Checking For A Pulse

“Let’s be honest now and admit it – we all feel lazy sometimes when we have to write a blog …” (from professional blogger Tom Jager)

This will only be my fourth blog post of the 2016 school year; I haven’t just been lazy but more so comatose. “Write a blog post” was added to my To Do List back in June, so you can see why I am regularly checking for a pulse. That’s something I haven’t done since my son was a teenager. It’s certainly not that I have nothing to say, I always have a lot to say. So, what has been the problem?

This printable To Do List ( is clearly missing a NEVER column.

This printable To Do List ( is clearly missing a NEVER column.

I think I finally have an answer. The mere fact that so many schools have an eLearning Manager (I only use this because “Full Time Multi-Tasking Tech Ninja” is not an actual job title. Note to self, must get that on a T-Shirt) is an admission of failure. If the much hyped Digital Education Revolution had succeeded, I should be back teaching History full time. More on that later. The reality is that I’ve become an actual “Jack of all (Tech) Trades” and consequently master of none. I frequently research tools for colleagues, trial them, pass on the key information and … repeat! I regularly visit classrooms to troubleshoot tech problems. My role has led to me having a little bit of knowledge about 100s of tools but few that I have mastered.

Given the necessary authority (… All Hail Imperator Simonus,) I would be insistent upon all teachers having the same digital toolbox. This would comprise six or eight tools that every teacher masters and uses in their classroom. We are forever reading about standardised tests and general capabilities for students. Surely this standardisation should also extend to the digital capabilities of teachers. But I already know the type of objections I would hear, “I’m a Maths teacher, why do I need to know how to screencast?” I know because I actually received this comment.

This term I have returned to teaching an Ancient Studies class and I’m far from comatose there; it looks more like caffeine fuelled hyperactivity. I suspect it is in part about using technology to increase the engagement of students with whom I’ve built a personal relationship. My first moves into technology came out of a passion to improve my teaching … if only you could teach passion to others! Still, like all good emperors, I will continue to build my empire,  protect the citizens and repel the barbarians at the gate. But, for now, I’m off to cross this post of my list. Another post soon … maybe!

I know it's Vespasian ... But I can see the resemblance.

I know it’s Vespasian … But I can see the resemblance.

Simon The (Not Yet) Great

(#Bloggermore 26/26 … Well, really 16/26)

“You’re flight time through to Hobart is 54 minutes.”

So, that’s precisely how long I had to cobble together one final blog post for 2015. Of course, I really should write several 50 word posts in a desperate last-ditch attempt to meet my own blogging aim for this year. But I won’t, and next year there will be no silly, self-imposed challenges! I have been, like everyone involved in education, exceedingly busy but I’ve also had to factor in an interstate move, home renovations, a new school, a slightly demonic new puppy, sick relatives, very cold mornings, worsening arthritis, a rabid crow in our kitchen, dust storms and bushfires. However, you can rest easy; this post is not to warn you of the impending apocalypse … That’s just my life.

Of course, I’ve also had some “wins” along the way. This year I’ve found myself increasingly sought after as a writer for Australian Teacher Magazine, Fractus Learning and others. It’s simply brilliant to receive Christmas greetings like this one:

ATM Greeting

I’ve also compiled a fortnightly eNewsletter focusing on all things educational technology for my new colleagues, conducted professional learning sessions and even made a well received appearance as “Bad Santa” at the staff Christmas lunch. In many respects the real highlight was delivering my very first keynote address at the annual HTAWA State Conference in Perth. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I like nothing more than the sound of my own voice! Which brings me to my hopes for 2016 and my purpose in writing here. Put simply, I want to become a regular conference keynote speaker. I want to be “that guy” who educators want to listen to. I’ve been told many times that I am a humorous and engaging presenter but I’m simply not part of the “pro tour.” Unfortunately, too many conferences are still headlined by the same tired old people delivering the same tired old content in the same tired old manner. A few years back I recall reading an insightful tweet about a disappointing keynote:

“Blah, blah, blah … Sign my cheque. Blah, blah, blah … Take me back to my five star hotel.”

Now, I’ve got the old and tired bit covered but how do I get a headline gig? I’m not Sir Ken Robinson so I can’t expect the mega bucks but I do have over three decades of genuine classroom experience and my own variety of home spun wisdom. The voice of education needs to be genuine, not a rehearsed, overpriced routine.

I am most certainly excited about the enormous possibilities of the Education Nation conference which will take place in Sydney during June next year. (You can find all the details at I am delighted to be part of the Advisory Team that will help shape this conference “by teachers, for teachers.”

Check out the details!

Check out the details!

There’s also a good chance that I’ll take the stage at some time during the two days; after all, I am dropping regular hints. But, that’s not enough; I want more opportunities to put myself out there, to help shape education in Australia and worldwide. Yes, even worldwide. If you’re a megalomaniac you might as well go the whole way; I only have a few years left to match the empire building of my hero Alexander! So, if you’re organising some teacher training sessions or a conference; use the contact form on this site to bring me onboard. I don’t have a set “rate” but I know it will be reasonable. I don’t even expect a 5 star hotel, I’m prepared to slum it in a 4 star. Oh hell, let’s just admit it; if all else fails I’ll also consider offers to resurrect Santa.


The Year Ahead: #Bloggermore2015 1/26

It’s been a big few months; new address, new state, new job, new-rotic! (You knew I would get a joke in early.) Most of my long service leave has been devoted to renovating and painting our 1930s cottage in the beautiful Barossa Valley of South Australia. I’ve even discovered that YouTube is a great resource for the DIY challenged like myself. It seems there’s a “how to” video for just about any repair job around the house … and some even ended up looking (vaguely) like the picture.

I didn't do this ... honest!

I didn’t do this … honest!

But now, my new position as eLearning Manager at Faith Lutheran looms large on the horizon. Yesterday I spent an hour in discussions with the school’s new principal and was certainly encouraged by his focus on learning and the significance of educational technology. My main responsibility will be to mentor my colleagues in the use of technology in order to redefine and enhance learning. No wonder I’m excited; but I’m also realistic about how much time I’ll have to devote to this role.

I also have two “big gigs” booked for later in the year. In March I will be delivering my very first keynote at the State Conference of the History Teachers Association of Western Australia. (HTAWA) I will also be returning to EduTech in order to present alongside fellow History teachers Jacques du Toit and Matthew Esterman. So, by now you’re probably wondering (at least I hope so) about the rather obscure hashtag in the title of this post. Yes, it is a direct nod to the J.K.Rowling website Pottermore but it is also a challenge to myself. Though, of course, you might want to join me! Over the past year my blogging has become, at best, irregular. What I plan to do, therefore, with time at a premium, is to share the details and observations of my year in a series of 26 posts … one per fortnight with an aim of restricting myself to an achievable 200-400 words in each post. Please keep me honest and on track.

15 Quotes to Inspire

The ideas of others, encapsulated in a perfectly rendered sentence or two, have always been a great inspiration for me. This list of fifteen quotes, many garnered from my time in the Twitter-verse, might just work for you too! (… and, I promise to frequently update this collection.) They can also be a great starting point for a blog post of your own.

On Leadership

1. “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sail.”     John C. Maxwell

2. “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”  Henry Kissinger  

On Reaching Your Potential

3. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”  George Eliot

4. “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”  Pablo Picasso

5. “Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.”  T.S.Eliot

6. “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.”  Chinese Proverb

7. “It is not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”  Anonymous

On Education, Yesterday and Today

8. “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”  W.B.Yeats

9. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Mark Twain

10. “I don’t need to know everything, I just need to know where to find it when I need it.”  Albert Einstein

11. “To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step towards knowledge.”  Benjamin Disraeli

12. “Learning any time, any place, any path, any pace.”  ACEC 2012

13. “We’re operating on a 200 year old paradigm in a world that needs an entirely different skill set …”          Madeline Levine

14. “Today, kids can create profound artefacts of their learning that are most times better than what’s in a textbook.”  Chris Lehmann

15. “Banning technology is like grabbing water; it’s not very effective.”  Anonymous