May 1st – 5th

Art 30 Project

What a tremendous weekend! The weather allowed for the kids and I to get out and explore, playing in the back yard and at a couple of parks in Saskatoon. I had to laugh when I called the kids in for lunch on Saturday and Charlie (3 yrs) hollered back, “we can’t dad, we watching da wadybug exploring”. Apparently the kids had found several ladybugs in the grass and were creating little habitats for them in their playhouse. Charlie was particularly excited because he was the only one brave enough to let the ladybugs crawl on him, as Eva and Maggie are still a bit squeamish when it comes to that. After lunch Bobby was able to spend some one-on-one time with his grandma as I took the three other kids to play in a new park in Willowgrove in Saskatoon. The kids had a blast playing along side strangers, discovering new play structures they had never seen before. I’m very fortunate to have kids young enough to allow me to still be a kid too!

Gr. 1 Writer’s Workshop

David and I were reflecting on the amazing things we have going on at Waldheim School as we were driving to and from Laird on Friday. We spent an hour Friday afternoon watching the grade 3 – 8  students from Laird read their poems at their poetry cafe’, an event coordinated by Michelle Fong (thanks for the invite Michelle). We marveled at the palpable feeling in the gym, it was one of pride in their school and in each other. I was reminded how important our job is as we accept Laird students every year into our family, it was something I hadn’t thought about in a while. Friday was also a great day to reflect on the amazing things you, the staff are doing with our students. Pam Wieler brought Kimberly Greyeyes (Muskeg Lake Cree Nation), one of the newest board trustees, for a tour of our school. I was so honored to be able to share the great things that are going on in our school and was reminded of the hard work you all do on a daily basis. It was such a pleasure to talk about the way we all lead with our hearts and how we live out, everyday, what is meant by the saying, it takes a village. As we walked the halls I was able to speak at length about every single person and how they have an impact on our program here, starting with Corinne and how she has created a safe environment in the office to Jamie Boschman and how she is willing to give her time to those kids who are the most vulnerable (we’ve all seen kids pushing her floor cleaner). I’m humbled by the way all of you have shown a belief in relationships first, and while I do know there are days when it is harder than others to keep that smile the right side up, you continue to do it. I’ve said this to others in the past,  but it is worth repeating. This is the 9th school in my career, and I would be hard pressed to find another staff, from the support staff, all the way down to the administration, that embody so well my core belief, that being relationships firstI want each of you to take a moment and understand how much I really appreciate what you do on a daily basis, and yes, I mean you.

There were a lot of great opportunities to get into classrooms last week, not only at Waldheim, but in two other schools as well. Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to watch Taralyn Ullyott, grade 1 in Rosthern, and David, Steve, and Jen had a chance to watch Charmain Laroque, middle years in Stobart. In both cases it was great to see and hear about the parallels  between what these master teachers are doing and what is happening at Waldheim School. The focus of both classroom visits was how their respective literacy programs are being offered, and part of the lessons involved independent reading. This caused me to think about one of my favorite bloggers, Pernille Ripp, and a recent post by her where she discusses how we model reading for our students. Take a look at the blog post at this week’s learning link, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Next week is another busy one, the days are going to continue to fly off the calendar:

Monday:

  • Bruce & Jamie B at OH&S training day 1 (Saskatoon)

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jamie B at OH&S training day 2 (Saskatoon)
  • Grade 9 performance (period 2)

Wednesday:

  • Grade 1 – 3 swimming trip

Thursday:

  • Bruce at CVAC meeting (4:00 pm division office)
  • Pizza lunch

Friday:

  • Business as usual

 

As always, create a great week!

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April 24th – 28th

In an interview, Jerry Seinfeld, one of my all time favorites, talked about how he crafts a joke, and the importance of figuring out what is going to get his top two laughs. He talked about starting with his second best bit and finishing with his very best, obviously he wanted his audience to walk out of his performance energized and talking about how great the show was, all in an effort to get them back into seats in the future. When I think about how quickly our school year is coming to a close, I wonder how we are going to end, and how our audience, the students, will walk out of school. I know how strong we started this year, I was amazed at the work that was going on in your rooms in September in an effort to get the students on board with the learning. I knew early on that Waldheim School was going to be a great fit and that I was going to really enjoy working with everyone. Fast forward to today, the day before returning to work after our Easter break. I have no doubt we are all tired and can all see the finish line. The days are getting longer and surely I’m not the only one whose thoughts are turning towards those favorite summer pastimes.

So how do you finish strong? What do you do in May and June that leaves the students thinking, “I never want to leave this class!”? I have been thinking about this from the perspective of the office. What do I do in May and June that leaves the staff feeling, “I can’t believe how much I’ve grown as an adult learner this year! I can’t wait for September to start putting this to use!”?

Something that we have discussed this year is how to shift how we teach our math classes to a more student-centered approach. I know I say this all the time, but I think the best examples of how to teach in a student-centered environment occur in the industrial arts shop and in the home ec lab. This does not mean that what is happening in other rooms is not student-centered, far from it in fact, rather it is a reflection of the area of study and the beliefs that Glen, Marla, and Krisinda have towards student learning. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen kids sitting and taking notes in either lab, it is very rare (not a cooking pun). Rather, what I see are groups of kids working together to create things like sushi, soft pretzels, designer cakes, blankets, tote bags, guitars, skate boards, crokinole tables, running engines, jewelry, and many, many other cool things. When I used to teach senior math I recall feeling so sorry for the students as they politely worked their way through my boring lessons. I was teaching the way I was taught, and I thought it was the only way. I’ve included a learning link today that talks about 3 things you can do right away in your math class to help foster engagement, maybe this is the thing that gets kids saying, “I never want to leave this class!” I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Welcome back to our bright and shiny school (thanks Jamie, Megan, & Kailey)

Tuesday:

  • Bruce gone (am only) to Rosthern for an elementary ILO workshop

Wednesday:

  • Business as usual

Thursday:

  • David gone (am only) to Stobart for a high school ILO workshop revisiting the work done with Penny Kittle
  • Gym closed today due to chemicals being transferred out of building

Friday:

  • Business as usual

 

As usual, create a great week!

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April 10th – 14th

Where are the warm, wonderful days we wish for? Hopefully Mother Nature has decided to role out the hot, sunny days for our Easter break which is quickly approaching. Even with a couple of sick kids at home I was able to get at some chores that needed doing and was able to catch a bit of provincial volleyball in Saskatoon this weekend. It was great to see Derek Zacharias and his team from Briercrest, they are really strong, and Waldheim School is well represented with the Harder girls and Taryn Fehr playing a prominent role.

We are heading into another 4 day week, but with all that is going on, it may feel like an 8 day week! Our Spring Arts program is on display this week with our Monday afternoon matinee followed by our Tuesday evening performance. Activities like these always remind me of the students’ amazing ability to “pull it together” when the lights are brightest. While teaching grade 4 in the Cayman Islands and grade 5 in Langham, I was often responsible for planning and delivering school wide assemblies. I remember pulling my hair out, wondering if the students would ever fulfill my grand vision, and in the end they always did. It was a student in Langham that really brought me back to reality as we planned a performance of Tiger Story, Anansi Story for the school community. Things were not going as I had hoped and I was becoming agitated with the students. This student’s simple words helped refocus me, she said, “Mr. M. stop worrying so much. Our parents are going to love it, even if we mess up”. I know the performances on Monday and Tuesday will be terrific and your hearts will swell with pride as your students sing and dance, after all it’s the love for your students that make events like these so memorable.

Speaking of relationships, I am really looking forward to our staff meeting on Monday. Brenda and David have crafted a wonderful agenda that will allow us time to reflect on our peer visits and discuss collaborative relationships in our classroom. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to review the agenda and the questions we will be discussing, if not, click: Staff Meeting – April 10I took some time on Friday to think about the questions, however I changed the word classroom to the word school. It was a great activity which had me reflecting on the hard work and fun times that have occurred to date, thanks Brenda for designing such a great activity. I am also looking forward to hearing about this round of peer observations and if the changes we made have had a positive impact on your learning. Remember we will have time to debrief so please come prepared to share with your group. We will provide some question stems for you to use if you choose to do so. As you look at the questions, think about how these types of questions could be used in your classroom, maybe teacher-to-student first, but ideally, student-to-student. 

Teaching through relationships passes the student through that mystical threshold when formal knowledge leads to hidden knowledge. What is hidden is the process of discovery itself and the connections between thought, everyday life, and other seemingly unrelated ideas and disciplines. When students are able to make this connection via “teaching through relationships,” they begin to see themselves as co-learners along with their teachers, as well as with the greatest minds in history.

-Stacey Goodman

That quote comes from that attached article, found here, and it speaks to the importance of teaching through relationships. If you have time to give it a read, please do so, and if you can, I’d love to hear your thoughts about any connections you’ve made between it and what we discuss on Monday afternoon.

Here’s what lies ahead for the week:

Monday:

  • Bruce away (am only), appointment
  • Spring Arts (matinee)
  • Staff Meeting (home ec lab)

Tuesday:

  • Spring Arts (evening performance)

Wednesday:

  • Pizza lunch

Thursday:

  • 9 – 12 progress reports sent home
  • Locker/desk clean out (schedule will be posted)

Friday:

  • Good Friday
  • Gym in use for private function

 

As  always, create a great week.

 

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April 3rd – April 7

The rain and sunshine combined for a beautiful weekend, even if it was a bit windy. I hope you were able to enjoy your time, whether it was starting your spring cleaning or just spending time with your family. We are now into April, which is hard to believe, and are on the way to our Easter break. April also brings Spring Arts, and Joanne has been working tirelessly with the students to create what I am sure will be a wonderful experience, thank you Joanne for everything you are doing. Just a reminder that the gym is now closed for the next week and a half so your gym time will be impacted. Please feel free to take your students to the MB Church, however they would appreciate a heads up call prior to coming over (945-2149).

This is going to be a busy week with a lot of adult learning taking place as we go into our second round of peer observations. Hopefully you were able to come up with some clear targets for your peers to observe and give you feedback on and this process will prove valuable for you. I’d love to hear about your targets and what some of the feedback was that you received. As you know, we are spending some time at our next staff meeting to debrief, but please feel free to have these learning conversations whenever it suits you. Something I’ve been thinking about is having a principal from another school come and observe me and tour the school, hopefully leading to some reflective questioning. While I was in Prince Albert, I lead a break out session on peer observations, and one of the keynote speakers (@casas_jimmy) challenged me to think about doing this. I’m paraphrasing,  but he said, it is important to be open to having others walk beside us on our learning journey, giving us feedback along the way. This way we are modeling to the students the desire to constantly improve in our profession. I really hope you enjoy the peer observations!

As I walk the halls and visit classrooms, I am excited to see a lot of feedback occurring. I’ve seen this in the form of teacher-to-student, and student-to-student, and the focus has usually been on celebrating things done well. This is great, as people always like to hear about a job well done, but what about the feedback on the failures? The following video highlights the work being done at an art school in the United States, and it emphasizes the importance of embracing failure. Have a look, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Video

Here is what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Day one of our peer observations
  • Krysten at secondary science ILO
  • Welcome back Dwayne!
  • Spring Arts practices in the gym begin

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & David away at ALT meeting
  • Sharlene at literacy ILO
  • Day two of our peer observations

Wednesday:

  • Day three of our peer observations
  • Joanne at Resonate

Thursday:

  • Grade 9 – 12 progress reports & comments due to the office

Friday:

  • Day in lieu (enjoy!)

 

As always, create a great week!

 265 total views