explaining finances

I presented the treasurer’s report at our church congregational meeting. When I do one of these, I try to explain the standard documents so that people can read the reports and make sense of them.

I’ve tried a couple of times now, and what I find works is to help people zoom out and see the whole table of numbers, then understand what they’re looking at by using coloured rectangles to show the difference between income and expenses, budget and actuals, variance, and then between assets and liabilities.

You can then quickly show the relationship between a profit and loss, budget vs actuals, and the balance sheet, and how they all fit together.

It’s a simple technique, but I think it’s a powerful one.

how kids learn

An article came across my desk today about how children learn at different ages, citing work by Egan (1997); from somatic (age 2) to mythic (age 5-10) to romantic (age 10-15) to philosophical (15-20) to ironic (21+). I’ve really enjoyed the kind of reflective learning that my current course of study has put me through, so I’m enjoying thinking through the learning process at these different developmental stages as well.

Related is this reflection on group work in a classroom context.

In our observations collaboration is often undertaken without teacher input, and against their expressed expectation that students complete the task ‘on their own’.  The irony is that you can ask the teacher for help, but you are not to ask the student beside you for advice.

We know the following to be myths:
• That students learn best when a teacher instructs.
• That student collaboration inevitably slows ‘coverage’ down.
• That practice tests are the key to better exam performance.

I realised that I don’t have much of a sense of the progress of ideas around what constitutes best practice in the classroom as ideas on teaching and learning continue to evolve: is there a parent-level set of resources out there?

last day of leave

I’m about to set up my home-office desk again after taking three weeks’ leave from work. Proper leave; I haven’t checked my work email for two weeks (except briefly and by accident), and I’ve only responded to questions that have come directly to me through personal social media channels (I don’t think I’ve had a single work-related phone call).

Lessons learned

  • getting out in nature is important
  • minimising screen time and notifications (except perhaps the “this is how long you’ve been on your phone today” type) is important
  • I’ve enjoyed the time that I made to spend in prayer and Bible reading, but it wasn’t anywhere near as much time as I was hoping to spend on that
  • Having days where I didn’t plan anything, especially during the school holidays, resulted in fewer activities completed, but a higher quality of time spent with the people I saw on those days
  • Making sure I wasn’t trying to spend one-on-one time with people every day was important to being able to actually recover
  • By recover, I am talking about quieting my mind, and improving my ability to direct my attention to something in particular without my mind buzzing with a hundred different priorities
  • Even when I’ve set sleeping as a goal, it’s hard for me to sleep more than 6 hours per night, but there are benefits to sleeping seven hours in terms of mental clarity: this is a difficult concept for me to grasp when I am carrying a chronic sleep debt, but even a single day of less than 5 hours sleep means a big step backward for mental clarity, and for ability to stay alert for the whole day
  • I really enjoyed being able to spend time with Kel and the kids (and with each individual kid) with a greater ability to concentrate on what they were saying
  • Yet again, there was a lot of uni reading to complete (I spent last weekend in a uni intensive learning to negotiate better) but that’s the stage of life I’ve opted for. Had I not needed to complete a few hundred pages of uni reading and an assignment, the break might have been better
  • Much gratitude for a friend who let us stay a few nights at his place in the country – getting out of the house was a much needed tonic, and a great chance for some family adventures

Time will tell how much this leave helps me become better at my actual job, but I’m optimistic that it will help me go the distance better.

assumptions made about communication

Much has changed this year in terms of communication norms. I think I’m reaching a point where it’s not entirely awkward not to shake hands when I see someone, but there are still times where even that lack of contact is a window into all that has been lost.

While zoom fatigue is increasingly documented, and people are a little exhausted at the thought of another video-based conversation, the one article that surprised me (and didn’t) was this one on teaching teenagers to make phone calls.