What Are You Excited For? April 9th – 13th

The tragic events that occurred this past week involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team has given us all a reason to pause and remember the important things in life. As I began to learn more and more about the accident that has claimed the lives of 15 people, I felt a need to hold my kids a little tighter, to hug a little longer. The kids that were on that bus were sons, brothers, nephews, grandsons, and friends. They were teammates, doing what they loved to do, and were taken from the hearts of loved ones much too soon, and for those people, life will never be the same.

As we return to work this week, it is important to remember the why when we think about what we are doing on a daily basis. The kids we are blessed to work with are going to be coming back to school with mixed emotions on Monday. Some kids will be excited to be at school, for some it’s a new beginning with our restructured classes in grade 3, 4, and 5. Some kids will be excited to see their classmates, and get back to the routine a school day brings with it. Some will be excited to get back to the challenges of finding just right books, working with fractions and decimals, building or sewing their projects, grappling with issues, solving equations, or figuring out just how the heck to calculate molarity! Some kids will come back with other feelings, for them, school can be a tough place to be. This is where we, the adults in the building, come in. How are you going to welcome each student back to your class this week?  Our school goal is to develop a deep understanding of every student we work with, and this week presents another opportunity to do this, will you take advantage of that?

I’m very excited to be coming back to school tomorrow, there are so many things I’m looking forward to, but there are few that stand out as special tomorrow:

  • Seeing Dwayne back where he belongs
  • Watching David build a culture in his new, makeshift classroom
  • Connecting with some of the vulnerable kids to see how their week off was
  • Learning from Amy, Brittney, Evan, and Krisinda at our staff meeting
  • …and most importantly, getting in each and every one of your classes to watch the magic you do every day!

Get a good rest tonight, we’re into the home stretch, let’s make the last 3 months of this school year the best they can be for every student and for each other!

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday

  • staff meeting, learning side-by-side with Amy, Brittney, Evan, and Krisinda

Tuesday

  • MyBlueprint presentation to grade 9 class
  • Classroom visits: reconnecting with kids

Wednesday

  • Classroom visits: reconnecting with kids

Thursday

  • Classroom visits: reconnecting with kids

Friday

  • School dance (7 – 12)

As always, create a great week!

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January 8th – 12th

As they always do, the holidays have quickly evaporated, and it’s now time to come back together and continue the learning and laughing at #WaldheimSchool. I hope everyone had an amazing break, even though the weather was less than perfect we did have some nicer days in January. We had a great trip to Elk Ridge (from the 23rd to the 26th), and I have a feeling this might become an annual thing. The kids had so much fun during their break, the highlight for them was spending time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and their cousins. What was the highlight for you?

A holiday tradition with my brother and Bobby.

I know it’s going to be tough for everyone to get back into the routine, which includes making lunches, picking outfits, getting back into healthy sleeping patterns, and getting back on a regular eating schedule, but I’m sure we’ll all survive. As you return, what are some ways you’ve thought about getting your students back into their learning? What are some neat things you are planning for Monday? I’ve seen many variations on the morning meeting in our elementary rooms, I wonder if this video can compliment what you are already doing? What about for high school classes? Do you have an opening routine to help get the students set up to learn as they transition from class to class? Have a look:

https://www.edutopia.org/article/morning-meetings-building-community-classroom

Looking at the calendar, it’s only a short 2 1/2 weeks until our students in grade 10 – 12 begin writing final exams, which means the semester will be wrapping up in 3 1/2 weeks. As you look towards the end of the semester, who do you already know will need a little extra help? How will you communicate this to them and their parents? What can you put in place to give them the opportunity to do the work and show you what they know?

Those were some chilly days!

I’m very excited to get back to work, and back with the #WaldheimSchool family as we continue to write our 2017/18 school year story. The new year is going to give us a chance to dig into our results from the OurSCHOOL survey and keep looking for ways to take our school to the next level for our students. We will also begin our staff presentations at our staff meetings as we share what we’ve been reading, what we’ve been trying in our classes, and how we’ve been growing as professionals as we continue to strive to improve our understanding of our students as learners.

There is nothing formal planned for the week ahead, so Jesse & I will have many opportunities to pop in and visit classes this week.

As always, create a great week!

 

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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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Oct. 30 – Nov. 3

The Raiders en route to a 5-2 win.

As Trace spoke to the hushed gymnasium on Thursday afternoon, it became glaringly obvious that the group of girls he and Ellen were taking to provincials was more than a collection of athletes, they were a team. The planning and execution that lead to the pep-rally told a story of a group of girls who love the game, and truly care about each other. The girls played hard, and it was the combination of dogged determination and superb sportsmanship that stood out to me the most, as they were able to let misplays or missed calls fall by the wayside as they continued their pursuit of a gold medal. Unfortunately the team did not capture gold, Warman was much too strong this year for anyone to handle, however our group of youngsters captured the bronze medal, and the future looks very bright for our Raiders soccer team. What impressed me was the way Trace and Ellen brought together so many unique talents and found a way for all of them to shine in their own way, and it was fun to cheer them on Friday and Saturday morning.

Fast forward to Saturday night where I had the opportunity to watch a different group of people “take the field” and show the fruits of their practice. My son, Bobby, and daughter, Eva, have been taking piano lessons for a couple years, and Saturday night was their fun recital for some residents of Diamond House in Warman. It was a great location as the room provided excellent acoustics for the pianists to perform, and offered the audience a comfortable listening experience. I was so proud of the kids as what started as plink, clank, blonk turned into some nice music that they were very happy with. The recital featured close to 20 different students, and the ability levels ranged from cringe worthy to toe-tapping excellence. What I really noticed was that every student was given the exact same opportunity to perform to their best ability and every student received a resounding applause as they bowed or curtsied. There were no grades handed out, and no one was denied the treats at the end because they messed up a few notes, or had to restart. What I love about the entire process that my kids are a part of is that there is no end to their learning, they don’t simply reach the end of piano lessons. It is a process that can (and hopefully will) continue for years and years.

So, what do provincial soccer playoffs, piano recitals, and learning at Waldheim School have in common? In every case I see kids being given the opportunity to shine. I see coaches, teachers, EAs, admin assistants, SERTS, and caretakers setting up the students at Waldheim School for success. I had a great conversation with Jamie last week about teaching and learning, and she reflected on how she had to really know her dance students in order to really help them learn the steps or moves to a certain type of dance. She understood that she simply could not just dance for the class and then tell them to practice, she had to come along side them, and give them the feedback they needed to become lighter on their feet. This is similar to what Trace and Ellen did with their soccer team, and what Bobby and Eva’s piano instructor did for his students. Do you do this for your students? Do you determine where each of them are through a variety of assessments for (your) learning? Do you tailor your teaching to maximize learning and meet each student where they are? How do you know? One of the challenges we face as a growing school is larger classrooms with a much more diverse group of students. I found an interesting article on Edutopia this week, and it speaks to the challenge of differentiating for a large group, but also offers many resources you might find helpful. Have a read, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s what lies ahead for this shortened week:

Monday:

  • School carnival planning meeting (3:10…Departures???)
  • Classroom visits ~ Big Idea: what would you like me to notice that could speak to your artifact?

Tuesday:

  • Classroom visits ~ Big Idea: what would you like me to notice that could speak to your artifact?

Wednesday:

  • Classroom visits ~ Big Idea: what would you like me to notice that could speak to your artifact?

Thursday:

  • School Carnival (4:30 – 6:30)
  • School Dance (7:00 – 9:00)

Friday:

  • No School ~ Day in Lieu

As always, create a great week….and if you are brave enough, feel free to listen to some music created by a 7 year old and a 10 year old. 

Count Bobula at his recital

Posted by Bruce Mellesmoen on Saturday, October 28, 2017

Eva did great at the recital.

Posted by Bruce Mellesmoen on Sunday, October 29, 2017

 

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October 16 – 20

What a tremendous weekend! The fun started for me Friday night as I got to go see one of my favorite things, live WWE wrestling. Now, before you laugh, or worse….judge….I’ve enjoyed this entertainment for years, dating way back to the late ’70s when I used to get caught up in Stampede Wrestling. And yes, I know it’s staged, but it’s still fun! Saturday and Sunday were quiet days around the house, I caught up on some reading and some laundry, which were both overdue, and now I look forward to another great week of learning.

If you will allow me to go back to the wrestling event I went to, I made a connection on the drive home between what I had been a part of and a conversation Jon Yellowlees, Jesse and I had earlier that same day. Jon was curious about the work we had been doing at school, and more specifically around our school goals. I shared with him the work you did on Friday, November 6th, and I was so excited to share stories from our day of learning together. As he read over the goals we discussed, and as he reviewed the great things you are focusing on he asked me a question that I struggled to answer. He asked, “what is that one common goal the entire staff is working towards this year?” The thing was, I knew that question was coming, and still I struggled with putting into words what that goal is, that one thing that unites us all, regardless of assignment or grade. As we talked, and as he coached, it became clear to him what it is we are working on. 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). What it took for Jesse and I was a coach to reflect to us what it is we are doing, and it helped me see the forest from the trees.

So, what is the connection between our school goal and a bunch of pumped up professional wrestlers? I started to think about the goal that company has each and every time they go out and perform. These guys travel the road, working over 200 days per year for different audiences all over North America, and their goal is simple; give every fan in the crowd an exciting evening where they can suspend belief and root for the good guy and boo the bad guy. Now, for that company, it does not matter if you are the guy who sets up the ring or the girl who announces the wrestlers or the two mammoth men who fight in the main event, everyone plays a role in achieving the company’s goal.

As you think about our goal, 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), how do you feel? How does your professional goal that you are working on support the broader goal? I think about the conversation I had with Evan earlier this year, and how he is working towards developing assessments that go beyond the typical pencil and paper tests that are typical of a math class. I think about how doing this will lead to a deeper understanding of his students, and thus support our broader school goal. I’m looking forward to many more discussions with all of you about your goal and how it supports the work we are all doing.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • beep, beep,  bus driver appreciation day!
  • classroom visits: what question can I ask you to help you reflect?

Tuesday:

  • Jesse away at ALT coaching
  • classroom visits: what question can I ask you to help you reflect?

Wednesday:

  • Jesse away at ALT coaching (day 2)
  • classroom visits: what question can I ask you to help you reflect?

Thursday:

  • classroom visits: what question can I ask you to help you reflect?

Friday:

  • classroom visits: what question can I ask you to help you reflect?

As always, create a great week!

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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 26th – 30th

Hopefully everyone had a terrific weekend, whether you were working in the yard, playing with your kids, catching some music at the JazzFest, or just relaxing with a book on the deck. We had a quiet weekend, we spent Saturday at the University where the kids took time to look at the dinosaur bones, ride the glass elevator, run around on the grass, and have a snack. Sunday was also a quiet day, we were able to get lots of chores around the house and yard completed.

This will be a short message this week, as I just want to say thank you for an incredible year. Coming over last August, I was nervous and excited, however all of you quickly helped me feel at home, and it wasn’t long until I felt like part of the team. I was amazed at the level of adult learning that all of you have committed to this year, your hard work has helped make Waldheim School an amazing place for all of the learners, young and old. Thank you for all of your support and trust this year, moving into the principals role mid-year presented it’s own unique challenges, however your patience and honest communication helped make this a very successful year.

As we look forward to the new school year, I will be sending out some information regarding what to expect during the first week and month of school next year. Until then, create a great week, and a wonderful summer!

Here’s what lies ahead:

Monday:

  • Grade 1 – 6 swimming
  • Kindergarten orientation
  • Jesse Reis visiting

Tuesday:

  • Grade 8 field trip

Wednesday:

  • Last day of classes for grades 1 – 9
  • Progress reports (1 – 9) go home

Thursday:

  • Work day at school (duty sheet will be put up in staff room)
  • Grad

Friday:

  • Last day of work for the 16/17 school year
  • Grade 10 & 11 progress reports available for pick up
  • Staff free to leave at 12:00 noon
  • Please leave summer contact information at the office

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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April 10th – 14th

Where are the warm, wonderful days we wish for? Hopefully Mother Nature has decided to role out the hot, sunny days for our Easter break which is quickly approaching. Even with a couple of sick kids at home I was able to get at some chores that needed doing and was able to catch a bit of provincial volleyball in Saskatoon this weekend. It was great to see Derek Zacharias and his team from Briercrest, they are really strong, and Waldheim School is well represented with the Harder girls and Taryn Fehr playing a prominent role.

We are heading into another 4 day week, but with all that is going on, it may feel like an 8 day week! Our Spring Arts program is on display this week with our Monday afternoon matinee followed by our Tuesday evening performance. Activities like these always remind me of the students’ amazing ability to “pull it together” when the lights are brightest. While teaching grade 4 in the Cayman Islands and grade 5 in Langham, I was often responsible for planning and delivering school wide assemblies. I remember pulling my hair out, wondering if the students would ever fulfill my grand vision, and in the end they always did. It was a student in Langham that really brought me back to reality as we planned a performance of Tiger Story, Anansi Story for the school community. Things were not going as I had hoped and I was becoming agitated with the students. This student’s simple words helped refocus me, she said, “Mr. M. stop worrying so much. Our parents are going to love it, even if we mess up”. I know the performances on Monday and Tuesday will be terrific and your hearts will swell with pride as your students sing and dance, after all it’s the love for your students that make events like these so memorable.

Speaking of relationships, I am really looking forward to our staff meeting on Monday. Brenda and David have crafted a wonderful agenda that will allow us time to reflect on our peer visits and discuss collaborative relationships in our classroom. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to review the agenda and the questions we will be discussing, if not, click: Staff Meeting – April 10I took some time on Friday to think about the questions, however I changed the word classroom to the word school. It was a great activity which had me reflecting on the hard work and fun times that have occurred to date, thanks Brenda for designing such a great activity. I am also looking forward to hearing about this round of peer observations and if the changes we made have had a positive impact on your learning. Remember we will have time to debrief so please come prepared to share with your group. We will provide some question stems for you to use if you choose to do so. As you look at the questions, think about how these types of questions could be used in your classroom, maybe teacher-to-student first, but ideally, student-to-student. 

Teaching through relationships passes the student through that mystical threshold when formal knowledge leads to hidden knowledge. What is hidden is the process of discovery itself and the connections between thought, everyday life, and other seemingly unrelated ideas and disciplines. When students are able to make this connection via “teaching through relationships,” they begin to see themselves as co-learners along with their teachers, as well as with the greatest minds in history.

-Stacey Goodman

That quote comes from that attached article, found here, and it speaks to the importance of teaching through relationships. If you have time to give it a read, please do so, and if you can, I’d love to hear your thoughts about any connections you’ve made between it and what we discuss on Monday afternoon.

Here’s what lies ahead for the week:

Monday:

  • Bruce away (am only), appointment
  • Spring Arts (matinee)
  • Staff Meeting (home ec lab)

Tuesday:

  • Spring Arts (evening performance)

Wednesday:

  • Pizza lunch

Thursday:

  • 9 – 12 progress reports sent home
  • Locker/desk clean out (schedule will be posted)

Friday:

  • Good Friday
  • Gym in use for private function

 

As  always, create a great week.

 

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March 6th – 10th

Guitar making. Just the start of the hands on learning that will continue for years and years with this project.

Sunday morning greeted us with a fresh blanket of snow, and a reminder that we aren’t “out of the woods yet” as it relates to winter. The snow is actually quite timely as we will be handing out the ski trip information sheets on Monday, lucky coincidence I guess. Along with the changing weather in March comes another regular event, that being progress reports and parent/teacher conferences, which are just around the corner. We are asking for the grade 1 to 8 progress reports, with comments, to be submitted to the office no later than Friday, March 10th. This will give David and I plenty of time to read over the reports which serves multiple purposes:

  • we get to know the students better
  • we get a greater insight into how you see your students as learners
  • we have a chance to offer feedback
  • we are able to catch any typpos typos that might sneak through

When you are crafting your progress report comments, please consider the following approach:

  1. What evidence do you have that the student has achieved the outcomes you have laid out
  2. What is something you would like the student to work on (academic focus) during the next reporting period
  3. How will you work with the student towards achieving point 2

 

Progress reports and parent/teacher conferences cause me to reflect on the work David and I have been doing around classroom visits and reflective feedback during the month of February. David and I have had many conversations sharing our struggles as we are trying to develop our skills as they relate to asking you questions to help move your learning forward. As we reflect together there are several things that are clear:

  • we are recognizing things we need to work on (i.e. how to ask an open ended question that honors what it is you are wanting us to look at)
  • we are taking time to work together on this
  • we are blessed with a tremendous staff that is patient and willing to learn with us
  • we are blessed to be inheriting a collaborative culture that Chris and Reg created
  • we are having fun! I can’t count how many times we’ve laughed at ourselves and caught ourselves on the cusp of tears due to the amazing things happening at Waldheim School

 

Side by side learning can take many forms. Sometimes it just requires creativity, risk taking, and collaboration.

This week’s Learning Link is an article from Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) and it is focused on how teachers reflect. He shares four approaches he takes, some are unique (VLOGs), some are downright scary (asking kids for feedback), but all of them caused me to think about how I reflected as a teacher and how I reflect as an administrator. One of my favorite ways is to send out a quick tweet, but for deeper reflection, I often turn to my mentor. I will share celebrations and struggles with her, and she has an amazing knack for asking the right questions to move my thinking forward. I’d love to hear how you reflect.

Here is was lies ahead this week:

Monday

  • Staff meeting 3:15 in home ec lab

Tuesday

  • Sharlene away at an ILO

Wednesday

  • Karen Campbell here to work with Brittney & Trace

Thursday

  • Brenda off to Rosthern to shadow their SERT for the morning

Friday

  • 1 – 8 reports & comments due to the office
  • Geography 20 $10 city trip (curious? Talk to David, it’s a cool idea!)
  • Subway lunch

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