December 12th – 16th

So much learning last week, it’s hard to know where to even begin! Thanks again to everyone who participated in our staff meeting on Monday, whether you were a featured presenter or a thought creator in the small groups, your participation was greatly appreciated. Having heard Jeffery,  Leah, and Shantel speak got me thinking about our willingness to be vulnerable, especially in front of a group of our peers. As I reflect on the week, I’m forced to think about three particular things; a piano recital, a one-on-one conversation with a principal, and a math workshop.

Math work

First, the piano recital. My two oldest take lessons and last Sunday they performed in the annual Christmas recital along with 20 other students. What stood out to me was the final piece that was played by the instructor. He could have selected any piece he wanted and it would have been fine, however he chose to go down a path that surprised and impressed me, he chose a piece that stretched him. As he played and struggled over the occasional note I could not help but marvel at his courage and willingness to show that his learning will never stop. The second thing I reflected on was a conversation I had with a principal at our ALT meeting on Tuesday. The theme for our day was feedback  and my question for this administrator was, “how to you get daily feedback?” This question lead us to a place where we discussed those moments when we feel like impostors, like we’re just faking our way through it. We wondered how many others in the room or in our schools feel like this from time to time, and we also wondered how we could be a support for those who need it. The final thing I thought about was our math workshop with Karen Campbell. During our conversations it was apparent that none of us were 100% satisfied with our current path program. As an administrator I was humbled by the honesty in the room. It was a great reflection of the learning stance you have taken as a staff and I’m very excited to be a part of this journey moving forward.

Hands on learning

I wonder how you are vulnerable with your students? Dr. Robert Dornsife states that, “(b)eing vulnerable is the inevitable result of the trust we must have in our students, as we expect to teach and learn from them and with them in every respect.” His article, which is the first learning link, is written from a University perspective, however it does provide food for thought regardless of the age of students we teach. How do you build trust with your students? What are some things you do that shows them you respect them as learners? The second learning link comes from Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with Brene’ Brown, PhD, who talks about the importance of vulnerability and how it is a cornerstone to self confidence. It’s a short, but powerful video, and I wonder what it caused you to think. I really believe as we continue to take risks as educators to move learning for every student forward, we must be willing to be vulnerable.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • the gym is closed for play practice, and will remain closed until the 21st

Tuesday:

  • Chris is away all day

Wednesday:

  • Wednesday is our Christmas lunch which takes place in the Home Ec lab

Thursday:

  • Staff meeting (final book club meeting) 8:00 am
  • Bruce is away today

Friday:

  • Chris & Bruce are taking the bus drivers for breakfast as a token of everyone’s appreciation

 

As always, create a great week!

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December 5 – 9

So we’re 20 days from Christmas and I better start thinking about shopping, I’m a terrible procrastinator this time of year as I’m not a huge fan of venturing out to the stores. We had a whirlwind of a weekend, my son’s birthday party on Saturday followed by his and his sister’s piano recital on Sunday, needless to say, a lot going on.

This week is shaping up to be an amazing week of learning for us at Waldheim School, all starting on Monday with our staff meeting. We are going to listen to Jeffrey and Leah discuss the internship process as well as hearing Shantel reflect on her time here. The true power of this process lies in the questions we will have and the self-reflection we will take part in. On Tuesday Chris and I will be at our monthly administrator’s meeting and I fully expect to be engaged in several different learning conversations as is the norm. On Wednesday we are so lucky to have the opportunity to work with a familiar friend as Karen Campbell is spending a few hours with some teachers who are beginning to explore how to employ the workshop model in their math classes. Thursday and Friday will be days to reflect and begin implementing new ideas.

Speaking of learning, the following video was suggested to me by Glen, and it contains a very powerful message, whether you agree with his politics or not. As I watched this, the word that resonated with me was empower. I was forced to think about the students I’ve worked with in the past and I wonder who I have empowered and more importantly, who I let slip through the cracks. Take a look and see what you think.

Something new I’m going to try this week (and I hope a few others will try it too) is some computer programming through an initiative called The Hour of Code. The second video speaks about coding and how students around the world are taking part in this great activity. See what you think.

Here’s what lies ahead for another week:

Monday:

  • Staff meeting (pm)

 

Tuesday:

  • Chris & Bruce away at ALT
  • Taco in a bag sale (7-12 only)

 

Wednesday:

  • Karen Campbell math workshop

 

Thursday:

  • Business as usual

 

Friday:

  • Business as usual
  • Gym closes for concert practices

 

Saturday:

  • Sr. boys basketball home tournament

 

Create a great week!

 

 

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Nov. 28 – Dec. 2

Grey Cup Sunday is always a great reminder of what it means to be a Canadian, every year at this time I think back to the days when we used to break out the TV tables and mom would make me hot dogs, potato chips, and pop for supper. She knew how bad of a meal that was, but she also knew how much it made watching the game even more fun for me. Even though I’m having trouble rooting for either team I’ll likely still watch the game…or at least parts of it, but alas, no hot dogs and chips this year.

gr-9It was a great week of learning last week, with some teacher observations by our Superintendent and our book club work together, there were lots of great conversations around the building. While Jon was here Shantel, Tom, Brittney, Danielle, and Krysten all delivered unique, engaging lessons that challenged the students to think outside the box in both individual tasks and group endeavors. From learning about the Mars Rover, to creating clinometers, to exploring poetry, to investigating literature through the workshop model, Jon was treated to some excellent examples of the great work going on at Waldheim School.

gr-10What are some things you are trying? Remember to have a look at the bulliten board in the staff room to see what’s going on in some other rooms. You may want to see how Sharlene is using FreshGrade to communicate with parents and share evidence online. Check in with Leah and Blaine to see how genius hour is progressing. What about popping into Trace’s room to discuss how he integrated some art, science, phys ed and health into one amazing project….the results look incredible! These are just a few examples of the awesome things happening around the school. Now, if you are thinking you want to try something new that may hook the kids, give this week’s learning link a read. It’s all about the 4th annual Hour of Code. Coding is a skill that anyone can learn and it is a great way to teach the kids about the importance of accuracy.

Here’s what lies ahead for the last week of November:

Monday:

  • Chris away (am only)

Tuesday:

  • grade 4/5 skating
  • Chris away

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • pizza for sale at the booth

Friday:

  • grade 9 & 10 skating
  • Chris away (am only)

As always, create a great week!

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November 21st – 25th

Way to go Waldheim Raiders senior girls volleyball team! The girls captured gold in the 3A category this weekend, dominating the field only dropping 2 sets all tournament. They worked hard and came together as a team focusing on a singular goal, and through practice and feedback they achieved that goal. Pretty amazing what we can do if we put our heads together and put our shoulder to the wheel. It makes me think about the work Joanne is doing with her group of students. She had a vision for what she wanted to see these kids accomplish and last Thursday was the first piece of evidence that they are well on their way.

When I think about the examples above or the amazing work happening in our classrooms, I can’t help but feel that the people taking these risks and pushing their students/athletes have the right mindset, a growth mindset. You feel that your students have to ability to grow and that your job is to walk beside them. It is great to see! In the learning link this week there are 5 videos that talk about this growth mindset. It would be interesting to hear what your students think about this mindset, particularly the example from Sesame Street. If you have time to watch a few I’d love to hear about your “yet” situation. For me it involves being a learning leader. I found this great article on Twitter on the weekend and it caused me to stop and take stock of my strengths and areas for growth as a leader. As I reflected I found I need to work on my inner resources, I’m not there….yet. What is your “yet”? The Workshop Model? Technology? Formative assessment? Whatever it is, remember to add the “yet”.

Here is what lies ahead for the last full week of November…yes you read that right!

Monday:

  • OurSCHOOL survey, day one. Schedule posted in staffroom
  • Diabetes presentation (elementary)

Tuesday:

  • Chris away all day

Wednesday:

  • Grade 10’s in Regina
  • Subway order forms due

Thursday:

  • Staff meeting (am)
  • Jon Yellowlees visiting school
  • OurSCHOOL survey day two
  • Grade 7’s in Saskatoon all day

Friday:

  • EA meeting (8:00)
  • Subway lunch

As always, create a great week!

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November 14th – 18th

Amazing how fast those days off seems to melt away, I certainly hope everyone had a chance to relax and recharge their batteries. I spent a lot of time playing with the kids, we ventured to the University on Saturday and spent Sunday with my mom and her brother and 4 sisters. It was so nice be with my uncle and aunties again, as it reminded me of the many, many times we spent together sharing stories, laughing, crying, singing around the piano, playing cards, or crokinole. One thing for sure, once everyone is back together we all know how to interact, it’s just part of our family culture. Over the years people have aged, we’ve said tearful farewells to family members, however we’ve also shed tears as we welcomed new family members through marriages and child birth. Through the years there have been many constants that have been handed down from grandparents to parents to children. This is what a family does.

I caught myself thinking about our school family, how people may leave and how new members may arrive. I think about the culture of Waldheim School and the culture of adult learning that is thriving. As a new member I can see things others may now take for granted, things that have always just been “how we do things around here”. One thing that has stood out over anything else is the culture of caring at Waldheim School, the way we care for our students and the way we care for one another. This cannot go unnoticed by our students, they have to see the way we care, and I truly believe that this is one of the reasons we have such a caring student body.

This one made me think of  Trace teaching archery last week!
This one made me think of Trace teaching archery last week!

One of the clear benefits of having this caring environment is the risks it affords us as teachers to take. Our kids know we care, so they are likely more willing to “cut us some slack” if we try something and it flops. Having a culture like this at our school allows us to be transformational, it allows us to really analyze what it is we are doing as professionals. In tonight’s learning link, author Todd Finley talks about the art and science of teaching, and how we need to facilitate the “productive struggle”. Have a read and see if you can identify things you are doing already and maybe some areas where you can give yourself a little nudge.

We are going to start asking kids for their feedback next week, as the OurSCHOOL (formerly Tell Them From Me) survey will be administered. I’ve set up a schedule and once Chris and I double check to make sure the times work we will let you know when your students will have a chance to share their voice with us.

Here is what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Prep day ~ Chris, Bruce, Brenda meeting 8:15 – 8:45

Tuesday:

  • Day 6 as we get back at it.
  • Chris away ~ @Warman all day

Wednesday:

  • Business as usual

Thursday:

  • Jon Yellowlees out to work with new teachers
  • Fire Drill today

Friday:

  • Business as usual

As always, create a great week!

 160 total views

November 7 – 11

After a long one last week, we are looking at a three day week coming up. Of course this does not mean it will not be a busy three days, our time is always in demand. I hope you have all been enjoying your books that you selected for our book club, I know I’m enjoying Mindset by Carol Dweck as it is causing me to reflect quite a bit on what I have believed about my own potential and how I can fall prey to a fixed mindset.

Grade 12 Drama Class.
Karaoke in the grade 12 drama class. Lot’s of engagement in there!

This week we are very fortunate to be hosting 7 other administrators. On Tuesday, admin teams from Osler, Stobart, and Dundurn will be spending the morning with us. While they are here they will be spending some time in Blaine and Shantel’s rooms, as well as observing Glen in the shop and Trace in the gym. It should be an exciting time, so when you see a large group of principals and vice principals roaming the hallways don’t be surprised and please feel free to stop and chat.

As I think about the purpose of the admin visits I can’t help but think of the importance of feedback, not only at the administrative level, but at all levels. How are you doing with giving feedback to students? Is it timely? Does it inform their next steps? How are we (Chris & I) doing with giving you feedback? Is it timely? Does it inform your next steps? In learning link one the discussion focuses on peer critiquing, and shows this taking place in a variety of settings. How do you see this working in your room?

The second learning link is from Pernille Ripp’s tremendous blog. In this post she talks about the emotions that can, at times, over take us. In a very open, revealing blog post she recounts a situation where she reads to her students only to be overcome with emotion. I think it is important that our students see us as human, as people with empathy, as people who are more than just teachers. In the end it comes down to relationships, how we build them and how we maintain them. As you read, think about ways you are building authentic learning relationships with your students…oh, and if you are like me you may want to grab a tissue or two.

Here is what lies ahead for this abbreviated school week:

Monday:

  • staff meeting (pm) ~ focus is on our books

Tuesday:

  • Bruce & Chris at ALT all day (am: school admin visits, pm: in Warman)

Wednesday:

  • Remembrance Day ceremony ~ classes will be called down to gym
  • please ask students to complete a locker clean up today

Thursday:

  • Day in lieu

Friday:

  • No School

As always, create a great week!

 164 total views

October 31st – November 4th

calvinHard to believe we are moving into November this week, the time is really flying! Had a great weekend decorating the yard and carving pumpkins, the kids are really excited, and I have to admit, I’m a little excited too. Hopefully whatever occupied your time this weekend you were able to relax and enjoy the company of those you care about.

We have a busy week coming up with interviews, I hope everyone is looking forward to sharing the great things that are going on here at Waldheim School. The first learning link this week is a resource that contains tips and strategies for parent/teacher conferences. Hopefully you have thought about what it is you are going to share with parents and have some examples on hand as some evidence of learning. I know they are long days, but they are very important in the building of the home and school connection.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our engagement work since last week and continue to ask myself the question, “how do we know what will engage the kids?” I’ve had a lot of conversations with students and have asked them what they would like to learn about, many of them are stumped for an answer. As the conversation continues we usually come around to the topic of relevance, the students usually want to know why they are learning what it is they are learning. We’ve all seen kids who are motivated to work on things on their own time simply because of the intrinsic rewards that are offered by the task itself. I think about the kids who worked so hard to make the school dance the best possible experience it could be for the other students. They did not do this because there was a mark attached to their work, they did so because they knew the reward would be worth the effort. This summer I read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, and while many of the ideas in the book were geared towards business, the overlap with education was undeniable. In learning link two, Pink talks about motivation. As you watch, what connections do you make to what happens in schools today? What changes do you need to make to help students become more intrinsically motivated? What do you need to make those changes? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • Dress up day for students
  • Teachers play dodge ball at noon

Tuesday:

  • Chris away ~ all day

Wednesday: 

  • P/T Interviews ~ supper provided

Thursday:

  • P/T Interviews ~ supper provided

Friday:

  • The light at the end of the tunnel 🙂

As always, create a great week!

 

 145 total views

Oct. 24th – 28th

tiger-woods-sinks-a-long-putt-to-propel-him-back-to-the-top-of-the-world-rankingsIt’s not perfection, Charlie, it’s a pursuit of professional excellence. This is what Tiger Woods told Charlie Rose Thursday night on The Charlie Rose Show on PBS. Tiger was talking about being the best he can be at the game of golf, and as he was talking I was reminded of the work we are doing everyday at Waldheim School and as a division. Tiger talked about working on his game from the cup to the tee boxes, saying each part of his game requires a different type of training but excellence occurs when it all works together. As we think of our work in the classroom, whether is providing authentic, timely feedback, or engaging in side-by-side learning, or discussing next steps with our colleagues, all of the pieces are connected. As learners I think it is important we keep Tiger’s words in mind, pursue professional excellence, not perfection. We are all human, and all have the capacity to learn and grow. I’m excited to be a part of this journey with you.

Speaking of learning journeys, it’s been pretty amazing to watch my kids grow and learn together. My oldest son is a huge fan of Minecraft and Lego, which makes sense seeing as Minecraft is basically animated Lego. He works tirelessly creating new worlds, like his Great Wall of China world, Island world, and Cruise Ship world. Each time he comes up with a new creation he quite literally builds on his previous learning. Occasionally he will come to me to share what he’s created, but he has never come to me for help, he’s been able to find inspiration online. As I think about what he’s doing I realize that’s real learning. The same kind of learning we experienced as kids as we went on adventures on unreliable rafts or pretended to be Evel Knievel on our rickety ramps (without helmets!). The question is, how do we bring that type of authentic learning into the classroom in a safe (no ramps!) and meaningful way. Today’s first learning link is a 15+ minute TEDx Talk by Will Richardson. He talks about developing kids as powerful learners and asks how this can happen in schools. Have a look, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Today’s second learning link stems from a conversation Chris and I have been having for a while, in fact it actually started last year during one of my visits. The conversation has been about our technology budget and what should be done in terms of buying new technology for the school. I am going to be looking for some guidance from all of you before completing any purchasing, but I wanted to give some background on why some of the learning links I share will have a tech theme. This post from Pernille Ripp talks about the opportunities technology presents when it comes to developing our students literacy skills. It is a quick read and I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

I know this post is getting lengthy, but it would be remiss if I did not say thank you and congratulations to all the staff for their hard work. Our school has been buzzing, from cross country provincials to volleyball tournaments to soccer playoffs to the elementary carnival to the magazine sale to the work the SRC is doing, it’s been amazing! All of this is on top of the tremendous work we are doing as adult learners and the awesome teaching that is happening in our rooms. Way to go everyone!!!

Here’s what lies ahead this week:

Monday:

  • New teacher orientation
  • Chris away (pm only)
  • Staff meeting rescheduled

Tuesday:

  • Chris away (all day)
  • SCC meeting (5:30)

Wednesday:

  • Grade 3 assembly

Thursday:

  • Staff meeting (8:00)
  • School dance (7:00 – 10:00 pm)

Friday:

  • Book fair arrives

As always, create a great week!

 242 total views

Oct. 17 – 21

learning%20together“There’s another mindset in which…[intelligence, personality, and character]…are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” (Dweck, p. 7) This quote really resonates with me as I am constantly learning and growing from each experience every day. I used to view life with a fixed mindset, feeling that I was who I was, without the capacity for growth, and learning experiences were a reminder (or I thought they were) of everything I did not know. What a terrible way to view my own world! Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential, is my choice for our book study and it has already had a profound impact on how I view myself as a lifelong learner. I hope you are finding your books are striking the right notes with you as you work your way through the pages. I’d love to hear about what you are learning, wondering, or questioning.

Chris forwarded this week’s learning link which comes from Pernille Ripp’s blog (https://pernillesripp.com/) and it speaks to exactly what we are doing as a team at Waldheim School, learning together. Pernille’s words echo how Chris and I feel as learners when she says, “we are all a work in progress and such we all have much to share.  We are all a work in progress, with so much still to learn.  Do not be afraid of opening your door and letting the world in.  We are all in this together.” Do you feel safe opening your door to your colleagues? If you do, how has that culture been created and how can we ensure it will be sustained? If you do not, what do you think you need to get over that hump?

20161014_101432
Young and not so young line up for treats.

There was a nice example of this willingness to open our doors on Friday as Sharlene held her Writers Workshop Café. The room was buzzing as her young authors were sharing their work with parents who were captured by their tales. Of course a café isn’t a café without coffee, juice, and treats, and based on the feedback from the students everything was “awesome!”

The second link is a cool video that is more evidence that kids are pretty creative when we get out of their way. If you have the time to watch this think about everything this young creator learned during his experience. Pretty fun stuff going on….my favorite is the jacket on the slide.

Here is what lies ahead for us on this 5 day week!

Monday:

  • Bus driver appreciation day

Tuesday:

  • Chris away
  • SCC meeting 5:00

Wednesday:

  • Chris & Bruce away over noon with Darrel Derksen

Thursday:

  • Elementary Carnival 4:30

Friday:

  • Subway Sale!

Saturday:

  • Sr. boys host regional soccer (good luck Brenda!)

 

 207 total views

October 10th to 14th

happy-thanksgivingI hope everyone has had a relaxing long weekend and has had the opportunity to reflect on things they are thankful for. My brother flew in from Vancouver unannounced on Friday, he likes to do that from time to time. It was great to see him, and I was thankful that we all were together this weekend laughing, reminiscing, and rooting on the Jays (what a game!). As it happens every year, my eyes were bigger than my plate, but when it comes to great food I always have trouble stopping at one serving.

20161004_143208
An example of side-by-side learning in grade 8 science.

Alumni Weekend has come and gone, and it was great to see the gym rocking with volleyball players young and old. Dave Hinz and his crew do a great job of keeping these former athletes connected with Waldheim School, it made me wonder what other opportunities are out there for us to take advantage of. As you all know, the school is the heart of a community and it was awesome to see ours beating proudly this weekend.

On Friday, Chris, Brenda, Steve, and myself sat down for an hour discussing where we see our adult learning plan heading for the year. I am very excited to be a part of the great work that has been going on at Waldheim School over the past few years and am very grateful to all of you who took the time to complete the short survey I sent out on Friday. I know Chris handed out your new books, hopefully you had a chance to peruse yours over the weekend….I know I didn’t as I forgot it on my desk…oops! I believe we will have a brief discussion  about our book clubs this Thursday at our staff meeting.

20161004_143405
Mr. Ness with his 4/5 class and their Kindergarten buddies.

One of our discussions on Friday centered on peer observations, or classroom visits. Chris, Brenda, and Steve explained in greater detail how the visits were coordinated and how you were able to spend some time debriefing. As we talked about this process I asked why this process was important to Waldheim School. The three of them talked about the shared benefits of this process, how the observer can get ideas for their classroom, while the teacher being observed can get feedback from their colleague. In the first learning link Katrina Schwartz discusses a 5th grade math class where the teacher is being observed by a group of teachers and the ensuing conversations that happen as a result of this. I hope you can see some connections in Schwartz’s article and what is happening at Waldheim School.

In the second learning link Isaac Lidsky challenges us to think about the realities we create for ourselves. As I was watching this I started thinking about the assumptions I make and way I sometimes let fear stand in my way. The one example I will share is particularly timely. Tuesday afternoon all of the principals in the division are meeting in Warman for our monthly ALT meeting. What makes this meeting different is that it is just the principals, not the vice-principals. Chris and I discussed our roles this year and both felt it was important for both of us to be there representing our respective schools. This is where the fear comes in for me. As I go into this meeting it is the first time I go in as a principal, and that scares me. What if I don’t say the right thing? What if I ask a stupid question? As you watch the video, ask yourself what scares you, and why does it? I’d love to hear any comments.

Here is what lies ahead this week:

Tuesday

  • Cross Country meet @ Delisle ~ Leah away
  • Fire drill (11:00)
  • Assembly ~ following fire drill
  • Bruce & Chris gone all afternoon ~ Dwayne acting admin

Wednesday

  • Business as usual

Thursday

  • Staff meeting ~ 8:00 am
  • Ready for Work presentation ~ 9:00 – 10:30 Grade 12 only

Friday

  • Chris away ~ all day
  • Bruce & Dwayne gone to soccer ~ all day ~ Blaine acting admin

Saturday

  • Jr. boys volleyball home tournament

 

 139 total views