October 31st – November 4th

calvinHard to believe we are moving into November this week, the time is really flying! Had a great weekend decorating the yard and carving pumpkins, the kids are really excited, and I have to admit, I’m a little excited too. Hopefully whatever occupied your time this weekend you were able to relax and enjoy the company of those you care about.

We have a busy week coming up with interviews, I hope everyone is looking forward to sharing the great things that are going on here at Waldheim School. The first learning link this week is a resource that contains tips and strategies for parent/teacher conferences. Hopefully you have thought about what it is you are going to share with parents and have some examples on hand as some evidence of learning. I know they are long days, but they are very important in the building of the home and school connection.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our engagement work since last week and continue to ask myself the question, “how do we know what will engage the kids?” I’ve had a lot of conversations with students and have asked them what they would like to learn about, many of them are stumped for an answer. As the conversation continues we usually come around to the topic of relevance, the students usually want to know why they are learning what it is they are learning. We’ve all seen kids who are motivated to work on things on their own time simply because of the intrinsic rewards that are offered by the task itself. I think about the kids who worked so hard to make the school dance the best possible experience it could be for the other students. They did not do this because there was a mark attached to their work, they did so because they knew the reward would be worth the effort. This summer I read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, and while many of the ideas in the book were geared towards business, the overlap with education was undeniable. In learning link two, Pink talks about motivation. As you watch, what connections do you make to what happens in schools today? What changes do you need to make to help students become more intrinsically motivated? What do you need to make those changes? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Dress up day for students
  • Teachers play dodge ball at noon

Tuesday:

  • Chris away ~ all day

Wednesday: 

  • P/T Interviews ~ supper provided

Thursday:

  • P/T Interviews ~ supper provided

Friday:

  • The light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

As always, create a great week!

 

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Oct. 24th – 28th

tiger-woods-sinks-a-long-putt-to-propel-him-back-to-the-top-of-the-world-rankingsIt’s not perfection, Charlie, it’s a pursuit of professional excellence. This is what Tiger Woods told Charlie Rose Thursday night on The Charlie Rose Show on PBS. Tiger was talking about being the best he can be at the game of golf, and as he was talking I was reminded of the work we are doing everyday at Waldheim School and as a division. Tiger talked about working on his game from the cup to the tee boxes, saying each part of his game requires a different type of training but excellence occurs when it all works together. As we think of our work in the classroom, whether is providing authentic, timely feedback, or engaging in side-by-side learning, or discussing next steps with our colleagues, all of the pieces are connected. As learners I think it is important we keep Tiger’s words in mind, pursue professional excellence, not perfection. We are all human, and all have the capacity to learn and grow. I’m excited to be a part of this journey with you.

Speaking of learning journeys, it’s been pretty amazing to watch my kids grow and learn together. My oldest son is a huge fan of Minecraft and Lego, which makes sense seeing as Minecraft is basically animated Lego. He works tirelessly creating new worlds, like his Great Wall of China world, Island world, and Cruise Ship world. Each time he comes up with a new creation he quite literally builds on his previous learning. Occasionally he will come to me to share what he’s created, but he has never come to me for help, he’s been able to find inspiration online. As I think about what he’s doing I realize that’s real learning. The same kind of learning we experienced as kids as we went on adventures on unreliable rafts or pretended to be Evel Knievel on our rickety ramps (without helmets!). The question is, how do we bring that type of authentic learning into the classroom in a safe (no ramps!) and meaningful way. Today’s first learning link is a 15+ minute TEDx Talk by Will Richardson. He talks about developing kids as powerful learners and asks how this can happen in schools. Have a look, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Today’s second learning link stems from a conversation Chris and I have been having for a while, in fact it actually started last year during one of my visits. The conversation has been about our technology budget and what should be done in terms of buying new technology for the school. I am going to be looking for some guidance from all of you before completing any purchasing, but I wanted to give some background on why some of the learning links I share will have a tech theme. This post from Pernille Ripp talks about the opportunities technology presents when it comes to developing our students literacy skills. It is a quick read and I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

I know this post is getting lengthy, but it would be remiss if I did not say thank you and congratulations to all the staff for their hard work. Our school has been buzzing, from cross country provincials to volleyball tournaments to soccer playoffs to the elementary carnival to the magazine sale to the work the SRC is doing, it’s been amazing! All of this is on top of the tremendous work we are doing as adult learners and the awesome teaching that is happening in our rooms. Way to go everyone!!!

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • New teacher orientation
  • Chris away (pm only)
  • Staff meeting rescheduled

Tuesday:

  • Chris away (all day)
  • SCC meeting (5:30)

Wednesday:

  • Grade 3 assembly

Thursday:

  • Staff meeting (8:00)
  • School dance (7:00 – 10:00 pm)

Friday:

  • Book fair arrives

As always, create a great week!

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Oct. 17 – 21

learning%20together“There’s another mindset in which…[intelligence, personality, and character]…are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” (Dweck, p. 7) This quote really resonates with me as I am constantly learning and growing from each experience every day. I used to view life with a fixed mindset, feeling that I was who I was, without the capacity for growth, and learning experiences were a reminder (or I thought they were) of everything I did not know. What a terrible way to view my own world! Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential, is my choice for our book study and it has already had a profound impact on how I view myself as a lifelong learner. I hope you are finding your books are striking the right notes with you as you work your way through the pages. I’d love to hear about what you are learning, wondering, or questioning.

Chris forwarded this week’s learning link which comes from Pernille Ripp’s blog (https://pernillesripp.com/) and it speaks to exactly what we are doing as a team at Waldheim School, learning together. Pernille’s words echo how Chris and I feel as learners when she says, “we are all a work in progress and such we all have much to share.  We are all a work in progress, with so much still to learn.  Do not be afraid of opening your door and letting the world in.  We are all in this together.” Do you feel safe opening your door to your colleagues? If you do, how has that culture been created and how can we ensure it will be sustained? If you do not, what do you think you need to get over that hump?

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Young and not so young line up for treats.

There was a nice example of this willingness to open our doors on Friday as Sharlene held her Writers Workshop Café. The room was buzzing as her young authors were sharing their work with parents who were captured by their tales. Of course a café isn’t a café without coffee, juice, and treats, and based on the feedback from the students everything was “awesome!”

The second link is a cool video that is more evidence that kids are pretty creative when we get out of their way. If you have the time to watch this think about everything this young creator learned during his experience. Pretty fun stuff going on….my favorite is the jacket on the slide.

Here is what lies ahead for us on this 5 day week!

Monday:

  • Bus driver appreciation day

Tuesday:

  • Chris away
  • SCC meeting 5:00

Wednesday:

  • Chris & Bruce away over noon with Darrel Derksen

Thursday:

  • Elementary Carnival 4:30

Friday:

  • Subway Sale!

Saturday:

  • Sr. boys host regional soccer (good luck Brenda!)

 

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October 10th to 14th

happy-thanksgivingI hope everyone has had a relaxing long weekend and has had the opportunity to reflect on things they are thankful for. My brother flew in from Vancouver unannounced on Friday, he likes to do that from time to time. It was great to see him, and I was thankful that we all were together this weekend laughing, reminiscing, and rooting on the Jays (what a game!). As it happens every year, my eyes were bigger than my plate, but when it comes to great food I always have trouble stopping at one serving.

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An example of side-by-side learning in grade 8 science.

Alumni Weekend has come and gone, and it was great to see the gym rocking with volleyball players young and old. Dave Hinz and his crew do a great job of keeping these former athletes connected with Waldheim School, it made me wonder what other opportunities are out there for us to take advantage of. As you all know, the school is the heart of a community and it was awesome to see ours beating proudly this weekend.

On Friday, Chris, Brenda, Steve, and myself sat down for an hour discussing where we see our adult learning plan heading for the year. I am very excited to be a part of the great work that has been going on at Waldheim School over the past few years and am very grateful to all of you who took the time to complete the short survey I sent out on Friday. I know Chris handed out your new books, hopefully you had a chance to peruse yours over the weekend….I know I didn’t as I forgot it on my desk…oops! I believe we will have a brief discussion  about our book clubs this Thursday at our staff meeting.

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Mr. Ness with his 4/5 class and their Kindergarten buddies.

One of our discussions on Friday centered on peer observations, or classroom visits. Chris, Brenda, and Steve explained in greater detail how the visits were coordinated and how you were able to spend some time debriefing. As we talked about this process I asked why this process was important to Waldheim School. The three of them talked about the shared benefits of this process, how the observer can get ideas for their classroom, while the teacher being observed can get feedback from their colleague. In the first learning link Katrina Schwartz discusses a 5th grade math class where the teacher is being observed by a group of teachers and the ensuing conversations that happen as a result of this. I hope you can see some connections in Schwartz’s article and what is happening at Waldheim School.

In the second learning link Isaac Lidsky challenges us to think about the realities we create for ourselves. As I was watching this I started thinking about the assumptions I make and way I sometimes let fear stand in my way. The one example I will share is particularly timely. Tuesday afternoon all of the principals in the division are meeting in Warman for our monthly ALT meeting. What makes this meeting different is that it is just the principals, not the vice-principals. Chris and I discussed our roles this year and both felt it was important for both of us to be there representing our respective schools. This is where the fear comes in for me. As I go into this meeting it is the first time I go in as a principal, and that scares me. What if I don’t say the right thing? What if I ask a stupid question? As you watch the video, ask yourself what scares you, and why does it? I’d love to hear any comments.

Here is what lies ahead this week:

Tuesday

  • Cross Country meet @ Delisle ~ Leah away
  • Fire drill (11:00)
  • Assembly ~ following fire drill
  • Bruce & Chris gone all afternoon ~ Dwayne acting admin

Wednesday

  • Business as usual

Thursday

  • Staff meeting ~ 8:00 am
  • Ready for Work presentation ~ 9:00 – 10:30 Grade 12 only

Friday

  • Chris away ~ all day
  • Bruce & Dwayne gone to soccer ~ all day ~ Blaine acting admin

Saturday

  • Jr. boys volleyball home tournament

 

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October 3rd – 7th

untitledHard to believe we are heading towards our Thanksgiving weekend, but such is the reality of a busy school, time certainly flies. We had a nice weekend here, Krista worked Saturday and Sunday, so I took advantage of some alone time with the kids and went up to Waskesiu on Saturday. While it was a cool day, the kids loved the freedom they had as the playground was virtually their own. We had a nice picnic, tossed some rocks in the lake, played some soccer, and ended the day with a terrific pepperoni pizza at Pete’s Terrace (our favorite restaurant there).

I had a great conversation with Glen last week, and I hope he does not mind me sharing his story with all of you. Glen had noticed that his drafting students were at different ability levels (sound familiar?) and found that he was spending a lot of time trouble shooting during the class rather than learning side by side with the students. Glen decided he could go one of two ways with this dilemma, stay on the road he’d always travelled or take a risk and try the one less travelled. So, Glen set up his own type of recording system (you will have to ask him about the set up, it’s a riot) and using his iPhone he created real time tutorials for his students. Now when they are “stuck” they can access these videos which frees Glen up to have learning conversations with the students. I could not help but think of those students who either do nothing or try to fake it when they encounter difficulties, and I thought of those kids because I was one of them. I hated asking for help, I thought it was a sign of weakness. Thank you Glen for making life easier for your students!

I share this example, not because it is so rare, but because it is yet another example of what the staff at Waldheim School are doing to ensure every student has the opportunity to be successful. Recently a superintendent gave me a book called The Power or Branding: Telling Your School’s Story and as I read it I was thinking about our story. Even though you have all made me feel extremely welcome I am still learning about the culture of Waldheim School. What I am seeing, hearing, and feeling is:

  • all kids matter
  • we work as a team to solve problems or at least find a path that we feel will lead to a better learning experience for our kids
  • No and we can’t are not really words we use, we believe in “can ifs…”
  • lessons are tailored to meet the needs of our students in a way that creates relevance
  • we know we are not there yet (where ever that elusive there is)

So, my question for you this week is, what is our brand? If you had to make a 15 second commercial that a family new to Waldheim could view, what would it say? What would be the central theme or message? Add a comment below, it will be interesting to see what people would include.

This week’s first learning link is all about getting started on Twitter. If you haven’t set up a Twitter account yet you should really have a look at what you can learn from peaking into the “Twitterverse”. There are a lot of great things going on in relation to education, one person that I follow is Meagen Mitchell (@mitchmea), a 5th grade teacher in our division. Have a look at her Twitter feed for some examples of things going on.

Building on the theme of every student can learn I’m including a second learning link that focuses on implementing the workshop model in a grade 5 math class. If you have time, take a look and see what might work in your class and what you need if you do not think it will work for you right now.

Here is what is on the horizon for the week ahead:

Monday:

  • Jon Yellowlees (superintendent) out for a meeting (pm)

Tuesday:

  • Chris away all day ~ Lake Vista work

Wednesday:

  • Bus driver meeting (9:00 am ~ staff room)
  • Bus evacuation drill
  • Greg Kellogg from SportsFactor out to see Bruce (any PE equipment we need?)

Thursday:

  • Business as usual

Friday:

  • Prep Day
  • EA’s in Martensville for a PD day

As always, create a great week!


 

 

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