What Did They Tell You?

We have been putting it off for a while now and every so often we are reminded of the need to get at it! Sometimes it’s easier to just close the doors and pretend they are not there, but that does not change the reality that hides within. It’s the closet in our front entrance, and it is home to a collection of shoes and boots. It is a collection that continues to grow and this weekend it’s go time! For some shoes, it literally is go time as they head to the dumpster (i.e. an old pair that Bella decided to munch on).

We have a few areas like this in our home, some are frustrating, like shoe mountain, others are more interesting, like the bins of work the twins have brought home from Kindergarten this year. After every day at school, the two of them would dig out their creation of the day and proudly explain what it was. Never being able to throw things out, we would ‘file it’ in their bins that we had set up for just this purpose. Looking through them at this time of year is fun, and is an opportunity to see the growth that has occurred during the year. I’m sure you also have areas like this in your homes, they could be the photo albums, the memory boxes, the garage, or the attic, but they are collections. Collections, when viewed as more than just ‘things’ can tell us a story.

Last week, a few of us from school had a chance to look at a collection that has been steadily growing during the year at division office. I recall looking at the learning wall earlier this school year and noted how well organized and neat it appeared. Upon my most recent viewing, the first thing I noticed was how it had grown to become almost overwhelming at first glance. There are stories upon stories upon stories on the wall in the form of data, pictures, hand written notes, and tweets. All of these various stories, both big and small, are like trees in a forest, and on the wall lives a forest of learning. As we listened to different people walk us through information on the wall, I began to reflect on our own forests of learning in our school.

Last August, I recall a conversation with Cara in her classroom. In an almost apologetic tone, she spoke about the bare walls in her classroom. “They’ll get better” she promised, “eventually there will be student work up there”. I remember thinking to myself that they were perfect just the way they were. Cara, like the rest of you, had set up several blank canvases for the students to work on during the year. Cara, like the rest of you, did not fill the walls with a story for the kids to learn, rather, you set up the walls as a place for kids to write their story. When I began teaching I was taught that I had to have my bulletin boards all ready to go for day one. I spent money I didn’t have at supply stores buying posters I didn’t need. I could have saved myself so much time and money had I been a little more open to setting up a canvas versus setting up a gallery.

As we welcome the month of June, it is now a perfect opportunity to step back and take an intentional look at the stories your students have written for you. Better yet, invite a colleague into your room and ask them what they see. What stories have the students told this year? As you look at the various pieces of evidence each student has given you, what does the data say? How does this data support your observations? How do the data and observations reflect what you have learned through your conversations? We are closing in on the final stages of the 2018-19 school year, and we know how hectic things can get. Be intentional about taking some time to close your door and have a quiet moment of reflection on all of the evidence you’ve collected this year. Your students have written their stories for you, it would be a shame not to read them.

Now, time to tackle shoe mountain!

Here is what is on the horizon this week:


  • Staff learning meeting, presentations continue!


  • Bruce away


  • Lion King matinee performance


  • Lion King evening performance


  • Gr. 4 – 6 track & field meet at Waldheim School (Hepburn, Rosthern, Stobart, Waldheim)

As always, create a great week!

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About the Author: Bruce Mellesmoen