Feb. 27 – Mar. 3rd

I hope everyone had a relaxing break, whether you were lounging on a beach somewhere, hanging out at hockey rinks, or just taking things slowly at home. We stayed close to home this week, with the odd trip in to Saskatoon to grandma’s house, some skating in Warman, and a couple of meals out (5 Guys for lunch and Amigos for supper….yum!). I’m really looking forward to getting back to work, back to a routine, and back to the energy and enthusiasm of the students and staff.

As David and I mentioned earlier in February, we will continue to visit classrooms, however we want to be much more intentional about what we are looking for, and the discussions we are having with you. This is where we need your help. Please let David and I know what you would like us to be looking for when we do our classroom visits. We realize that timing will have an impact on this, for example, if you wanted us to listen to how you use wait time with your questions and we pop in during the independent work portion of your lesson, we may not see much questioning. In that case we could talk about other things, but I don’t think it is helpful to try and force feedback where it doesn’t fit. Please complete this very quick 3 question survey to provide David and I with some guidance.

When Sandra Herbst was here in February one thing she talked about was the environment as the third teacher in the classroom. Classroom set up was something I was always playing with when I was in the classroom, always tinkering with the set up to the point where students started questioning me on Monday mornings if I hadn’t moved things. One thing I never considered was moving furniture during the lesson, how things looked in the morning was usually how things looked at 3:00. After watching this video, which is this week’s learning linkI wonder how much more effective the teaching and learning could have been had I used the environment as a tool to differentiate. Have a look, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here is what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Day 6, first day back at it.

Tuesday:

  • Grade 8 field trip to Saskatoon

Wednesday:

  • Business as usual

Thursday:

  • Pizza for lunch at the booth

Friday:

  • Business as usual

 

As always, create a great week!

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Feb. 13th – 17th

Sharlene models adult learning and risk taking to help PSSD admin learn.

“What I’m hoping is that at the end of each day, every teacher in our building is reflecting on how their day went, and how they can make tomorrow even better for their students.” This was a comment I made to David in his office last week during one of our many learning conversations. On Friday morning, during our learning with @Sandra_Herbst I had what I’d call an oh duh! moment, not and a-ha! moment. If my goal is to have everyone in the building reflecting on their practice on a regular basis, I need to do a few things. First, I need to assume that you already are reflective practitioners and that you do spend time wondering how you can reach every student, every lesson. Second, I need to ask you questions that help me develop a deeper understanding of who you are as educators. Finally, and this is the oh duh! moment, if I want people to be reflective, I need to ask them questions that lead to reflective thought. What this means is you will likely hear a change in the questions I ask you on a regular basis, and while at first it might seem a bit awkward, or clumsy, please bear with me. I received a lot of amazing feedback from the administrators that were here on Friday, they spoke about the learning climate they could feel as soon as they walked in the door. They commented that this type of culture does not happen over night, rather it is built one day at a time, slowly and intentionally. This is the work that dates back years, not weeks, and it is the work that David and I will continue to focus on, because in the end it is the best for our students.

Over the next few weeks, save for the February break, we will continue our peer visits, and I am hoping as we are watching each other teach we can offer support to help take the learning in our building to even higher levels. One of the main topics on Friday was asking mediative questions, which are questions that engage and transform the thinking of the person being asked. I’ve included a link to a PDF that is a quick guide to asking these types of questions. I think it would be fun to practice with your peer, and then see how this could work with your students and taking their thinking to higher levels.

Last Tuesday morning,  I had the fortune of listening to a colleague, Paul McTavish (@peemactee), talk about how he approaches teaching and learning. While he is the principal of Colonsay School, he also has some teaching assingments, namely senior science. He spent a lot of time discussing learning time and performance time. He also shared with us a teriffic TEDtalk that I’ve included. As you watch this, I’d like you to think about how you set up your learning time and your performance time for your students. I’d also like you to think about your own learning time and performance time.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Business as usual

Tuesday:

  • Valentines Day
  • Jon Yellowlees will be visiting our school in the afternoon

Wednesday:

  • OH&S Meeting (tentative)
  • David @ Aspiring Administrators Meeting (pm/evening)

Thursday:

  • Pizza sale
  • Valentines Dance

Friday:

  • K – 6 Assembly (2:15???)
  • Locker clean up
  • Classroom clear out for waxing (classes affected will be notified)

 

As always, create a great week!

 199 total views

Feb. 6th – 10th

Are you planning on watching the big game, or if you are reading this on Monday morning,  did you watch the big game? I’m not a huge NFL fan, but there has been a lot of talk about the game, the commercials, and the half-time show that has me intrigued enough to tune in. Such is the power of marketing. It caused me to think about how we market ourselves. What are we saying that has parents, students, and other teachers thinking, “hmm, I need to go visit that classroom, that sounds interesting”? I think about the things that are happening in our school that need a little more push from the marketing department, things like Sharlene’s heritage fair, Krysten’s investigations in Forensic Science, Steve’s karaoke challenge in his drama class, Glen’s wood turning demonstrations, Trace’s archery lessons in phys ed, and the list could go on and on. If I missed something you’ve done, I apologize, my number one goal for semester two is to be much more visible in classrooms. Something you may want to think about is, how can you create lessons that kids are going to be talking about after they leave the class?

This weekend was a busy one around our house as Krista took Eva and a group of Sparks for an overnight trip to the Science Center in Regina. Eva came back exhausted, but full of excitement. She could hardly get the words out when she was describing everything she had seen and done while on the trip. While they were gone Bobby decided to spend his birthday money on the latest craze going on in his school, Stikbots. These are simple little plastic robots that allow the user to manipulate them in several ways, however the coolest feature is the package they come in, it is a green screen! After you buy the Stikbot you download the app onto your mobile device and start creating stop motion movies. The built in backgrounds allow the users to put the Stikbots in a variety of settings for the movie. I was amazed at how fast Bobby caught on to filming with a green screen (there is also a blue screen) and how curious he was about how the app worked. It was a great example of learning for the sake of learning, it was also another time for me to play with something Bobby bought.

Leah has devised a great way to communicate with students.

In the end, all of this investigation and hands on learning is great, but it is so critical we take the time to communicate what we are doing with our parents. One of the things I’ve heard since I’ve been at Waldheim is that we do not always communicate as well as we could. Now, I am a parent of a grade 4 boy who has been guilty of stuffing a note or newsletter into the bottom of his backpack or, worse yet, into the back of his desk, so I understand that even our best intentions can come up short. How do you communicate with your parents? Do you use a monthly or weekly newsletter? If you do, I’d love to receive a copy so I do not miss out on any exciting activities. Do you communicate via e-mail? Do you use a blog or a class webpage? Would you like to create one? If so, I’d love to sit down with you and help you, it’s relatively painless. This morning I created a mock blog that could be used to keep parents informed of what is going on in a class. Of course the key to any effective communication, in my opinion, are the 3 C’s: consistency, clarity, conciseness. People will abandon a blog if it is not updated regularly and they will not want to read a 5000 word essay that is difficult to follow. So, keeping my advice in mind, I’ll wrap this week’s message up.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting after school in the Home Ec lab

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & David are both gone for the morning to our monthly ALT meeting, we will be back for the afternoon
  • There is an SCC meeting at 5:30 pm

Wednesday:

  • Business as usual

Thursday:

  • Business as usual

Friday:

  • We are hosting Sandra Herbst along with  some in-school and senior administrators and will be doing a couple of classroom visits. The focus of this is on helping administrators build their feedback skills so our daily walk abouts are more effective.

Create a great week!

 196 total views