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Your School Is A Pinball Machine

I’ve been thinking a fair bit over the break about how we can all contribute to the recovery of our school system in 2021.

In the end, my key reflections are a small number of things that we need to stop doing and then some stuff to start doing.


  • Obsessing over perfection and comparing ourselves to unrealistic outcomes.
  • Using systems of control to influence student conduct … and that goes for staff too.
  • Spending so much time on compliances that don’t make a difference or connect to your school’s purpose.

Each of the above is an act of tilting the odds against us and designing for eventual failure.  Much like a pinball machine, we can strain for perfection all we like but the design of the machine is such that we know where the ball is going to end up eventually.

Instead, start:

  • Acknowledging behaviours from all school stakeholders that we like or value.
  • Design an environment/culture where those behaviours are easy and replicable
  • Enjoy the game.  Know that pinball will drop sometimes, but focus on the high scores, the creep towards mastery and the thrill of the time we have together instead.

My contention – Teachers and School Leaders who start with this in mind, will tilt the odds of a unique, beneficial and enjoyable student experience in their favour.

Go play in 2021.

Warm regards,