Grey Cup Sunday is always a great reminder of what it means to be a Canadian, every year at this time I think back to the days when we used to break out the TV tables and mom would make me hot dogs, potato chips, and pop for supper. She knew how bad of a meal that was, but she also knew how much it made watching the game even more fun for me. Even though I’m having trouble rooting for either team I’ll likely still watch the game…or at least parts of it, but alas, no hot dogs and chips this year.
It was a great week of learning last week, with some teacher observations by our Superintendent and our book club work together, there were lots of great conversations around the building. While Jon was here Shantel, Tom, Brittney, Danielle, and Krysten all delivered unique, engaging lessons that challenged the students to think outside the box in both individual tasks and group endeavors. From learning about the Mars Rover, to creating clinometers, to exploring poetry, to investigating literature through the workshop model, Jon was treated to some excellent examples of the great work going on at Waldheim School.
What are some things you are trying? Remember to have a look at the bulliten board in the staff room to see what’s going on in some other rooms. You may want to see how Sharlene is using FreshGrade to communicate with parents and share evidence online. Check in with Leah and Blaine to see how genius hour is progressing. What about popping into Trace’s room to discuss how he integrated some art, science, phys ed and health into one amazing project….the results look incredible! These are just a few examples of the awesome things happening around the school. Now, if you are thinking you want to try something new that may hook the kids, give this week’s learning linka read. It’s all about the 4th annual Hour of Code. Coding is a skill that anyone can learn and it is a great way to teach the kids about the importance of accuracy.
Here’s what lies ahead for the last week of November:
Way to go Waldheim Raiders senior girls volleyball team! The girls captured gold in the 3A category this weekend, dominating the field only dropping 2 sets all tournament. They worked hard and came together as a team focusing on a singular goal, and through practice and feedback they achieved that goal. Pretty amazing what we can do if we put our heads together and put our shoulder to the wheel. It makes me think about the work Joanne is doing with her group of students. She had a vision for what she wanted to see these kids accomplish and last Thursday was the first piece of evidence that they are well on their way.
When I think about the examples above or the amazing work happening in our classrooms, I can’t help but feel that the people taking these risks and pushing their students/athletes have the right mindset, a growth mindset. You feel that your students have to ability to grow and that your job is to walk beside them. It is great to see! In the learning link this week there are 5 videos that talk about this growth mindset. It would be interesting to hear what your students think about this mindset, particularly the example from Sesame Street. If you have time to watch a few I’d love to hear about your “yet” situation. For me it involves being a learning leader. I found this great article on Twitter on the weekend and it caused me to stop and take stock of my strengths and areas for growth as a leader. As I reflected I found I need to work on my inner resources, I’m not there….yet. What is your “yet”? The Workshop Model? Technology? Formative assessment? Whatever it is, remember to add the “yet”.
Here is what lies ahead for the last full week of November…yes you read that right!
OurSCHOOL survey, day one. Schedule posted in staffroom
Amazing how fast those days off seems to melt away, I certainly hope everyone had a chance to relax and recharge their batteries. I spent a lot of time playing with the kids, we ventured to the University on Saturday and spent Sunday with my mom and her brother and 4 sisters. It was so nice be with my uncle and aunties again, as it reminded me of the many, many times we spent together sharing stories, laughing, crying, singing around the piano, playing cards, or crokinole. One thing for sure, once everyone is back together we all know how to interact, it’s just part of our family culture. Over the years people have aged, we’ve said tearful farewells to family members, however we’ve also shed tears as we welcomed new family members through marriages and child birth. Through the years there have been many constants that have been handed down from grandparents to parents to children. This is what a family does.
I caught myself thinking about our school family, how people may leave and how new members may arrive. I think about the culture of Waldheim School and the culture of adult learning that is thriving. As a new member I can see things others may now take for granted, things that have always just been “how we do things around here”. One thing that has stood out over anything else is the culture of caring at Waldheim School, the way we care for our students and the way we care for one another. This cannot go unnoticed by our students, they have to see the way we care, and I truly believe that this is one of the reasons we have such a caring student body.
One of the clear benefits of having this caring environment is the risks it affords us as teachers to take. Our kids know we care, so they are likely more willing to “cut us some slack” if we try something and it flops. Having a culture like this at our school allows us to be transformational, it allows us to really analyze what it is we are doing as professionals. In tonight’s learning link, author Todd Finley talks about the art and science of teaching, and how we need to facilitate the “productive struggle”. Have a read and see if you can identify things you are doing already and maybe some areas where you can give yourself a little nudge.
We are going to start asking kids for their feedback next week, as the OurSCHOOL (formerly Tell Them From Me) survey will be administered. I’ve set up a schedule and once Chris and I double check to make sure the times work we will let you know when your students will have a chance to share their voice with us.
Here is what lies ahead this week:
Prep day ~ Chris, Bruce, Brenda meeting 8:15 – 8:45
After a long one last week, we are looking at a three day week coming up. Of course this does not mean it will not be a busy three days, our time is always in demand. I hope you have all been enjoying your books that you selected for our book club, I know I’m enjoying Mindset by Carol Dweck as it is causing me to reflect quite a bit on what I have believed about my own potential and how I can fall prey to a fixed mindset.
This week we are very fortunate to be hosting 7 other administrators. On Tuesday, admin teams from Osler, Stobart, and Dundurn will be spending the morning with us. While they are here they will be spending some time in Blaine and Shantel’s rooms, as well as observing Glen in the shop and Trace in the gym. It should be an exciting time, so when you see a large group of principals and vice principals roaming the hallways don’t be surprised and please feel free to stop and chat.
As I think about the purpose of the admin visits I can’t help but think of the importance of feedback, not only at the administrative level, but at all levels. How are you doing with giving feedback to students? Is it timely? Does it inform their next steps? How are we (Chris & I) doing with giving you feedback? Is it timely? Does it inform your next steps? In learning link one the discussion focuses on peer critiquing, and shows this taking place in a variety of settings. How do you see this working in your room?
The second learning link is from Pernille Ripp’s tremendous blog. In this post she talks about the emotions that can, at times, over take us. In a very open, revealing blog post she recounts a situation where she reads to her students only to be overcome with emotion. I think it is important that our students see us as human, as people with empathy, as people who are more than just teachers. In the end it comes down to relationships, how we build them and how we maintain them. As you read, think about ways you are building authentic learning relationships with your students…oh, and if you are like me you may want to grab a tissue or two.
Here is what lies ahead for this abbreviated school week:
staff meeting (pm) ~ focus is on our books
Bruce & Chris at ALT all day (am: school admin visits, pm: in Warman)
Remembrance Day ceremony ~ classes will be called down to gym
please ask students to complete a locker clean up today