, which holds us all accountable for our daily use, and sets parameters for when and how we can engage with our devices. Like all habits though it takes time, energy, commitment and a whole lot of discipline to change them, but it’s been so freeing. With all the new found time we can bike ride, play outside, play games, be creative and imaginative, cook together, read (not on our devices), and we can talk more to each other…nice!

Anyway, the reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because I suspect that many of you (all of you) can also afford to take a critical look at your own relationship with screens, and find ways to build a healthier relationship. We have a responsibility as educators to model the behavior that we want to see in our kids, and if we want to decrease the amount of time that they spend on their devices then we need to show them the way…right now we aren’t doing a very good job of that…I know I’m not. The most important thing that we can do as adults is to model better screen time behavior for our kids…think about your screen habits after you read this and make a change or two…take it from me, it’s freeing and life changing for the better! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.


Quote of the Week…

Smart phones are so convenient that they’re an inconvenience

– Haruki Murakami


Related Articles –

The Perils of Screen Addiction (and How to Beat It)

Funny (sad) Comics

Your Brain and Smartphones

What is Screen Addiction?

Parents are Patient Zero


Book Recommendations –

The Big Disconnect

How to Break Up With Your Phone


Related Videos –

Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy

9 Signs of Screen Addiction

Ruining Lives– Simon Sinek

How is Your Phone Changing You?

Changing Your Brain

Posted in Daniel Kerr | Leave a comment

There Are No Good Guys, and Other Teachable Moments from the Kavanaugh Hearing

Follow Me on Twitter @msmeadowstweets

Brett Kavanaugh, now United States Supreme Court justice, is the latest in a string of men publicly demonstrating that there are no good guys.

Hang onto your #notallmen comebacks. There are no good guys – and there are no bad guys.

This type of binary thinking (good vs. bad) is problematic. Whether considering the sexual abuse epidemic in the Catholic church, or the extraordinary number of stories from the #metoo movement, a common theme is that people accused of assault are rarely pure villains. Someone out there is usually willing to vouch for their character, even to summon a respectable letter from the community attesting to their wholesomeness and good deeds. To take this as evidence that they have never once behaved inappropriately, however, is a logical fallacy with potentially serious consequences.

If a child understands that the adults in their life believe a religious leader/neighbour/doctor/family member/teacher is a ‘good guy’, and we’ve taught children to internalize people as being on one side or another of a good/bad binary, how might that impact their interpretation of a sexual assault? How might that influence their likelihood of reporting the ‘good guy’, or seeking help?

As educators, we can support children to see people as nuanced, and work to dismantle this simplistic good vs. bad misconception. Doing so may also encourage a healthier self-concept by giving little ones the chance to recover from mistakes that inevitably accompany learning. Otherwise, when a child uses binary thinking to judge themself, a simple misstep may create unnecessary internal conflict. Educators who cultivate a growth mindset with students will recognize this approach.

I do not mean to equivocate minor childhood gaffes with actual crimes, and this is not to say that someone who commits sexual assault in high school (allegedly) should be excused their behaviour and rewarded with a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court of the United States. Certainly we must face consequences for our choices. But, is Brett Kavanaugh entirely evil? Plenty of supporters would say no, and I agree: nobody is completely good or completely bad.

Other teachable moments from the Kavanaugh hearings:

  1. Sexual assault is not normal teen behaviour – it is violent behaviour. Let’s keep saying this loud and clear, and teaching children about consent early and often.
  2. Binge drinking is not normal teen behaviour; less than 1 in 3 American teens report drinking at all, and only 13% report binge drinking (defined as 4-5 beers in a row)[1]. Let us not normalize underage drinking.
  3. If a yearbook quote can follow you to a job interview in your 50’s, so can a social media post. Take care with online footprints.

If the recent U.S. Supreme Court nomination process came up with your students, how were you able to use it as a teachable moment?


[1] 2017. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. Retrieved from:

Posted in Emily Meadows | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Trust Me

So I’ve been writing a lot about the importance of positive relationships and school culture these days, and one day I’m sure I’ll change my focus to something else, but today is not that day. Today I want to briefly talk about what’s at the core of both of these things, and the one thing that drives all of our relationships, our school initiatives, and our daily interactions with each other…today I want to talk about trust. The thing about trust is that it looks different for everyone, and inevitably it takes time to arrive at a place where a solid foundation is set in both our individual, personal relationships, and in larger groups like grade level teams, departments, and in a whole school faculty. Some people are trusting by nature, even to a fault, while others are more reserved and cautious depending on past experiences. It can be hard to give over your trust to someone you don’t really know, and even harder to rebuild trust once it’s broken, and the really tricky bit is that without trust, nothing meaningful will ever happen in schools.

If you look deeply into what separates a great school from good one, it ultimately comes down to the level of trust that people have with each other. In great schools leaders trust people to do their jobs and they don’t micromanage, teachers trust each other and are vulnerable enough to share what’s working and NOT working in their classrooms, people have the courage to have hard conversations with each other while presuming positive intent, and in great schools there is a trust that all decisions are being made around what’s best for students and student learning. Ernest Hemingway said it best in the quote below, “the best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them”, and as we dig into some transformational work over the next couple of years, we need to continue to trust each other…nothing is more important and foundational than that.

Obviously, it’s very easy to say go trust someone and much harder to actually do it, and if you find yourself struggling for whatever reason to trust a person or to be trusting in a larger group setting, the best way forward is to identify what it is that’s stopping you and act. A perfect example of this happened to me last week, when I was involved in a miscommunication with a couple of teachers, which could have negatively  impacted our relationship had we not sat down and cleared it up with a some difficult conversations. In the end, these conversations identified the miscommunication, cleared up some expectations, and ultimately strengthened our relationships. Our level of trust with each other increased dramatically because we had the courage to talk about it and not let it linger and fester and grow into resentment. A major component of building trust is the ability that we all have to confront issues that can possibly be divisive, and to have these difficult conversations from a place of positive intent. In the end we all want the same things…to be valued, to be heard, to be respected, and to do what’s best for our school and each other…and it all comes down to trust.

So, I’m asking us all this week to look inwardly and to identify anything that might be stopping you from trusting someone, or from being a trusted member of a group. Then, find the courage to move past it through a conversation, some self reflection, or a simple re-set of mindset, and then…take the leap! Think about Hemingway’s quote and trust someone…it’ll make all the difference. Have a great week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.


Quote of the Week…

The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them

– Ernest Hemingway


Inspiring Videos –

Prom Dates

Show Love


Related Articles –

The Importance of Building Trust

Workplace Trust

A Trusting Classroom

Building Trust

Teach for All

The Trust Factor


TED Talks –

What We Don’t Understand About Trust

How to Build and Re-Build Trust


Simon Sinek –

Committed Leadership

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A Collection of Tales from the Road – Introduction

In this series of blog posts, I will record and share some stories of a rather long bicycle ride of 40,100 kilometres through 60 countries.

This post is a shortish introduction detailing some facts and figures and how I have structured the large task of compiling so many stories.

Some of the accounts you can read in this series are of things that were meant to be a little bit of fun but turned out to be shockingly bad. Some are sad stories that turned out to be funny (in hindsight at least). Many are just things that happen on a tour, the kindness of strangers, the thrill of the ride. Some are of times when I was desperate, others are accounts of diamond moments.

I want to do this partly because I do think that some of these stories might entertain you. They may seem far-fetched and hard to believe, but are true nonetheless, as I recall them. Mainly I just want to put them into writing. Memories of these things will always pop-up in my mind’s eye, but this document is immortal, so will forever be a place I visit as a bank of fond memories, even when I’m losing my marbles.

People keep telling me that I should write a book one day, and I immediately wonder- Why?

Because when people suggest this, my mind goes naturally to producing something that would be practical, but what useful advice do I have for people who like to explore? I am not sure that I would be a respectable source of information for the intrigued anyway, so i’ve decided to keep it simple and just write about random happenings, as these are the things that people have most enjoyed hearing about.


It’s been 18 years since my first tour (as an adult), and as I have mentioned in other blog posts, the world has changed a lot in that time. With only a few thousand kilometres left, the journey will be completed next year having pedalled more than 40,100km on tour, which is the circumference of our planet at its widest, so it’s actually slightly rugby ball shaped (see this post). 

This process of reflection, and my current location in the west of Canada, mean that I am already starting to feel nostalgic. It’s certainly been an investment to put it mildly, and a large part of my life. Indeed longer tours become a way of life, or a lifestyle. I wonder whether touring is now an obsession? I guess I’ll know soon enough. But for this circumnavigation at least, it is definitely something I know I need to complete, to get out of my system and be content for the rest of my life.

Over the course of my adult life so far, I visited 70 countries. In 10 of these, for whatever reason, I didn’t get on a saddle, so the memories I will share in this series of posts will be from 60 countries.

It’s difficult to find a commonly accepted definition of a country, nation, territory. Borders, or political boundaries have been fluid in some regions, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post LINK ; countries are rather arbitrary in times of change.

For me, it has become more about the land and less about the country I happen to be in. People and cultures blend, the earth ebbs and flows from pastures to desert, mountains to jungle, back down to the ocean.

As I come towards the end of this 40,100km ride around our world, it is the knowledge of what the earth looks like, at 4-D ground level, that will stay with me as one nice whole visual bubble of information, made up of millions of data points and pedal strokes.

Note: Because of changing political and economic geography around the world, I have recorded what happened and where, as it was then. So some references may seem outdated, and so they will likely remain. This was pertinent in the cases of Tibet, Mongolia, Kosovo, Macau, Hong Kong, Armenia & Nagorno-Karabakh, Myanmar etc…

I decided that the best way to organise these memories is not on a timeline, which I could have called the ‘Chamois Cream Chronicles’, but rather in a typically teacher like alphabetical order, which I am yet to decide a name for. Alphabetcycles maybe?

I have written about something from each of these countries, and will work through the alphabet one country at a time. So the first blogpost will be about Albania.

Below is a list of the countries i’ve cycled, and HERE IS  A LINK to an interactive map of the screenshot above that I’ve created, locating each country and therefore story with a numbered pin in the order I’ll write. I do hope you enjoy reading about them all:


The full list of countries visited can be found here:  LINK

Stories so far: Albania, Armenia

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