December 18th – 22nd

Another busy weekend has come and gone, this one was extra special, as my brother Brad has arrived from Vancouver to spend time with the family over the holiday season. We spent Saturday together celebrating Bobby’s 11th birthday, and then Sunday together celebrating my sister Sandy’s birthday, needless to say, I’ve had my fill of cake this weekend. Whenever we get together as a family, it reminds me of the important things in life, and I reflect on how blessed I am to be surrounded by such loving people, both at home and at work. This week my message to you is one of thanks, and a wish for each of you to be surrounded by those you love during this time of year.

To Priscilla, Cora, Kimberly, Krista, and Jamey, a very special thank you for all of the hard work you do with many of our most vulnerable students. Your patience and unwavering belief in the students you work with is both humbling and encouraging. You all are such a vital part of our family of learners, and for that I’m truly grateful. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Jamie, Ed, and Brandi, our amazing caretakers, a very special thank you for all of the hard work you do behind the scenes that makes our learning environment the best it can be. Too often we forget how important you are to the learning that occurs everyday in our building as so much of what we do depends on the work you do after school and during the breaks. One of the best things I can say about our caretakers is that the students know who you are, you are part of the fabric that makes up Waldheim School, and that is important! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To June and Steve, our dynamic duo that bookends our school, a very special thank you for the work you do introducing our students to the school and getting them ready for the real world upon graduation. When I think about teachers who are exactly where they are supposed to be, I think of the two of you. June, you have that special gift to meet kids where they are every single day, and you always have a smile on your face. Steve, your ability to read your students and adapt your teaching to meet their needs is incredible. You both are such an important part of our school, and I can’t thank you enough for your amazing contributions beyond the classroom. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Sharlene, a very special thank you for the work you do with that incredible group of grade 1’s under your watch. The way you set up your learning environment to reflect who you are as a teacher is awesome! You teach so much more than reading and writing, there are constant lessons about what it means to be a good person woven into everything you do, thank you for that! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Shantel, a very special thank you for the work you do with your split class. I admire the way you pour your heart into your group of kids and am always amazed at the dynamic learning that goes on in your room on a daily basis. You are such an important part of the K – 3 learning team, and the leadership and expertise you have brought to our school is making us better everyday. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Cara, a very special thank you for the work you do with the grade 2’s, I am so thankful for the calm, gentle nature you have brought to our school. I really admire the quiet contributions you have made to our staff this year, you are an integral part of our adult learning team. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Amy, a very special thank you for the work you do with your split class that brings it’s own unique challenges on a daily basis. I truly admire the way you lead with your heart, making sure the kids feel safe and loved every day. It’s amazing to think you are just starting your career and have already realized what the important things are in this role. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Brittney, a very special thank you for the work you do with the 4/5 class that has blossomed under your care. You have shown a commitment to your students and their learning, and have worked tirelessly to make everyday a celebration for them. I am so thankful for your leadership and dedication to improving your craft, you are making Waldheim School a better place everyday for our learners, both young and old! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Brenda, a very special thank you for the work you do as SERT and learning facilitator. You are the rock of the elementary school, and are absolutely vital to the day to day learning that happens with our little ones. I have been so blessed to learn from you, and am so thankful for your willingness to sit and listen to me and help me walk through many different situations. I hope the holidays bring many chances for a good cup of coffee, lots of time with your family, and maybe some time alone to enjoy a good book or two. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Leah, a very special thank you for the amazing work you do with your grade 5 class. I am truly inspired by your commitment to adapting what you do to meet the needs of your students, you are constantly striving to make your class the best it can be for your kids. I hope that you, Todd, and the girls have an amazing break full of love and laughs…and maybe even some rest and relaxation! All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Joanne, a very special thank you for the amazing work you do while wearing so many different hats at our school. I am so thankful for the endless commitment you have shown to your kids, never, ever giving up on them when even they themselves may have wanted to throw in the towel. Hopefully the break will present a chance for you to rest, relax, and spend lots of time with your loved ones. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Krisinda, a very special thank you for the great work you do with all the kids, not only from Waldheim, but from Hepburn and Laird as well. I love the way you have created an environment for your students to be creative, independent learners, it’s amazing to see how well they work in the lab everyday. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Trace, a very special thank you for the incredible work you do with all the kids, both in and out of the classroom. You bring so much more to our school than just amazing teaching, you are a connection to the community, and are such an important person to so many students. I am constantly learning from watching and listening to you as you work with your students, leading with love, but always maintaining a commitment to excellence. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Katharine, a very special thank you for the amazing work you have done in your new role this year. I am so incredibly thankful for the extra mile you go everyday for your students. You have taken the time to learn about each and everyone of them, and have been so instrumental in helping every student feel safe and important as they navigate their way through the middle years. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Dwayne, a very special thank you for the tireless work you put in with the grade 6 class that seems to never want to stop growing! I am so thankful for the way you are able to connect with our most vulnerable students and help them find a special place in our school. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Glen, a very special thank you for the endless hours you pour into the shop and the dedication you have to every student you work with. Many students find the shop to be the one place they can truly be themselves and express themselves as learners, and that has more to do with what you have created than it does with the subject you are teaching. You are a vital part of our school, and I am so thankful that I get to work with you. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Ellen, a very special thank you for all the amazing work you do with each and every student from grade 7 to grade 12. You have a special gift for making learning fun while keeping the bar high. Your students know how much you care, and I appreciate that more than you can know. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Marla, a very special thank you for all the great work you do in the home ec lab as you work with the students to not only help develop their academic skills, but to help them grow into responsible, caring young adults. I have really appreciated our conversations and you have helped me reflect on the work we are all doing here. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Evan, a very special thank you for all the amazing work you are doing with our kids as you help them develop not only as mathematicians, but as people. So many of our young male students look up to you as a role model, and I am so thankful for how you carry yourself and the example you set on a continual basis. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Lori, a very special thank you for the incredible work you get done in the one day a week you are with us. You are such and important part of our school family, and your contributions are greatly appreciated. All the best to you and yours during this holiday season.

To Corinne, there are not enough words I can say to express how much I appreciate everything you do for our school. You are the glue. You are there to help guide my decision making, be it budget related, credit related, or as a connection to the history of the school. What I appreciate the most is your willingness to have a good laugh and your belief that everyone should do an honest days work, everyday. Have an amazing holiday season, hopefully it includes a citrus tea or two!

To Jesse, my right hand man, thank you so much for every thing you have been doing since coming on board. There are so many amazing things you have brought to our school, but what I’m most thankful for is your approach to student learning, and your belief in each and every student and their ability to do great things. I love our learning conversations, and you have been able to push my thinking, helping make Waldheim School an even better place. I know it will be a busy Christmas break with your travels, but I hope you can find some time to get some rest and relaxation in.

To each and every one of the amazing staff members at Waldheim School, thank you for believing in me, questioning me, supporting me, and laughing with me. I feel so blessed that my road in life has brought me here. Have a wonderful final week of 2017 with your students, and please have a safe and relaxing holiday break.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting 3:15 (please see agenda sent out Friday)

Tuesday:

  • preparations continue for the Christmas concert

Wednesday:

  • Christmas concert matinee

Thursday:

  • Christmas concert evening performance

Friday:

  • Final day of classes for 2017, clean up schedule will be sent out during the week

As always, create a great week!

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December 11 – 15

Whew, what a weekend! Bobby had his 11th birthday party on Friday night, and it was quite the party at the Shaw Centre. The kids had fun eating pizza, posing in the Lego photo booth, and then of course, swimming! I’m quite certain there were some tired kids on the way back to Martensville, with this big kid being the most tired. Saturday was a great day as I was able to get some one on one time with Maggie as we ventured out for a coffee and a quick oil change on the SUV, at 4 years old, she is so fascinated with the little things in life. The weekend ended with the kids taking part in my niece’s annual Christmas cookie decorating afternoon. She has hosted this for years, and my kids really enjoy playing with the other kids. Of course, the highlight for them is snacking on the special decorations while they create their unique creations.

My friend George Couros (@gcouros) had a great post on Twitter today which really had me thinking about the stages of my career and how comfortable I felt in the classroom when I discovered balance. When you look at this quote and reflect on your daily work with your students, can you identify when you wear different hats? Do you feel comfortable wearing these hats, or are there certain ones that you feel “safer” in?

When I reflect on my time teaching grade 5 in Langham, I had the opportunity to teach ELA, math, social studies, science, health, and phys ed. I felt very reluctant to step away from being being the sage on the stage during ELA, and I think it was that I did not feel confident enough in my own ability to see learning if I did not set it up in a way that I controlled everything that was happening. My science class was a stark contrast to my ELA, however, as I loved to turn the kids loose as they investigated different properties in an effort to answer different scientific questions. Unlike ELA, I was much more confident with the science curriculum. The point is, I was aware of my strengths and the areas I needed to grow in so I could develop a more enjoyable learning environment for the kids. By tapping into other experts I continued to work on my ELA, and to a lesser extent, my social studies, and was quite happy with what I had developed over the years.

Today I was excited to see the results from the survey (OurSCHOOL) the students completed in November, and upon my first, quick perusal, the results seem very positive. I am going to spend more time looking into what our kids had to say, and would like to invite all of the staff at the next staff meeting to have a look, and discuss the feedback. Before you get a chance to have a look, what do you predict will be the sentiments of our students? What areas of growth do you think the kids have identified? I’m sure it will be great food for thought!

Finally, I read an article that I just had to share. It talks about learning to love those students who may be tough to like. It resonated so loudly with me for two reasons. The first is that I know I was a tough kid to like for some teachers as I was growing up. I recall being asked to sit in the hallway on a couple occasions because I was too worried about getting laughs from my peers than from learning what the teacher was trying to teach me. The second is that I have had the pleasure of working with many of these students over the years. One student I taught in my very first year was a challenging grade 9 student who was very uninterested in my industrial arts course (it likely did not help that I had no clue what I was doing at that time). During the course of the year we would butt heads on a regular basis, and in the end I know neither of us enjoyed working together. Little did I know, he felt like I never gave up on him. We spoke years later at a social event, and he apologized for being such a pain (his words) and thanked me for always giving him a fresh chance everyday. He said he appreciated that I tried to make class interesting and fun and that he regretted not being a better student. I was shocked. We had a good chuckle over it, and today he is a successful educator in a different division. Is there a student you are having trouble “liking” right now? If so, what are you doing about it?

Here’s what lies ahead as we enter the final two weeks before our Christmas break:

Monday:

  • Bruce in a team meeting 9:00 – 10:45 (library closed)
  • Career fair expo in the gym (as discussed at our last staff meeting)

Tuesday:

  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

Thursday:

  • Grade 8 toy sale (see Trace for more details)
  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

Friday:

  • Bruce at Laird to watch Christmas concert final rehearsal
  • Classroom visits: question for students, “what has been the coolest thing you’ve learned this year?”

As always, create a great week!

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December 4th – 8th

Another wonderful weekend is wrapping up, and I have a bit of a quiet moment as Krista and Maggie ventured out to the Sundog Festival and the other kids are playing. It was an enjoyable weekend which included an opportunity to watch a local band on Friday night, family pictures on Saturday, and rest and relaxing on Sunday.  Hopefully you were able enjoy your days off as well.

As I mentioned, I was able to take in a concert on Friday night at the Bassment, as a local group, The Randy Woods Band (@randywoodsband), was playing. This group, that plays a mix of ska, jazz, reggae, and funk, do a great job of getting the dance floor packed, they are a lot of fun to watch. During a break between their sets I had the fortune of speaking with a band member, part of the horns section, and it was really interesting to listen to him talk about some of the little things they do to add depth to their music. He discussed how he and the saxophone player push and challenge each other during their performances, he said the key to this was really listening to each other, not just reading the notes on the page. As they took the stage for their second set, I was more aware of what he had told me, I was able to watch and listen, and it added a whole new level to the experience.

I’ve been thinking about that all weekend, how all the band members came together to create an enjoyable evening, and it got me reflecting on the work all of you do. In his band, each performer practices to perfect their craft, so they can be a confident, contributing member of the collective. As principal, that’s what I want for our school. Teachers, EAs, caretakers, admin assistants, and administrators all working together to create the best possible experience for our students, they are, in a sense, our audience. The Randy Woods Band gets their feedback from the crowd, we get ours from our students. While the band can observe dancing, read reviews, and hear applause, we can use side-by-side learning and assessments as our guides. As I walk the halls and visit classrooms, it feels like we are really becoming that “band”. I am seeing a certain type of engagement from room to room, as well as hearing common things across the grades. I am not seeing a one-man (or woman) show, what is commonly referred to as the sage on the stage approach. Rather, I am seeing teachers guiding learning, allowing students to make discoveries and connections. Are we perfect? Not yet, but neither was the band I watched, but that’s why they (and we) continue to practice. As you think about how a musician practices, what connections can you make to how you strive to improve in your role?

 

This Monday gives us another opportunity to learn together as we gather after school to work and learn with Sara Michalchuk. I sent out an agenda yesterday, hopefully you have a chance to read it over, and think about the questions asked. We are doing important work, and grappling with tough situations, not unlike the tough work being done in this video:

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting 3:15 pm

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse away at ALT meeting

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits: Question for students, “how does your teacher know what you need?”

Thursday:

  • Classroom visits Question for students, “how does your teacher know what you need?”

Friday:

  • Classroom visits Question for students, “how does your teacher know what you need?”

As always, create a great week!

 187 total views