Hard to believe, but it looks like there is some warmer weather heading our way! Great news as we are closing in on our Christmas break, and hopefully for those of you travelling you can do so in a safe fashion. We had a great weekend of birthday celebrations, as my sister celebrated hers on Saturday and my son celebrated his today. It was fun to get together for lots of laughs and some delicious birthday cakes. Times like those remind me of the important things in life.
Tonight, Jon Yellowlees sent out a terrific message to the school administrators he works with and in it asks some great questions that caused me to stop and think about the past year. His questions were:
10 Questions for Christmas Break Reflection
What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
What was an unexpected joy this past year?
What was an unexpected obstacle?
Pick three words to describe this past year.
Pick three words your spouse or a close friend would use to describe your year—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your they see you.
What were the best books you read this year?
With whom were your most valuable relationships?
What was the best way you used your time this past year?
What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
Great questions to think about over the break.
I’d like to take this time to wish Jeffery all the best as he wraps up his internship with us this week. I know he has enjoyed his time with us and has had a terrific cooperating teacher to work with. It will be hard to say goodbye to Jeffery, but in the world of education paths seem to find a way to cross again. The staff and students will miss you and your happy smile, and I worry that our dodgeball team will not be nearly as strong without you. All the best to you as you continue your journey.
So much learning last week, it’s hard to know where to even begin! Thanks again to everyone who participated in our staff meeting on Monday, whether you were a featured presenter or a thought creator in the small groups, your participation was greatly appreciated. Having heard Jeffery, Leah, and Shantel speak got me thinking about our willingness to be vulnerable, especially in front of a group of our peers. As I reflect on the week, I’m forced to think about three particular things; a piano recital, a one-on-one conversation with a principal, and a math workshop.
First, the piano recital. My two oldest take lessons and last Sunday they performed in the annual Christmas recital along with 20 other students. What stood out to me was the final piece that was played by the instructor. He could have selected any piece he wanted and it would have been fine, however he chose to go down a path that surprised and impressed me, he chose a piece that stretched him. As he played and struggled over the occasional note I could not help but marvel at his courage and willingness to show that his learning will never stop. The second thing I reflected on was a conversation I had with a principal at our ALT meeting on Tuesday. The theme for our day was feedback and my question for this administrator was, “how to you get daily feedback?” This question lead us to a place where we discussed those moments when we feel like impostors, like we’re just faking our way through it. We wondered how many others in the room or in our schools feel like this from time to time, and we also wondered how we could be a support for those who need it. The final thing I thought about was our math workshop with Karen Campbell. During our conversations it was apparent that none of us were 100% satisfied with our current path program. As an administrator I was humbled by the honesty in the room. It was a great reflection of the learning stance you have taken as a staff and I’m very excited to be a part of this journey moving forward.
I wonder how you are vulnerable with your students? Dr. Robert Dornsife states that, “(b)eing vulnerable is the inevitable result of the trust we must have in our students, as we expect to teach and learn from them and with them in every respect.” His article, which is the first learning link, is written from a University perspective, however it does provide food for thought regardless of the age of students we teach. How do you build trust with your students? What are some things you do that shows them you respect them as learners? The second learning link comes from Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with Brene’ Brown, PhD, who talks about the importance of vulnerability and how it is a cornerstone to self confidence. It’s a short, but powerful video, and I wonder what it caused you to think. I really believe as we continue to take risks as educators to move learning for every student forward, we must be willing to be vulnerable.
Here’s what lies ahead this week:
the gym is closed for play practice, and will remain closed until the 21st
Chris is away all day
Wednesday is our Christmas lunch which takes place in the Home Ec lab
Staff meeting (final book club meeting) 8:00 am
Bruce is away today
Chris & Bruce are taking the bus drivers for breakfast as a token of everyone’s appreciation
So we’re 20 days from Christmas and I better start thinking about shopping, I’m a terrible procrastinator this time of year as I’m not a huge fan of venturing out to the stores. We had a whirlwind of a weekend, my son’s birthday party on Saturday followed by his and his sister’s piano recital on Sunday, needless to say, a lot going on.
This week is shaping up to be an amazing week of learning for us at Waldheim School, all starting on Monday with our staff meeting. We are going to listen to Jeffrey and Leah discuss the internship process as well as hearing Shantel reflect on her time here. The true power of this process lies in the questions we will have and the self-reflection we will take part in. On Tuesday Chris and I will be at our monthly administrator’s meeting and I fully expect to be engaged in several different learning conversations as is the norm. On Wednesday we are so lucky to have the opportunity to work with a familiar friend as Karen Campbell is spending a few hours with some teachers who are beginning to explore how to employ the workshop model in their math classes. Thursday and Friday will be days to reflect and begin implementing new ideas.
Speaking of learning, the following video was suggested to me by Glen, and it contains a very powerful message, whether you agree with his politics or not. As I watched this, the word that resonated with me was empower. I was forced to think about the students I’ve worked with in the past and I wonder who I have empowered and more importantly, who I let slip through the cracks. Take a look and see what you think.
Something new I’m going to try this week (and I hope a few others will try it too) is some computer programming through an initiative called The Hour of Code. The second video speaks about coding and how students around the world are taking part in this great activity. See what you think.