May 29 – June 2

What an incredible week of learning! Last week I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn in so many exciting and unique ways, starting last Tuesday at our school track and field meet. A person’s first year at a school is always full of new events and traditions, and I was excited to see how our elementary track and field day worked. I was so impressed with the incredible leadership shown by the teachers, students, and parent volunteers. There were so many smiling faces on a day that can be fraught with tears if it is not set up properly, and sometimes even the students cry! Wednesday and Thursday were a great opportunity for David and I to get some dedicated learning time together at the CAP2017 conference.  The opening speaker, Anthony Muhammad, spoke passionately about the importance of school culture and the impact the teachers have on student learning. He spoke at length about John Hattie’s Visible Learning study, and shared some of the key things we can do to help our students grow. Some things that really stood out from this information was the impact that collective teacher efficacy has on student learning, along with how a teacher predicts a student will do prior to entering the course. I’d invite you to consider the following two questions:

  1. how important do you feel you are in the lives of your students (do you believe you are an agent for change)?
  2. do you have predetermined beliefs about how well your students will do before your course even begins or is in it’s beginning stages?

As a staff, I’d like to explore Hattie’s work together on a deeper level. There was a lot more great learning that occurred over the two days that I’d love to share with you over the next few weeks, so keep looking for that in upcoming On the Horizons.

On Saturday Bobby (10) and Eva (6) performed in their annual piano recital in Saskatoon. There were over 25 students playing a variety of pieces, from the very basic, to the very complex. What stood out to me the most was the feeling of pride each and every pupil displayed as they played for us. There was no comparing student A to student B, it was simply a showcase to celebrate their hard work and (sometimes) daily practice. Two highlights for me, besides the obvious pride I felt when my kids played, were the performances by the teachers and the quote on the program. First, the teachers. All three of them played for us, and all three of them played pieces that were just a touch beyond their current skill level, which was evident as all three of them had one or two tiny miscues. To me this showed a belief that there is always room for growth and that the teacher is and should be just a passionate about their chosen pursuit as their pupils are. Second, the quote.

This quote sums up what it is we should all be striving for everyday.  School should not be about perfection, but rather the passion that should live in the learning journey. Ask yourself this, are you more concerned with the journey or the destination?

Here is what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Bruce, David, Trace, June, and Brenda presenting our Learning for Life story at division office (9:00 – 2:00)
  • Book fair set up (any help after school would be greatly appreciated)

Tuesday:

  • Day one of the book fair

Wednesday:

  • Literacy day, hot dog lunch!

Thursday:

  • Staff meeting (am) ~ focus: student awards, ROA’s, forward planning (elem)
  • Final day of the book fair

Friday:

  • Jon Yellowlees visit (9:00 – 10:30)

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May 22nd to 26th

Charlie enjoying his ice cream.

What a rare Victoria Day weekend in Saskatchewan, no snow! The weather was perfect for a quick trip to Waskesiu, a walk by the river, and a lemonade stand for the kids. All in all, it was a wonderful long weekend. I hope you were able to find time to rest and relax as we prepare for the final 6 weeks of the school year. There are a lot of big jobs ahead, from track and field, to benchmark assessments, to student recognition ceremonies, to field trips, to graduation ceremonies, to final exams, and of course final progress reports. Please make sure you are taking the time you need to stay healthy, and energized as our students thoughts naturally turn to summer holidays.

Over the past few weeks, David, Brenda, Trace, June, and I have been working on our Learning for Life presentation, which takes place on Monday, May 29th in Warman. Brenda, Trace, and June have been reflecting on their own learning this year, and have been thinking about the way their work has impacted their students. What they are finding is that in each case, the work they have done has been founded on the belief that what they are doing will help ALL of their students learn at a higher level. What David and I are finding is that we could have asked any teacher in the building to share the results of their adult learning and they would have plenty to discuss. As you take time and reflect on the work you’ve done this year, I’d invite you to think  back to the start of the year, to the finish line we all imagined. How has your year progressed? As you analyze the work you’ve done, what gives you the most pride? What would you like to improve on next year? This week’s learning link  discusses planning with the end in mind, and while it may seem a long way away, it is never too early to start thinking about how you want next year to end. Have a look, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

We have a short, but busy week ahead that will be bookended by our track stars, as the grade 1 – 6 athletes compete on Tuesday, and the advancing athletes in 7 – 12 compete on Friday. Also taking place this week is the annual Canadian Association of Principals (CAP) conference, which is in our own backyard this year, this means both David and I will be away Wednesday and Thursday. Finally, on Friday, our Scholastic Book Fair arrives. The fair will be set up next week, with sales beginning on Tuesday, May 30th.

Here’s what lies ahead:

Tuesday:

  • Elementary track & field

Wednesday:

  • Bruce & David at CAP2017

Thursday:

  • Bruce & David at CAP2017

Friday:

  • District track & field ~ Saskatoon

As always, create a great week!

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May 15th – 19th

Driving home Friday, I was struck by the feeling of how wonderful last week was. Yes there were challenging moments, there always will be, but overall there was a feeling of happiness and joy permeating the building. I think part of that was due to the fact that there were so many smiling moms in the school on Friday, as there were some amazing Mother’s Day celebrations, including a scavenger hunt, tea and cookies, and a video that had the mothers a bit nervous, as the students were asked a series of questions about mom. I hope you had a chance to enjoy this Mother’s Day weekend, even if it was wet and windy.  We found some time Saturday to get out by the river, Charlie was very interested in all the dandelions (or bootiful yellow flowers as he called them) and Eva was fascinated by the river and all the birds fluttering about. Sunday was a great day to just hang out around the house and catch up on those weekly jobs that need to be done.

On my current reading list is the book, A Beautiful Constraint, by Adam Morgan & Mark Barden. The book describes how to take the issues we face, such as a lack of money, time, knowledge, and see them as opportunities versus viewing them as roadblocks. So far the authors have shared examples from companies ranging from Nike to Ikea to Formula One racecar engineers. As I have been reading I’ve been thinking about the constraints we face at our school, and I’ve been trying to separate the things we can control from the things we cannot. For example, we do not have any say on when the ministry schedules the departmental exams, and as such there may be students who are forced to write two finals in one day (i.e. physics and biology fall on the same day this year). What we do control, however, is the timetable, and we have the ability to schedule biology in semester one and physics in semester two. Some of the other constraints we face though are not as easily remedied. I think about the struggle to engage some students, and wonder if there were a greater number of electives if that would help. I wonder about those kids who do not get enough one-on-one reading support at home, and think about how that is impacting their progress at school. How do get past that? What is the solution? I recall asking a staff the question, “if you had unlimited time and money, what would you do with and for your students?” As I reflect, I realize how ineffective such a question is. The question I want to leave with you this week is one I hope we will continue to wrestle with this year and beyond; using what we have at our disposal, how can we create a learning environment where every student is engaged in meaningful, rigorous work on a daily basis? I’m very excited to see how far we’ve come this year and am really looking forward to continuing the learning journey will all of you next year and beyond.

As you know, this time of year always brings changes to a school family, as some members leave, while others join us. The first change has happened with David’s transfer, opening the door for Jesse to come on board. I’d like to take a moment to thank David for his hard work this year. If you can recall, David joined us in the first semester on a 0.3 contract, and found himself in the unenviable position of having to play the role of a support teacher. What David did, and I’m sure it’s what he always does, is he made lemonade from the lemons he was given (or whatever the Australian equivalent of that would be). When David was offered the role of interim vice-principal, I knew from day one, I was working with someone special. He has continually pushed me to be the best leader I can be, asking me tough questions, forcing me to reflect, and causing me to grow. David is one of those special individuals who is not only blessed with a great mind, but an incredible ability to connect with those around him. I can truly say this year has been both one of the best and one of the weirdest years I’ve ever had. I was blessed to shared the office space with two tremendous leaders in Chris and David, and am thankful for every minute. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you David!

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Staff basketball game (all hands on deck!)

Tuesday:

  • Business as usual

Wednesday:

  • Track and Field (7-12) in Saskatoon

Thursday:

  • Staff meeting (8:00 am)

Friday:

  • Prep Day!

 

As always, create a great week!

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May 8th – 12th

What a gorgeous weekend! It was perfect weather to play outside with the kids and get some more yard work done, and we even had a chance to go for a cruise by the river with the top down. Even though it’s time for flip-flops and burgers, I still managed to dig deep and find the strength to watch some hockey, I know, a real sacrifice. Hopefully you were able to find some time to rest and relax these past two days and are charged and ready to create another great week!

I had a chance to visit with a relative who is busy preparing for the arrival of their first child which is due in early July. She talked about planning the baby’s room, picking the perfect crib, getting those just right shelves, and of course selecting the best color scheme. It reminded me of the work that went into getting things ready for our kids, the paint, the crib, the shelves, the picture frames, etc. As we were discussing this,  I could not help but think about the way we set up our classrooms and the way we are intentional in using the environment as the third teacher. Later this month, Sharlene is working with two colleagues to look at her learning environment, taking time to reflect on the year and then plan for the future. As an administrator, I’m excited by this, but just a tiny bit nervous when I also consider the budget, but as a fellow administrator once said, “if you want to know what a school values, follow the money”. In this week’s learning link there are several great ideas, and wonderful quotes, but the one that jumped out at me was, “Every person needs a place that is furnished with hope”, Maya Angelou. This week I’d invite you to take a second look at your environment and think about ways you have been intentional in your design. If you can make the time, take a walking tour of the classrooms, and ask your peers why they have gone the route they have.

Hopefully you had a chance to look over the agenda for our staff meeting on Monday, Brenda has (once again) put a lot of thought and effort into the planning of this. The agenda can be found by clicking here: Staff Meeting – May 8It would be great if you could take some time to think about how you have worked to actualize MPSC this year, and how you have continued to build on what you have done in the past. I’m looking forward to more great conversations where I can learn from you! Speaking of learning from you, thank you to those who have completed the survey I sent out on Friday, wow! Tremendous feedback on how you have enjoyed your role this year and what things David and I can consider as we keep planning for next year. Thank you for that!

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting

Tuesday:

  • SCC Annual General Meeting & Elections (feel free to attend if interested) 5:30 pm.

Wednesday:

  • Bruce & David at a learning lunch with Darrell Derksen

Thursday:

  • Kindergarten Mother’s Day tea

Friday:

  • Business as usual

 

Create a great week!

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