Assume Less, Understand More

The laughter and banter filled the dressing room as my teammates and I were getting ready for the big game. Nothing was really on the line, but when you are 11 years old every game feels like the Stanley Cup final, and this Saturday afternoon contest was no different. I had everything on but my skates, and as I rummaged through the old red canvas bag the realization hit me, I left my skates in the porch! The night before I had been at the outdoor skating rink with my buddies, and upon returning home I forgot to put my skates in my equipment bag. I had assumed mom would do that for me. I assumed wrong.

I remember as if it were yesterday. Tears filled my eyes as it became clear I wouldn’t get to play, I was so upset. Seeing me crying in the corner, my coach asked me what was wrong, and after I explained it to him, he quickly took me to the caretaker’s room where I phoned my dad. I told dad what happened, and within 15 minutes my skates were at the rink. To this day I’m not sure how fast dad drove, but I’m sure he was taking a significant risk zooming down the frozen Saskatchewan highway on a Saturday afternoon. In the end, I was able to play and to be honest, I do not remember anything from the game, just the sinking feeling in my gut and the relief when dad ran into the dressing room. He never yelled at me, or made me feel bad, he just helped me tie my skates and sent me on my way. What an incredible dad. I sure miss him.

The mistake I made that day was that I assumed my skates would be where they always were. I assumed that just because mom had put them there before, she would do it again. I assumed everything was fine. I think about this because I wonder if we are making a lot of assumptions about our students. Had I taken a moment to check my equipment bag I’d have noticed my skates were missing. What are we missing in our schools because we are assuming?

I recall several occasions of being guilty of assuming students understood the content I was delivering. I would explain the big idea for the lesson, proceed to demonstrate two or three examples on the board, and then, with good intentions, ask if everyone understood. I assumed they had grasped the concept. I assumed they knew what to do. I assumed. Of course, I would then be frustrated when several students would ask questions when I had just shown them three examples on the board. I assumed they understood what I was teaching them. Assumptions can be dangerous things, and when situations go sideways, it may be because we assumed one thing and were then faced with another. We need to be careful to not judge the whole iceberg just by what we see on the surface, and I’ve been reminded during my career of the importance of watching, talking, and listening.

Watching: I do not mean setting up a chair in the hallway and staring at kids, teachers, and parents, that would be creepy, I mean is being present in the halls, the classrooms, and on the playground. I mean being intentional. When I’m out of the office, I always try to watch how groups of kids interact with each other and make mental notes of what I see. Who is normally hanging out with who? Where do groups of kids typically congregate? What is their normal day-to-day behavior? Certain patterns begin to emerge, and what you then start to see is when things are out of the ordinary. The investment of time watching allows you to notice when things are ‘off’. If you are never watching, then you will never spot unusual behavior, this could lead to assumptions.

Talking: It’s amazing how willing students are to engage in conversations if you just stop and sit beside them. In my classes when I assumed the students understood, I talked to the students. Had I talked with the students I’d have quickly learned if they actually understood or were merely trying to avoid looking lost. There are many opportunities to sit and talk with kids on a daily basis, and I’ve found they are very willing to share what they are learning about or what they are currently busy with outside of school. Of course, the warning that comes with this is when you engage with a student in the primary grades. You need to be ready to invest a good chunk of time, especially if they are going to share exciting stories about a new pet, a trip to grandmas, or a lost tooth. Taking time to talk with students shows them you care and it creates an opportunity for the real magic: listening.

Listening: Stopping and talking opens the door for an opportunity that so many of our students need; someone to listen. Most of the time if you listen to students you will hear them tell you about the great things that are happening in their lives, they love to celebrate accomplishments or talk about fun activities they have been a part of. However, there are times when they need you to listen because something is troubling them. This is when you need to do something so important: be quiet. I learned a long time ago the power of listening to hear versus listening to speak. If you sit back and observe people talking, you usually hear them talking about themselves, frequently building upon what someone else has said. If you are listening to speak, that is what you are doing. You are hearing their words, but thinking about your experiences, and are waiting to jump in with your story. When you are listening to understand, you are not going to talk about you, you are likely going to ask questions about their story.

By watching, talking, and listening a person will begin to assume less and understand more.

Everything I wrote about was focused on students, but see how it works for you when you change the word student to teacher, co-worker, friend, or spouse. Watching, talking and listening are potent alternatives to assuming, after all, had I taken the time to look in my hockey bag, asked mom, or even better, listened to her the first time she told me to pack my equipment, I would not have assumed I had what I needed.

Here is what is on the horizon this week:

Monday:

  • Final day of semester 1
  • 9 – 12 staff learning meeting AGENDA

Tuesday:

  • Prep day for teachers
  • Bruce away all day

Wednesday:

  • First day of semester 2

Thursday:

  • Watching, talking and listening during class visits

Friday:

  • 7 – 12 progress reports and comments due to office

As always, create a great week!

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Moving the Ring

As I peeled the wrapping paper off, I began to realize what the gift was, and I started summoning my inner acting skills. Once again my in-laws had bought me a puzzle to solve, not a jigsaw puzzle, but one of those ring on a string with a block of wood, puzzles. I hate these things! I think my in-laws know this and secretly chuckle about it, after all if you can’t antagonize your son-in-law, who can you antagonize? I needed to let them know how much I ‘appreciated’ this gift. This memory is from a few Christmases ago, but I was reminded of it after watching this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeaaYXBkUVE

As I started watching this video my hands actually started sweating as the sight of this puzzle immediately heightened my anxiety. If this had been gifted to me, I’d likely have employed the use of a big pair of scissors while muttering several colorful phrases. But I enjoyed this video, it was so satisfying to see an ‘expert’ demonstrate the steps required to solve the puzzle, but what I really liked was the sound of the people watching. There were ooo’s and aaah’s as his hands deftly maneuvered the rope and slid the ring. The solution was unfolding before their eyes, and they could see the way before he actually finished. The excitement was building. Then there was the payoff, the sound of the ring clinking on the red ball. The looks on the men’s faces were priceless, but the very best was yet to come. The elderly man, who had spent years trying to solve this riddle grabbed the puzzle and began solving it for himself. What an achievement!

Earlier this year I had an opportunity to speak with a teacher about some of the work we are doing at #WaldheimSchool as we wrestle with the big questions associated with assessment of and for learning. One of the comments this teacher made was that these questions have been around for a long time, and it was that question that gave me hope because of the following:

  1. If we are still discussing it after all these years, we believe it is important, we haven’t simply thrown our hands up and said, “unsolvable!”
  2. If we are still discussing it after all these years, we believe we can come up with a ‘solution’, we haven’t simply thrown our hands up and said, “unsolvable!”
  3. If we are still discussing it after all these years, we believe that it will be together, not alone, that we find a ‘solution’we haven’t simply thrown our hands up and said, “unsolvable!”

I use the term ‘solution’ with trepidation, after all I think we can agree that there is not a one size fits all solution to assessment of and for learning. In fact, I believe that trying to implement such a solution in the past is what has brought us to our current state. As a result, we are in the process of moving away from one singular type of assessment towards practices that honor our learners and our teachers. I believe we are moving towards assessment practices designed with and for all learners, including methods that inform teachers of their impact.

In a way, we are trying to move the ring from the green ball to the red ball, and it is very difficult work! This makes me think of a discussion Ellen (@ellen_verityand I had last week about an assessment task she had her students complete earlier this month. The kids were learning about electromagnetism and were given the choice on how to demonstrate their understanding. They could build a project, complete a test, or write a scientific paper (I think those were the three choices, I’m sorry if there were more that I missed). A challenge for Ellen showed up when a student, who typically demonstrates her learning to an extremely high level, opted to write the paper, and struggled with it. Ellen was faced with an opportunity, either tell the student, “too bad, so sad, you chose this route, you get what you get” or she could look for ways to help the student try again. She chose the latter. I believe she did so because of the three things listed above: it was important to her and the student, she felt there was a ‘solution’, and she believed that speaking with her colleagues would lead her to the right decision.

Every difficult moment we face in our work provides us an opportunity to make a choice; shout “unsolvable” and move on, or we can pause, reflect, and connect with our colleagues in search of the answer. The elderly gentleman worked on that puzzle for ten years until he had help solving it. We will be working on our assessment practices for our entire careers, with the understanding that we will never discover the ‘solution’. This is what makes me so proud. It isn’t the ‘solution’ that matters, it’s the journey, the collaboration between peers and the belief that it is what’s best for all learners that matters. It’s about learning! And while we may never have a 3:48 video on YouTube ending in cheers, we will have something better. We will have the knowledge that everyday we tried to get a little better, and never threw our hands up and shouted, “unsolvable!”

Here’s what is on the horizon for this week:

Monday:

Tuesday:

  • Business as usual

Wednesday:

  • Gr. 7 & 8 field trip (Regina)

Thursday:

  • 10 – 12 final exams begin
  • Bruce away (pm only)

Friday:

  • Business as usual

As always, create a great week!

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We’re All Gardeners. May 28 – June 1

“She’s good, all I can do now is leave her alone”. These were the words spoken to me by a parent at Griffiths Stadium on Friday morning as a parent/coach knew her daughter was getting ready to take part in the shot put competition. She knew that her daughter had received all the coaching she needed, and now it was up to her, nothing that could be said was needed as her daughter had been here many times before, and was able to psych herself up, without psyching herself out. The parent knew that her daughter didn’t even want her watching, different than her son who loved having his mom cheer him on and give him feedback. As I watched this it made sense, she knows her kids, she knows their strengths and their areas for growth. She knows when to push, when to pat on the back, when to hug, and when to avoid. Did her kids win every event? No, and that’s not the point. The point is she knows that each of her kids are unique and require unique teaching as she strives to get them to be their best.

Which students in your room need you to push a little more? Which ones thrive when given their own space to think, create, and struggle? Which ones need a little more cheer leading? How do you know?

“Mommy, look at how big these seeds are!” Eva was very excited to help plant the garden this weekend, even if it is a little later than usual. Gardening is my wife’s domain, however she is a firm believer that kids need to get a little dirt under their nails and learn how to grow some produce. It’s something that was passed down from her grandmother to her, and something she has always carried on. I know my role in this process. Prepare the soil, grab a coffee, and stay out of the way (I’m good at that!). The neat thing to watch as our kids grow up is the way Bobby now is able to be independent, and can help with the twins, who are still content just digging holes and using the watering can. As they planted the garden, each kid had a job, Bobby was responsible for the potatoes, start to finish, and he had Charlie helping out covering the holes up, making sure to give them a little pat with his small shovel. Maggie stuck close to mom, asking a million questions and marveling at the size of the seeds. Eva, who had planted before, took care of the beans, peas, carrots, and beets, and in the end, we all pitched in for the clean up.

When you think about the learning in your room, who are the independent leaders that you can count on? How are you stretching them on a regular basis? Who are those beginning learners? How are you meeting them where they are and providing them opportunities to grow? Who are those kids ‘in the middle’? Those ones we might inadvertently overlook if we are not careful. How are you meeting their needs? As the lead gardener in your room, how are you modeling for your kids and how do you celebrate the “learning harvest” that happens every year?

It was an incredible past few days, with our elementary track and field competition on Thursday, to the district meet on Friday, to Saturday’s garden fun, to today’s experimenting with our smoker. What stood out for you this weekend? Will you share this with your students? I wonder what they did, and if they will get a chance to share their stories.

As May turns to June, we are in the process of looking back as we plan for the future. This Monday is another opportunity as Jesse is leading us in some important, big work at our staff meeting. Moving forward we will be asking for your input on our adult learning for next year, and for your feedback on how you felt things went this year.

Until then, here’s what lies ahead for another great week at Waldheim School:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting
  • Classroom visits: what are you reading/writing about, and how is your voice being included?

Tuesday:

  • Classroom visits: what are you reading/writing about, and how is your voice being included?

Wednesday:

  • Fire Drill
  • K & 6 Assembly (1:00 pm)
  • Classroom visits: what are you reading/writing about, and how is your voice being included?

Thursday:

  • Classroom visits: what are you reading/writing about, and how is your voice being included?

Friday:

  • Classroom visits: what are you reading/writing about, and how is your voice being included?

As always, create a great week!

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What’s Good for Some…March 12 – 16th

Every adult at Waldheim School will have a deep and thorough understanding of every student they work with as learners in their subject area(s). A goal like that can seem quite daunting,  however I’ve been so excited to witness this coming to life everyday in our school.  Some of the things I saw last week speak to how you are getting to know your learners. I watched as students talked about their  favorite animals and the teacher learned about them as researchers and  presenters. I watched as students sat beside their teacher discussing how to potentially solve their math problems, all the while the teacher learned more about them as mathematicians. I watched as teacher and student problem solved how to fit a lid on a beautiful jewelry box, the teacher learning about the student as a problem solver. I watched as a teacher worked with a small group of students as they shared what they noticed in a picture from a big book. I could go on and on, because everywhere I look everyday I see all of you getting to know your students as learners. It’s an incredible thing to watch.

I was thinking about this today as I made another trip to Table Mountain, however this time Eva joined the twins, and this would be her first time ever skiing. I quickly learned that how I helped the twins learn to ski was not going to work for Eva, as she was much more tentative. After her second run down the hill, with tears in her eyes, she said she’d had enough, and wanted to quit. The lift operator saw this conversation, and offered me a ski aid (just a reinforced hoola hoop), which we used for quite a while. I was hoping that she’d be able to start skiing on her own, however she remained very dependent on me and the ski aid, to the point that I wasn’t sure what to do to help her, after all, I can only say “pizza skis, pizza skis” so much. One of the great things about Table Mountain is the many volunteer instructors who are on the bunny hill, and one of them, Dave, happened to spot us getting ready to go for another run down the hill. He asked how Eva was enjoying it, and she sheepishly replied that she was having fun. Dave offered a couple of pieces of advice for her, and as he modeled this for her, I was able to pick up a few things I could use as I continued to help her. It was amazing how quickly what he taught her had her swishing down the hill on her own, I was amazed! The day wound up with her cheering about how much she loved skiing, and I was so happy for her as she called out, “dad, I’m doing it, I’m skiing”! I just wish I could have found Dave to thank him.

On the way home I started thinking about how sometimes we get stuck as we work with our learners, just like I was stuck with Eva today. It took the advice of someone else, in this case it was an expert instructor, to help get us out of the learning rut we were in. Tomorrow we get to learn together as Jesse has worked hard to tailor the PSSD PD to meet the needs of Waldheim School. We get to learn together, and in the process have an opportunity to ask each other for the help we may be needing. As you come into tomorrow’s PD, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will someone else learn because you were in the room?
  • What are you hoping to learn?

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • PD/Prep Day (pot luck lunch)

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse at ALT (Steve acting admin)

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice?

Thursday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice?

Friday:

  • Classroom visits: What would you like us to notice?

As always, create a great week!

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What Language Are We Choosing To Use With Our Kids: Feb 5th – 9th

If you are a fan of football, or frigid weather, this weekend was certainly for you! I’m not a big NFL fan, and as such I’m not sure if I’ll catch the game tonight or not. I will likely tune in to try and see the halftime show, those are usually quite enjoyable, if they can stick to entertainment and leave politics on the sidelines. We had a wonderful weekend as the kids are getting used to our new dog, Bella. They are busy learning how to live with a pet, how she reacts to things like running in the house, or dropped pizza on the floor. Like I’ve been saying, getting a new pet is not so much about training the animal as it is about training the kids.

Our new friend Bella.

Last week I indicated that during my classroom visits I’d be curious about big ideas, and how these ideas were being made explicit to the kids. Some of the things I saw involved inviting kids to expand their thinking as they developed machines in grade 6, or how the kids were using their imagination through words and pictures in grade 2/3, or how the kids were relating perimeter and area in math. These were just three of the many things I saw, and that was during a short week with final exams kicking things off! As we head into our first full week of the second half of the school year, I find I’m reflecting on some of the words from Choice Words that Steve shared with us last week.

…the language  that teachers (and their students) use in classrooms is a big deal…[t]hese words and phrases exert considerable power over classroom conversations, and thus over students’ literate and intellectual development

-Peter Johnston

This week when you engage with students and are trying to be aware of #20/80, what are some ways you can be intentional about the words you choose? What are you hoping the students hear? Is it the same as what you are saying? As I visit classrooms and pose questions I will try my best to be intentional in the words I choose as well.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Steve away marking provincial ELA exams
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Tuesday:

  • Steve away marking provincial ELA exams
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Wednesday:

  • Brenda & Joanne away at SERT meetings
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Thursday:

  • Grad photos in the library all day
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

Friday:

  • High school career fair (in gym all morning)
  • Bruce away (am only)
  • Classroom visits: how is our language intentional?

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!

 204 total views

November 27th – December 1st

As another wonderful weekend draws to a close, I’m reflecting on how lucky I am to be able to be a kid with my kids. Today we spent time at the Shaw Centre water sliding, sitting in the hot tub, and doing cannon-balls, and I get to take part because of my kids. It’s similar to the fun I get to have with them sledding on the hill by our house, or building snow men, or playing Lego. Part of the reason I play with them is because my 4 year old twins still need a lot of supervision, but the other part is that it is just plain fun! All of this playing with my kids reminds me of the fun we get to have at school on a regular basis. I’ve seen teachers and students laughing and learning side-by-side; from Kindergarten role playing to senior science phalanges creations, there are many wonderful things happening all the time from room to room. I’d like to throw an invitation out to anyone willing: during your prep, or perhaps if you are an elementary teacher, during recess, pop into someone else’s classroom to see what they are up to. Just know that you are, in no way, expected to do this, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the exciting stuff going on at Waldheim School. Jesse and I get to do this on a daily basis, and it is such an energizing activity.

Now that’s “hands on” learning if I’ve ever seen it.

Last week I stumbled across a headline on Twitter for the attached article. The headline read: Is This the Most Important Thing a Teacher Should Know? Eye catching, isn’t it. The author, Terry Heick (@terryheick), claims, “while relationships building and classroom management and organization and lesson planning and assessment design and dozens of other competencies are crucial to teaching, the ability to parse content into usable blocks that can be built (alongside students) into a compelling ‘wholes’ might be the most important thing a teacher can know how to do.” Interesting. Heick maintains that to complete a complex task there are multiple, simpler skills that need to be mastered to be successful. This caused me to reflect on a conversation I had with Brenda on Friday about our students’ ability to type. Recently, we have moved away from teaching keyboarding skills, hoping that it will be learned through authentic writing tasks, and this seems to make sense. I believe Heick would claim the danger in this would be asking students who can’t type to complete two complex tasks at once: 1. learn how to use a keyboard that at first glance makes no sense in it’s set up, and 2. craft a written document, such as a story or a research project. When you think about your students, are there times you ask them to complete complex tasks without knowing, for sure, if they have the necessary, basic skills to complete said tasks? If you are unsure if they are ready to complete the complex task, how could you find out and then support them if they are not?

Here’s what lies ahead as we wrap up November:

Monday:

  • classroom visits: what I’ll ask the kids is, “what skills or abilities have you learned that make your current task achievable?”

Tuesday:

  • Grade 2 assembly
  • classroom visits

Wednesday:

  • classroom visits

Thursday:

  • classroom visits

Friday:

  • Grade 1 – 6 progress reports will be sent home today, thanks for your hard work on these!
  • Jon Yellowlees visit ~ professional goals conversations with Jesse & Bruce
  • Hot dog sale

As always, create a great week!

 206 total views

Sept. 11th – 15th

Another wonderful weekend with the kiddos, lots of fun activities going on to keep us busy. On Saturday we spent time visiting my mom, and my niece and her new baby girl. Bobby and Charlie are interested in the baby, but it’s Eva and Maggie who are really over the moon with her. They spent a lot of time holding the baby, feeding her, and just laughing at the noises and faces she makes. It was so cute to watch as they were playing with their own real live doll. Sunday was another fun day as we celebrated Eva’s 7th birthday. It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years already,  but she’s growing up to be a pretty spectacular kid.

It’s also hard to believe we have completed a week of school already, it just seems like yesterday we were enjoying the beautiful summer weather. When I think back on the week, I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm I’ve seen and heard in the hallways and classrooms. The students were hard at work and I saw things like:

  • coding
  • creating oobleck
  • sketching objects from different angles
  • running football routes
  • practicing multiplication skills
  • getting over fears and self doubt
  • small group discussions on learned helplessness
  • discussing our favorite numbers

And this was just in one short week! One of the things that really stood out was the mindset all of you have taken with your students. There is a feeling of belief in every classroom, and I hear things like, “you can if” and “what if you tried this”, it’s so great to see! During the year there will be a lot of discussions about mindset, and lots of opportunities at staff meetings and during hallway conversations to think about the power of our belief in the students we are working with. A friend of mine posted this article online today and as I read it I really wanted to go back and start my teaching career over. So many of my tasks were very superficial, not intentionally, but rarely did I really push my students to make “stretch mistakes” nor did I seize enough on “a-ha moment mistakes”. Too often I jumped in to help rescue the students, this is something Joanne and I talked about last week as she was discussing learned helplessness with her psychology class. If you have a chance give the article a read, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting (3:15 pm) ~ Big Idea: How do I structure my environment to optimize learning
  • Bruce meeting with SCC chair (am)
  • Classroom visits

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Jesse away at ALT, Katharine will be acting administrator

Wednesday:

  • Meet the teacher BBQ preparation
  • Evan away with senior golfers
  • Classroom visits

Thursday:

  • Meet the teacher BBQ (4:30 – 6:30 pm)
  • Brittney away learning about effective writing instruction
  • Classroom visits

Friday:

  • Katharine away learning about effective writing instruction

As always, create a great week!

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June 5th – 9th

A touch windy, but wow, was that a beautiful weekend! The weather was perfect to be outside, and we took full advantage both days. On Saturday, we took part in the annual Martensville  Buster Days Pancake Breakfast. We have been doing this every year since moving to Martensville, and it is so cool to be able to share the experience with the kids, who gobble down their pancakes and sausage as fast as they can so they can get a look at the model train exhibit. From there we ventured downtown, found a prime spot and waited for the parade, another huge hit with the kids. Sunday was another great day to be with family, as we went for a picnic at the University (beside Innovation Place), and then wandered over to Grandma’s house for some dessert, and some shade. While we were there the kids were put to work, pulling weeds and planting flowers.

Grandma teaching Maggie how to plant flowers.

As I watched my two youngest planting marigolds with my mom, I was reminded of something George Couros (@gcouros) spoke about at CAP2017. He talked about how it’s sometimes necessary to be the “sage on the stage”, that we can’t always leave the learning to the students to discover all on their own. My mom and dad were always so proud of their flower gardens in Watrous, and were always in contention for yard of the year, as that was an annual award that was presented in our home town. It was wonderful to see our kids learning from their grandma, she gave them clear instructions and helped them navigate the soil, helped them press the flower into the dirt with just the right touch, and then apply just enough water. As I watched I was guilty of thinking about school and how we balance when to lead and when to step aside and let the kids explore on their own. When you think about the skill building that goes on in your class, when do you need to be the “sage on the stage” and when do you need to be the “guide by their side”? This also made me think of this very popular video of a girl learning how to ski jump, it’s a fun video.

We have a shortened week ahead, however we all know it will be no less busy. On Monday you have a full prep day, this is your time to use as you wish. I will be in and out of meetings all day, so if you see my door closed, it’s likely that I’m in with someone. I’m very excited to say that Jesse Reis will be joining us for part of the day, hopefully you will get a chance to meet him and introduce yourself to our new VP. On Thursday our 4, 5, and 6 qualifiers will be heading over to Hepburn for the annual WHHRLS track meet, that should be a great day!

Here is what lies ahead for the week:

Monday:

  • Prep Day
  • I’m in meetings at 9:00, 10:30, and 1:30

Tuesday:

  • Bruce, David, and Jesse at ALT

Wednesday:

  • Bruce in transition meetings with Joanne

Thursday:

  • Katharine, Dwayne, and Bruce at WHHRLS all day

Friday:

  • Bruce in transition meetings with Joanne

As always, create a great week!

 

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