March 27th – 31st

People will always be the problem

And people will always be the solution

-Jimmy Casas

And so the conference started, and already I was forced into serious reflection. Could it be that simple? Could it be true that people will always be both the problem, and the solution? From that moment on, I vowed to be as intentional as possible, taking in every word each presenter spoke and absorbing as much information as possible from my colleagues, regardless if I had worked with them for years or had just met them over breakfast. As I wrestled with the notion that people are the problem and the solution, I started to wonder, when am I part of the problem, and when am I part of the solution. It became obvious that while the statement is simple, the complexity lives in what we do every hour of every day with our students. When you think of the problems in your class, ask yourself, what are you doing to be a part of the solution? Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy) asked us a question about what we want to see in our schools, do we want to see average or do we want to see excellence? As you reflect on your students, do you want them to be average or excellent? He went on to ask the tough question after that, if we know there is average in our school, what are we doing about it? We can be part of the problem, or part of the solution, it’s our choice. There was so much more that I took from the time I spent in Prince Albert, and hopefully over the next few weeks we will have an opportunity to discuss some of these things.

Going from interviews directly to the conference this weekend, I was forced to think about how we communicate with our parents. Corinne does a great job letting people know what events are going on and when they need to have forms and/or cash submitted to the school. We also do a wonderful job of sharing the big picture of what we are doing through our school newsletter and class newsletters. Where I feel I am coming up short as a school leader is sharing the day to day things that are happening in and around our building. Every day I see multiple examples of excellence in our building. From motors being torn apart and rebuilt, to high end cake decorating, to innovative math and science lessons, to empowering sharing time, to hilarious games of line tag, there are multiple things happening all the time! The keynote speaker, George Couros (@gcouros) took some time during one of his sessions to critique our website after I had questioned why there was so little traffic. While he was brutally honest, I believe his words were, “your website is boring”, his meaning was loud and clear. We compete with so many different mediums everyday, and if there is no reason to spend the time going to our website, why would we expect people to? One commitment I am going to make is to be more diligent in capturing images and videos of the great things going on and sharing them on Twitter with the hashtag #WaldheimSchool. I invite you to do the same thing by taking the time to snap a picture or take a video and share it out.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your tremendous work at the parent/teacher conferences last week. These are a great opportunity to connect with our parents, and while it is only for 15 minutes, it is a chance to engage in a learning conversation to help our students along the path towards excellence. As you look all the way back to last week, and I know it seems like a long time, what were some things that stood out to you? You had your list of interviews prior to Wednesday and Thursday night, and if you are like me, you would have likely tried to anticipate what each interview would be like. Were there any interviews that did not go how you imagined? How many interviews did go as you had imagined? Now that you have that informal data in your head, what does that say about how well you know your students and their parents? As you reflect on your interviews, what will you do different next time?

So, with all that being said, here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • David away all day

Tuesday:

  • K – 3 gym blast (pm)
  • 4 – 12 ski trip (all day)

Wednesday:

  • Tom’s last day 🙁

Thursday:

  • Staff meeting (8:00 am)

Friday:

  • Business as usual.

 

As always, create a great week!

 253 total views

March 20th – 24th

I’m most proud of the blessings that God has bestowed upon me, in my life. He’s given me the vision to truly see that you can fall down, but you can still get back up. Hopefully I’ll learn from my mistakes and have the opportunity to strengthen and improve the next thing I do.

Martin Lawrence

Last week was one that was filled with all sorts of learning opportunities for me, as I walked along side all of you during another week of learning at Waldheim School. I was filled with pride when I witnessed the hard work of the student organizing committee under the guidance of Trace come together for our annual hockey tournament. While the hockey wasn’t NHL caliber, heck I was allowed on the ice so that says it all, the feeling in and around the rink reminded me of a very special time in my life. About 35 years ago my mother’s side of the family all gathered in Waskesiu for a family reunion and while we were there we organized a game of softball. My mom comes from a large family, she had 6 sisters and one brother, and with many of my cousins there, we had enough for two teams. I can still remember how much fun it was to be playing with my family, just enjoying the weather and enjoying each others company. I sensed that feeling on Thursday at the rink. Not only were there classmates cheering on the students, there were parents, grandparents, former teachers, current teachers, and community members. I felt so blessed to be a part of that day. Thank you to Trace and the crew for such a great event.

There were other learning opportunities last week, times when the feelings may not have been as exciting as they were at the rink. These moments will happen when people work together, and it is these moments when some of our greatest growth can occur. I really like the quote from Martin Lawrence that I included above, however another quote that has really stuck with me since I heard it is, trees grow in the valleys, not on the mountain tops. It is from the high peaks that we can see the growth that has occurred in the valleys. That quote has been paraphrased, and I borrowed it from a very smart friend of mine, I’m sure he won’t mind. As we move into our parent/teacher conferences this week, I invite you to stand upon the mountain tops and look down into the valleys below. What have you learned about each student in your care? How will you celebrate the great things with their parent(s)? How will you present future learning opportunities in a way that gives people hope and gets them excited to come back to school? In this week’s learning link I’ve included an article from Edutopia that contains resources and ideas for parent/teacher conferences. Have a look and see if there are some ideas that can have a positive impact on your conferences this week. Here’s a little inspiration for you…hopefully no interviews like this 🙂

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Business as usual

Tuesday:

  • Business as usual

Wednesday:

  • P/T conferences (supper provided)

Thursday:

  • David gone all day (VTRA Level I Training)
  • P/T conferences (supper provided)

Friday:

  • Teacher prep day
  • Bruce gone all day (Prince Albert ~ Conference)
  • David gone all day (VTRA Level I Training)

 

As always, create a great week!

 218 total views

March 13th – 17th

One last taste of winter (hopefully), as it looks like there are some great days ahead in the forecast. Great news as we can get back to outdoor recesses, which I know the students (and you) all missed. Let’s make sure we’re helping Jamie by reminding our students to keep their wet outdoor clothing as neat and tidy as possible. Speaking of Jamie and our care taking crew, Malinda has now started her leave as per her doctors instructions, and I’m excited to announce that Megan and Kailey Fehr have been the successful applicants for the replacement position as assistant caretaker.

Thank you to all of you who worked so hard to get your progress reports, with comments, into the office by Friday. This will give David and I plenty of time to read over them, not to find fault, but to deepen our understanding of the students. If we spot things that need to be altered we will let you know as soon as possible, this way there will be less stress on Corinne to get them all printed and out by this Friday. Having a look at the comments will also give us a better understanding of where we are at as a school with how we share our students’ progress with our families. I believe that while they are just a snap shot, progress reports are a tremendous way to share with our parents what their children are doing well, what they can improve on, and most importantly, how you as a teacher will work with them to help them grow as a learner.

We have a busy week ahead with many learning opportunities for us to seize upon. David and I are away at an ALT meeting, where the focus is always on collaborative learning, we have an EA meeting this week, again the focus is on learning together, David and Brenda will be attending another Aspiring Administrator meeting, deepening their learning, and finally, Jon Yellowlees will be out on Friday to visit classrooms. When you think about all the great learning opportunities that present themselves, what role do you think you play in the overall learning culture of our school? What do  you bring to the school that no one else does? How can you share that? How can David and I celebrate that? When I think about the gifts you bring to the school,  I’m reminded of a video I saw where Denzel Washington (who doesn’t love Denzel?!?) shares a motivational talk with his fellow actors. The audio isn’t great, but the message is. Have a look, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Leah’s Genius Hour school presentation (afternoon & evening for parents)

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & David at ALT all day

Wednesday:

  • Brenda & David at Aspiring Administrators course (pm)

Thursday:

  • EA meeting (8:00)
  • School hockey tournament

Friday:

  • Jon Yellowlees visit (pm)
  • 1 – 8 progress reports sent home

 

As always, create a great week!

 

 177 total views

March 6th – 10th

Guitar making. Just the start of the hands on learning that will continue for years and years with this project.

Sunday morning greeted us with a fresh blanket of snow, and a reminder that we aren’t “out of the woods yet” as it relates to winter. The snow is actually quite timely as we will be handing out the ski trip information sheets on Monday, lucky coincidence I guess. Along with the changing weather in March comes another regular event, that being progress reports and parent/teacher conferences, which are just around the corner. We are asking for the grade 1 to 8 progress reports, with comments, to be submitted to the office no later than Friday, March 10th. This will give David and I plenty of time to read over the reports which serves multiple purposes:

  • we get to know the students better
  • we get a greater insight into how you see your students as learners
  • we have a chance to offer feedback
  • we are able to catch any typpos typos that might sneak through

When you are crafting your progress report comments, please consider the following approach:

  1. What evidence do you have that the student has achieved the outcomes you have laid out
  2. What is something you would like the student to work on (academic focus) during the next reporting period
  3. How will you work with the student towards achieving point 2

 

Progress reports and parent/teacher conferences cause me to reflect on the work David and I have been doing around classroom visits and reflective feedback during the month of February. David and I have had many conversations sharing our struggles as we are trying to develop our skills as they relate to asking you questions to help move your learning forward. As we reflect together there are several things that are clear:

  • we are recognizing things we need to work on (i.e. how to ask an open ended question that honors what it is you are wanting us to look at)
  • we are taking time to work together on this
  • we are blessed with a tremendous staff that is patient and willing to learn with us
  • we are blessed to be inheriting a collaborative culture that Chris and Reg created
  • we are having fun! I can’t count how many times we’ve laughed at ourselves and caught ourselves on the cusp of tears due to the amazing things happening at Waldheim School

 

Side by side learning can take many forms. Sometimes it just requires creativity, risk taking, and collaboration.

This week’s Learning Link is an article from Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) and it is focused on how teachers reflect. He shares four approaches he takes, some are unique (VLOGs), some are downright scary (asking kids for feedback), but all of them caused me to think about how I reflected as a teacher and how I reflect as an administrator. One of my favorite ways is to send out a quick tweet, but for deeper reflection, I often turn to my mentor. I will share celebrations and struggles with her, and she has an amazing knack for asking the right questions to move my thinking forward. I’d love to hear how you reflect.

Here is was lies ahead this week:

Monday

  • Staff meeting 3:15 in home ec lab

Tuesday

  • Sharlene away at an ILO

Wednesday

  • Karen Campbell here to work with Brittney & Trace

Thursday

  • Brenda off to Rosthern to shadow their SERT for the morning

Friday

  • 1 – 8 reports & comments due to the office
  • Geography 20 $10 city trip (curious? Talk to David, it’s a cool idea!)
  • Subway lunch

 320 total views