October 9th – 13th

Thankful for the simple things in life, like a yummy dessert and a coffee.

When a person stops, and really takes stock of the great things they have in their lives, it can be overwhelming. I think about the amazing family I have, my mom, brother, sisters, nieces, nephew, cousins, aunties, uncles, and in-laws. I look at my kids and marvel at who they are becoming. It truly is a blessing. I also think about my work family, the wonderful adults and students I get to spend time with on a daily basis, working on learning. It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic nature of our day-to-day work, but it is weekends like this that allow us to pause and reflect on those who surround us. Hopefully you were able to take some time to relax and reconnect with those who are the most important to you.

On Friday we spent the morning discussing what we believe is important for our students, and then discussed how we see ourselves bringing these things to life for all learners at Waldheim School. It was one of those mornings where it felt like the learning conversations could go on and on, and I felt terrible for having to cut some of them short. Hopefully you will find time to continue those discussions, and continue wrestling with the big question, how do we know. I tried to capture our thoughts from your goals and conversations and attempted to highlight the essence of our work. Here is what I saw and heard on Friday morning:

Goals for Waldheim Learners

What I found so encouraging on Friday morning was that every goal each of you brought to the discussion was focused on students and their learning. Some of the goals were centered on literacy, some on mathematics, some on leadership, and some on assessment, but all of them spoke to wanting to make Waldheim School a better place for all students. As we continue to grow as a learning community, consider the following questions:

  1. how will you know if you are on the right track?
    1. what will you do to recalibrate if you aren’t?
    2. what will you do to stretch yourself if you are?
  2. how can you use your colleagues as a means of support?
    1. can they stretch your thinking?
    2. can they offer you feedback?
  3. how will you share your celebrations with
    1. students?
    2. colleagues?
    3. parents?
  4. how will you remove barriers for your students?

I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations and more in the days to come.

Here’s what’s on the horizon:

Tuesday:

  • Lori Jeschke popping by for a visit (am)
  • Bruce at division office (pm)
  • Classroom visits ~ what can I learn from your students?

Wednesday:

  • Library closed (meeting 9:00 – 10:25)
  • Classroom visits ~ what can I learn from your students?

Thursday:

  • Fire drill ~ pm (K – 6 assembly to follow (tentative))
  • Classroom visits ~ what can I learn from your students?

Friday:

  • Jon Yellowlees school visit
  • Classroom visits ~ what can I learn from your students?

As always, create a great week!

 

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Sept. 4th – 8th

I took the twins to Watrous today as they are spending the next few days with their grandpa and grandma, an annual trek that all of our kids have enjoyed over the years. They have so much fun learning from grandma, be looking after her dog, helping her bake cookies, or learning about why Little Manitou Lake is so buoyant. One of my favorite things to do when I drop the kids off is take some time to drive around Watrous and Manitou Beach, I love the colors and smells of September as the leaves begin to turn and fall.

While I love the sights and smells of fall, what I really love is the feeling of first day back. Your rooms look great, the kids will have their supplies nice and new, there will be fresh hair cuts, new shoes, fancy outfits, and a lot of happy parents. I know how my kids are feeling about going back tomorrow, Eva is so excited for grade 2, while Bobby is a little more reserved, but I know he’s excited as well as he heads for grade 5. How do you think your students are feeling? What’s going through their minds as they lay their heads on their pillows tonight? I’d also invite you to think about your own thoughts about the students who are coming into your classes. Who is going to need a little extra love? Who is going to learn in a way that is different than the rest? Who is going to teach you to teach in different ways? Through all of this, I’d invite you to reflect on our conversation last week, our conversation about why we do what we do.

Enjoy tomorrow, create a great day for your students, and let’s make this the best year it can be for everyone!

What Lies Ahead:

Monday:

  • Labor Day, no school

Tuesday:

  • First day of classes
  • Assembly at 9:30 (listen for all call prior to coming to the gym)
  • Classroom visits

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits

Thursday:

  • Classroom visits

Friday:

  • Classroom visits

As always, create a great week!

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June 19th – 23rd

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there! I hope your day was a great as mine, I had an incredible weekend in the company of my family, which is always nice. On Friday night we had the twins’ 4th birthday celebration (their actual birthday is on Tuesday, 20th), and that was as wild as you can imagine a party for twins would be…lots of gift wrap and cake crumbs 🙂 On Saturday, I took the kids to the movie Cars 3, which was really interesting as the first Cars movie was one of Bobby’s early favorites, and one he has watched repeatedly in the van or on TV. I think he even got a little tear in his eye at one point, lots of fun! Today was another wonderful day as the kids and I ventured up to Waskesiu for the day. This gave us some time to play and explore, while leaving the house nice and quiet for Krista as she’s working nights at RUH. Needless to say, I’m a tad bit tired tonight, so this will be a bit of a shorter post.

David and I were marveling at the incredible feeling around the school this week, between the Jones Awards, the ball tournament, the elementary swimming, and the commitment to learning each and every day. While we were at the CAP conference last month, I jotted a note down in my book as this thought popped in my head, “how do you measure the unmeasurable?” Last week was one of those weeks, one where there was such a high level of student engagement, but engagement that does not get measured or reported on through any  surveys. I was amazed at the level of engagement at the Jones Awards as the students who dared, put their talents on display. Not every piece was performed flawlessly, but the students didn’t care, they cheered just as loud for each and every one. Not sure how to quantify how my heart felt during those performances. At the ball tournament, students of all abilities and ages took part in a student organized, student lead activity. Kids were coming and going from the tournament, and there was never a sense of students getting into mischief, or looking for ways to create problems. As David and I watched we were so impressed with the incredibly positive choices every student was making. Not sure how to quantify how my heart felt during those games.

What last week reminded me of was how blessed we all are to be working with such amazing students. This is the result of the culture you have fostered. You have given the students the power and desire to lead, thank you for that! As you take time over the next two weeks to reflect on the year that was, I invite you to think about which students you have really connected with, and the impact you have had on them. I’d also like you to think about the impact they have had on you. How have your students changed you this year? How have they made you a better teacher? Will you tell them? Thank them?

Here is what lies ahead this week:

Monday

  • Staff meeting (3 pm)

Tuesday

  • Celebration of Excellence Ceremony (1 pm)

Wednesday

  • 4/5 Hardy to Shekinah
  • Kindergarten Grad
  • Gr. 1 Science Fair

Thursday

  • Kindergarten Grad

Friday

  • Swimming, swimming, swimming!
  • Farewell luncheon
  • Final exams (day 1)

As always, create a great week!

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June 12 – 16

What a great weekend, the weather wasn’t perfect, but there was a lot of opportunities  to get out and about and enjoy a June weekend. We had an action packed weekend, as Krista, who is a Guides Leader, took Eva to Redberry for an overnight camping trip with the rest of Eva’s troop. Judging from an exhausted six year old’s report, it sounds like it was the, “best time ever!” She talked about the fun activities they took part in, and even went so far as to celebrate the fact that she was allowed to wash and dry her own dishes, I wonder how long that will last. This meant that Bobby, Charlie, Maggie, and I were fending for ourselves, and we had a blast at my niece and nephew’s family and friend grad celebration. I found it so interesting that we were celebrating 12 years of education for my sister’s twin children just as my twins are getting ready to begin their journey. All in all, it was a wonderful, but very tiring weekend.

We are certainly in the home stretch now as the 10 – 12’s have 9 days of classes left, while the other students have 13 days, and we all know the days will fly by. We also know that this time of year can be very trying for all of the learners in the building, and at times it can feel like we are just holding on by the thinnest of threads. Larry Ferlazo talks about this in his article, Finishing the School Year Strongwhich is an interesting read with some great ideas. He discusses the idea of finishing strong, offering these two suggestions;

Students can reflect on these two questions, turning their answers into posters that can be hung around the classroom as reminders and shared with each other:

  • What are three things you can do to help finish the school year strong academically?
  • What is one thing you can do to help your classmates finish the year strong academically?

As you think about where you are with your course loads, what needs to be done to finish strong, while maintaining that critical relationship with the students? We know it’s not easy, but how can you make everyday count from here on in? While you do this, I sincerely hope you find joy and happiness in every moment with your students.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

Grade 5/6 off to Camp Kadesh

Tuesday:

Grade 5/6 return from camping trip

Wednesday:

High school ball tournament

Thursday:

Bruce away all day at daughter’s field trip to Pike Lake

Friday:

K1, 2/3, and 5/6 swimming in Rosthern

 

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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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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