So I am typing this post from my office as my home access to the PSSD blogs has not been working for a couple weeks. I’m sitting alone in my office, Chris has said his goodbyes, and it is a very surreal moment. I knew this day was coming, but now that it’s here, the reality is kicking in. It goes without saying that Chris was and will continue to be an amazing leader. His love for the students and staff was evident everyday through everything he said, and everything he did. He brought a love of learning to the school and has had a tremendous impact on the work we have done as a staff this year, and the work you had done prior to my arrival at Waldheim School. I will miss Chris greatly. He will continue to serve as a mentor to me, and will be someone I keep on speed-dial for those moments when I need someone to ask for support and guidance.
But saying goodbye sometimes means we get to say hello! We are so fortunate to have David, Shantel, and Evan joining our team next week, they are going to add so much to our already terrific programming here. David is very excited to learn along side everyone, and you can expect to see him in classrooms on a regular basis. Evan is also overjoyed with his new opportunity. It will be a great chance for him to see our students in a different light, no longer a sub, but as a classroom teacher. He will be working alongside Leah, Danielle, and Trace to help support their math programs. Shantel has already demonstrated a deep commitment to learning alongside her students, and I’m very confident this will continue in grade 3.
As semester one comes to a close and new beginnings start on Tuesday, what are somethings you are looking forward to? When you reflect on the first half of the year, what you really proud of? What would you like to have a do over at? Very soon we will need to have a conversation on technology in our school as we need to continue upgrading the devices we have here. If you can, take a look at the learning link included and start thinking about ways you can use technology in your class in a way that allows you to not only augment your teaching, but allows you to try things that are otherwise impossible without technology.
Hopefully everyone is back up to speed after the Christmas break and things are going well with your classes. Technically, the days are getting longer, but you’d be hard pressed to know it given the temperatures we’ve been dealing with. Oh well, it’s great for those with outdoor rinks or a penchant for ice fishing. I’ve been enjoying the pictures my brother has been posting from Mexico as he is on a nice holiday with some friends of his from BC. Unfortunately this is as close as I’ll get to Mazatlan for a while!
It is assessment time at Waldheim School, as elementary teachers are gearing up for their first round of reading assessments and high school teachers are putting the final wraps on semester one. As there are only 3 weeks until semester two, students may be feeling the stress as final exam week closes in. Please make sure you are taking the time to ensure students who are missing assignments have an opportunity to finish those up so they are not facing a mountain of work at the last minute. If you have any concerns about students not successfully completing their course work please connect with Chris or I this week.
The end of semester one gives us an opportunity to reflect on the risks we’ve taken and lessons we’ve learned. The cover photo this week is from Krysten’s Biology 30 class, and it is an example of the hands on learning that is happening all over the school. The kids were busy extracting DNA from saliva samples and what caused me to stop and take that picture was the amount of laughter that was going along with the lesson. Who said learning can’t be fun? As you think about the first 5 months of this school year, what lessons have really stood out? Which ones will you try to re-invent next year? Hopefully you are able to find the fun like the Bio class did.
Semester two offers us a chance to try those changes we want to, the changes to how we teach and how we assess. We have done a lot of talking this year about student centered learning and utilizing the workshop model to help all of our students reach their full potential. During semester two we will begin our peer/peer observations and it is an excellent opportunity to have a second set of eyes in the room to offer feedback as you explore new methods. Learning link one is a presentation on using the workshop model in a math class, and as this is something we have discussed with Karen Campbell I thought it might be a useful resource for those of you starting down that path. Regardless of where your focus lies, hopefully the peer observations will be another opportunity to grow as a professional. I’m excited to be part of this process, if the book study is any indication, this too will be an excellent adult learning opportunity.
What a wonderful, relaxing break! I spent a lot of time playing with the kids, visiting with my family, watching hockey (go Canada!), eating too much great food, and I even managed to get out to see Rogue One. Regardless of what you did during the break, I hope you were able to take some time for yourself and recharge your batteries. Both of my older kids have been saying repeatedly they can’t wait to get back to school, Bobby is excited to see his best friend who went to Cuba and Eva is looking forward to seeing her teacher again. Think about your students, how do you think they are feeling today as classes are just one sleep away for them? What are you going to do or say to remind them how important they are to our school family? We are also welcoming back a family member who has been away on maternity leave. Katherine is coming back to grade 4, and it is so great to have her back.
Of course this time of year is a time for “best of” lists. Everything from sports to science to politics to entertainment, everyone has an opinion on the best and worst of 2016. If you had to create a “best of” list for your year, what would some of the highlights be? There were a lot of links coming across Twitter during the break, and learning link one caught my eye for a couple reasons, the first being the title, the second being the author. Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) has been one of my favorites lately, and this post is another great one. As you read think about how you have grown as a teacher, has it been slow and steady or are you staying the same fast? The second learning link is a to an online chat tonight with Dave Burgess (author of Teach Like a Pirate) where the topic is getting kids engaged after the winter break. I often check out these chat sessions as I find the questions cause me to really reflect on what’s happening in my school. Occasionally I’ll add my two cents or ask a question, but usually I’m more of a quiet observer.
It looks like the weather is going to be a bit nasty this week, so bundle up 🙂 Here’s what lies ahead: