A Transition without Tom

By now some of you will have heard that my colleague Tom Barrett has decided to move on from NoTosh. When the announcement was made a few days ago, it all finally began to sink in that things were changing. Working with creative, thoughtful, and fun colleagues makes any job incredibly satisfying and pushes your own ideas and perspectives further. When they, or you, leave you realise that the capacities and limits enabled by the relationship leave too.

Tom and Hamish

Working with Tom has been an amazing experience. Tom doesn’t like when I say this, but when I first entertained the prospect of working at NoTosh, I was very excited to be part of a team that included Ewan McIntosh and Tom Barrett. Two people I considered leaders in education and had followed intently online . I was just a little bit intimidated and pretty chuffed to be sitting across from Tom waxing on the parameters of learning. Tom always demonstrated a profound depth of thought and perspective on learning. His insights helped build and match with my own, and it was even better when we had opportunities to work on projects collaboratively.

Probably one the best of these was rewriting the Google Teacher Academy experience in 2014. Not only did we look for the balance of the aspects that made it already very good, but we played with and designed features to make it even more challenging and focused on learning. And we had a lot of fun doing it. We got to slam the Masterclasses at EduTech over two years, co-facilitate Northern Bay College’s big staff day, work with a room of senior leaders at Emergency Management Victoria, and more recently shake up a session at the TeachTechPlay conference. Before Tom leaves we’ll be tag-teaming on a three-day retreat for architects and educators called the Mayfield Project, part of the Learning Environments conference, and facilitating two-days in Adelaide for Social Ventures Australia with a Thought Leadership Gathering for school and student leaders.

PierThese are just some of the experiences that will always make me smile of my time with Tom. The ‘Beach Retreat’, a few days away to get some strategic pieces aligned, was a big shift for us in building more work around Australia. It also brought out Tom’s skills with a sniper rifle in Star Wars Battlefront. Beach walks and larks aplenty. Work culture cannot be a serious space. It must know when to let go, when to think differently, and when it’s time for a transition.

Tom and I often used our ‘alter-egos’ to help us deal with the intensity of our work. Tom became ‘The Punisher’, able to take a stand and get the job done, and I became ‘The Hulk’, breaking loose in a frenetic smack down of ideas and frustration. Those bursts of creativity and commitment happened in all sorts of ways. And naturally they take us down paths that lead to new transitions. I know all too well that space you find yourself in – knowing you’ve made a real difference to others, but appreciating that it’s time to make a difference for yourself. Tom – it has been an absolute honour working with you the last few years. Go well.